Pat Shurmur’s unpredictable, artistic Vikings offense is catching hearth

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As the Vikings huddled up within the remaining minute of Sunday’s second quarter, set to run a play with three tight ends from the Redskins’ 2-yard line, Kyle Rudolph had a particular set of directions for David Morgan.

So certain was Rudolph that the play — which known as for Jerick McKinnon to line up within the slot and pretend an finish round whereas Morgan slipped off the road of scrimmage — would work that his solely recommendation centered round what Morgan ought to do after his first NFL landing catch.

“Rudy’s like, ‘Hey, I want you to flatten this ball as hard as you can,’ ” Morgan stated on Monday.

As fullback C.J. Ham motioned out of the backfield to a decent finish spot, Redskins linebacker Will Compton began pointing at McKinnon, recognizing the play was just like the one the Vikings had run for a 1-yard TD two weeks earlier towards the Browns. Only this time, Morgan launched on a route whereas the Redskins’ protection adopted McKinnon, and stood ready for Case Keenum to ship the ball.

“It slowed down a lot,” Morgan stated. “I knew right at the snap of the ball, it was a matter of me turning my head around and Case just dropping it on me.”

The Texas-San Antonio product, one in all 5 totally different Vikings to attain touchdowns Sunday, is a part of an ensemble forged that’s added a layer of unpredictability to the Vikings’ offense.

The staff, with 71 factors in its previous two video games, ranks 10th within the NFL in factors and ninth in yards, regardless of shedding Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook.

The Vikings have survived these losses with spectacular performances from established gamers corresponding to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, however offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s means to increase the playbook has helped the Vikings keep forward of defenses.

Jarius Wright’s landing, which got here on a 7-yard display screen behind blocks from Thielen and guard Joe Berger, was one in all six snaps this season the place the Vikings used 4 receivers and no tight finish. Ham, who performed 12 snaps Sunday, helped the Vikings lengthen a drive with a Three-yard achieve on a Third-and-1 within the fourth quarter.

The Vikings scored on all 5 of their crimson zone journeys Sunday. Each one in all their scores got here out of a distinct personnel group.

“You just never know what you’re going to get with this offense,” Wright stated. “So many guys can do so many different things, and I think that’s what actually helps us be so versatile with this offense.”

In addition to unpacking a suitcase of various personnel teams, Shurmur and broad receivers coach Darrell Hazell have educated the staff’s receivers to play any spot within the offense — a departure from how the group functioned beneath former offensive coordinator Norv Turner. That’s helped the Vikings create extra high-tempo drives — “I might get caught on this side, and I don’t have to run 50 yards to the other side of the field to be where I’m supposed to be,” Wright stated final week — and it’s made the group tougher to arrange for as a complete.

“You’ve got to do an awful lot of studying, because typically guys like to do certain things out of certain spots,” Zimmer stated, when requested how receiver versatility stresses a defensive coordinator.

“Guys are out of place in a single spot and out of place in one other spot after which they do various things out of these areas.

“Then you’ve got to figure out all your man coverage rules and your zone coverage rules. It makes it a lot more complicated and difficult.”

Given the very fact they’ve used two totally different beginning quarterbacks, and three totally different beginning working backs, the Vikings may need acquired some unpredictability as a silver lining from their harm points.

But Shurmur’s playbook, culled from his upbringing within the West Coast offense and flavored with influences from his days as Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, has included sufficient components that the Vikings are exhausting to typecast.

At 7-2 and coming off their greatest offensive displaying, they’re reaping the rewards of their eclectic strategy.

“[Shurmur’s] done a great job of incorporating a lot of different people,” Morgan stated. “When you can mix things up like that, it’s hard for defenses to catch on to you.”

 

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