In their first full season under Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, the Vikings have added some "hurry-up" to their offense.
Ben Goessling of the *Star Tribune *said it "probably shouldn't be surprising" to see elements of a fast-paced offense associated with Chip Kelly, whom Shurmur spent time with in Philadelphia. Goessling wrote:
According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings are running a play every 27.56 seconds this season, which is the 17th-fastest tempo in the league this season. The site's situation-neutral pacing metric, which attempts to take the influence of particular game situations out of the equation, has the Vikings as the sixth-fastest team in the league.
Goessling added that it "becomes more noteworthy" when comparing where Minnesota ranked previously – 24th in 2016 (28.35 seconds) and 27th in 2015 (28.93 seconds). According to Goessling, the Vikings previously weren't ideally suited for a fast-paced offense but have seen a transition under Shurmur.
They ran a hurry-up offense in Chicago before Jerick McKinnon's 58-yard touchdown run, creating confusion among the Bears linebackers, and called upon it several times on Sunday against the Packers. The Vikings can use it to mix things up on offense, as another tool at Shurmur's disposal, and they've shown a willingness to get on the ball and go this year.
Bridgewater will practice with new-look Vikings offense
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on Monday announced that Teddy Bridgewater was medically cleared and will return to practice today, 415 days after suffering a dislocated knee and torn ACL.
Bridgewater will be transitioned back slowly after not practicing for 14 months. He has attended team meetings and kept up to speed in the playbook, but it's interesting to look at the way Minnesota's offense has changed since Bridgewater last was in the huddle.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin said the offense has "altered its identity significantly." She wrote:
*Norv Turner was in charge of the Vikings scheme as offensive coordinator before resigning in November 2016. He was replaced by then-tight ends coach Pat Shurmur. *
The playmakers have changed quite a bit, too. Stefon Diggs shined in his rookie season and had a No. 2 receiver in Mike Wallace. The 2015 version of Adam Thielen totaled 144 yards receiving, a far cry from his mega-productive 2016 campaign that helped him nab a [contract extension this offseason].
Cronin also pointed out that McKinnon is the only running back remaining on the roster from the last time Bridgewater played.
Sidelined for the entire 2016 season, Bridgewater watched the Vikings offensive line go from an injury-depleted rotation to a completely reworked unit this season. Soon, those players could be protecting him at game speed should the Vikings chose to activate the quarterback to the 53-man roster and decide to play at some point this season. They have three weeks to make that decision.
Reiff's work ethic benefiting Minnesota's O-line
The Vikings this spring signed Riley Reiff in free agency, and thus far the left tackle has played a major role in Minnesota's improved offensive line.
Eric Mayer with *The Daily Reporter *spoke to some of Reiff's teammates about the addition of the former Hawkeye. Mayer wrote:
After five years with the Detroit Lions, where he played both right and left tackle, Reiff is looking the part of a long-term left tackle. Last year, the Vikings used Matt Kalil, Jake Long and T.J. Clemmings at left tackle. Kalil, who signed with the Carolina Panthers, is the only one of those three still starting in the NFL.
Right guard Joe Berger, currently in his 13th NFL season, told Mayer that Reiff joining the position group "has helped refocus the unit."
"He's a great guy, and he's a good leader by example," Berger said. "He doesn't have to say a whole lot. He leads by what he does, and he's great to have in the room."