EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — After what we saw from them in the preseason, the performance of the Minnesota Vikings offense on Monday night offered quite a sigh of relief.
It wasn’t just better, it was terrific. On Thursday, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur talked about what made it so successful.
Of all the ways the Vikings offense was impressive Monday night — 29 points… 470 yards… Sam Bradford’s 84 percent completion rate for 346 yards and three touchdowns… what maybe stood out most was this — 10.8 yards per pass… the most in the league. A far cry from the check downs we saw last season.
“We hit a string of long passes there. It’s not always the design, sometimes — a lot of the routes have a deep route in them that you sort of get to organically if they give it to you,” Shurmur said.
Nowhere was it more explosive than the 74-yard drive that took just three plays… of 35, 21 and 18 yards.
“Sam made a couple really accurate throws. Then we certainly surprised them on the last one with a tempo that they didn’t cover,” Shurmur said.
The tempo was the key: A hurry-up approach that was effective all night, putting the Saints on their heels and giving a glimpse of just how good the Vikings can be when they execute it well.
“Using tempo became part of my DNA when I was with Chip (Kelly) in Philadelphia. We did it a lot there. We never huddled but sometimes we didn’t go extremely fast, sometimes we did. We kind of just played with the throttle, we just weren’t in the huddle. I think used strategically it’s good,” Shurmur said.
The challenge now will be maintaining that level of success against a much tougher defense. The Saints gave up the second-most points in the league last season. Pittsburgh was top-10, and they await the Vikings on Sunday.