Minnesota Vikings' fans have been conditioned during camp to expect the Vikings to employ a version of the wildcat offense in 2009. And, like last year and the year before, they have been told that the wide-receiving corps is vastly improved and one of the strengths of the team. None of which is likely to be born out in any fashion in tonight's pre-season opener.
Who the Vikings play tonight is of zero significance. What fans are likely to see no matter the game circumstances is the Vikings line up their starters for one quarter, run rudimentary plays for an entire game, and show none of the wildcat offense that the team may or may not use in the regular season.
After the game, no matter the outcome, Vikings' coaches will comment that they like what they saw, that there is still much room for tightening of things, and, in response to whether the offense is showing improvement, that the offense remains a work in progress but that the team isn't going to run all of its plays in pre-season.
At some point in his post-game interview, head coach Brad Childress will be unable to restrain himself from commenting that he likes the offense far more than most people seem to and that the Vikings' quarterback situation reminds him very much of the linebacking situation three years ago when only the coaches "knew how good we were." Childress will note that the "so-called experts never expected the linebacking corps to turn around and don't seem to think much of the quarterbacking corps now."
Following Childress' interview, the Vikings' play-by-play and sideline gang will inform the eagerly awaiting fan base that fans "should be patient" and not expect to see anything other than the vanilla offense throughout the pre-season. "Expect to see a lot of the wildcat in the regular season, but no reason to tip the hat in pre-season," Greg Coleman certainly will opine.
In a perfect world, the Vikings would show some wildcat offense as a means of practicing the offense in conditions more closely resembling game conditions than the "shells and shorts" practices that the team mostly has employed to date. And, in a perfect world, the result would be a jarring performance from Percy Harvin, pinpoint and crisp passing by Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, superior blocking along the offensive line, and experienced assignment calling by new center John Sullivan.
In reality, Vikings' fans probably can expect zero wildcat plays, one to two deep passes, some mistakes at center and right tackle that lead to problems in the backfield, and some good defense for at least one quarter. For now, that will have to pass for NFL entertainment and for a view of things to come or not to come.
Up Next: Postgame. Plus, stadium concerns.