From the Catbird Seat: "Harvin's Heroes"
Percy Harvin seems to already be having an impact on the Minnesota Vikings - but more importantly, he seems to be having an impact on their imagination.
Reports from Eden Prairie this week indicated that the first-round draft
choice was taking turns in a 'Wildcat' formation, and that raised some
eyebrows in Viking country.
For those who don't know, the 'Wildcat' is essentially a single-wing
formation, in which the running back takes a direct snap from center. Time
was when the quarterback on a football team rarely handled the ball - he was a blocking back as often as not.
The Miami Dolphins brought back the formation last season, and in the finest tradition of American sports, everyone else is copying it when they see something they like. Enter Harvin, a marvelous impact player in college, in the latest, greatest impact formation.
The idea of Harvin at the controls of the offense as a rookie seems
daunting, but the thought of the Vikings showing some offensive imagination
is enough to counteract that thought in my mind. The team's shortcomings at quarterback in recent years have also given rise to the thought that a
different approach wouldn't hurt.
Of course, the more cynical among us might suggest that an offensive
approach out of the 1930s would suit Brad Childress just fine, but you can't have everything.
Harvin is an explosive player, and the Vikings want to find ways to get him, Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian on the field at the same time. If
there's anyone who can get the ball to them, the Viking offense may well be
ready to take that quantum leap it will need to get the team to the next
Their three-day mini-camp is done for the time being, but non-mandatory team activities are being held this week. If Harvin, who is still unsigned,
decides to stay, his learning process will continue unabated. Regardless of where he plays, learning the offense is obviously essential. It's good to see Harvin making the commitment to learn. The Vikings will be the better for it, regardless of where he plays when all is said and done.
All they need now is to decide on a formation.
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Meanwhile, Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson handled the offense during
more conventional drills, without much thought being given to Brett Favre.
That was probably a good thing. If you thought that too, you'd be in
agreement with Fran Tarkenton, who got his own name in the news this week
for some very blunt comments about Favre.
Tarkenton, who played two stints with the team from 1961-66 and from 1972
until his retirement and somehow became 69 years old when no one was
looking, suggested in an interview last week that the Packers are 'the
enemy'. He also suggested that Favre, as the leader of the Packers,
shouldn't come to Minnesota.
".I want to embrace the icon Brett Favre to come over here and play for my
team?" Tarkenton said. "He's a Packer and he should stay a Packer. That's
It was odd seeing John Unitas playing for the Chargers at the end of his
great career, and it was odd seeing Joe Namath wobbling back to pass for the Rams on two destroyed knees. Tarkenton has a point.
Yet in today's NFL, where it's all about winning, it's a different game. As a Viking fan, I've often asked myself whether I'd take Favre on if I were the coach. The answer is, given the team's quarterback situation, I'd do it.
If I did that, I'd also stop working on the Wildcat formation. At least for the time being.