Vikings Offense Could Feature New Wrinkles Courtesy of Bob Stitt


Bob Stitt became a cult figure among hardcore football wonks for the mad-genius-like offensive alchemy he performed as head coach at the little-known Colorado School of Mines.

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And now the Minnesota Vikings are trying to pick up a few tricks from football’s own version of Merlin.

While coaching at the Colorado School of Mines, Stitt implemented an innovative spread attack that helped transform the bottom-feeding program into a small school powerhouse (while catapulting Stitt to a new job as head coach at Montana).

Stitt’s offensive ideas have now taken root all over college football thanks to disciples like Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen. It was only a matter of time before Stitt’s crazy experiments began trickling into the NFL as well.

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve or at least keep up with it, the Vikings recently sent QB coach Scott Turner out west to pick Stitt’s brain. Turner talked about his trip with Fox Sports:

"“The one thing he does is use every inch of the field,” said Turner. “With Teddy (Bridgewater) and us specifically, we have a quarterback that can get the ball out quickly and makes good decisions. If you spread everybody out there should be spots that are open or you can run the ball if that’s the look you get.”"

Turner said he learned one play from Stitt that he’s “eager” to install for the Vikings this season.

So what makes a Bob Stitt offense a Bob Stitt offense? There are a few key features to keep in mind.

1. Spread looks.

2. Multiple options depending on what the defense shows.

3. Motion.

Stitt himself says his offense is all about giving his QB easy reads and letting him take what the defense gives. That doesn’t necessarily mean a pass-heavy offense, by the way. Again, it’s all about reacting to the defense. If they give you run, you take run.

Spread plays like those featured by Stitt tend to favor a QB with quick reactions and good short accuracy while de-emphasizing the deep ball. Explosive plays are created with quick hitting screens that give receivers a chance to beat would-be tacklers in the open field.

In other words, this is an offense that’s friendly to a QB like Teddy Bridgewater, whose deep accuracy is still a concern, and a receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson who is potentially explosive but not a traditional deep threat.

Not that we now expect the Vikings to put aside Norv Turner’s traditional Air Coryell-derived system and implement a full-on spread attack. But given the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings’ current personnel, it’s perhaps not a terrible idea to consider some new looks that move away from the standard play-action-plus-deep-pass philosophy Turner has always espoused.

Part of this too could be trying to maximize Cordarrelle Patterson, a former first round pick who is in danger of being a massive bust. Patterson has reportedly been working with a mentor this offseason to not only improve his football technique but his whole mental approach.

The Vikings did recently add a receiver in Mike Wallace who is viewed as more of a traditional deep threat, but Wallace’s actual value as a downfield weapon must be called into question after his production the last couple years in Miami.

Minnesota’s recent interest in Maryland WR Stefon Diggs, a slot receiver with devastating open field skills but not necessarily traditional deep speed, also makes more sense in light of Turner’s trip to study at the feet of the spread offense master.

Whatever the Vikings’ motives for studying up on new offensive looks, you have to be encouraged by their willingness to seek out the advice of innovative coaches. When it comes to offense, there’s no one more innovative than Bob Stitt.

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