Rosenfels: Vikings offense has untapped potential

April 8th, 2009 – 4:18 PM by Judd Zulgad

Quarterback Sage Rosenfels is back in the Twin Cities taking part in the Vikings offseason conditioning program, getting to know his receivers and even negotiating with one of them.

Rosenfels, who was acquired from Houston for a fourth-round draft pick at the start of free agency, said today he has watched all the plays run by the Vikings offense last season and is getting more and more familiar with not only the version of the West Coast system run by the team but also the personnel with which he will be working.

“I think there is some untapped potential in this offense,” said Rosenfels, who will compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job in training camp. “I think the receivers do have a lot of talent and I think there’s a lot of tight ends that can do multiple things and everyone knows about the running game. This isn’t going to be an offense where we lead the NFL in most yards and I hope it’s not. Last year, the top three teams in the league [in offense] were all 8-8, but the top three teams in defense all made the conference championship games. To win in this league you’ve got to run the ball well, you’ve got to play great defense and execute in the passing game and have a high third-down percentage. You’ve just got to look no further than the Pittsburgh Steelers, the world champions, and how they’ve been winning consistently over decades and then try to copy some of that here.”

Give Rosenfels credit for knowing his stuff. The top three teams in total offense last season – New Orleans, Denver and Rosenfels’ former club, Houston — all did finish 8-8. The top three teams in total defense were Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Philadelphia. 

Rosenfels and teammates Bobby Wade, Cullen Loeffler, John Sullivan and Brian Daniels all attended an event at Grace Church in Eden Prairie in which the Vikings donated $10,000 to the Red River Relief Fund. At one point as Rosenfels answered questions, Wade pulled out his cell phone and started to record the interview. He then jokingly (we think) asked Rosenfels, who would be his go to guy.

That good-natured back-and-forth provided a laugh for both. ”There are a lot of things that can be accomplished in the offseason,” Rosenfels said. “Learning the offense is important, getting in shape is important. But having that bond that’s going to carry out throughout the entire season with trust. Their trust in me, where I’m going to put the football, and me trusting them of how they are going to come out of breaks and all those types of things. The offseason is really great time to build the whole team camaraderie and trust in your teammates.”

Rosenfels, who has made 12 regular-season starts in eight NFL seasons, said he has had a few conversations with Jackson. Jackson was the starter at the beginning and end of last season but lost the job for an 11-game stretch to Gus Frerotte. 

“We know it’s a competitive situation,” said Rosenfels, who turned 31 last month. “I think it’s going to make us both better. He’s going to push me, I’m going to push him. At the end of the day it’s going to make the Minnesota Vikings better. But he and I, I think have gotten along pretty well and I’m sure I’ll learn some things from him and I’m sure he’ll probably learn a few things from me as well.”

Asked if the two had sat down and talked, Rosenfels said: “We’ve been lifting [weights] sort of about the same time and had good conversations. We haven’t been out to dinner or anything like that yet. But he seems like a real nice guy and I’m looking forward to competing with him and getting to know him a lot better.”

Shortly after the Vikings obtained Rosenfels, word broke that the team might have interest in then-disgruntled Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler has since been traded to the Chicago Bears; Rosenfels made it clear he wasn’t bothered by the rumors.

“No, I’ve learned that you only can control so many things in this world and all I can try to do is control when I’m out there with my team, with my offense,” he said. “To try to do the best I can to help move the football down the field and score points.”

Rosenfels said he plans to remain in town for the remainder of the offseason, save for a couple of trips to his native Iowa. One of his areas of focus will be continuing talks with wide receiver Sidney Rice in order to get the rights to the No. 18. That has been Rosenfels’ jersey number and he would like to keep it that way.

“We’re working on it, we’re working on it,” Rosenfels said of his attempts to get Rice to give up the number. “I think 18 is an awful number for a receiver. I think it’s a great number for a quarterback. I’m working with Sidney and hopefully we get something worked out.”

Odds are good this will end up Rosenfels writing out a check to Rice.

Vontae Davis to visit: Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis, who is projected to be a first-round pick, is scheduled to visit the Vikings, according to The Sporting News website. Davis already has reportedly visited four teams and had private workouts with four others. In addition to the Vikings, The Sporting News reports Davis also is scheduled to visit with Pittsburgh.


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