Bill Musgrave: Reviled in Minnesota, reinvented in Oakland

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MINNEAPOLIS -- He was the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator when Adrian Peterson ran for 2,097 yards, and when the team made Josh Freeman its starting quarterback on Monday Night Football two weeks after he'd signed with the team.

He was in charge of the offense the last time Percy Harvin was a viable MVP candidate, and the last time Christian Ponder was a starting NFL quarterback.

He helped a Ponder-led offense score 379 points in 2012, was criticized for being unimaginative in 2013 and was on his way out of town after a Cincinnati Bengals defense -- led by a coordinator named Zimmer -- held the Vikings to 209 yards in a 42-14 blowout.

Now, Bill Musgrave will be on the opposing sideline from the Vikings on Sunday, with one of the league's most productive passing games at his disposal.

The enigmatic former Vikings offensive coordinator is now in the same job with the Oakland Raiders, in control of an offense that's trotted out more four-receiver sets than all but eight teams and run more zone-read plays than all but nine, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It's a far cry from Musgrave's offense in Minnesota, when his undersized playcard -- typed on small font so he could have one hand free for gestures -- became the source of a running gag about the Vikings' bland attack.

What the offensive coordinator is doing with Derek Carr and Amari Cooper in Oakland, however, would suggest Musgrave might have been limited by his quarterbacking circumstances in Minnesota. In any case, the Vikings won't be able to learn much from the offense the Bengals pasted in Mike Zimmer's second-to-last game as their defensive coordinator.

"It's different," Zimmer said. "I think he's done a great job of working within his personnel there and the things that they're doing now.

"They're doing a good job protecting, but they're also getting the ball out. A lot of times they'll go with no backs in the backfield, throw the ball quickly. They'll take their shots down the field, they give you a lot of different things -- motions, movements, the zone-read plays. It's a heavy mixture of things that if defenses aren't careful, they can confuse you. [Michael] Crabtree is a good receiver and [Amari] Cooper I think is probably going to be exceptional. So I think he's doing a great job with them and I think he's doing a great job with Carr."

When he came to Minnesota, Musgrave spoke of running a "global" offense, cribbed from concepts he'd learned working for several teams. He wound up with a milquetoast scheme that quickly fell out of favor in Minnesota, especially once Ponder slipped from serviceable to erratic. Now, as the Vikings head into Oakland with the league's 30th-ranked offense, they'll have to slow down or keep up with one of the more dynamic offenses they've seen this year. And for some Vikings players -- not to mention their fans -- it will likely seem a bit odd to see Musgrave at the helm of it.