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Updated: October 18th, 2012 4:09pm
Coordinator 'not proud' of how Percy Harvin was used in red zone

Coordinator 'not proud' of how Percy Harvin was used in red zone

by Judd Zulgad
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave admitted Thursday that he wasn't "proud" of the fact the Minnesota Vikings had wide receiver Percy Harvin off the field for five of nine snaps in the red zone on the team's opening three drives on Sunday at Washington.

Those drives stalled at the Redskins 2-, 9- and 2-yard line and all ended with Blair Walsh field goals. The Vikings took a 9-0 lead in the opening quarter, but Washington came back to earn a 38-26 victory.

The thing that was hard to figure was that while Harvin, the Vikings' most dynamic playmaker, was seeing limited time in the red-zone situations, fellow wide receiver Michael Jenkins was left in for all nine plays. Devin Aromashodu was in for as many plays as Harvin and even wide receiver Stephen Burton got in for two plays.

Musgrave acknowledged that Harvin's absence had nothing to do with his health. Harvin, who has been used for 74 percent of the snaps on offense this season after seeing that figure sit at a head-scratching 57.9 in 2011, declined to comment Monday when asked about his absence in the red zone.

"That's just the way the personnel groups went and that was part of our plan, which we're not proud of," Musgrave said.

The Vikings entered last Sunday's game ninth in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage, having scored nine in 15 opportunities (60 percent). But they only scored two touchdowns in seven trips inside the Washington 20.

"We don't feel good about it," Musgrave said. "We didn't get enough bang out of our buck for all the work it takes to get down in the red area. Was it seven times? We want to come away with sevens. We're anxious to get back on the field starting with this week and be so much better."

Asked what went wrong, Musgrave said: "A lot of things. Both conceptually and also execution wise. We've really doubled our efforts. We always like to work hard and leave no stone unturned. But this week (the red zone is) definitely a point of emphasis so we can take advantage of those opportunities."

As far as Harvin's use in the red zone, Musgrave said the fact that teams have taken to double-teaming the receiver isn't necessarily affecting how the Vikings utilize him.

"(The Redskins) did a good job," Musgrave said. "We matched him up on a linebacker one time and we just didn't have the protection to get it thrown to him in the first drive. We're hoping to use him down there both in the run game and play action when he's in the backfield. We just want to make those plays work better next time, or call them at the right time, like we didn't on Sunday."

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd