I Know It’s Week One But……..

By Jerold Wells Jr.
Updated: September 13, 2005

MINNESOTA—The more things change, the more they stay the same. Last year I called for Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice’s head on this very website due to gross negligence in his personal life and overall ineptitude as the coach of MY Minnesota Vikings.

Allow me to reiterate the fact that Mike Tice should no longer be the Head Football coach while taking a different approach this time around. First and foremost let me start with the good news. This is the Vikings year. The NFC North is weak from top to bottom and the team that wins the division doesn’t have to play lights out for the entire season.

Green Bay is experiencing the end of the Brett Favre era and Mike Sherman continues to struggle while attempting to keep the team together in spite of an atrocious defense. Detroit is still at least a year away from putting together the beautiful puzzle all of the pieces they have will form.

Chicago has a talented young QB playing in place of an injured, talented young QB and they will struggle until either one develops into the star they can and should be. That leaves my Vikings. Minnesota is supposed to be the best team in the conference. The crème de la crème. By means of a busy off-season they were to have obtained the perfect blend of playmaking defense, efficient yet explosive offense and solid, sometimes spectacular special teams.

Sunday was supposed to the coming out party for each aspect of the team as Minnesota faced a Tampa Bay Buccaneer team looking to regain it’s championship form. Two out of three ain’t bad. Minnesota’s offense was putrid on Sunday. It’s easy to sit back in my recliner and coach minus the pressure that the rigors of NFL life give….and since it’s so easy I’ll jump right in. Why did Minnesota have such a hard time scoring this past weekend?

According to “the coach” the offensive line play was horrendous. They couldn’t run block or pass protect. Didn’t Mike Tice used to be an offensive line coach? What’s the problem? Has the ability to teach the position that brought him to the sideline in the first place completely abandoned him? Minnesota’s offensive line should be one of many strengths not a glaring weakness.

They should not lack the discipline needed to play relatively error free football (and commit penalties that erase a total of 12 points during Sunday’s game). Mike Tice is an offensive coach (or at least that’s what the rumor is) and one of his many off-season claims was to recommit to the running game; to bring balance to the Vikings offense.

Every single one of Minnesota’s five turnovers committed was due to passing the football. I’m thinking that by turnover number three, perhaps the game plan should have turned from the Greatest Show on Turf to Student Body Left, Student Body Right, Fullback Up the Middle.

I mean seriously, that the Vikings even had a chance to take the lead near the end of the game before their 5th and final turnover is more so a testament to their resilience than any kind of coaching brilliance. Every team in football, for better or for worse, takes the guise of its head coach.

The New Orleans Saints are playing in the mold of Jim Haslett (who, if the Saints make the playoffs is Coach of the Year by a LANDSLIDE), Jim Mora Jr. has fashioned the Atlanta Falcons in his image, and the list goes on and on. If the Minnesota Vikings are to be the Super Bowl contender they ought to be it will not be under the bipolar, identity-less head coach they have now.

What kind of team are they? Are they a running team like the Baltimore Ravens or the Washington Redskins? A passing team like the Indianapolis Colts or the Seattle Seahawks? Does the run set up the pass much like Kansas City? Does the pass set up the run like in St. Louis? Do the Vikings want to be known as a team whose strength is the defense like Philadelphia or Tampa Bay?

It’s easy to kick a man while he’s down and with the embarrassing performance Mike Tice’s team gave off last Sunday, there are plenty people kicking him. It is obvious that Tice is overmatched by the breath and width of his job and hopefully this is the last year he has to struggle with such a burden.

The optimist in me says that he will somehow realize the potential his team possesses and lead his team, as well as the longsuffering Vikings fans, to a Super Bowl. The realist in me says that since he hasn’t yet realized said potential that he won’t anytime soon.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.