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Tice says Vikes not panicking Fans run shrieking for the hills (11/12/2003)
By John Edstrom

John Edstrom
Well fans, those who tuned into the Gophers-Wisconsin game got an excellent preview of what it would be like to watch the Vikings play defense out in San Diego the following day. At least the Gophers won their game, but suffering through two such horrible performances of Minnesota defensive football on two successive days is about enough to cure a native of watching football anymore. We should all leave the TV dark and go deer hunting, a sport which treats dumb animals much more humanely, for that is the category into which Vikings fans are fast slipping, the last three games having rendered them speechless.

I remember a certain scribbler who maintained, back in the halcyon days of the 6-0 won/loss record that, "this is a solid team, not liable to collapse like some of the smoke and mirrors jobs of previous years." This fellow should be demoted to writing obits, of which, come to think of it, this piece is an example.

In fact, this team has collapsed totally, at least on defense. Against the Chargers, arguably the worst team in the league, they could not tackle, cover, nor rush the passer. They were run on wide and up the middle and gave up passes all over the field without anyone being close to the wide open San Diego receivers. Last Sunday, after looking credible earlier this year, Viking defenders were substantially worse than the worst game they played last year, and yes, I am remembering the debacle out in Seattle.

Just as it is impossible to understand why the Purple defense has disintegrated so totally, one can not imagine them recovering respectability anymore this year. It is as if some infectious, flesh-eating disease has ravaged their ranks, robbing them of their ability to run or to close their hands into the all important fist (except when committing defensive holding). Perhaps one of the Africans playing the game has exposed them to an exotic virus like the ebola. I can offer no more sophisticated analysis.

Actually, it appears as if the same abject panic has overtaken this year's defense that was so typical of last year. It doesn't look as if any of those guys has confidence that he can make any play at all, and the best one can say is that it doesn't look as if a team that gave up four TDs in four possessions in the first half last Sunday can get any worse.

There had been careless talk of Mike Tice being proclaimed Coach of the Year before the present infamy. If he can somehow resurrect the Purple defense and lead them to, say, a 10-6 record, he will actually deserve it. They way they look now, I don't see how they can win another game, and they still face the Raiders, Lions, Bears, and Cardinals.

Maybe none of the Vikings are panicking, but I sure am. 


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