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Heady days for Vikes fans We go from wearing to breathing into paper bags in one season (10/01/2003)
By John Edstrom

John Edstrom
Well fans, I could have written this last Friday and mailed it in..."star receiver pops off to the press, dogs it on the field, and then participates in whacko sidelines meltdown...teammates sick and tired of his act..." And it would have worked just fine if I had avoided mentioning Randy Moss by name. What a rare treat for fans of the Purple to compare and contrast 49ers enfant terrible Terrell Owens with the Vikes Randy Moss, sporting gentleman and elder statesman. If Moss can keep this up, he will once again be the recipient of interference calls like he used to get before he took up hosing down officials with Gatorade. Think of it!

And what an embarrassment of riches for Vikes fans who were just allowing themselves to hope that Daunte Culpepper was beginning to play up to his potential. After a week of taking snaps with the first team, Gus Frerotte looks like a world beater. Is he really that good, or did he just have a career day? Chances are we'll get to check it out down in Atlanta next week, as the Vikes experience the luxury of not having to rush the ailing Culpepper back into action against a Falcons team that, all against preseason expectations, turns out to be a soft spot on the schedule minus Michael Vick.

Odds now are very good that the Vikes will be 5-0 next Sunday evening, for the first time in how long? How has this miracle been accomplished?

It appears, at least at this point, that everything Mike Tice and his minions did in the off season to try to upgrade the Purple has panned out. Our quarter backing, by objective measure, has been the best in the league whether Culpepper or Frerotte is behind center. Much of this is the function of an offensive line which this year has improved its already good run blocking, and has upgraded its pass protection to the same level.

Under these circumstances, we may do well to play Shaun Hill a few games, and then quick trade him for that one more good pass rusher. Moe Williams is no doubt a very good back, and Onterrio Smith is likely becoming one; but I suspect there are few running backs in the NFL who wouldn't look pretty good here. We have come full circle since the days when Mike Lynn sold the farm to acquire Herschel (Hoi'shl make mo' money ev'y day) Walker, only to discover that without the rest of a running team, you can't much use a running back.

And who would have believed that the biggest problems in the Vikes defensive backfield would be solved by guys who were already on the roster last year? We knew Corey Chavous was a decent player, but what amazing good fortune to have both Brian Williams and Russell turn into such solid players. Four interceptions each? If that keeps up, they could both be voted all-pro. Pinch me hard.

In fact, let me have one of those brown paper bags left over from last year so that I can avoid hyperventilating. If the Vikes do get to 5-0, it will be against what looked like a tough early schedule which actually turned out to contain three playoff teams that have so far rolled craps this year. Coming up are Denver, Seattle, and Kansas City, all undefeated. The Giants are 2-1 and made the playoffs last year, Oakland was in the Super Bowl, and who knows but what the Cheeseheads might get well.

Our purple-helmeted warriors have a long history of raising impossibly inflated hopes, only to fizzle at the crucial moment; let's wait for them to get through some of the middle part of this schedule before we book airfare to Houston. 


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