View Full Version : Anglo's Angle - Past, present & future - part 1

06-18-2002, 04:10 AM

06-19-2002, 04:36 AM

06-23-2002, 02:04 PM
This time last year people were getting ready for pre-season and looking forward to a new season. Michael Bennett was the Vikes No.1 draft pick going into training camp, Daunte was looking to repeat his previous season's form and Denny Green was predicting how many yards and TD's Moss and Bennett would gain. A year on and what has changed in that time? the following first part of a three-part article looks at 2001 and what happened ...<BR><BR>

Just before the start of training camp came the news that Moss had signed a contract extension, McCombs had decided that he wanted the issue of keeping Moss resolved, so that his star receiver could concentrate on opposing defences instead of worrying about where his next paycheck was coming from. That was one of the last pieces of good news that the Vikes had in 2001, less than a week later Korey Stringer died due to heat-related complications after collapsing at practice and from there the season went downhill. With one of the mainstays of the OL gone, the running threat that Bennett could have offered never really materialised and so defences could concentrate on pressuring Culpepper and so shutting down the WR's.<BR>

Much was made last year of the drafting of Bennett, he was going to replace Robert Smith in the backfield and do many great things during his rookie season. This was not good news for Doug Chapman who had been drafted the previous year and consequently, due to Green's reluctance to name either as the permanent starter, we ended with a running back by committee situation.<BR>

In all Bennett did not have an outstanding season, however he did show some moves and began to play better towards the end of the year. To be fair it is never easy for a rookie to come in and replace a player of Robert Smith's calibre, much was expected of him but given the help - or lack of it - that he got from the OL, then he did as well as could be expected.<BR>

With defences able to focus on Culpepper then it was almost inevitable that he would end up getting injured, partly due to the OL usually collapsing in front of him and also due to his never give up attitude. In short he took it upon himself to lead by example and consequently he picked up a season-ending leg injury as a result. This then gave Bouman a chance to step up and, in the little time that he played before being injured, he showed that he can be a serious No.2 to Culpepper, however when he went down then Wynn took over and showed that the NFLE is his limit for the moment.<BR>

On the other side of the ball the defence equally had it's woes as well, Hovan was the lone player on the DL who consistently played well. It was not hard then for teams to double team him knowing that none of the other DL were likley to pose a threat. Robert Griffith was also lost for the first part of the season following a broken leg in the first game against Chicago, this removed the cornerstone and leader of the D. The Vikes were ranked near 30/31 in rushing defense, 17/31 for passing and overall 27/31, the biggest surprise was the improvement in the passing defense which was due in no small measure to the work done by Willie Shaw. The rushing defense was diabolical partly due to the ease that the DL were handled and partly due to LBs who were overwhelmed with the bodies coming at them all the time. It was this porous defense that allowed teams to get a jump on the Vikes in most games, this had the knock on effect of the offense abandoning the run early on in the game and so making the team one-dimensional.<BR>

One other factor that has not yet been mentioned is that of the coaching and play calling that was evident during games. It should be noted that the one of reasons for the improved play from the secondary was the change of coach, with Shaw coming in to replace Denny Green's sidekick, namely Richard Solomon. At the same time as Solomon moved to coaching the LB's the standard of play there went down - coincidence ? I think not.<BR>

Solomon's presence in the last few years has been nothing short of disgraceful and he helped influence the ' bend-not-break ' philosophy that has been the mainstay of recent Viking teams. Ultimately it was he that had another further reaching influence on the Vikings, that of Denny Greens departure from Winter Park.<BR>

The play calling on offense was at best average, especially given the possibilities that can be run. There was no imagination in what was sent to the huddle and defences soon worked out how to stop the Vikes scoring many points. We even had the situation early in the season where Green called the plays in the second half of a game due to the vanilla calling being provided by Sherm Lewis on the day, no further action was taken and Lewis continued to do the same for the rest of the season.<BR>

One further thing that affected the offense without any doubt were the sideline tirades that occurred several times during the season, these were invariably involving offensive players and, to most peoples surprise, the main culprit being Cris Carter. Number 80 has done much for the team since he was picked up from the Eagles and will be remembered by all that were fortunate to see him play, unfortunately these outbursts and the subsequent off-season actions will not be forgotten for awhile by some. <BR>

The final act of a bad season came in the first week of January when Denny Green's loyalty to Solomon brought things to a head. It is believed that Solomon was to be removed but Denny would not do this, push came to shove and the result was that Denny was gone under a buyout deal with McCombs. He never even coached the last game - the postponed MNF game against Baltimore - as he bailed out and left Mike Tice less than a week to prepare the team for the game.<BR>

So the sheriff was finally run out of town much to the delight of the Twin Cities media who mainly had a hate-hate relationship with Green, the fans however had mixed views. Some, like the media, were glad to see him whilst some others felt that he had been badly treated and forced out of Minnesota. This writer had always backed Green from when he had been appointed HC, however in recent years it became clear that his lack of attention to the defence was costing the team dearly. After ten years it was obvious that a fresh start was needed and Mike Tice was the man given that job, his style is different to that of Green - the question now is just how is he going to do it ... ?

06-23-2002, 02:04 PM