Kevin Seifert - Who's going to make the calls?
At 0-2, who will make the call?
Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
Steve Loney made a generous, if not acrobatic, offer Monday. Responding to reports that he might soon give up his playcalling duties, the Vikings' genial offensive coordinator suggested he could keep himself busy regardless.
"If it will help us win," Loney said, "I'll stand on my head."
Coach Mike Tice insisted Monday he has not decided how -- or if -- he will restructure the Vikings' offensive coaching arrangement, a day after his team narrowly avoided a shutout in its 37-8 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tice appeared to be calling plays late in Sunday's game, but as of Monday afternoon, Loney said he had not discussed the issue with Tice.
A resolution almost certainly will come for the Vikings by Wednesday, but it seems likely Tice at least will take a larger role in calling the plays. Another option is for Loney, who doubles as the offensive line coach, to move into the coaches booth and delegate his in-game line duties to assistant offensive line coach Corbin Lacina.
"I think we still need to continue to address who is in the booth, who is on the field and who has what role as far as it pertains to play-calling," Tice said. "We will continue to look at that as the next couple of days progress. ... We will address some things. I am sure there will be some tweaks. How many and how much, time will tell."
In their 0-2 start, the Vikings have committed nearly as many turnovers (12) as they have scored points on offense (14). The miscues have prevented the Vikings from establishing any rhythm, and Culpepper admitted Monday that he forced passes in a misguided attempt to spark a comeback against the Bengals.
"I need to get back to playing within myself," Culpepper said, "and doing what I love to do, which is make plays. If it's not there, tuck it and run. And if that's not there, get down and be smart about it."
Tice and Loney acknowledged Culpepper's overexuberance Monday, and Loney added, "I think everybody, Daunte included, needs to just do their job. I don't think any one person needs to feel like they have to carry an offense on its shoulders."
That includes Loney, who has dealt with an unprecedented workload for a modern NFL coach -- primary responsibility for the offense, the line and play-calling. While Loney did not indict his own performance Monday, saying he has performed "pretty good" thus far, he acknowledged his ultimate responsibility in elevating the offense's production.
On a day when the Houston Texans became the first team to fire its offensive coordinator (line coach Joe Pendry will replace the ousted Chris Palmer), Loney was nowhere near losing his job. But he said he is willing to do "whatever it is determined I need to in order for us to win.
"I'm not under the assumption that something is going to change," Loney said. "If it does, it does. If I need to take the tape off the locker room to help us win, I'll be happy to do that, too.
"I'm willing to do anything, and we'll look at everything. Because I fully understand that the responsibilities for this lie in my lap. I'm not going to shirk from it. You've got to be man enough to make decisions and go along with decisions that can help the offense have success."
Loney is in his first year as an NFL coordinator, but he called plays for Iowa State and the Gophers in previous jobs as an offensive coordinator. Popular and well-liked in the locker room, Loney has seemed to face little resistance in his transition from predecessor Scott Linehan.
"What we have to do," running back Michael Bennett said, "is execute the play calls better, whether it's in the passing game or the running game."
Loney acknowledged that Sunday's early deficit forced him away from his original intent of an equitable pass-run ratio. He said "there are always two or three calls you wish you had back" but noted Culpepper had other options on at least one of his interceptions.
"I'm not going to sit here and slam the table and say there absolutely won't be any [changes]," Loney said. "When you only have one touchdown in two games, you obviously have some things to fix. So our job as coaches is to look. If something will help us win, then that's what I'm for.
"I'm not going to let my ego get in the way of this team having success."
"From the fury of the Northmen, O Lord, save us!"
-- From a monestary in Ireland.