Don Banks, SI.com
So it looks like the good people of Minnesota are going to finally get themselves a new $675 million football stadium. Now, if they can only make a new team part of the deal.
Did we overrate the Vikings, with their five new defensive starters and an offense that looked more than capable, even without Randy Moss? On the surface, it sure looks like we did. But that doesn't change the fact that they're still the most talented team in a weak division, and there's plenty of time for them to sort things out.
The team sources in Minnesota I talked to said the Vikings are stunned and doing a bit of soul-searching, but aren't yet in panic mode. At a team meeting on Monday, there was a circle-the-wagons mentality, with some of the Vikings' veterans standing up and apologizing for their shoddy play. Coach Mike Tice, is opting not to kick his wounded, and has expressed support for his beleaguered bunch.
What's gone wrong? Here are three factors that may be contributing heavily to Minnesota's malaise:
1. With eight interceptions, two fumbles lost and zero touchdown passes, quarterback Daunte Culpepper looks lost. Culpepper won't say it, but he misses offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan's in Miami now, and Culpepper has yet to develop the same kinship with either new coordinator Steve Loney or new quarterbacks coach Rich Olson.
2. There have been too many changes on defense for the unit to play with any cohesiveness. While some have faulted Minnesota for bringing in too many older players -- linebacker Sam Cowart, defensive tackle Pat Williams, safety Darren Sharper, et al -- the Vikings didn't get anywhere in recent years when they tried to mold a younger, homegrown defense.
3. The offense needs to establish its own post-Moss identity. With a running game that has been non-existent (it looks as if it's Melwelde Moore's turn given Michael Bennett's fumbling problem), the Vikings have yet to feature the balanced attack that they hoped for in Moss's absence.
A win this week against the itinerant Saints will go a long way toward calming the Vikings' jangling nerves. Another loss and true desperation will begin to set in. It's only Week 3, but in winless Minnesota, that already feels plenty late.