Hmmm... what do the Tice haters have to say about this? I know their biggest gripe is the playcalling (which I have been hating untill this last game) Its amazing that when the reins are loosened and the Vikes throw on First and second down that the offense rolls.
Patrick Reusse: Tice inherited Vikings roster full of dead weight
Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune
January 15, 2005 PATR0115
The Vikings were in the late-season doldrums last month, and the Purple Faithful was very restless. Coach Mike Tice was engaging in his weekly radio show with KFAN-AM's Dan Barreiro.
A caller recommended Tice's dismissal. The coach suggested in turn that his critics look at the substandard roster he inherited, adding this could change an opinion on how he had performed in three seasons on the job.
The public's view of Tice became considerably more generous this week, following the 31-17 playoff upset over Green Bay. Among other things, this put Tice three seasons ahead of his predecessor, Dennis Green, on a timetable for winning a playoff game.
And, if things do not go well Sunday in Philadelphia and the goofballs get restless again, Tice still does have at his disposal the piece of evidence mentioned in last month's radio exchange:
The state of the roster that he took over, in comparison to what exists today.
Tice does not claim sovereignty over these upgrades -- merely strong input, to go with that of director of college scouting Scott Studwell, director of pro scouting Paul Wiggin, executive capologist Rob Brzezinski, other scouts and Tice's coaching staff.
Green had inherited a team that was 8-8 in 1991 and included players such as Anthony and Cris Carter, Gary Zimmerman, Randall McDaniel, Kirk Lowdermilk, Henry Thomas, John Randle, Chris Doleman and Carl Lee.
He had a strong run, reaching a peak in 1998 with the only 15-1 team not to make it to a Super Bowl. He had selected receiver Randy Moss in the 1998 draft, and he used the 11th overall pick to claim quarterback Daunte Culpepper in 1999.
Both were there for Tice when he took over in 2002 -- and not much else.
The last significant game Green coached was on Dec. 2, 2001, in Pittsburgh. The Vikings entered 4-6 and not yet ready to concede there would be no playoffs.
Culpepper tried to play that day on a bum knee. Gallantry aside, the Vikings lost 21-16 and the playoff thoughts were over. Green was going to be fired, so he quit before the final game. That was a Tice-coached, 19-3 loss in Baltimore that dropped the Vikings to 5-11.
Go back to that game in Pittsburgh -- the last in the Green Era where the Vikings still were trying to accomplish something -- and compare it to the players the Vikings had on the field last Sunday in Green Bay, and the coach's point is made:
The roster rebuilding done by Tice, Studwell and their Winter Park cohorts in three seasons has been impressive.
The comparison mentioned is available in the chart accompanying this article. The idea was to determine positions where the Vikings would be better off -- with a player Tice inherited (based on that last-shot Pittsburgh game in 2001) or with the lads who defeated the Packers on Sunday.
Observations on the quality of the players were offered to Tice. He either confirmed or enlightened. Obviously, a playoff team is going to be superior in numerous areas to a team limping to a 5-11 finish, but in black-and-white, the difference is dramatic.
There's one position of 22 where the 2001 Vikings clearly were superior: H-back/fullback, with a young, strong Jim Kliensasser, as opposed to Sean Berton. Presuming Kleinsasser does return next season, you wonder if all these injuries will permit him again to be what he once was -- a great blocker, and the recipient of a combined 83 passes in 2002-03.
Other notes from this comparison:
• Cris Carter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he was at the end of his time here in 2001, while Nate Burleson is now arriving as 1A to Randy Moss' No. 1 at wide receiver.
• Michael Bennett was a rookie with star potential in 2001. Doug Chapman was his backup. Three years later, Bennett isn't a star, but the running back situation is much improved with Onterrio Smith, Mewelde Moore and Moe Williams also available.
• Robert Griffith received many accolades as a strong safety. Tice said the Vikings have his equals today -- with Willie Offord as a comparable tackler, and Corey Chavous (out again Sunday with his elbow injury) being better in coverage.
• Ed McDaniel was at the end of the line with the Vikings. That's what gives E.J. Henderson, the hard-tackling, lost-in-space second-year player, a draw at middle linebacker.
• Chris Liwienski's lack of quickness made him problematical as a right tackle. He's more effective at left guard, where he lined up between Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk for two seasons.
Bottom line: As advertised (by the coach himself), Tice's rÃ©sumÃ© does deserve extra credit for helping to transform a roster in three years from worn out and thin to capable of winning a playoff game ... at least one.