One thing that I think separates any of the UFFda! Sports (our new umbrella brand and upcoming centralized Minnesota Sports news/podcast/YouTube Show/social media app) sites, like purplePTSD.com or our new Minnesota Wild site MinnyIce.com, from the competition is the fact that we keep our fingers on the pulse of what fans are talking about.
We often relay that Zeitgeist back to the fans, in a self-perpetuating chicken/egg cycle. That brings us to the topic of today’s article, which stems from a comment on another article I wrote on VikingsTERRITORY.com this week.
I was reacting to the Florio’s comment about the importance of the new offensive coordinator hire on Zimmer’s future (assuming that Kubiak retires) when someone commented the following:
Now, I can see why someone named VikingsSince97 would place on the Mike Tice regime. I can. I’ve often said that I consider the Tice era the most formative era of my life. I just seem to remember it differently than some.
The best way to sum it up would be the recent appearance by that era’s left tackle Bryant McKinnie on one of my podcasts recently.
I asked McKinnie about the wasted potential of that era courtesy of then owner and current used car salesman Red McCombs’ penny pitching. He made it pretty clear that the culprit of the back-to-back seasons where the team started 6-0 and 5-1 but missed the playoffs was the underinvestment in the defense.
Case in point. The Vikings went into the 2004 season $33 million under the cap, which was by far the most of any team.
It was also an NFL record at the time.
The 2004 Vikings had the 26th-ranked defense in the NFL. Down from the 23rd-ranked unit in 2003. The offense?
So, do I think Tice would do better than Zimmer? Yes.
The Vikings have every bit the talent on offense to have the best unit in the league. They are simply a good offensive line and a less risk averse philosophy away from besting the Packers as the highest scoring unit in the NFL.
Tice is known as one of, if not THE best offensive line coach in league history. He believes in a philosophy of team-building that starts with the line, which is basically the antithesis of what Zimmer believes.
Imagine the 2018 or 2019 Vikings if they didn’t have two of the worst guards in league history in 2018? Or the 27th-ranked unit in 2019?
Imagine the 2020 offense if there weren’t games where they went deep before the end of the 3rd-quarter. Imagine if Kirk Cousins had a consistent pocket to pass from. Imagine an offensive line that can plant their feet in the ground and impose their will on opposing defenses?
Look at this ranking of 2004 offensive line breakdown:
What the Vikings lack in agility they make up for with girth and continuity. Bryant McKinnie is a rising star and center Matt Birk is an established Pro Bowler. The Vikings return all five starters and will once again remain a key ingredient for one of the league’s most prolific offenses.
Or this ranking from before the 2003 season (which the 2004 rankings show was not a fair ranking):
|12. Minnesota Vikings2002: 5th in rushing (118.6), 1st in YPC (5.2), 29th in sacks (49), 27th in PA per sack (12.4)C-Matt BirkG-David DixonG-Chris LiwienskiT-Bryant McKinnieT-Mike RosenthalThe Vikings have the biggest offensive line in the NFL with a combined weight of 1646 pounds. Having Bryant McKinnie available right from training camp will be a major plus for the Vikings. The contract dispute last year did little to help his progress as a rookie. He is talented and ready to become an elite tackle. Mike Rosenthal was brought in to solidify the right side of the line. At center the Vikings are set with Matt Birk. He is an outstanding center who is amongst the best in the NFL. The arrival of Rosenthal will allow Liwienski to return to his natural position at guard and David Dixon should have another decent season in him. Look for significant improvement in pass protection in 2003 and a good showing with run blocking again this season.Key backups include Everett Lindsay and Adam Haayer but nobody really stands out as a great prospect if the Vikings lose a starter to injury|
Do I think Tice could do better?
I know he could.
Despite the mass hysteria surrounding the Randy Ratio at the time (which wasn’t branding correctly nor should it be something announced by coaches (as you’re telling other teams your gameplan)) Tice took advantage of the offensive talent on his roster.
The Vikings core defense under Zimmer has never been great enough, even at its peak, to get this team over the hump. What the Vikings need is a offensive minded head coach that will elevate this amazing roster, not hold it back.
Tice never had the purse string control that Zimmer has had, in fact, I can’t think of two more polar opposite regimes from a cap perspective. Not only did the Vikings change how contracts were done in the NFL to land Kirk Cousins, they maxed out their cap to help Zimmer put together the defense of his dreams.
Tice never had that. If he did? He may have received the respect he deserves from a fan-base with selective memories. As the cap isn’t the only polar opposite between he and Zimmer, as their team building philosophies also focus on building the line first-or-last respectively.
Then again, I could just be defending my friend, which means that he is a bad judge of character.