Lurtsema's Reaction: Emotions In Check

There were plenty of good indicators that the Vikings have assembled a good team this year, and the players, especially the defensive linemen, were excited after the game. However, Vikings head coach Mike Tice had his emotions under control.

I could not be a head coach in the National Football League. NFL head coaches have to hold in their emotion on too many occasions. While I was a player, you could just let yourself go and, as I always say, go with the flow.

In the Vikings' 23-6 preseason win, both Arizona head coach Dennis Green and Vikings head coach Mike Tice had to hold their emotions back. Tice had to be — no, was — truly excited after the game, as he had just beaten the man who had given him his first coaching job as a tight ends coach in 1996, then offensive line coach the next five years. Coach Tice never said a word about his feelings after the game, but whenever any coach beats his mentor, and in this case a good one, it just seems natural that he'd take pride in that accomplishment, especially when he knows how much Green loves to win, regular season or preseason games.

To add to Tice's accomplishment, the Vikings played so well, making offensive and defensive adjustments with each snap of the ball. As the Vikings were getting a feel for the Cardinals with the first three drives of the game and came away without any points, grumblings about the No. 1 ranked offense from last year started to make their way through the press box. Early on, the Vikings weren't able to run the ball against an average Cardinals defense and questions were starting to surface. But when the Cardinals defense was putting seven or eight players in the box, it's difficult to run the ball effectively. Rather obviously, that opens up the passing game, and the Vikings coaching staff made that adjustment.

During the first quarter of most football games, each team feels the other out in their game plan, pretty much like a good chess game. With the Cardinals defense set up to stop the run, the ever-improving Daunte Culpepper did what he is becoming known for, getting the Vikings into a better play against a defensive set. Culpepper's audible early in the second quarter led to a rather easy 48-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss. This type of play-calling and maturing by the players just brings more substance to how good this team is. Notice I said how good this team "is" and not "will be," as the so-so defense of last year has greatly improved.

As for the offense, it is still explosive in the starting ranks and the depth is exceptional, especially with the running backs and tight ends. The timetable for the Minnesota Vikings to contend for the Super Bowl seems to be this year, and with cornerback Brian Williams potentially out for three to five weeks, don't be surprised if you see a trade for a cornerback or linebacker. With the depth at these offensive positions, why cut good players when other options are available?

The talent on this team is coming forward, and while Tice was holding back his emotions, the other half of the equation — the players — were rocking the locker room, especially members of the defensive line, which led the way in generating seven sacks.

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