Offensive Troubles A Point Of Concern

The Vikings weren't exactly sure how they would address their play-calling situation on Sunday, but we might find out more today or Thursday.

Although it appeared coach Mike Tice had taken over the play-calling duties from new offensive coordinator Steve Loney near the end of the Vikings' 37-8 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday, Tice was vague about just how big of role he played in that area and his plans for the upcoming game against New Orleans.

"I think my role was to make sure that the timing issues, the rhythm issues, from booth to field to player was better," Tice said Monday. "I thought it was. I don't think at any point that we had any issues with the clock. Substitution wise I think we need to still 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.

"We will continue to look at that as the next couple of days progress. Hopefully by Wednesday, if we were to make any tweaks in how we are doing it, we can have those things ready for the team period on Wednesday. We will address some things. I am sure that there will be some tweaks. How many and how much, time will tell over the next two days in what direction we will go."

Tice could not be faulted for taking a more active role in calling plays. The Vikings have one offensive touchdown — a meaningless 5-yard run by quarterback Daunte Culpepper with the Bengals ahead 37-0 Sunday — in eight quarters this season. Meanwhile, the offense has turned over the ball 12 times in two games, including eight interceptions by Culpepper.

Under former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scott Linehan, Culpepper played like an MVP in 2004. But the quarterback has struggled in almost every situation two games into Loney's reign as the coordinator. This is especially troubling for Tice, who considers his expertise to be on the offensive side of the ball.

One thing Tice has talked about doing is moving Loney upstairs into the coaches' box. Loney also is the offensive line coach and has been attempting to handle his duties from the sideline. But Tice wouldn't say if Loney will be working Sunday's game against the Saints from the press box area.

"I am going to look at everything," Tice said. "Right now, I couldn't tell you and I'm not going to announce changes. I don't think that is fair. If I feel like there needs to be some movement around from booth to the field from field to booth, who calls the plays into the quarterback, anything like that, I think it will progress to the next two days and then take its form Wednesday (in practice).

"To sit here today still within the 24-hour window as Coach (Bud) Grant told me, I don't think right now is the time to make that decision or announce that decision."


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