Job Security, Like Division, Still Wide Open

High expectations and a poor start have the Vikings searching for answers, but the silver lining is that they are still only a half game out of first place in the NFC North.

The Vikings won't be doing much relaxing during their bye week.

After attempting to keep a relatively upbeat attitude after opening the season with back-to-back losses, new owner Zygi Wilf emerged from the locker room with a look of disgust following Sunday's 30-10 loss at Atlanta.

That left the Vikings with a 1-3 record entering the bye and searching for a solution to one of the NFL's most disappointing starts. The saving grace is that the NFC North is the league's weakest division, and even at two games under .500, the Vikings are right in the thick of the race.

The team has yet to play a division foe, and will return from the bye to face Chicago on Oct. 16. Coach Mike Tice met with his players Monday to address various issues.

"You look at talent, and when there is talent in the room, that's fine, but when that talent is not playing together as a unit, that is not fine," he said. "Everything rests with the top guy to make sure that the talent that you believe you have in the room is working together to execute the call, whatever it may be. Once that scheme is executed to the letter of it's intent or design, then you become a good football team. Until you do that, you are not good. Right now, that performance (Sunday) was not good."

Tice's job, no doubt, is hanging in the balance. In the last year of his contract, the Vikings will need a quick turnaround or Wilf will be conducting a coaching search sooner rather than later. Wilf could look to give the team a jump start by making an in-season change, but his options obviously would be limited.

Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, a hot head coaching candidate a few years back, could be an option, but the performance by his defense hasn't exactly given Wilf confidence that he could handle more responsibilities.

Mike Ditka and Jimmy Johnson, both working as television analysts, also have been mentioned, but neither might want to jump into a situation that looks bleak after only four weeks.

"Coaches need to do a better job, players need to do a better job, we all need to do a better job," Tice said. "It is unfortunate to go into a bye week and have to spread out two weeks getting ready for a game coming off a loss like that, but that is reality. That is the way the loss came out, that is the way we feel, now we have to deal with it."

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