Vikings Still Searching For Answers

With a decent record, this could have been a quiet bye week. Instead, the Vikings are scrambling for answers, hiring consultants and disputing reports.

Despite the Vikings' 1-3 start, owner Zygi Wilf said coach Mike Tice's job is safe for the remainder of the season. That nugget of news is only part of the excitement that has surrounded what should have been a relatively quiet off week for the Vikings.

The intrigue started Monday as Tice held an 80-minute meeting with his players after Sunday's 30-10 loss in Atlanta. Afterward, three unnamed Vikings told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Tice considered resigning during the meeting.

Tice disputed the report, saying, "That was absolutely the opposite of the point I made during the meeting."

Added injured center Matt Birk: "The last thing that was said in the meeting was that we should keep what was said in there between us. For someone to go to the media, not use their name and talk about what they claim happened or was said is a bunch of crap. It shows that those one or two players, whoever it was, aren't in this for the team. It shows they're just in it for themselves."

Not only did Tice not quit, but owner Zygi Wilf gave him a vote of confidence Tuesday. Tice, looking to fix what has gone wrong, also announced longtime NFL coaches Foge Fazio and Jerry Rhome will join the team this week to provide an independent analysis.

Rhome, 63, a Vikings assistant in 1994, will become a permanent member of the staff if Tice has his way. Rhome could end up as a volunteer assistant if a full-time agreement isn't reached.

Tice wants Rhome to be an offensive assistant, sitting in the coaching booth during games. That would mean Steve Loney, the Vikings offensive coordinator and line coach, could move back to the sidelines during games. He could still provide play-call options to Tice and also work with the line.

Fazio, 65, the Vikings' defensive coordinator from 1995-99, is retired and likely will only be around for a short time to provide his views on the defensive schemes after watching film.

"These two men are willing to do this out of friendship," Tice said. "I trust them, and I know they can help us."

As for Wilf, he attempted to defuse speculation that Tice might be fired this season if things don't turn around.

"I'm backing our coach 100 percent," Wilf said. "I'm going to do whatever is necessary to give him whatever help he needs to improve our team. I don't know if he's always gotten that. He's our coach for this season, as we have said many times before. So that's the situation, and my message is: ‘Let's go try to win our division.'"

Tice's contract, by the way, pays him $1 million this season and expires on Jan. 31.

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