Reasons For Desperation

The Vikings are making some moves that look desperate, but maybe they should be. The owner has given his coach the vote of the confidence for this season anyway, and the coach has given his recently added consultants/assistants a vote of confidence.

In an attempt to find out what has been ailing his 1-3 team, coach Mike Tice brought in retired NFL assistants Jerry Rhome and Foge Fazio during the Vikings' bye week to evaluate the offense and defense, respectively.

But if things can be worked out with Rhome's pension, it appears his stint might be far more than temporary.

Rhome, who spent 32 years in the NFL as a player and assistant before retiring, could end up serving in a role that would essentially make him the Vikings' offensive coordinator and enable current coordinator Steve Loney to return his focus to the offensive line.

"If I had a vision of what I would like to work out, it would be Jerry in the booth talking to me on the phones calling the plays and Steve working with the line," Tice said.

Loney actually recommended to Tice that contacting Rhome might be a good idea on Oct. 2 as the Vikings flew home after a 30-10 loss to Atlanta.

At that point, Loney was unaware that Rhome and Tice had a relationship that dated to Tice's rookie NFL season in 1981. Rhome was one of the Seattle Seahawks coaches who suggested Tice be moved from quarterback to tight end.

Tice doesn't seem to have any concerns about Rhome having to pick up the Vikings offense in quick order.

"He knows the lingo," he said. "This is the same terminology that was here when he was (a Vikings assistant) in 1994. Same terminology when he was with the Washington Redskins, which is what the terminology is, for the most part. ... Like I said, at one point, he was known as one of the gurus at quarterback in the league. He brings a wealth of knowledge. And confidence. And that's what we need. I think he'd be a great addition."

The obvious bit of positive news for the 1-3 Vikings is they reside in what is shaping up to be one of the worst divisions the NFL has ever fielded. The NFC North is home to Chicago (1-2), Detroit (1-2), Minnesota (1-3) and Green Bay (0-4).

That's right. The Vikings have looked terrible, Daunte Culpepper has been, for the most part, awful and Mike Tice's team is a half-game back in the division standings.

Perhaps that's why new owner Zygi Wilf is showing so much patience with coach Mike Tice and his staff.

Despite the Vikings' struggles, Wilf said Tice will be his coach for the rest of the season and that he is willing to "do whatever is necessary to give him whatever help he needs to improve our team."

Unless there is a sudden turnaround, don't expect Wilf's patience to extend beyond Jan. 31. That's when Tice's contract expires.

When a team has been outscored 57-7 in the second quarter through four games, there is going to be plenty of bad news.

Picked to be a Super Bowl contender by many, the Vikings have looked nothing short of inept.

What once was one of the most feared offenses in the NFL - with Culpepper and Randy Moss teaming to make opponents' lives miserable - has put together one solid half of football all season.

A defense that added five new starters in the off-season, money that largely became available because of the trade of Moss to Oakland, has given up 67 points in two road games and already is battling injuries.

Culpepper, playing with a sprained medial collateral ligament and bursitis in his right knee since being injured in the season opener, has thrown 10 interceptions and only four touchdown passes. Last season, he had 11 interceptions during the entire 16-game campaign.

The reality is the offense might miss injured Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as much as Moss.

Birk provided a stabilizing force to the offensive line that backup Cory Withrow simply can't bring to the unit. Right guard has been a major trouble spot with rookie Marcus Johnson struggling and Adam Goldberg probably not the answer.

Linehan, meanwhile, also served as Culpepper's quarterbacks coach and the two had a very strong working relationship.

Culpepper admitted last February he was "angered" when Linehan was allowed to leave for much bigger money to take over as the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator following last season. But even Culpepper couldn't have realized just how detrimental that loss would appear after four games.

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