Mike Tice has come under a lot of heat this week on several fronts. It's clear Michael Bennett is unhappy and wants out. The team had an 80-minute players-only meeting that included several rambling monologues that had a couple of disgruntled players claiming they thought he was going to resign. At least two starters on the offensive line have been replaced or made part of a time-share -- something typically only seen during the preseason. And he brought in a couple of coaches as consultants to look over the shoulders of the current coaching staff.
The final piece of his malaise puzzle is the one that has drawn some of the sharpest criticism -- bringing in longtime coaches Jerry Rhome and Foge Fazio. Whether viewed as an indictment on the current coaches or not, it came as something of a shock to some within the team that the move was made. If they were mad, Friday's decision may make them even more upset.
VU was told the Zygi Wilf has signed off on retaining both coaches for the remainder of the season. While Fazio's role will remain as a consultant who will observe games and report to coaches and players in the days after a game, Rhome is going to be the team's offensive coordinator. The feeling is that Steve Loney needs to focus on a patchwork offensive line that contributed to nine sacks last week vs. the Falcons. Rhome is expected to be the one who calls the plays down to Tice -- who will retain veto power -- as well as being central the gameplan preparation each week.
The official announcement is expected to come Monday.
* Injured safety Willie Offord had insult added to his injury when the league fined him $15,000 for what it termed "impermissable physical contact with an official." Essentially, after looking at game film, the league decided that Offord had a clear view of the official he ran over and made no effort to avoid contact and, in the league's view, intentionally ran him over -- resulting in a substantial fine.
* DE Erasmus James was also fined $5,000 for a late hit on Warrick Dunn out of bounds, which may or may not also have a little something to do with a hit that injured Michael Vick -- although no penalty flag was thrown on that play.
* The Vikings agreed to terms with DL Matt Mitrione, who will replace Kenechi Udeze on the 53-man roster when the team returns to practice next week.
Wilf Agrees to Add Fazio, Rhome to Staff
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