Going from a team that had the wheels fall off the wagon to a team that is rebuilding, but expected to be competitive, is not going to be an easy task for new head coach Mike Tice.
Under further review, though, if there is one man that has caught the attention of an entire organization, it is Mike Tice.
Much more than a passing interest or observation could tell that Tice is exactly what the doctor ordered in Minnesota. There is intensity on the practice field, the attention to detail and respect are elements that had fallen to the wayside under the regime of former head coach Denny Green.
One could say that some of those lost attributes were eroded do the length of Green's stay in the Twin Cities, but others believe that they were never really there to begin with.
"Take a look at some of the past teams in Minnesota. They were very good offensively, had star players and a team that was constructed to play on the turf. Someone knew what they were doing in building that team," the source said. "Minnesota hit on many players in the draft throughout the 1990s and former coach Green let his players play. Throughout his time here, there were locker room troubles, attitudes, players treated differently, but as long as he was winning most everything was acceptable."
"When Red McCombs bought the team, some red flags were raised, but Green's track record was such that he had the power, he has proven his worth. You don't mess with a good thing when it works."
The Vikings were winning, they were a playoff type team ... what could have gone so wrong with an organization that had been so close.
"Denny Green, Denny Green, Denny Green ... that name sums it all up," the source said. "Green went from being a football coach to a man that wanted and was making too many decisions. Sure, it is easy to appease the modern-day player, push the dirt under the rug and keep going. Winning has been a proven cure-all in the NFL. Minnesota was no different.
"Once offensive coordinator Brian Billick left to become the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and players started leaving Minnesota in free agency, some by their own choice or that of Green, the questions began to surface about the organization and especially of Green."
The Vikings tasted some success after the departure of Billick and main-stay players such as as Randall McDaniel, Jeff Christy, Corey Fuller and Robert Smith, the team and attitude had changed. The complexion was different, the swagger was missing, the confidence was tarnished and the issues that had been pushed under the rug so well previously were seeping into the open.
"The handling of some of the players that departed was as insensitive as it gets," the source said. "We had guys that loved to play here pushed aside and treated without respect, basically told they were not needed. A guy like Fuller loved playing here and did not want to leave, but the Vikings broke their word, by not 'taking care of him' and he went to Cleveland. Robert Smith had a lot of gas left in his tank, but had enough of the circus atmosphere that surrounded the Vikings and retired.
"It can all be summed up in a few words. Denny Green became bigger than the team and the organization. The respect that he had gained in the years of building the Vikings was his worst enemy. He forgot to look at the little things, such as a team having 53 players or so to worry about. Every team has players that have to be nursed along. Under Green in Minnesota the Vikings nursed a few of their young and didn't realize that the other 90 percent of the team was watching every move."
So much is different in Minnesota today. Mike Tice is a guy who battled on the field and doesn't demand anything from a player but to work hard, don't be late, be prepared and never quit.
"I don't know when the last time I've seen a Vikings practice where the team was as focused on detail and worked as hard," the source said. "Remember, we aren't even in hitting yet and this team is molding. Tice is doing a tremendous job of mentally preparing this team and everyone is participating. In the past, if certain players did not want to participate or wanted to work at their own pace, it happened."
"An element has certainly changed here, there is no doubt that the head coach is running the show and the players better realize that is the way it is. Talk about a change in direction, there was no better candidate to lead this team than Mike Tice."
Also, Mike Tice was on the previous Vikings coaching staff and saw how a football team shouldn't be handled.