Alexander Completes Offensive Turnaround

Many see the overhaul on defense for the Vikings as being a reason to pick them for double-digit losses this seasons. But, the Vikings have quietly completed an overhaul of their offense.

Two years in life isn't a long time. In the NFL, it's an eternity.

As the Vikings prepare to start up the 2002 season, the main topic of discussion is the overhaul of the defense, where it looks like Chris Hovan will be the only returning starter from 2001. But, what has received a lot less publicity is how much the Vikings offense has changed.

Consider the following things that have happened since the start of the 2000 season -- a mere two years -- to the Viking offense:

QUARTERBACK -- Dennis Green flirted with the idea of bringing a veteran like Dan Marino in for the 2000 season. Instead he stuck to his guns and gave the job to unproven Daunte Culpepper, who has already been to one Pro Bowl and one NFC title game.

RUNNING BACK -- A work in progress, the Vikings have replaced All-Pro Robert Smith with first-round rookie Michael Bennett, who coaches believe is ready for a breakout season.

OFFENSIVE LINE -- Since the end of the 1999 season, the Vikings have had to replace four All-Pros in Todd Steussie, Korey Stringer, Randall McDaniel and Jeff Christy. Mike Tice believes with the addition of LT Bryant McKinnie, the team has finally accomplished that goal.

TIGHT END -- A position that was pretty much dead heading into 2000, it has much more life now with Byron Chamberlain, Jim Kleinsasser and Hunter Goodwin all expected to see extended playing time.

WIDE RECEIVER -- Replacing Cris Carter will be difficult, but, seeing that three months ago Randy Moss and Chris Walsh were the only wideouts on the roster, adding Derrick Alexander, Sean Dawkins, D'Wayne Bates and Kelly Campbell is quite an achievement.

Say what you want about the overhaul of the defense. The Vikes have finally completed the massive gutting of the offense and are now ready to have the same lineup trot out on the field for the next couple of years at a minimum.

* Red McCombs will have his autobiography "Red Inc: Cars, Cows and Coaches -- My Life and Good Times" in bookstores later this month.
* What may not be part of Red's book is the financial bath he's taken with Clear Channel Communications. On paper, his 14.4 million shares of stock in Clear Channel has dropped from $64.15 a share to $29.78 -- which translates into a personal loss of nearly $500 million for McCombs. Ouch, babe.

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