Lines Key to Vikings Comeback

Mike Tice has a tall order ahead of him in his first season as head coach and, as the numbers from last year indicate, the changes have to start at both lines.

Mike Tice has made it his mission to improve the Vikings up front on offense and defense. The drafting of Bryant McKinnie and free agent signings of potential starters Kenny Mixon and Lorenzo Bromell are all seen as signs of trying to get that goal accomplished.

It's little wonder why these were Tice's priorities when he took over the team, because they were clearly the team's biggest weaknesses.

Even without Daunte Culpepper for a third of the season, the Vikings still had the seventh rated pass offense in the NFL. But, the running game averaged only 100.6 yards a game -- 25th in the league. McKinnie is expected to be a player that can spring Michael Bennett and the Vikings will look to change those numbers around with the implementation of a two-tight end basic set to avoid becoming too one-dimensional.

On defense, Tice said stopping the run is the main priority, with good reason. The Vikings ranked 30th in rush defense, 26th in scoring defense and 27th in total defense last year -- numbers that will all need to be markedly improved for the team to have any chance of returning to the playoffs.

But perhaps the most troubling stat was the disturbing takeaway/giveaway numbers -- viewed by many as a barometer to any team success. The Vikings had only 18 takeaways -- dead last in the NFL -- and ranked 30th with 39 giveaways. The disparity of minus-21 in the giveaway/takeaway department was by far the worst in the league.

With the changes on offense and defense, Tice is counting on size up front and speed everywhere else to change the numbers from 2001. Many think there may be nowhere to go but up.

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