Lurtsema's Reaction: Inexperienced Mistakes

Rookie mistakes are showing up on the field and off. The defense is making mistakes on one play and great stops on another, and off the field Bryant McKinnie's holdout continues to burn me.

I am looking forward to the Minnesota Vikings' 2002 regular season, excited about an offense that will be one of the best in the National Football League and a defense that will have you shaking your head in frustration one minute and then executing the next play to perfection. Remember, last year's Vikings defense got a failing grade. This year, they are no longer failing, and, like so many other things, the harder you work at a project the better you become.

In the Vikings' effort against the Steelers, a team I think will be in the Super Bowl this year, I was very disappointed in the number of missed tackles, which were obvious to the average fan. But the mental mistakes stood out more, and that's an even a greater concern. They are easy to correct if the players believe in the play selection and the coach's philosophy. For some reason, young ballplayers always think they know more than the coaches, but if they happen to survive longer than the life expectancy of an NFL player (just under four years), you can understand why consistency goes hand in hand with the veteran ballplayer.

Another thing young ballplayers need to know is that they must be in training camp to have a successful year. They do not have the luxury of sustaining an injury or being a holdout, like our No. 1 draft choice, Bryant McKinnie. There is no way McKinnie will ever be in top football shape this year, even if he was to report tomorrow. I cannot overstate the importance of training camp — conditioning, understanding offensive and defensive game plans, coaches' philosophies and the best part of training camp, camaraderie.

With many holdouts throughout the National Football League, it seems like these players are the first to get hurt early in the season or within their first two or three games back. Also, some of these self-serving players, like Joey Galloway, who was with Seattle a few years back, come into camp late and think they are the missing link to that club being successful. Well, in Galloway's case in Seattle, he not only put a winning team back on the losing track in a hurry, but he also got himself hurt in the process.

Team chemistry is so vital — and I can't stress "team" enough in this statement — and when a player comes in like Galloway, he destroys much of the positive attitude that the team has enjoyed from the hard-working effort of the players who filled in. The thought of McKinnie coming in and having a chance to have the whole offensive line revamped sickens me. So I guess I'm actually looking for two things this season: The new Vikings coaching and support staff to be very successful; and not signing Bryant McKinnie, because we're not losing a No. 1 draft choice, we're saving cohesiveness.

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