Six Reasons For Optimism

While the Vikings may be lacking in across-the-board talent, we present six solid reasons to be optimistic that things will get better for head coach Mike Tice and the team.

Any new ownership group might be getting a golden opportunity when taking over this club. No comment on the opportunity for them to make more money, but from a football standpoint there is a some good upside potential just beyond the horizon.

Despite the team's current record, there are a half-dozen key areas that offer a lot of hope for the near future:

1. UNDERRATED COACHING — It starts with Mike Tice. Sure, the first-year head coach has made some mistakes, but he's also done a lot of things right. He did a terrific job of assembling his staff. He made good choices with the players he let go and the players he brought in. He's got the right players leading and the wrong ones gone. He has a young team playing together and playing hard for four quarters.

The players seem to have bought into his system, and the team chemistry is much-improved. There's a healthy continuity between the players and the coaching staff that any new ownership group would be inheriting.

2. SOLID NUCLEUS — There's some areas sorely lacking top-notch talent on this team, but the cupboard isn't exactly bare. There are some quality young players and younger veterans around which to build. Guys like Daunte Culpepper, Matt Birk, Randy Moss, Chris Hovan, Kenny Mixon, Jim Kleinsasser, Byron Chamberlain, Corey Chavous, Greg Biekert and Michael Bennett can play for anyone.

Beyond the obvious leaders of the team, there is a long list of players with varying degrees of proven production and upside potential. Overall, they may lack the horses immediately, but it's a good bunch of players who work hard. In general, they're the kind of players you want on your team.

3. CAP SITUATION — The Vikings will head into next season in terrific shape as far as the salary cap is concerned. Yeah, they've got some of their own guys to re-sign, but they'll have as much money to work with as just about any team in the entire league, reportedly in the area of $30 million before extensions.

4. BRYANT MCKINNIE — Any new owner coming in has a young blue-chip prospect in McKinnie that can be signed to a long-term contract at one of the most important positions on the team — left tackle. One can appreciate the reluctance of Red McCombs to hold tight to his purse strings under the circumstances, but a new owner could get a clean slate with McKinnie. There isn't a quicker way to improve the team than by signing the big fella.

5. THE DRAFT — The upside to a poor season is next year's draft. As it stands right now the Vikings are looking at another premium draft position in 2003. That represents the opportunity to land another blue-chip player that's much harder to find in the latter portion of round one.

6. STADIUM SITUATION — A new owner, particularly a local one, will benefit sooner from the work that McCombs and his people have done in moving closer to a stadium solution. The joint project with the University of Minnesota continues to sound the most plausible, with recent discussions reportedly going well on this front.

That being said, what say we throw our money together and see of Red will cut us a favorable deal?

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