- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
On the plus side, the club helped itself by acquiring valuable players from the Giants in exchange for Tarkenton and from the Rams for Tommy Mason and Hal Bedsole. The Vikings also did well in the draft. For Tarkenton they got both the Giants' first and second draft choices and picked Halfback Clint Jones of Michigan State and Flanker Bob Grim of Oregon State, plus a bonus choice from the Giants in 1968, which, considering the desperate state of the New York team, could very well be the first draft pick.
The Vikings did even better in the Rams' deal. Marlin McKeever has taken over solidly as the tight end, and the Rams' first draft choice for 1967 turned out to be Alan Page of Notre Dame, who will wind up as a starting defensive end.
The strongest player acquired by the Vikings in their own draft was Gene Washington of Michigan State, who can play either split end or flanker. Washington, Jones, Grim and Bobby Bryant, another astute draft pick, give the Vikings better speed on the flanks and kick returns than they have had before.
The Vikings, who had become restive under the high-pressure, volatile Norm Van Brocklin, seem more at ease with Grant, whose coaching is low-key and persuasive. Their attack, without Tarkenton's scrambling antics, will certainly be more staid. A sound offensive line should give Grant the means to install a ball-control offense, similar to the one that moved Green Bay for years. His running backs are good if not spectacular. Bill Brown, a low-slung, bandy-legged strong man, is a good blocking fullback, and he will be helped by Dave Osborn, who replaces Mason at halfback. Osborn, too, is a strong, tough runner who makes few mistakes. Jones, the rookie, may add sparkle to the running. The receivers are improved over last year, with McKeever helping Paul Flatley and Jim Phillips.
The Minnesota defense, with outstanding linebackers and a seasoned defensive line, is set but the Vikings need a stronger rush from the front four. Page, replacing the injured Carl Eller, may help, and Jim Marshall continues to be of value with his strong, consistent rushes from the other end. The secondary is experienced and tough. Dale Hackbart may miss the early part of the season because of a leg injury, but Jeff Jordan, a promising third-year man, appears capable of replacing him without upsetting the defense.
When Schmidt, a perennial All-Pro linebacker and the captain of the once-stout Detroit defense, took over as head coach this year he made a typically hard-bitten appraisal of the team he knows inside out. "We have only 16 or 17 good football players," he said frankly. "I mean players who are a cut above the average."
Under Harry Gilmer, many of the cut-above-average players had become dissatisfied and unwilling to work. Discipline had deteriorated, and the club was playing well below its potential. Schmidt cracked down on the malcontents as soon as he took over, and drew the limits of behavior for the club so sharply that it cost a player $100 for walking on the grass at camp, instead of on the sidewalk.
"I think discipline plays a big part in football," Schmidt said. "If there is discipline off the field, there will be discipline on it. Sometimes people can't discipline themselves, so there have to be rules for those people."