With a record of 2-7 this season, the Minnesota Vikings are playing the kind of football that nightmares are made of. With innumerable fumbles, turnovers, quarterback sacks, and crucial penalties for holding and illegal procedure, the 2002 team has eradicated most, if not all, of this feisty blondes Purple Pride. Okay, so I thought the teams unexpected victory over the Bears on Oct. 27 was a promising omen, but Nov. 9ths embarrassing loss against the Giants has thoroughly destroyed any last vestiges of hope I had that the Vikes might somehow salvage this season. With a distinct dearth of top-quality players, the Vikings are going to have to play mistake-free ball from here on out if they truly expect to compete in the NFL. Before head coach Mike Tice can encourage any improvement among his players, he must first examine the teams (many) faults. Despite numerous offensive schemes, the boys have no pass rush, which creates too much pressure for the young, injury-plagued secondary. In addition, the linebacking corps, already thin, has been decimated by injury and has had to rely upon rookies and untested emergency acquisitions to stem the tide. Were it not for free-agent bright spot, Greg Biekert, whom the Vikings signed away from the Oakland Raiders, things might be even worse. Furthermore, Culpepper is scrambling for his life out there on the astroturf. Without the magic hands of Cris Carter and the reliability of Randy Moss formerly impeccable game, Daunte is, as commentators have so aptly put it, learning how to be a quarterback for the first time this year. Culpepper certainly has talent. That fact is indisputable. Whether or not hell start applying that talent this season is highly debatable. Too often, he has that deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes, and has been trying too hard to make things happen. In an effort to get his offense back on track, Tice may be forced to go to backup QB, Todd Bauman, more often. Is there any hope left for Minnesotas floundering team? Perhaps next year there will be enough room under the salary cap to hire some good defensive free agents, and Bryant McKinnie, the teams first-round draft pick of 2002, is finally signed and in the fold. Mike Tice was so impressed with McKinnies performance thus far that he nearly granted the mammoth rookie tackle the chance to start on Sunday. Though McKinnie did not start, he acquitted himself admirably in the game against the Giants. Until the Vikings display some serious improvement, however, Im going to keep my eyes on the stats and my fingers tightly crossed in the hopes that my beloved team will somehow find the path to redemption. Its going to take some serious work, however, for our consistently inconsistent band of rag-tag players to find a way out of the hole into which theyve so thoroughly dug themselves.