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y*so*blu

Why Dennis Green couldn't take us all the way

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Actually it's as much a question as it is a statement, because I'm not sure either. During his coaching tenure we consistently had some of the best talent in the league: Cris Carter, John Randle, Warren Moon, Jack Del Rio, Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper ... I won't go through them all. Again and again he propelled us to the playoffs but came away with four wild card losses, two divisional losses, and two NFCCG losses. Going back and watching footage, I see an effective and passionate leader who knew how to motivate his players, but it seems he could only take the team so far before it crumbled. What was missing? Why the 4-8 playoff record with zero Super Bowl appearances?

I don't remember much about his time here, and I don't remember hearing anything about him other than that he was our coach and a darn good one. But after his firing I read an article by Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press that painted a rather different picture. He described Green as a combative and maybe even paranoid coach who thought everybody was out to get him and put him out of a job, which compromised his focus and consequently the team's focus. One quote that stuck in my mind: "There always had to be some sinister outside force the team needed to 'rally' against. Next week's opponent apparently was never enough."

Green later became a lot less controversial and a lot more respected, but I'll always wonder why he couldn't get us over the hump with the remarkable amount of talent we had both on and off the field.

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Posted (edited)

Because the defense was atrocious due to his lack of attention to it (at least the ability to identify defensive talent).  They had to play with a significant lead, because the defense couldn't hold in a tight game if their life depended on it. And he folded like a cheap suit when games were tight.  He became ultra-conservative...I will still say, to this day, the reason the Vikings were not facing the Broncos in the Super Bowl after the '98 season was because of the kneel-down that he had Randall Cunningham take at the end of the first half and not the missed kick by Gary Anderson.  

Edited by swede700

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Posted (edited)

Because Super Bowl caliber teams were what he thought they were.  That is why his team took the d@mn  field.  Now if you want to crown them, you can crown their @ss.  They were what he thought they were, and he would let them off the hook.

Edited by Snake Plissken

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Because he would draft players like Derrick Alexander when a player like Warren Sapp was still on the board. 

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22 minutes ago, SemperFeist said:

Because he would draft players like Derrick Alexander when a player like Warren Sapp was still on the board. 

 That's probably the reason he was willing to take a chance on Randy Moss.

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The 1998 Falcons should be given credit too. They were no slouch of a team. They were 14-2 in the regular season, featured an 1,800 yard rusher, a Pro Bowl QB and a talented defense. Should we have beaten them? Yes. Should it be considered a major upset? No. They were a very well coached team too. Dan Reeves had them playing well. 

 

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33 minutes ago, wcblack34 said:

The 1998 Falcons should be given credit too. They were no slouch of a team. They were 14-2 in the regular season, featured an 1,800 yard rusher, a Pro Bowl QB and a talented defense. Should we have beaten them? Yes. Should it be considered a major upset? No. They were a very well coached team too. Dan Reeves had them playing well. 

 

You're giving them too much credit.  Despite the record, they weren't in the same class.  If Denny had done what he should have done, the Falcons would have never even been in the game, because they weren't playing like they belonged in it for 3/4 of the game.  And then they were exposed for the frauds they were in the Super Bowl.  

FWIW, I'm not sure the Vikings would have won the Super Bowl either, considering how beat up and injured their defense was after that Falcons game, but I think they would have put up a better fight.  

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5 hours ago, SemperFeist said:

Because he would draft players like Derrick Alexander when a player like Warren Sapp was still on the board. 

or Demetrius Underwood. when his college coached warned Denny not to draft him.

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I always thought of Green as in the Jeff a Fisher or Marvin Lewis. Coached some solid teams that weren't relevant when it mattered. Overall, he has a solid record on paper but that's it. That 1998 team really should have gotten to the super bowl and none of his other teams were anywhere near that level of greatness.

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18 hours ago, vikingsrule said:

I always thought of Green as in the Jeff a Fisher or Marvin Lewis. Coached some solid teams that weren't relevant when it mattered. Overall, he has a solid record on paper but that's it. That 1998 team really should have gotten to the super bowl and none of his other teams were anywhere near that level of greatness.

Everyone remembers '98 when Dennis Green's name comes up, but what about earlier years when the team had more balance? '94, for instance. We gained more yards than any previous Vikings team, had one of the best run defenses in history, beat the Dolphins and the Bills when they were still good teams, and won the NFC Central. I get that we would have been smashed by the Niners or Cowboys eventually, but we should at least have handled Chicago in the wild card. We had a great defensive coordinator in Tony Dungy before he left to coach the Bucs. I don't think it can all be blamed on the defense.

The '98 NFCCG was at least competitive, but even more prominent on Green's resume are the playoff losses where the whole team just didn't show up ready to win. 17-point losses to Washington and Chicago in '92 and '94 respectively, lost by 25 to the declining Cowboys in '96 (who went on to be upset by Carolina), lost by 16 to the Niners in '97, and then there was the 41-0 disgrace against New York in 2000. There was a lot more wrong here than conservative playcalling.

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I'd actually argue that the QB position was a major part of his struggles.

1992: Rich Gannon was 27 and team started 8-3, but Green benched him for Sean Salisbury in Week 12
1993: Signed 34-year old Jim McMahon
1994: Signed 37-year old Warren Moon
1996: Brad Johnson replaced injured Moon
1998: Signed 35-year old Randall Cunningham
1999: Job split between 36-year old Cunningham and 32-year old Jeff George
2000: Job given to 23-year old Daunte Culpepper

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On 5/18/2019 at 4:54 PM, Klomp said:

I'd actually argue that the QB position was a major part of his struggles.

1992: Rich Gannon was 27 and team started 8-3, but Green benched him for Sean Salisbury in Week 12
1993: Signed 34-year old Jim McMahon
1994: Signed 37-year old Warren Moon
1996: Brad Johnson replaced injured Moon
1998: Signed 35-year old Randall Cunningham
1999: Job split between 36-year old Cunningham and 32-year old Jeff George
2000: Job given to 23-year old Daunte Culpepper

And don't forget his attempt to bring Marino to Minnesota at the end of his career before he handed the job to Daunte in 2000.  For whatever reason, Denny had it in his head that he had to have a veteran QB every year instead of actually being able to develop a QB.

I still won't say that's the major part of his struggles though, I still have to say it was the defense.  @y*so*blu made a good point in the earlier years, they had more balance...but that was also when he had more players held over from the Burns era, guys like John Randle, Henry Thomas, Carlos Jenkins, and Todd Scott.  Denny brought in veteran players like Jack Del Rio and Vencie Glenn to fill in the gaps in those early years, but again failed to draft and develop any defensive players of any significance.  His main successes were Ed McDaniel and Robert Griffith (as well to a lesser degree in Corey Fuller and Orlando Thomas), but the names of failures were numerous, from Dewayne Washington to Roy Barker to Dwayne Rudd to Derrick Alexander, the list goes on. And then he failed to even identify good free agent talent to fill in the gaps...Remember Dixon Edwards?

I will always be a mixed bag when it comes to Denny.  I love how good he was at finding and developing offensive talent, but I will absolutely abhor his massive failures in identifying defensive talent, his perceived hatred of the fanbase (because of his inability to deal with the media and interact with the local fanbase) and his never-ending quest for power within the organization.  

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5 minutes ago, swede700 said:

I will always be a mixed bag when it comes to Denny.  I love how good he was at finding and developing offensive talent, but I will absolutely abhor his massive failures in identifying defensive talent, his perceived hatred of the fanbase (because of his inability to deal with the media and interact with the local fanbase) and his never-ending quest for power within the organization.  

You make good points. To be fair I think Dwayne Rudd was a decent player. His short career and infamous premature celebration with the Browns tend to obscure that, but I always liked him. Alexander for his part was no Warren Sapp, but twenty sacks over five seasons doesn't make him a total bust. I have to agree with you about the others, though. The defense regressed a lot as that decade went on. (I'm kind of glad a guy like Sapp wasn't on our team but that's beside the point.)

Maybe Green's mental state was an issue. When you can't handle the media in Minnesota, eventually you have to consider the possibility that you're part of the problem. He didn't seem to get that. As for desiring power, all the man had to do was bring home a championship in one of those playoff seasons. They might have fallen at his feet and given him the keys to the whole organization and probably the Twin Cities. But maybe it's just as well. I'm not sure what Green would, or could have done in a situation where there was no one to blame but himself. Some guys just aren't built to go the distance.

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The defense...the defense...the defense.  Denny paid little attention to that side of the ball, yet they weren't completely lacking in talent, however, especially in the Moss, Carter, Reed years the offense was a quick strike offense.  This meant that the defense was on the field a lot more than the offense was.  I think I would have let Denny go in favor of promoting Tony Dungy to head coach...but, that's using my 20/20 hindsight!!

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1 hour ago, Virginia Viking said:

  I think I would have let Denny go in favor of promoting Tony Dungy to head coach...but, that's using my 20/20 hindsight!!

That wasn't 20/20 hindsight in my case. I said that at the time, although I knew it wasn't going to happen.  ;)

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