Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a Minnesota Vikings fan, through and through. However, that's not to say that I always root for the team to win. This year, I find myself routinely hoping for the team to lose. How did I come to this place?
Almost three years ago, Brad Childress was hired by the Vikings as their head coach. Prior to that time, Childress was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles for six years. That was his entire NFL experience since he came to the Eagles from UW-Madison, where he served as the offensive coordinator. When Childress was scheduling interviews around the league, his original schedule called for him to interview first with the Vikings and then with the Packers. However, the Vikings never let him get back on the plane and, at the time, the Packers felt like they really missed out. The Packers then turned to Mike McCarthy, who was a real unknown. Looking back from our current perspective, we can see how badly everyone misjudged that situation. Childress has a losing record as an NFL coach (17-22) and no playoff appearances to his credit. McCarthy is 25-14 with a 1-1 record in the playoffs.
There are all sorts of particulars I could discuss about Childress' lack of coaching acumen (his lack of clock management skills; his lack of situational awareness during games; the continued deterioration of the offense; the laughable special teams; the big-money, low-return defense, etc., etc., etc.), but since those are all reflected in his record, we should simply let that speak for itself.
Beyond his lack of ability as a head coach, Childress is an awfully uninspiring leader. There are coaches out there who aren't fiery leaders (Bill Belichick comes to mind), but who manage to maintain an aura of being in charge and making decisions that make sense (even if only to them). Childress not only doesn't give the impression of being in charge, he often looks confused by his own decisions. Like he's got a split personality and one personality gives the orders while the other is forced to stick around and deal with the consequences. There are no media reports of Childress inspiring any of the players. More often than not, those reports detail how he doesn't communicate very well with the players. The fans certainly don't seem inspired. Well, they're inspired to create websites imploring ownership to fire Childress, but that's about it.
When Childress was hired, he promised to bring accountability back to the franchise after the Mike Tice era. We all know how well that's working out. Ray Edwards was suspended four games last year for a substance abuse violation. The two Williamses are probably facing suspensions for using steroid masking agents this year. Newly acquired defensive end Jared Allen is noted for his "dramatically increased" strength ('roids, anyone?). Does that sound like getting your house in order? It's not bad enough that the Vikings are cheating, but they're doing it really badly and getting caught.
Unfortunately, it seems that the only way we'll get rid of Childress is for the Vikings to lose badly, since simply losing doesn't seem to be enough for management to pull the trigger. So, I find myself cheering for the Vikings to lose, every week. Even last week, when they had a bye, I was hoping that the Vikings would lose. If any team could figure out a way to turn a bye week into a loss, I was sure the Vikes could do it. They specialize in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
After reading about Mike Singletary's debut as head coach of the 49ers last week, I was quite jealous of that team's fans. Even if Singletary isn't a legendary coach, he's a leader you can get behind. Why can't we get a coach who's decisive, who's decisions we can understand, who speaks in the first person?
I've expressed this sentiment to people before, and sometimes they say, "How do you know that you're not firing the next Bill Belichick?" Well, that's an easy one. For every Bill Belichick there are fifty Brad Childresses. How many of these former Vikings coaches have gone on to fame and forture elsewhere?- Scott Linehan - Fired as St. Louis coach in 2008 - Brian Billick - Working as TV commentator - Ted Cottrell - Fired as San Diego defensive coordinator in 2008 - Foge Fazio - Out of football - Tony Dungy - Head coach, Indianapolis - Dennis Green - Radio commentator in 2008 - Sherman Lewis - Out of football - Mike Tice - Tight Ends coach for Jacksonville - George O'Leary - Head Coach - University of Central Florida (record 22-27) - Les Steckel - Out of football That's ten coaches, and only one is still coaching in the NFL as a head coach. For every Bill Belichick or Bill Walsh, there are plenty of Lane Kiffins, Marty Schottenheimers, Nick Sabans, Wanye Fontes, Bruce Coslets, Dave Shulas, Sam Wyches, Joe Bugels, Gunther Cunninghams, Jim Fassels, and Cam Camerons. You can't hold on to your guy forever on the off-chance that he just hasn't blossomed yet. At some point, you have to cut your losses and move on.
So, until the Vikings have a new head coach, I'm cheering for the other guys. This week, I'm a Houston Texans fan.