I'm not a "Hey, look at me" kind of guy, usually. But if you'll let me name drop for a minute, I'll get to the point of the story. Last night I was a guest with host Nate Brown on ESPN Billings during his drive time show, and he brought up a story that first appeared over at Yahoo! sports and later discussed over at Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk site. Had the Vikings lost to Dallas, sources within the VIkings organization confirmed that Brad Childress was going to get shown the door and Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier would've been named head coach. Nate caught me off guard because I honestly hadn't seen the report, so I'm sure I stammered and stumbled like a complete doofus, but I wasn't buying it. There were a lot of things that would give me a strong case to say no he isn't, but after the interview, I started snooping around, and I've come to the conclusion that yeah, maybe he is.
Follow the reasoning, after the jump.
So my kneejerk reaction for saying no was fairly simple. Childress is a 'Zygi guy', and by that I mean Zygi really, REALLY wanted Childress as his head coach. If you'll remember, Chilly came to town for his interview, had another interview scheduled in Green Bay, and the Vikings kept him in town until they came to terms. His first seasn, he came in and was the anti-Tice, laying down a strict regimen and getting rid of a lot of embarrassments. His first clash was with franchise QB Daunte Culpepper, who had his image shattered on Lake Minnetonka and his knee shattered in North Carolina. Gone, with the double thumbs up approval of Zygi Wilf. He slowly changed the culture of the team, and improved every year, culminating in back to back division titles for the first time since 1975-76 and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game. His coaching record is 38-32, and got the Vikings their first playoff win since 2004 last year. He was awarded a contract extension in November of last year that runs through 2013, and pays him $4-5 million/yr. In the off-season, other than the Favre saga, every starter on both sides of the ball were coming back, and they were all healthy...allegedly. There was no reason to believe that the Vikings wouldn't be one of the pre-season favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
And firing a coach in mid-season rarely, if ever, works out for the best.
But still...early season struggles have brought a lot of ugly things to just below the surface. Chilly pulled out all the stops to get Brett Favre to come back for 2010, because his biggest appeal as a head coach, the ability to develop a quarterback, is something he hasn't been able to do in Minnesota. Favre was ambivalent, at best, about coming back, and needed coaxing from Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, and Jared Allen to come to Minnesota. And that was handled in an odd manner by Chilly. When he sent them down there, he instructed his assistants to lie about the whereabouts of the Three Amigos, concocting some lame story about them being inside the facility when everyone...everyone...knew they weren't there. Why?
I think that's a good question to ask, because the relationship between Chilly and Favre hasn't been really described as 'friendly'. The answer is obvious--Chilly needs Favre to win, because he doesn't think or believe that his pet project, Tarvaris Jackson, can do it.
On the eve of the regular season, Chilly traded Sage Rosenfels and Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants. Chilly never seemed to be a Rosie guy, and got him to New York, where Sage was happy to land. Some reports suggested that Chilly was never fully on board when the Vikes traded for Sage, and if true, Chilly now had the QB lineup he wanted--Favre, TJ, and Joe Webb.
By allowing Favre the latitude that he did in terms of showing up late, not going to minicamp, miss training camp, etc, he allowed a double standard. And honestly, when the Vikings were winning, no one cared. I didn't, and I defended the way things were handled. It worked to near perfection in 2009, and there was nothing on the radar that made people think it wouldn't work for one more season.
But now, coming off of a loss in Green Bay, Favre has a poor game, and Chilly is uncharacteristically animated in the post game press conference. I've seen his post game press conferences where he's been frustrated, but he really seemed more agitated than usual. Is it because he knows the heat is on?
Now he has a mess on his hands with Favre. Favre says he wants to try and play, and Chilly has all his chips on the table for this year, and he hasn't committed either way. If he plays Favre and Favre is terrible, he'll get crucified for playing him. If he plays Jackson and Jackson struggles, he'll get crucified for playing TJ and not giving Favre a chance to play, and all the other TJ arguments we've had will boil back to the surface.
So what happens if Favre starts and struggles, and then is replaced by TJ? In short, the Apocalypse.
And what if the Vikes lose? More importantly, what if TJ replaces Favre and the Vikes win? Another version of the Apocalypse.
Folks, winning cures everything, and losing exacerbates everything bad, and Chilly has painted himself into this QB version of the Kobayashi Maru scenario, and he has no good options.
Which is why I think he is on the hot seat.
Because unlike Admiral Kirk, I don't think Chilly has the werewithal to re-program this scenario.