I'm sure we all have our thoughts about Brad Childress. It would be tough to be a fan of the Vikings and not spend a little bit of time thinking about whether the team would be better off without him. I admit that I see Brad's departure as the silver lining to an otherwise awful season. HOWEVER, it wouldn't be fair to suggest that Brad Childress was a coach without some redeeming qualities. Here follows the top three things that I will miss about Brad Childress.
1. This guy can pick talent!!! Okay. How many of our first round drafts can you remember since the Vikings picked Randy Moss in the first round of 1998? Yeah, we managed to pick up Dante Culpepper, Kevin Williams (eventually) and Bryant McKinney with first round picks prior to the Childress era. Unfortunately, we also wasted a bunch of first round picks on Dimitrius Underwood, Chris Hovan, Michael Bennett, Kenechi Udeze, Troy Williamson and Eramus James. And that's just our first round picks. Our later-round picks have become much more productive as well. Yes, Tyrell Johnson was a waste of a pick and a season and a half of football. Quarterback talent is always a dicey proposition, so I wouldn't be too hard on Childress for selecting Tarvaris Jackson. In general, his picks throughout the draft have been solid and sometimes downright inspired.
Even his trades and free agency acquisitions have been good ones. Yeah, there's the recent unpleasantness with Randy Moss, but who knew Randy Moss would loaf about the field for four consecutive Sundays? Scratch that last statement. And yes, Madieu Williams was, in hindsight, an awful decision. However, Jared Allen was an inspired trade. Free agency acquisitions like Steve Hutchinson, Visanthe Shiancoe, Chester Taylor, Artis Hicks and (I'm going to add two controversial names here too) Benny Sapp and Bernard Berrian were either foundational picks or helped to round out the team with good quality players.
I'll admit that I'm nervous about what the future will bring in the way of talent acquisition now that Childress has left the building.
2. Childress makes every fan feel like they just might have a shot at being headcoach some day. Face it. Childress is a lot like his favorite quarterback project, Tarvaris Jackson. Both guys seem to lose their head when the need to make quick decisions is required. In Brad's case, it's the coach's challenge and the 2-minute drill that stand out, but there are dozens of other examples that come to mind as well. For some inexplicable reason, Childress was prone to making poor game time decisions at the times when they counted the most.
Another great Childress failing was that he was unable to adjust his perspective in the face of new information. It took too long to make Peterson the featured back. He's played the Tampa 2 without a serviceable safety for years (with the exception of Sharper). He's continued to put Tarvaris Jackson forward as a starting NFL quarterback. He continues to believe, despite the past two years of evidence to the contrary, that our O-line can enforce its will on 4th and 1.
Lastly, Childress is (was) incredibly difficult to connect with. His manner was one part pedantic mixed with two parts annoying. I had trouble suffering him during press conferences. I can only imagine what he was like in the locker room.
I know this sounds like a bunch of reasons that I should be happy that Childress is gone. It's true, and I am happy that a change has been made. However, on the flip side, I spend a lot of time each week thinking of all the ways that the Vikings could be better. It's kind of a winter lifestyle for me. I'd finally arrived at an easy and stock answer for how I would make the Vikings better. I'd say, "Get rid of Childress" or on a charitable day, I'd say something like, "I'd move Childress to the front office." Either way, now that Childress is gone, I no longer have a 30 second elevator pitch for how the Vikings can be improved. AND, on top of everything else, I'm no longer able to go through my day thinking that I'd make a better head coach than what passes for one with the Minnesota Vikings.
3. I've lost the fodder for a lot of good stories! My son is too young to remember last season's 12 men on the field. My daughter is too young to care. However you can bet that when I am old and stooped I will be telling tales like that to my assembled family. "I remember when the Vikings were a field goal away from the Superbowl in 2009. Oh, what a team! But then, fate (which at the time went by the name of Childress) intervened. It was never to be." But for every story of misery and sadness, there's another Childress-inspired story that brings about laughter and good cheer. For instance, the time a couple of seasons ago when Childress lost the red challenge flag in his pants. I will miss that about Childress. When he didn't make me curve out loud, he made me laugh.
So, those are the top three things that I'll miss now that Brad Childress is gone, but in truth, I know in my heart of hearts that this decision was long over due.