Well, that was an interesting month or so, wasn't it?
It was a month ago Saturday that we got word that the Minnesota Vikings had, once again, brought Randy Moss to town to help out a struggling offense. Yes, Moss' numbers in a Viking uniform aren't going to blow anybody away or anything, but to say he didn't have a profound effect on Minnesota's offense would be supremely ignorant.
When Moss was brought to Minnesota, a parallel was drawn between the Minnesota and New England offenses in that they each have a dynamic slot receiver that would benefit from the presence of Moss. In New England, that player is Wes Welker. In Minnesota, that player is Percy Harvin. And, to put it mildly, that proved to be an accurate comparison. To wit. . .
Wes Welker with Randy Moss (4 games) - 26 catches, 217 yards, 2 touchdowns
Wes Welker without Randy Moss (3 games) - 14 catches, 102 yards, 0 touchdowns
Percy Harvin without Randy Moss (3 games) - 12 catches, 106 yards, 1 touchdown
Percy Harvin with Randy Moss (4 games) - 19 catches, 287 yards, 2 touchdowns (plus a rushing TD)
By all accounts, nobody was more pissed off about the departure of Randy Moss than Percy Harvin. . .and with very good reason, obviously. Harvin, apparently, never left Moss' side when he was in Minnesota, and gained a lot of knowledge from a guy whose football knowledge has always been under reported and underappreciated.
Again, the stats that Moss put up won't blow anybody away. . .13 catches, 174 yards, two touchdowns. . .and there's a good reason for that, too. I'll bet you can guess what that reason is, can't you? No, it's not because of Brett Favre or because of anyone else that actually shared the field in Randy Moss in his brief stint as a Viking. The reason, ladies and gentlemen, is 190 pounds of rompin', stompin', team destroyin', season tankin' dynamite.
Lay this one at the feet of Brad Childress, ladies and gentlemen.
Shortly after word of Moss' release came down the pike, it came to light that Brad Childress has a specific clause in his contract that allows him to make roster moves without consulting anyone above in in the chain of command. Why on earth any self-respecting owner or general manager would allow this to happen is beyond my comprehension. While Childress has done a decent job of finding talent since he became Minnesota's coach, he's not Bill Parcells, he's not Mike Holmgren, he's not Bill Belichick. . .and, besides, we have a VP of Football Operations for this sort of thing in Rick Spielman. Why Brad Childress is allowed to unilaterally implement roster moves is mind-boggling, to say the least.
With that in mind, whether he got Zygi Wilf to sign off on the original move to acquire Moss or not, it's clear that when Childress got his hands on the new toy for his offense, he didn't have the slightest clue about how to use it. None at all. Did Moss still draw double teams a large percentage of the time? He certainly did. . .just go back and watch the tape of the Patriots game if you need any convincing of that. So what, exactly, did Childress do to alleviate this?
Did he put Moss in motion? No, not really.
Did he move Moss into the slot occasionally? Not that I ever saw.
Did he do anything to try to get the double coverage away from Moss and attempt to create mismatches for him? Not so much, no.
And the reason for this is simple. . .Brad Childress wants everyone to know that he's in charge of the offense, and the entire offensive system is more rigid than a virgin on his first trip to the Bada Bing. What we get from Brad Childress most weeks is a classic example of overcoaching, largely because he seems to be under the impression that his system is greater than the sum of its parts. That's why this team implements a zone blocking scheme that is generally used by smaller, quicker offensive linemen with an offensive line that averages about 325 pounds from tackle to tackle. Because that's Brad Childress' system, by God, and if you don't want to force yourself into the system, then you can get out of town.
To which I say. . .if you can't find a way to fit a talent like Randy Moss into your system, then it's safe to assume that your system straight-up, flat-out, indisputably and inarguably sucks. Randy Moss might be the most physically gifted wide receiver in the history of the National Football League, and while he may have lost a step or two since the first time he was in Minnesota, he was comfortably two or three steps ahead of most other receivers to begin with. Surely something could have been done in order to make him a more productive piece of Minnesota's offense, particularly with a quarterback that had waited his entire career to connect with Moss and threw him his 500th career touchdown pass.
"Ah, but Randy Moss is a diva and acted like a real jerk," some might say. Yes, folks, Randy Moss is a diva. He's also kind of an ass. In related news, the sun rose in the east today, water is wet, and Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
See, we've known that Randy Moss is a jerk and a diva and an ass and whatever other terms you might like to label him with. We've known this ever since he's come into the league. . .and even the staunchest of Moss defenders can readily admit this. We just didn't take quite as much notice when he was our jerk and our diva. But with that in mind, if Brad Childress wasn't ready to handle that sort of thing. . .why on earth did he advocate for him or go along with bringing Moss to Minnesota? I mean, recent history tells us that the guy doesn't want to deal with diva wide receivers and other people that aren't in lockstep with his thinking. For crying out loud, by all accounts he eventually got to the point with Terrell Owens in Philadelphia where T.O. would start talking and Childress would put his fingers in his ears and yell "LA LA LA LA WHAT T.O. I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA!" It's no wonder the guy can't stand Favre. . .hell, at this point, I don't blame Favre one bit for going against what Childress wants. Quite frankly, the fact that Favre was able to overcome Brad Childress to lead the Vikings to the sorts of results they got in 2009 is a greater testament to his abilities than anything else he's done at any point of his NFL career.
But in Philadelphia, Andy Reid could tell Childress that he would, to borrow a military term, shut up and color. And as a result, Reid got a hell of a lot of production out of Owens for a season. . .one that saw the Eagles end up in the Super Bowl. No such filter exists at the moment in Minnesota, particularly in light of the fact that Brad Childress has the authority to make whatever roster moves he wishes without consulting anybody else. So, rather than hold on to him through the end of the season and possibly get a compensatory pick, or try a few new things to get him more involved in the offense and make him more productive, Childress ensured that we would get no more than four games of mediocre numbers in return for the third round pick that we burned to bring Randy Moss back to town. (Thankfully, the Tennessee Titans were kind enough to take Randy's salary off of our hands for the rest of the year, which was nice of them.)
Brad Childress wanted to show that he's in charge of the Minnesota Vikings, and he felt that the way he could do that was to take a high profile player and punish him in a high profile way for the entire world to see. He actually thought that this would get a positive result. Instead, all he's wound up doing is pissing off the better part of his own team, alienating the fans, and leaving all but the most ardent of Viking/Childress apologists to come to one conclusion.
It's time for Brad Childress to take his leave from Minnesota.
There are lots of fine, outstanding parts in the Minnesota offense. . .Adrian Peterson (obviously), Sidney Rice (when he's healthy), Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe make up as good a group of skill position players as there are in the National Football League when everyone is healthy and on the same page. But it doesn't do any good to hand someone a recipe for beef Bourguignon when they're bound and determined to just make cheeseburgers with whatever you hand them.
That's what Brad Childress has done. That's what Brad Childress is doing. And that's why Brad Childress has to go. It can be tomorrow, it can be next week, it can be as soon as the Vikings get off the field in Detroit in Week 17. But it has to be done. And if Randy Moss had to be sacrificed to make everyone, including the Wilf family, see this. . .as sad as that might be. . .then so be it. I guess it's for the greater good, in that case.
I'm certain that this won't be the last that we discuss the subject of Brad Childress' future. Hopefully we won't have that much longer to talk about it. But the second Randy Moss era in Minnesota has come to a close, and I'm sure we'll all be keeping an eye on Tennessee to see how he fares. And who knows. . .if there's no Brad Childress in Minnesota next year, I suppose that there could even be a third Randy Moss Era in the Twin Cities. But that's another conversation for another time.
Enjoy the rest of your evening, ladies and gentlemen. . .and, hey, starting tomorrow we might even start focusing on the fact that there's a football game on Sunday, now that we've gotten the standard weekly drama out of the way. Crazy, huh?