I don't understand what the Childress-bashing is all about. Yes, he isn't perfect. Let's review the season with an eye on Childress's performance.
Through hard work and great determination, Henderson was able to return in time for the 2010 season. He has not been able to return to a full 100% of the form he was playing in during the 2009 season, however.
Favre suffered an ankle injury in the NFC Championship game due to a series of illegal hits that the Saints put on him. The NFL later fined the Saints players, and said that penalties should have been called. Had personal fouls been properly called in the game, the Saints would have backed off, and Favre likely wouldn't have had his injury. He had surgery in the off-season. Even now, he doesn't have the same quickness on his feet that he had last year. His footwork has somewhat declined. As a result, he has been less effective. To date, no Saints coach has been fined or reprimanded by the league for taking part in the conspiracy to put illegal hits on Favre. Unlike the way other teams play, the Vikings do not play dirty. They put clean hits on opponents that are within the rules of football. Yes, sometimes the Vikings get penalized or fined, as does every team, but Vikings players do not hit the field with an intention of breaking the rules of the NFL. This is the right way to play football, and it all starts with Brad Childress.
Sidney Rice suffered a hip injury at some point in the Saints game. We don't know exactly when the injury occurred. After last season, Rice was told he did not need surgery. Then, they re-examined him before the season and told him he definitely needed surgery. As a result, he has not returned for the 2009 season to date.
Griffin suffered an ACL injury last year caused by a cheap shot block in the back thrown by a Saint in the NFC Championship game. The NFL did not call a penalty or issue a fine. This occurred just prior to the Saints' game-winning drive in overtime. During that drive, Griffin's replacement, the then-rookie Asher Allen, was pressured in coverage. Ben Leber was then called for defensive pass interference despite not actually touching the intended receiver. Griffin put in a lot of hard work and great determination to come back. He returned to the Vikings in the early 2010 season. He was playing great. Then, unfortunately, he got the ACL injury in his other leg. We are now hoping Griffin can do the incredible thing and return from that injury, too, for the 2011 season.
That is four starters. Those four starters were key to the Vikings' success last year. Now they are either not playing, or aren't back with everything they had last year.
Starting center John Sullivan missed several games due to an injury he sustained in training camp. He is now back.
Also during the offseason, the Vikings promoted Husain Abdullah to starting strong safety. He has been an upgrade. He is steady. Chester Taylor was lost to free agency, although Adrian Peterson and Gerhart have picked up the slack OK.
In the draft, the Vikings acquired two good players able to contribute immediately, Chris Cook, CB, and Toby Gerhart, RB. Cook has fought off some injuries this year. Gerhart was a little slow in starting off the season. It is now starting to kick into gear for him. We can always try to re-examine the draft wtih the benefit of hindsight, but those two players were good selections, and both have star potential. There were some other gems in the draft like Chris DeGeare, although they haven't seen the field much.
It was a risk to trade for Moss, but the Vikings were in win-now mode, and a 3rd round draft pick seemed worth a try. The Vikings added Randy Moss in the middle of the season. While the Vikings had him, they went 1-3, beating only Dallas, and by less of a margin than they did in the playoffs last year. Moss played without much effort. After the Vikings cut him, only one team put a claim for him on waivers. The Titans only claimed him because they just lost their leading receiver, Kenny Britt, for the season with an injury. Otherwise, no NFL team would have claimed Moss. If Britt had not been injured, Moss's next-best option would have been the UFL. The formerly great Randy Moss had played that badly for the Vikings. In hindsight, the trade was a bad idea. It's pretty hard for us to comprehend that Randy Moss could have played so horribly for the Vikings, the team that drafted him in the first round when no other team would. Yet, the way Moss chose to re-pay the Vikings was not giving effort on the field. For example, he could have leaned over a little and hauled in a touchdown against the Patriots, but decided it wasn't worth it to him. A play or two later, Favre was struck in the chin and left the game in pain. The defense lost heart when the team's leader was carted off the field, and the Patriots scored the clinching touchdown.
In each of the Vikings' five losses, the Vikings were a few plays away from victory. Had the players executed on those few plays, we would be talking about a 7-0 Vikings team right now.
The Vikings are -7 in turnovers this year. This is due to Favre throwing interceptions, and the defense not getting turnovers. The interceptions can be blamed on a variety of things, including the lack of Sidney Rice, and the previous hole left by Sullivan's absence. Favre takes a lot of the blame for not playing according to how Childress has coached him.
For the most part, Childress and his staff have coached and strategized brilliantly this year. There have been mistakes, like the Moss trade. Overall, however, the good decisions by Coach Childress strongly outweigh the bad.
Let's review the most common target of the fans' ire currently. It is 4th and goal from the 1 at New England. A running play is called. Loadholt, Herrera, and Tahi absolutely destroy the Patriots' defense. Two gigantic running lanes are opened up for Peterson. Unfortunately, Peterson took the ball to the line too fast, and didn't see the gigantic holes. He ran straight into a Patriots defender, and did not get the touchdown. Most of the time, Peterson sees the hole but that time he didn't. While the Vikings had only 10 men on the field for the play, Peterson still should have had the touchdown. Good play call, poor execution.
Some fans want a head coach who conducts himself differently in post-game press conferences. These fans would prefer a comedian who can tell jokes, or a "shoot from the hip" guy who tells it like it is. Instead, Childress is more like Belichick. He is circumspect. When it is necessary, Childress tells lies to the media. For this, he should be congratulated. The Twin Cities sports media is absolutely brutal to the Vikings. There is no sense of "team" there. ESPN and the NFL Network absolutely hate the Vikings. There is no media organization that gives a favorable impression of the Vikings. Therefore, Childress is right to not tell the truth to them or provide evasive answers. Why cooperate with media when the media considers the Vikings to be their enemy, their blood sport?
The biggest strike against Childress is that the fans don't like him. What is pretty clear is that technically he is one of the best coaches in the league. I don't understand why my fellow Vikings fans aren't more supportive of him.
Overall, what is most disappointing for me is the fanbase. There are Vikings fans who want the Cardinals to win on Sunday, just so that the Vikings might fire one of the best head coaches in the league. Honestly, people, really?
Brad Childress reminds me of Bill Belichick in his days as the Cleveland Browns coach. He was deeply but irrationally hated by the city of Cleveland. Even then, Belichick was showing signs of being a great coach, although he was still learning his craft. The Browns' last season before they became the Ravens was really tough for the city of Cleveland, and Belichick took a lot of heat and criticism. Here we are 15 years later, and there is probably not a single Browns fan, and they are diehard football fans, who would not wish that somehow the Browns could have had Belichick as their coach for the last 10 years. Three Lombardi trophies can do that to a Browns fan who used to caterwaul and scream for Belichick's firing.
Childress has to make sure he doesn't lose the team. To do that, he has to be himself. Stepping out of character and getting into a "heated argument" with a player just isn't the kind of guy that Brad Childress really is. I believe he can mend fences, and rally the team this year.
In my opinion, Brad Childress should not be fired. He should be kept. The only reason to fire him is because our fans have turned against one of the best coaches in the NFL. That's not a good reason. He hasn't lost the team. He is a good coach.
Childress has not lost the team. He has only lost the fans. It's not clear what he could have done differently to make himself popular with fans. Football head coach should not be like American Idol, where the most popular person wins. Football is not a popularity contest.
I believe that many Vikings fans want their team to be an air circus like in the 1998-2004 days. Fans have to know that the Vikings did not win the NFC championship during that time, nor did they win the Super Bowl. In the NFL, no matter what the rules are changed to, running the football and stopping the run are key to winning. This team does not yet have a Lombardi trophy. We have to look to other teams that won championships and emulate them. We can't just emulate the Vikings' past and expect a Super Bowl win, because that hasn't happened yet in Vikings' history. The days of the air circus not only are over, they should be over. The air circus does not work in the NFL.
In times of adversity, it's important to stick to basic principles. A little cheerfulness would go a long way in these tough times. We fans should follow the example of the Vikings players and stick together with our team.
While this season has been tough, let's remember one thing. The Vikings are 0-0 this week, and that is all that matters right now.
If you think there is some other reason that Childress should be fired, please list it here in the comments. Then we can get it all out in the open and address it.
Go Vikings! Beat the Cardinals!