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An Open Letter to Brad Childress

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Dear Brad Childress,

At one point of today's Vikings' game, a game that my Beloved Purple lost by a final score of 18-15, I honestly thought that the mighty Peyton Manning and company were going to come into our building and leave with a loss.  I believe it was right after Ryan Longwell hit his fifth field goal of the afternoon, one that came from 28 yards out to make the score 15-0 in favor of the Vikings.

Yes, at that point, I thought that the Vikings were going to come out victorious and avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.

And then, the folks at CBS made the mistake of showing a shot of you on the sidelines.

It was at THAT point that I knew we were screwed.

See, prior to that point, the Vikings' defense had held Manning and Harrison and Wayne and Addai to zero points in 40+ minutes of football.  It was the first time that the Colts had been shut out through the first half in almost two calendar years.  He was harrassed, he was throwing interceptions, he was getting sacked, the crowd was electrified.  At that point, Harrison and Wayne had a combined ONE catch for FOUR yards.  Joseph Addai had NEGATIVE rushing yards.

But I knew that somehow. . .some way. . .that you, Brad Childress, creator of the prevent offense and master of losing close games in situations where you clearly should not, would find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this afternoon.  And, clearly, you did not let me down.

Were you really so naive or arrogant (or both) enough to think that the Minnesota defense, as good as it is, was going to be able to stop Peyton Manning for an entire game?  Did you really think that you could keep sending Ryan Longwell out there on possession after possession and have that be good enough to beat a team the caliber of the Indianapolis Colts?  Did you think for one second that when you got the ball back on your own 2-yard line with less than two minutes left and Indianapolis having all three of their time outs that you could NOT EVEN MAKE AN EFFORT TO GET A FIRST DOWN and be able to just coast into overtime?

See, Mr. Childress, anyone that's watched the Vikings for any amount of time over the last 2+ years knows that these are the kind of games that you excel at losing.  In this, your third season as the Vikings' head coach, you've been on the sidelines for 34 games. . .14 victories and 20 losses.  Of those 20 losses, 13 of them have been by seven points or fewer, and in the majority of those games, the Vikings have had an opportunity to either tie or take the lead in the closing minutes.  And they have not. . .and that's, largely, because of you.

I have never, ever, in my life seen a more unimaginative and more uncreative offense than the offense that I've seen from the Minnesota Vikings over your tenure as head coach.  I think that a half a dozen of my readers, armed with nothing more than a copy of Madden '09, a case of Mountain Dew, and a few large pizzas, could put together a far more creative and far more coherent offensive game plan than what we've seen for the last 2+ years.  Hell, Dan Dierdorf was calling the plays in the CBS booth before the ball was being snapped. . .and he was nailing it EVERY. . .SINGLE. . .TIME.  If he knows what's coming, don't you think that everyone on the other sideline knows what's coming, too?

As of today, Adrian Peterson is on pace for 2,152 rushing yards. . .and 8 touchdowns.  The fact that that guy can do anything in THIS offense is a testament to his unbelievable ability and talent, and it frightens me to think about what the guy would be capable of in an offense that could put up points in the Big Ten Conference, never mind the National Football League.  I guess that there are some things that not even you are capable of screwing up.  Lord knows that you've probably tried, but you haven't managed to do so yet.

Now, I'm sure that you're of the understanding that many people will attempt to place the blame for the offensive ineptitude at the feet of your quarterback, third-year player Tarvaris Jackson.  And I'll admit that Jackson has had his struggles as a starting quarterback.  He's immensely talented, but for some reason just doesn't seem to "have everything together."  At least, that's how I'm sure it would look to an outsider.  But how, exactly, do you expect the guy to "get it" with the way you run an offense?

In the season opener in Green Bay, the Vikings threw 7. . .SEVEN. . .passes in the first half.  How in the heck is a quarterback supposed to develop any sort of rhythm when he only throws the ball seven times in one half of play?  In today's game, young Jackson threw just nine passes in the first half, completing five, including two beauties at the end of the half to get the Vikings into position for. . .you guessed it. . .another field goal.

In addition to that, there is no "mid-range" passing game in this offense.  At least, that's the impression I'm under.  Every pass that you allow Jackson to throw is either a 3-yarder or an attempt at a 50-yarder.  There's nothing in between.  How on earth do you expect anyone to develop any sort of rhythm or rapport with their receivers if you're constantly expecting them to throw low percentage passes?

Oh, and do you think we could maybe mix in a play-action pass occasionally?  I don't mean the type of play-action passes that you're used to, where our QBs and our RBs get within 4 yards of each other and try to make people think that anyone's going to buy that sort of crap.  I mean a real, honest-to-goodness play-action pass.  You'd think that with a running game that you haven't managed to screw up yet that this would be the foundation of our passing game, but it doesn't appear as though that's the case.  It should be.

Finally, it's not just Tarvaris Jackson.  Since you took over in Minnesota, Mr. Childress, there have been four different quarterbacks in charge of your alleged "kick-ass offense". . .Brad Johnson, Brooks Bollinger, Kelly Holcomb, and Tarvaris Jackson.  And you know what I've noticed?  They've ALL looked AWFUL.  Even WITH the immense talents of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor behind them. . .even WITH an outstanding offensive line in front of them.  They've all looked terrible within the confines of your offense.

Most coaches tailor their offense to fit their personnel.  You seem to be hell-bent on doing exactly the opposite.

And that's why I, alone in my thought process though I may be, refuse to throw Tarvaris Jackson under the proverbial bus at this point in time.  It's clear that Jackson has talent. . .he's mobile, he's got a strong arm, and he appears to be a relatively bright guy.  All of that stuff leads me to ask myself how much better he could be if he wasn't hamstrung by one of the most inept offenses I've ever had the displeasure to witness.  Let the guy loose and let him make plays.  We heard all off-season about his improvement and his progress. . .let him prove it on the field.

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Childress. . .I love my team.  I always have.  It's been a 25-year love affair with myself and the Minnesota Vikings, and even your ineptitude isn't going to be enough to change that.  Therein lies the only small joy that I can derive from this.  Either things will change and the team will get things turned around. . .or you'll continue to waste the immense talent that you've been surrounded with over your time in Minnesota, and you'll be standing in the unemployment line shortly after Week 17.  In any event, it's a win-win situation for the Minnesota Vikings and their fans.

Mike Tice was fired by Zygi Wilf, and he accomplished far, far more with far, far less than you've been given in your time as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.  At this point, I would be more than happy to welcome ol' Meathead and his pencil back to the Minnesota sidelines in your stead.

Please. . .for the sake of everybody's sanity. . .get this together and pointed in the right direction.

Christopher Gates
Head Blogger, and lifelong Minnesota Viking fan