The Minnesota Vikings just finished their best NFL season since the year 2000, so why are so many fans calling for Brad Childress to be fired?
Childress was hired three years ago, to come in and right the ship in Minnesota. The Vikings had just finished a season 9-7 under head coach Mike Tice, but he was fired after reaching the playoffs only one time in four full seasons as the head coach.
His record however was not that awful, only loosing more than eight games once. When Tice was fired the Vikings looked in a different direction and they named the then Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress as the team's seventh head coach in history.
Childress came in and immediately made a big change by shipping out star quarterback Daunte Culpepper in his first year. The Vikings have still yet to find a replacement quarterback with the same talent as Culpepper and Childress has been tied to that decision greatly.
In his first NFL Draft, Childress even decided to trade up in the second round to make a very controversial pick, when he grabbed Tarvaris Jackson in the second round. The best move Childress made for the offense was picking up Chester Taylor, who Childress believed was a solid starter in the NFL. Taylor rewarded Childress by accumulating over 1,200 yards in his first season as a true starter.
In his first full season as head coach, Childress turned the Vikings around in a bad way, taking a team that finished 9-7 the season before and leading them to 6-10, although not knowing at the time, this may have been Childress' best move as the Vikings' head coach.
After the Vikings finished 6-10, they entered the NFL Draft and struck gold by selecting running back Adrian Peterson in the first round and adding another starter Cedric Griffin in round two.
The second season for Brad Childress was a roller coaster ride to say the least, fans were wondering how newly named starting quarterback Jackson would do and what to make of Peterson.
The Vikings won their first game 24-3, but then hit a road bump in Detroit the next week. Jackson led a comeback for the Vikings, but it was only enough to force overtime. In overtime Jackson went down, and backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger fumbled away the Vikings chances.
The following week, the Vikings had nearly hit rock bottom. After jumping out to an early lead in Kansas City, the Vikings all but killed themselves and the Chiefs came away with their biggest win of the season.
The next week the Packers came to town and Brett Favre hit a milestone in the Metrodome and then he walked out with a win too.
In a week five match-up, star running back Peterson may have saved Childress' job, by gaining 224 yards on the ground and defeating the Bears, a division rival. Just when things looked as if they could improve, they got worse.
The Vikings lost their next two games and sat with a 2-5 record in last place in the NFC North. In what may have been another job saving performance, Peterson rattled off an NFL record 296 rushing yards in a huge win against the San Diego Chargers, Childress was all of a sudden looking like a decent coach, but the next week Green Bay would take down Minnesota 34-0 and the fans were calling for Childress' job.
After the shut out by Green Bay, somehow the Vikings turned the ship around, even without Peterson. The Vikings won five straight games and were considered by most the favorite to get the sixth seed in the NFC.
Childress was at an all-time high approval rating and the Vikings had beaten the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants by 24 points, but all that changed when Minnesota finished the season 0-2 and missed the playoffs.
The drafting of Jackson had many fans questioning Childress, who had complemented the pick with rather bland and predictable play calling. Entering the 2008 season the Vikings had made some big acquisitions by picking up free agents Jared Allen, Bernard Berrian, and Madieu Williams. Childress' performance this season would likely determine his fate with Minnesota.
After stumbling to an 0-2 start, Childress was all but forced to bench his quarterback and let Gus Frerotte take over, the Vikings won their first game in Week 3, but followed it with another loss.
At 1-3 the Vikings headed to New Orleans, a game in which many fans thought was handed to Minnesota on "mysterious facemasks" and plenty of turnovers. The following week, the Vikings hosted the then 0-4 Detroit Lions and nearly let the Lions beat them at home, needless to say, many fans could be head chanting, "FIRE CHILDRESS...FIRE CHILDRESS!"
Childress' coach approval rating was the worst in the league and hovered around 10 percent, even though the Vikings were 3-3. Another loss the next week did not help him either.
However, the Vikings came out of their bye week with something to prove, as they went on a stretch of games where they went 6-1, which also included a resurgent Tarvaris Jackson. It seemed as if Childress' job was saved, and the Vikings did finish the season as the NFC North Champions, but after an atrocious offensive performance against the Eagles, the Vikings were one-and-done in the playoffs.
After the 2006 season, Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin was hired as the new head coach in Pittsburgh. Tomlin ended up being much more successful than Childress, as he lead the Steelers to the playoffs in 2007 and is currently on the doorstep of his first Super Bowl trophy, only two years into his head coaching experience.
Combined with suspect play calling, and quarterback controversies, Childress has likely seen increased heat due to the success of Tomlin's career.
In the current offseason, Leslie Frazier, the Vikings current defensive coordinator, has been very close to receiving his first NFL head coaching job. Dubbed as a Tony Dungy like coach, Frazier has received plenty of hype for what he has been able to do with the Vikings defensive unit. Frazier was considered to be the runner-up for the Denver Broncos head coaching job and a top three candidate for the St. Louis Rams coaching job, but fell just short of both positions.
While it is very likely Frazier will soon become a head coach in the NFL, the question at hand is, why can he not be promoted in Minnesota?
Childress has a career record of 24-24, but has yet to win a playoff game and he has ran an un-favorable offense. Frazier has yet to get a coaching job, but has had the Vikings defense as the top run defense in the NFL in consecutive years.
Following the Tomlin hiring, many fans were not sure how good the defense would be the next season, but Frazier actually made them better in the passing game, and kept them atop the NFL against the run.
While it remains unclear if Childress will be the head coach after 2009, Frazier seems destined to be a head coach somewhere. If the Vikings fans believe Frazier could be the next Tomlin, why do they not consider Frazier as a replacement to Childress?
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