Brad Childress Mysteriously Regarded as a Quarterback Developer
Over time, it seems, labels tend to stick to certain people whether they really deserve them or not. Part of the explanation for this has to be that if you hear something over and over, you'll often believe it whether or not it's true.
Well, for a time we heard that Brad Childress was one of the reasons that the Philadelphia Eagles enjoyed a successful few years while he was the team's quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. And we heard it so much we even believed it.
So now that Vikings fans have had three years to witness the offense that Brad Childress brought with him from Philadelphia, can we start to break down the myth that describes him as an offensive mind and developer of quarterbacks?
First, let's look at the list of quarterbacks that Childress has been involved with in his coaching career. In 1985 he was hired as quarterback coach for the Indianapolis Colts where he coached the talented Mike Pagel to a 5-11 season.
Pagel completed 51% of his passes for 2,414 yards, 14 TDs, and 15 interceptions. Look hard at those numbers because it's a recurring theme.
Childress went on to Northern Arizona University as their offensive coordinator for four years (1986-89). In my extensive research for facts on this team's offense during his tenure, I found nothing, which says a lot.
On to the University of Wisconsin, where he came in as running backs coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator by Barry Alvarez. From 1991 to 1998 the Badgers were a very good football team, going to four bowls and winning three, including the 1994 Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin isn't known for its quarterbacks, although you might recognize the name Darrel Bevell as one of them.
Bevell was the Badger's starting quarterback from 1992 to 1995 and even holds the school's record for career passing yards (7,686) and single game passing (423). After Bevell came the forgettable but not terrible Mike Samuel.
Childress returned to the NFL in 1999 as the quarterbacks coach on Ray Rhodes' 3-13 Eagles team. Those meager three wins did allow the franchise to do two important things however: hire Andy Reid as head coach, and draft Donovan McNabb second overall.
After McNabb learned on the bench behind Doug Pederson, he performed like most rookies when he finally got the chance to start when the team was well on it's way to a 5-11 finish.
But the team's fortunes turned on McNabb, highly rated QB from Syracuse drafted behind only Kentucky's Tim Couch in the 1999 draft. Between 2000 and 2005 the Eagles made the playoffs all but one season (2005) and went to four straight NFC Championship Games, and one Super Bowl in 2004.
But knowing McNabb was as polished as one can expect from a college quarterback when he entered the league, can we give Childress credit for "developing" him? I can't. Did he develop Bobby Hoying, Koy Detmer, A.J. Feeley, or Mike McMahon to any degree?
I know Feeley had his brief moments, and even got the Eagles a second round pick from Miami in 2004, but where has he gone from there? And if Childress had done any job on him at all, why hasn't he traded for Feeley since they should be familiar with each other to a great extent? He is only the third string QB in Philadelphia now after all.
That brings us to Childress' current position of head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Perhaps he thought if he just drafted a QB who looked like McNabb and had a good arm, it would all work out the same.
But as we all know now, Tarvaris Jackson is no Donovan McNabb. He has shown those tantalizing glimpses of talent from time to time, but mostly he's made us all pull our hair out.
During Childress and Jackson's time in Minnesota, the team has been mostly excellent at running the ball and stopping the run on defense. But passing has been a real sore spot. Our list of quarterbacks has included the once-good veterans (Brad Johnson and Gus Frerotte) and the journeyman losers (Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger).
Gaining 2,000 yards passing in a season or passing for more than 10 TDs are seemingly unreachable goals for Childress and Bevel, and wins (like losses) are usually by the skin of the Vikings' teeth.
Great offenses don't barely get by, and Childress and his longtime companion Bevell, do not have a great offense. It definitely isn't "kick-ass" as Childress told everyone. At this point, I think most Vikings fans aren't expecting anything close to the tremendous offense that we had in the late 90s and beyond.
But as more balanced teams get their Super Bowl rings while the Vikings either barely make or barely miss the playoffs, we also can't be expected to go on with this charade that our offense scares anyone despite having one of the scariest weapons in the league.
Everything could work out with Childress, Bevell, and Jackson, but it isn't likely. And it isn't worth waiting on either. It shouldn't be this hard to get an offense out of the starting blocks. Let's just admit we made a mistake and change direction before it's too late.
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