In 2006, the Vikings handed the coaching reigns over to Brad Childress. After the "Love Boat" scandal under Mike Tice, the team needed a new image and Childress provided just that. A far cry from Mike Tice, a "player's coach", Childress instilled a system of responsibility and tough love.
But how did he rise to the ranks of Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings?
Childress began his coaching career at the University of Illinois from 1978-1984. He worked as a runningbacks and wide receivers coach over those years, helping to guide the team to a mediocre 37-38-4 record.
He had a brief stint as quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 1985, but the Colts went 5-11 and their QBs only completed 50.2% of their passes with a meager 15 TDs and 20 INTs.
Returning to the college ranks, Childress was hired as the offensive coordinator of Northern Arizona University from 1986-1989. After one year as wide receivers coach at Utah, Childress worked under Barry Alvarez at the University of Wisconsin as QB coach for three years and offensive coordinator for five.
Andy Reid, who had been in the NFL since 1992, was the offensive line coach for a season at NAU with Childress. When he was hired as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he brought Childress on as his quarterbacks coach.
It was under Reid that Childress made a name for himself, helping Donovan McNabb emerge as one of league's top young quarterbacks. The Eagles made their 2004 Super Bowl run in the second year after Childress was promoted to offensive coordinator. In 2006, the Vikings hired him as their new head coach.
While Childress did not call the plays in Philadelphia, he did in his first two years in Minnesota. However, mediocre results forced him to yield play-calling duties to Bevell last year, although the results were similar.
Childress cleaned house with the Mike Tice coaching staff and brought on many coaches whom he had worked with, or who had played under him previously.
—Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator for the Vikes, was the QB at Wisconsin four years while Childress coached there.
—Kevin Rogers, the quarterbacks coach, met Childress at Syracuse—where Rogers was the QB coach for Donovan McNabb.
—Eric Bieniemy, runningbacks coach, was the running back for the Eagles in 1999 when Childress was quarterbacks coach there.
—Jim Hueber and was a runningbacks and O-line coach at Wisconsin during while Childress was there.
Another important member of the staff is assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. A cornerback for the 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl, Frazier, unlike Childress, has had success wherever he has gone.
He began his coaching career in 1988, becoming the first head coach at Trinity College in Illinois. He led the team to two Northern Illinois Intercollegiate Conference Titles before becoming defensive backs coach at Illinois for a season.
After this successful stint, Frazier joined the pro ranks as a DBs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999—the same year the Childress started as QB coach.
Throughout his pro career, he has improved every defensive unit he has worked with ('03-'04 Bengals, '05-'06 Colts, and '07-Present Vikings) and picked up a Super Bowl ring as a defensive backs coach with the Colts in 2006.
More importantly, the Vikings dominance at stopping the run has continued with Frazier as defensive coordinator. The Vikings are the second team in NFL history to lead the league in run defense for three consecutive seasons.
The main offseason coaching move the Vikings this year made was to address their woeful special teams. The Vikings gave up an NFL record seven touchdowns last season including two (almost three) to Reggie Bush in a game against the Saints.
According to Rick Gosselin's Special Teams Rankings, which come out every year courtesy of The Dallas Morning News, the Vikings had the eighth-worst special teams unit in the league. Anyone who watched their games would probably agree that this is a generous ranking.
Most Vikings fans held their breath every time a punt or kickoff went in the air and were satisfied as long as the opposing team did not return it for a touchdown.
Brian Murphy, a special teams assistant in his fourth year with the Vikings, was promoted to special teams coordinator. The Vikings did sign Glenn Holt and Karl Paymah, both of whom can help on special teams, and re-signed Heath Farwell who was injured last year.
These additions should help to shore up a unit that gave up 14.9 yards per punt return (worst in the NFL) and 23.5 yards per kickoff return (21st in NFL).
The Vikings have a solid coaching staff, consisting mostly of coaches hired by Childress in 2006. Many of them either worked with or played under Childress before being hired for his staff in Minnesota. If Brian Murphy can turn the special teams unit around, there is no reason why this Vikings team should not be poised for a deep playoff run in 2009.