Contingency. Such plans are always made, and if all goes according to plan, no one else has to know about them. Vikings head coach Brad Childress is about to unveil to the world his contingency plan.
Let me qualify this by saying that I am not a Childress apologist. I think he does alright in the areas of personnel moves and drafting, but when it comes to in game strategies and adjustments, he too often fails miserably. One avenue of the Vikings' April draft that was heavily scrutinized was their failure to bring in a quarterback of the future in case Brett Favre didn't come back.
Instead, the Vikings traded down into the second round with Jimmy Claussen on the board and took Stanford running back Toby Gerhart with one of their second round picks. Gerhart seemed to be an odd pick. First he wasn't a quarterback, and second he doesn't really fulfill the role left vacant by the departure of Chester Taylor. He didn't seem to fit schematically in the Vikings plan, and it is because Gerhart was Childress' contingency plan.
Childress loved the Vikings success last year, but there was a part of him that didn't like it. He didn't like getting shown up by Favre on the sideline against Carolina. He didn't like hearing that the Vikings can't win with Tavaris, Chilress' hand picked quarterback. Most of all he didn't like that the Vikings didn't win his way.
Enter Gerhart. In Gerhart, Childress found the one thing he would never have in Favre, reliability. I honestly believe Childress' plan should Favre have not come back was to pound teams into submission with a two headed monster of Perterson and Gerhart. Run the ball 40-50 times a game,protect Jackson from making decisions and give him favorable match-ups on the outside with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, and rely on a defense that based on personnel should be one of the best in the league.
Flash forward a few months. The Vikings season is dangerously close to slipping away. The receiving core has been decimated by injuries and the offensive line has had trouble protecting Favre robbing him of his ability to take over a game, stretch the defense, and open the playbook up like last season.
Last Sunday the Vikings lost to the Dolphins. It wasn't that they lost an extremely winnable game, but the way the lost. Turnovers. Costly turnovers. If the Vikings hold onto the ball they win that game easy. More specifically if Favre holds onto the ball, the Vikings win the game. So what adjustment will Childress make? He is going to take the ball out of his Hall of Famer's hands.
This Sunday, expect a heavy dose of Peterson and Gerhart pounding the Lions into submission. Expect Favre nursing the offense along, converting on third and medium with screens, Visanthe hookups, and short timing routes. This Sunday expect a heavy dose of Childress' contingency plan.