Brad Childress: Odds on Who Will Coach the Minnesota Vikings in 2011?
Brad Childress apparently isn't in any imminent danger of being fired as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, according to owner Zygi Wilf.
The Vikings dropped to 3-6 on the season following a 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and have now lost nine straight road games.
But Wilf has said that Childress' job is safe...for now.
Just how long Childress has left in Minnesota is the real question.
It's no secret that he's been a ticking time bomb this season. The Vikings have struggled more than anyone expected, and several players are calling for Childress to get the axe.
And barring a miracle turnaround of epic proportions, Childress will be fired.
But who will replace him as head coach of the Vikings?
Will it be a coordinator, a current head coach or one of the numerous Super Bowl-winning coaches who are out of the NFL?
Let's take a look at ten possible replacements, and break down which one has the best odds of becoming the next top dog in Minnesota.
10. Bill Cowher
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Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher is arguably the best coach available on the free agent market.
He had an incredible amount of success in Pittsburgh but has been out of the NFL the last few years and now works as a studio analyst on The NFL Today on CBS.
Since Cowher left the game there have been rumors that he will return to a head coaching position, but he announced in 2009 that he had no plans to coach in the immediate future.
What's that mean exactly? Your guess is as good as mine.
Still, Cowher would make one heck of a coach for the Vikings, but he currently lives in North Carolina.
With John Fox likely out as head coach of the Panthers at the end of the season, that seems like the most likely destination for Cowher.
9. John Gruden
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John Gruden currently works for ESPN as a color analyst on Monday Night Football as well as what seems like a life coach on other network shows.
For a man who's often called "Chucky," he sure dishes out more praise than any analyst in recent memory.
But make no mistake about it: when it comes to coaching football, Gruden means business.
At just 47 years old, the former Super Bowl-winning coach will certainly come back for another coaching stint, but it's all about finding the right opportunity.
He's settled into a nice broadcasting career that isn't nearly as stressful as a head coaching job but still pays pretty well.
Is that worth giving up to return to Minnesota? I'm not sure Gruden thinks so.
8. Rob Ryan
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The last four head coaches of the Vikings had exactly zero years of experience as an NFL head coach prior to being hired.
Based on Minnesota's track record it wouldn't be surprising to see the team go after an offensive or defensive coordinator currently coaching in the league.
Now Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan doesn't have the Browns defense dominating the league, but they do rank 10th in points allowed despite not having the talent level of several teams ranked behind them.
We've seen that Rob's brother Rex has performed pretty well as head coach of the New York Jets, and we know that Rob comes from a football pedigree.
Rob doesn't appear to have the same type of charisma as his brother, but he has had success as a defensive coach at the pro and college levels.
He could be a better fit than you might expect.
7. Gregg Williams
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New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hasn't had an incredible amount of success as an NFL head coach, but he's widely considered one of the league's biggest defensive gurus.
Prior to the 2009 season Williams took over as defensive coordinator of a struggling Saints team that ranked 23rd in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed during the 2008 season.
Well, the Saints won the Super Bowl that season thanks in large part to William's ability to turn that defense around.
And through 10 weeks of the 2010 season the Saints have the NFL's No. 3 total defense.
Williams' track record as head coach may be far from great, but he is one of the league's unparalleled defensive minds.
6. Mike Heimerdinger
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Mike Heimerdinger is the current offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans and has never been a head coach in the NFL.
But Heimerdinger served as an assistant head coach for the Denver Broncos in 2005, when he played a pivotal role in the development of then-Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.
He's also helped Tennessee expands its offense this season, as the Titans currently have the league's No. 3 scoring offense and Vince Young has matured into one of the league's winningest young quarterbacks.
Heimerdinger also was an integral part of the Titans teams that made the playoffs three out of four seasons from 2000 to 2003.
There are certainly sexier options out there, but Heimerdinger could be a nice hire for a team that will likely be transitioning out of the Brett Favre era.
5. Mike Mularkey
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Mike Mularkey only has two years of experience as an NFL head coach, and his time as the top dog in Buffalo had certainly had its ups and downs.
In his first season (2004), he led the Bills to a 9-7 record sparked by a six-game winning streak, but he was fired following Buffalo's 5-11 season in 2005.
Mularkey's since made his way to Atlanta, where he is the offensive coordinator for the Falcons.
And we've seen what he's done with Michael Turner, Roddy White, Matt Ryan and that offense.
Atlanta has one of the league's most prolific attacks, and that's largely due to the maturation of Ryan.
Mularkey's played a big part in that process, and he could be a nice fit for a Vikings team that will probably be working in Tarvaris Jackson as the team's starter next season.
4. Perry Fewell
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Perry Fewell might not be an incredibly popular name, but he's a well-respected defensive coach in the NFL.
Last season, Fewell--then a defensive coordinator in Buffalo--took over as interim coach of the Bills when Dick Jauron was fired and led the team to a respectable 3-4 record.
But Fewell was ousted after the season when the Bills cleared house, so he found his way to the New York Giants where he became the team's defensive coordinator.
Aside from the game against Dallas week, Fewell has had that Giants defensive playing lights out for most of the season and once again figures to have his name pop up during coaching searches in the offseason.
It really depends on whether or not the Vikings want to go with a defensive or offensive-minded coach, but Fewell makes sense if the team wants to go with the former.
3. Brian Billick
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Since being fired by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2007 season, Brian Billick has worked as an announcer alongside Thom Brennaman for the NFL on Fox as well as an analyst for the NFL Network.
During his time as head coach of the Ravens Billick compiled a 80-64 record, won two division titles, made four playoff appearances and won Super Bowl XXXV.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said the firing Billick was one of the most difficult decisions he's ever made, which could be a load of crap or could say a lot about Billick's ability as a head coach.
I'll go with the latter.
Although he was always blessed with talent, especially on defense, Billick did his part in giving the Ravens their first Super Bowl championship.
He'd be a welcomed face in Minnesota.
2. John Fox
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John Fox may be the current coach of the Carolina Panthers, but he's as a good as gone.
The Panthers have struggled mightily this year, and his contract won't be renewed at the end of the season.
Despite his team's disappointing season though, Fox will be a hot commodity on the coaching market during the offseason.
Fox is one of only two coaches--along with the great Vince Lombardi--to take a one-win team to the Super Bowl the following season, and he took the Panthers to another NFC Championship Game during the 2005 season.
Although Carolina hasn't performed well the last two seasons, Fox led them to three 11-plus win seasons in his first seven years as head coach.
He's a very good coach, and he'll get a strong look from Minnesota.
1. Leslie Frazier
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If Brad Childress gets axed in-season, it will be Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier who takes over as interim coach.
Is it possible that Frazier stays on board as head coach if Minnesota turns its season around?
I believe so.
I like to think of Frazier as "the next Mike Tomlin," who was the defensive coordinator of the Vikings in 2006 before moving on to win a Super Bowl as head coach of the Steelers.
If Minnesota wants to stay in house unlike they did in 2006 when they hired Brad Childress, then Frazier is clearly the way to go.
Much like Jason Garrett in Dallas, I could see Frazier earning his way to a permanent spot as the new leader in Minnesota.