One of the most overlooked X-factors in Sunday's Bears-Vikings matchup at Soldier Field is the fact that Brad Childress may be fighting for his job.
Childress ranks dead last on ESPN's NFL Coach Approval Ratings. His approval rating is all the way down to nine percent as of Friday night, which is 22 percent lower than Rod Marinelli, whose team is 0-5. I'm no mathematician, but that would suggest that 91 percent of fans would approve of Chili being axed.
Childress is surely aware of the fans' disaproval, as (according to the Pioneer Press' Sean Jensen) nearly half of his 20-minute press conference this Monday was devoted to fielding questions about the home fans booing their team and chanting "Fire Childress."
The bottom line is team owner Zigi Wilf has opened up the checkbook the last few seasons, but the team is just 17-21 under Childress. The team is incredibly lucky to be 3-3, and the offense has been lackluster for the third-straight season. The ownership knows if the team loses this week, the best way to keep the fan base from totally jumping off the bandwagon is to cut ties with Childress, the least popular coach in Minnesota pro sports history. If the Vikings lose and Childress stays, ticket sales will plummet. Flat out, it would be a bad business decision to keep Childress if the team fails to bring home a victory.
While the popular opinion is that the ownership wouldn't fire its head coach in the middle of the season, this would be the right time to pull the trigger. Heading into the bye, an interim head coach (most likely defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier) would have two weeks to prepare for his debut. Both the Raiders and Rams already used that strategy this season, as Lane Kiffin and Scott Linehan were both fired headed into their teams' bye week.
With all that taken into account, don't be shocked if Childress makes some off the wall calls this week. He may go for it on fourth down, call some trick plays or throw in a on-side kick. With Childress' track record of playing it close to the vest, it's highly unlikely, but if he feels like his job may be in jeopardy (which he should), it could happen.
Even if it's just some subtle changes -- like using Adrian Peterson on kick returns, using several defensive starters on the punt coverage or simply calling more deep passing plays -- I expect Childress to take some chances he usually wouldn't this week.
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