Bye Bye Brad Childress

Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIINovember 16, 2008

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 28-27.

If you didn't watch the game, you would think that either the Vikings had a great comeback or the Packers didn't quite come close enough.

If you look at the box score, and see Green Bay's 184 NET yards, and their 9 percent third down conversion percentage, you can't help but wonder why the game was so close.

The Vikings had a 21-10 lead, with the help of two Vikings safeties. One was courtesy of Jared Allen sacking Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, and the other was courtesy of the officials and an Aaron Rodgers underhanded scoop in the end zone.

But after a Gus Frerotte pass was intercepted and returned 56 yards for a touchdown by Nick Collins, a 65 yard punt return by Will Blackmon, and a 40 yard field goal by Mason Crosby, the Vikings suddenly found themselves in a 27-21 hole. 

With the Vikings facing a fourth and inches, early in the fourth quarter, Childress elected to punt the ball. TV cameras showed a furious Adrian Peterson pacing the sidelines, begging to go with it. Childress threw a challenge flag to challenge the spot of the ball. After the ruling was upheld, Childress THEN elected to go for it. Peterson fumbled the ball, and the Packers had good field position, which eventually led to Crosby's field goal.

With 2:22 left in the fourth quarter, the Vikings pulled out a six play, 70+ yard drive, which ended in a 29 yard run by Adrian Peterson for a touchdown and a 28-27 lead.

The Packers marched back down the field and set up Crosby with a 52 yarder, who had already hit from 47 and 40 yards, for the game-winning field goal. He pushed it right and missed by mere inches.

The Minnesota Vikings are now a lucky 1-5 vs rival Green Bay during the Brad Childress era, and the win staved off the unemployment line for Childress for the time being. The previous week the Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears 41-48.

The same story happened this Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The Vikings led 13-6 at halftime. The Vikings were outscored 13-0 in the second half, even though they were given countless opportunities to come back. Maurice Hicks fumbled a kickoff return, an Adrian Peterson dropped pass that would have converted a 4thdown, Ben Leber recovered a Clifton Smith fumble, and the Vikings only let the Buccs in the end zone once, even though they were in the Red Zone five times.

Matt Bryant even missed a field goal with 2:00 left by about the same margin as Mason Crosby missed the week before.

But, Adrian Peterson wasn’t able to score the winning touchdown this week. Why? Because Childress had him on the sidelines. Peterson didn’t play during the last 2:00.

“There wasn’t an opportunity to run the ball.”

That is when you pull a Reggie Bush and line up AP as a wide out. Even if you aren't going to use him, you need the league's leading rusher on the field.

The Vikings would go on to lose 19-13, dropping to 5-5, but amazingly find themselves in a three-way tie with Green Bayand Chicago atop the NFC North.

When the Vikings hired Childress in 2006, he was hired because of his offensive prowess, mostly due to his resume as the Offensive Coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, who appeared in four consecutive NFC Championship Games with Childress as the OC (2003-2005) and QB coach (1999-2002).

Childress is also given credit for the maturation of Ealges Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb.

But the person who should be given credit for the maturation of Donovan McNabb should be McNabb himself. McNabb holds virtually every single passing record at Syracuse and was named Big East Player of the Decade of the 90's. Brad Childress didn't help McNabb with those records.

Childress, under head coach Andy Reid, helped the Eagles reach the NFC Championship game every year from 2001-04, but they three-straight to the St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Carolina.

In 2004, the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game to advance to Super Bowl XXXIX, where they lost to New England, 24-21. 

When Brad Childress took over the Vikings in 2006, he had Daunte Culpepper, whom the Eagles debated drafting over McNabb in the 1999 NFL Draft, on the roster. Daunte was coming off extensive knee surgery and wanted to rehab at his home in Miami, while Childress wanted him to rehab in Minnesota. Needless to say, the two didn't work things out and Culpepper was dealt to Miami for a 2nd round draft pick. Brad Johnson had ended the season as the Vikings starter, leading the Vikings to a 7-2 record after Culpepper began the season 2-5 before injuring his knee.

Since Johnson wasn't a long-term fix, Childress knew he had to draft a quarterback in the early rounds.

After selecting LB Chad Greenway with the 19th overall pick in the 2006 draft, then DB Cedric Griffin with the 48th pick and C Ryan Cook with the 51st pick (which was acquired in the Culpepper trade), Childress wanted his quarterback. He had his eye on Arkansas State QB Tarvaris Jackson, who was projected to go in between the fourth and sixth round. But Childress found his project, and traded two-third round picks to Pittsburgh for the last pick of the second round, where Childress selected Jackson.

“I wanted to find a guy to develop, a diamond in the rough,” Childress said of Jackson. With a veteran in Johnson, whom Bucs QB Chris Simms said was the best mentor he ever had (his father, Phil, won Super Bowl XXI with NYG and was the game’s MVP), Childress thought he found his QB.

But, as fans soon found out, Tarvaris Jackson is no Donovan McNabb, and despite his 8-4 career record, he was benched two games into the 2008 NFL season in favor of Gus Frerotte.

So, after his proven ability to lose close games with one of the NFL’s best defenses, make poor draft choices (with the exception of Adrian Peterson, but even a drunken monkey would have selected him with the 8th overall pick), and bench key players in key situations, I think Childress has graced the Vikings sideline for the last time.