October 31, 2008
I'm a Viking fan, so I know a great deal about bad coaching. I'm a connoisseur of the form, if you will. I've seen boneheaded challenges. I've seen breathtakingly meaningless platitudes (Denny Green's "Plan your work, and work your plan" springs to mind). I've seen utterly baffling clock management.
But I've rarely seen a coach who deploys all the above horrid coaching techniques as often and as deftly Brad Childress. There are times I'm not even sure the Vikings have been told that they would be playing a football game that day. Often, they look as if they were told it was time to go shoe shopping, or to decorate cupcakes.
The Vikings had a bye last week, and I cannot begin to tell you how downright pleasant it was to watch other teams play sound, reasonable football. Even the bad teams seemed to be doing things that at least made sense. They didn't throw 47 times despite having Gus Frerotte at QB. They varied offensive formations, which was really neat. I think I even saw one of them run an end around, which was BOLD! And some of these other teams actually stopped huddling once the clock went under two minutes to go. God, I wish the Vikings had a bye week every week.
The thing that annoys me the most about the Brad Childress Era was that, when he arrived, he was supposed to be the guy who gave the organization some real credibility. He wasn't a megalomaniacal fraud, like Denny Green. He wasn't a goofball, like Mike Tice. He seemed to be a serious, studious fellow. Best of all, he seemed to have a real level head.
But there's a difference between having a cool, calm demeanor, and being utterly devoid of personality. Watching the Vikings now is like watching a soulless team. They have no identity on offense. They seem to do things at random, with no rhyme or reason as to why they're doing them. They're as likely to run a draw on third-and-17 as they are to go to an empty backfield on first-and-10. This annoys me. Greatly. To the point where watching them is like chewing my own arm off.
This is a talented team. But it isn't a good team. And the scary part is that this was really their last hurrah. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf wanted this team to be the team that made a Super Bowl and got him his elusive stadium deal in the Twin Cities. But the economy is in ruins, the team sucks, the fans hate Childress and any hope of getting a new stadium has surely vanished. This organization is about to plunge into a vagabond existence: trying to move somewhere, anywhere profitable, while remaining stuck in the same place they always have been. Oh, and losing lots of games. Which should be fun.
But they could at least have the common courtesy to lose games with some kind of coherent philosophy or style. And that's what annoys me about the Vikings under Childress. It's not that they're bad. It's that they're purposeless.
This week the Vikings play the Texans, who are also 3-4 but seem to be much more of a team that has its act together. The Vikings are favored by 4.5 points. But I would remind you that two of the Vikings victories came because of fluky pass interference calls. They should really be 1-6.
And Brad Childress should really be employing his "kickass offense" at an NAIA school.
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