Monday, October 29, 2007

Micro- and Macro-managing a Team to the Bottom

In the aftermath of the Minnesota Viking's 23-16 home loss to the previously 2-4 Philadelphia Eagles, there were many things to which one could point for affirmation that the Vikings are, at best, treading water, and doing so in the deep end. The persistence of these issues suggest that despite the Vikings' purported commitment to "doing things the right way" (a poor choice of words for any rookie coach or owner even if not nauseatingly cliched to begin with), the Vikings continue to do anything but do things the right way.

On the field Sunday, Vikings' head coach Brad Childress committed yet another peculiar error in judgment in what has become an inexplicable trend. Following an Eagle kickoff that Vikings' rookie Adrian Peterson took out of bounds on the Vikings' one-yard line, Childress threw the challenge flag. On a play for which it would have been difficult to conceive of a camera angle that might have given Childress even pause to consider challenging the play on the field, Childress was convinced that what he hoped was the case would be proven upon review.

Every camera angle offered by the national network showed Peterson catching the ball in play and stepping out. Childress was not buying what his eyes--with the aid of the Vikings' jumbotron and other monitors in the Vikings' booth--saw. The subsequently upheld call cost the Vikings not only a timeout, but their final challenge, as Childress stared up at the dome ceiling.

Not to be outdone, Vikings' players joined their coach in making questionable decisions. In addition to Peterson's decision, Bobby Wade opted to field an Eagles' punt at the Vikings' one-yard line late in the game instead of letting the punt bounce out of the endzone for a touchback while preserving some time on the game clock. Wade's decision cost the Vikings valuable time on the clock as well as better field position, with the Vikings forced to begin their drive from their own nine-yard line, rather than their own 20-yard line, with about nine fewer seconds on the clock.

Wade compounded his judment error by his post-game remarks. Responding to sideline and lockerroom reporter Greg Coleman's unusually frontal question about his thought process in fielding the punt, Wade confided that he was "trying to make something happen" because he "knew [we] needed two scores."
The problem, of course, is that the Vikings needed only one score to tie the game, raising the question of how closely Childress' purportedly key players are paying attention to the game on the field.

The errors on the field are bad enough for a team trying to win by not losing. But Childress compounded those errors by making an additional error before the team even took the field, relying on his third-best/first-worst quarterback on the roster to not lose the game. With Tarvaris Jackson out with a finger injury, Childress inserted the immobile, poor-throwing , former Eagle, Kelly Holcomb, as the starter over the more-mobile, better-throwing, former Badger, Brooks Bollinger. The results were as predictable as Childress' offense.

As Childress continues to struggle with rudimentary decision-making, the Vikings' organization plods on in its ill-fated commitment to it's first meaningful decision involving the team. Though much earlier in time, the Vikings' organization, led by the quick trigger of football neophyte and Vikings' owner, Zygi Wilf, opted to hire a rookie head coach with limited playcalling experience, largely in the belief that Childress could make a boring brand of football exciting. Unfortunately, Childress proved to be neither the offensive guru nor the quarterback mentor that he still professes to be and the team and fans have suffered as a result.

Though it is quickly becoming too late for Childress, it ought not to be for the Vikings' organization. But, in the search for a new stadium, will the light go on for Zygi anytime soon?

Up next: Good and Bad Comparisons. Plus, teams that are worth their salt.


RM said...

Hate to sound like a broken record, but:

By all means, get rid of Childress. Just don't expect Zygi to make a good decision on his replacement. For some reason, I don't have any confidence in the guy. Maybe it's the way he fired Tice, or his rush to hire Chilly, the "Triangle of Authority", or the way the Blaine deal fell apart. I guess he's the owner we have, so we need to hope for the best.

OneFourFive said...

Someday (I hope) we'll get to see what Vikesgeek has to say about a WINNING team.

Until then we get cold, hard truth served up fresh.

J. Lichty said...


Childress inserted the immobile, poor-throwing , former Eagle, Kelly Holcomb, as the starter over the more-mobile, better-throwing, former Badger, Brooks Bollinger. The results were as predictable as Childress' offense.

These are the kind of decisions that make his head spin. On the one hand - former Eagle, but on the other hand - former Badger. What is a nepotist to do.

In all seriousness, it now looks like Donovan McNabb v.2.0 Tavaris Jackson will be making his kick ass return. Will his passing yardage surpass my average bowling score of 103?

For those who do not think Zygi knows what he is doing, that is all part of his plan to dominate the universe. He intends to make the Vikings so bad that he can move the team to LA with nary a whimper from the battered fan base, who, after three more years of kicking ass, will simply cry uncle.