Thursday, September 18, 2008

Childress on Hot Seat

Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress' Wednesday announcement that he would be replacing erstwhile starter Tarvaris Jackson with journeyman backup Gus Frerotte came as little surprise to those who have followed events at Winter Park this week. The move follows a procession of owner frustration and fan disenchantment with an uninspiring 0-2 start to what Vikings' officials believed was a season that could have started 2-0.

With one shoe having dropped--and a significant shoe at that with Childress noting that the move to Frerotte is "for the remainder of the season"--there is one very heavy shoe still left clinging.

There is no question but that the decision to change to Frerotte was, for all intents and purposes, signaled from above. Jackson was Childress' hand-picked quarterback, a reach in the 2006 draft who Childress gleefully referred to as "unmolded clay." Despite Childress' self-professed background as a molder of quarterbacks, a questionable pedigree even without consideration of his tenure in Minnesota, Childress has been unable to mold Jackson into a starting NFL quarterback. Now, that failure could cost him his job.

As of Wednesday, the Vikings still had several thousand tickets remaining for their Sunday home game against the Carolina Panthers. For Wilf, the concern is two-fold. Not only does the owner desperately want to avoid the continuing embarrassment of having to seek extensions to sell out home games and ensure the telecast of the team's home games in the home market, but he also must concern himself with maintaining a positive public image of his team as he pushes for a new stadium.

Hand in hand with Wilf's pressuring of Childress to make changes, including making the change to Frerotte, a change that Wilf strongly suggested would be a positive change for the team, is the understanding that Childress needs to begin producing in the win column and that he needs to do so now. There is also a looming frustration among the Wilfs that Childress does not offer a brand of football that fans want to watch.

With the exception of the post-Packer blowout loss last season, Wilf has been incredibly patient with Childress, generally accepting the coach's refrains that the team "needs to gel," "get on the same page," and "continue to progress." For a coach that inherited a 9-7 team that has only added talent over the past three years, it all has become nearly too much for Wilf to continue to bear. Having spent over the cap floor for the first time since taking over the Vikings, Wilf is now expecting more. Much more. And it is clear that if he does not get much more, he soon will get another coach.

Up Next: Is Frerotte the Answer to Anything?


Ryan said...

Benching Jackson is just an attempt to mask the true problem - Childress/Bevell are destroying this team with their offense.

J. Lichty said...

How many games does the Ferrotte experiment get before Wilf pulls the plug on Childress midseason and replaces him with an interim?

I cannot believe that Childress even has the rope of a full season.