Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tenuous Post Leads to Startling Contentions

Following last Sunday's narrow victory over the winless Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress quipped that he was tickled over the victory. Childress added a line that he had offered on at least two occasions the week prior to the game against the Lions, contending that "there are no easy victories."

Whether there are any "easy" victories in the NFL, depends, of course, on one's definition of "easy." By most barometers, and I intend to be quite generous in this assessment, a two-touchdown victory with a larger lead at some point in the game would be regarded as a relatively easy victory. Perhaps not in Childress' lexicon.

Prior to facing the Vikings on Sunday, the Lions had lost their first four games of the 2008 season by two touchdowns, three touchdowns, three touchdowns, and four touchdowns (rounding to the nearest touchdown), in order. In those four losses, the Lions held the lead for precisely zero seconds and trailed at halftime by 7, 18, 18, and 17 points, in succession. Not only were the Lions playing poorly, they were playing increasingly worse each week.

By virtually no measure, were the Lions deemed a good football team when they entered the Metrodome on Sunday. And in virtually no quarter, were they expected to give the Vikings any challenge on the road.

Despite the overwhelming numbers, Childress opted to trot out a pat line used by NFL head coaches for decades in the face of an overmatched opponent. "We take no team lightly. On any given Sunday any team can win. There are no easy victories in this sport," the coach went on, lathering up the audience with one football cliche after another.

What is curious about Childress' pre-game admonitions--statements that coaches generally reserve to guard against a let down by their players--is that Childress carried the comments over into the postgame. "We're just happy to get a win no matter how it comes about. Obviously, we have many things to work on, just like any other team," he added, "but, like I said, there are no easy wins in this league."

Pre-game, Childress' comments are accepted vernacular. Post-game, those same words not only come off as desperate but also make the pre-game words seem desperate, as if Childress was attempting to frame the post-game discussion by diminishing expectations.

The even more curious part of Childress' post-game statements, however, is that Childress' comments are verifiably false, particularly, and importantly, with respect to the very opponent that Childress was so tickled to have beaten. If every there was a team that offered an easy victory, it was the Lions. That the Vikings failed to capitalize on the Lions' dysfunction says much more about the Vikings than it does about the Lions. And it suggests as much about the unbending nature of a head coach that simply appears incapable of altering his offensive philosophy in the face of all reason to do so.

Up Next: Debunking the AP Myth.

No comments: