Monday, January 05, 2009

Childress Delivers

For three seasons, Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress and his dwindling band of supporters have preached patience. "Just wait," the skeptical fans have been told, "the payoff is coming." Part of that payoff was to have been Sunday's playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles--not necessarily in the form of a victory, but at least in the form of a well-played game.

The payoff never arrived.

Aside from two series by running back Adrian Peterson, during which the elite running back demonstrated for all who do not already know, why it is that he is the most poorly utilized player in the NFL, the Vikings' offense was mind-numbingly simplistic, boring, and feeble. That's how it's been drawn up for three years under Childress and that, not surprisingly, is how it has been executed for three years under Childress.

At no point in the game was the Childress stamp of approval on the Vikings' offense more apparent than when, down 12 with just over three minutes to go and the ball deep in their own end, the Vikings resorted to the short passing game--two yards, then three, then none, and then none some more.

The sequence merely crystallized the ineptitude of Childress' offense against a capable defense. In the entire game, the Vikings threw just two passes beyond the first down marker. Two. That's almost a statistical impossibility. By chance alone, teams ought to stumble upon more than two forward passes beyond the sticks. But apparently determination can improve upon chance.

And when the Vikings were busy not throwing deep, they were working their short running game to utter imperfection, refusing to run outside the tackles if at all possible and opting, instead for the cozy confines up the gut. It was pure genius for a coach intent on turning back the clock.

While it is true that Tarvaris Jackson was doing a solid impression of an errant Spurgeon Wynn in the second half, that the Vikings' offensive line was incapable of picking up the blitz, and that the Vikings' receivers looked thoroughly disinterested in the game plan, such as it was, the Vikings' loss on Sunday demonstrated the returns on ChillyBall when the least little thing goes awry. And there's zero reason to believe that anything will be any different next season.

Up Next: The Numbers. Plus, wheat and chaff.

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