No matter the impressions of Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress, he has demonstrated an ability to take a talent-laden team and lead it to victory over a witless schedule. Whether that ability will prevail in the face of fiercer competition or when Childress is forced to make-do with any one of his hand-selected Tarvaris Jacksons, is a different matter--and a bridge that Vikings' ownership apparently is content to wait to cross.
On Thursday, with no real reason to do so, the Vikings extended Childress' contract through the 2013 season. The extension adds four years to Childress' current deal and increases the payout from Childress' $2 million/year average to $4-5 million per year.
In support of the Vikings' decision is the gradual evolution of Childress' public persona to that of a normally functioning individual, his ability to pluck capable to very good players from others' rosters, his willingness to concede that Brett Favre was a better option than Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, his improving in-game management, and his largely professional demeanor.
In short, where once the Vikings could hardly do worse, now, at a minimum, it can be said that the Vikings could do far worse. The Bills did far worse in hiring Dick Jauron. Washington did far worse in hiring the affable but completely unqualified Jim Zorn. The Chargers continue to demonstrate what life on the margins is like under the tutelage of a good coordinator, but poorly matched head coach in Norv Turner. And numerous other teams, including the Green Bay Packers, have suffered for their failure to identify a solid head coach.
Childress' name will not soon be favorably compared with the likes of Bill Bellicheck, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, Sean Peyton, or even Mike Tomlin, but neither will be compared to the likes of Eric Mangini or Tom Cable.
What the Vikings assured themselves in signing Childress to an extension was a continuation of a system that works very well when great players are on the field and that offers much less when lesser players are on the field. Vikings' fans can only hope that Childress can either locate the fountain of youth to ensure that Favre remains with the team through 2014, or that Childress and Company are able to locate a quarterback near as good as Favre to replace the former Packer when he finally hangs it up.
Should Favre depart after one season, leaving the Vikings with no better a choice than selecting between Rosenfels and Jackson, there will be considerable head-scratching going on in Minnesota about a decision made before its time.
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