The well-reported dispute involving Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress and quarterback Brett Favre on Sunday took on a slightly different hue on Wednesday when reports surfaced regarding the focal point of the dispute. While Childress had discussed pulling Favre from the Carolina game, ostensibly to protect his highly paid quarterback from handling Bryant McKinnie's and Phil Loadholt's missed assignments, what truly appears to have piqued Childress was not the loathsome play of his tubby tackles, but Favre's continuing desire to check out of dump-offs to Nafahu Tahi.
"Calling six audibles is going overboard," Childress sternly chided. "He [Favre] might think he looks at the game film closely, but I can assure you he does not look at that film closer than the coaches."
Leaving aside the questions of whether Favre needs to review game films to believe what his eyes tell him he is up against on the field and whether Favre's experience enables him to read and process game film more quickly and efficiently than either a head coach with no NFL playing experience, in his first head-coaching gig or an offensive coordinator with no NFL playing experience in his first NFL coordinator gig, the greater concern is the message that Childress is sending.
There is no question but that Childress' message in publicly chastising his quarterback for changing plays is that the head coach knows better than the quarterback what plays to call. And that applies, in Childress' mind, not only to the vast majority of plays, but, really, to all but the exceptional few.
What's mind-boggling is that Childress cannot see what even the casual fan knows to be true. Namely, what is called from the sideline very often does not match what the opposition offers in terms of scheme. Why stick with a play call that calls for a timing route when the opposition is blitzing or stick with a run up the middle when the opposition brings all of its players up to the line? The answer, in Minnesota, is because coach said so.
It's surely the stuff of childhood playground shenanigans. One kid brings the ball and, when things start going against him, proclaims that he's taking his ball and going home. That's Childress. Only, in this situation, he has the power to take the ball and give it to someone else.
Unfortunately for Vikings' fans, Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf repeated his earlier mistake of signing Childress to a long-term deal when he had proven nothing in the NFL by signing Childress to a long-term extension on the strength of beating a slew of sub-.500 teams. And, while Childress, with the extensive help of the Vikings' PR corps and outside interventionists, had taken on a far more likable public persona from the one that he donned upon first arriving in Minnesota, his recent brush with Favre only confirms that he may never understand that asphyxiation can be self-administered.
That's not only Childress' misfortune, but, sadly, also likely the misfortune of an otherwise talented Minnesota team and yet another blow to long-teased Minnesota fans.
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