ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert boils down Brad Childress‘ failings as a head coach to two things: 1) Poor people skills and 2) uninspired offense.
I agree with Seifert’s assessment. Let’s take a look at those.
People Skills: In retrospect, it was there to see early on. Childress clashed with quarterback Daunte Culpepper (which turned out to be a good thing, actually), player personnel guy Fran Foley, quarterback Brad Johnson, wide receiver Marcus Robinson (whom he cut on Christmas Eve), and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
Last year, his exasperation with Brett Favre, his freelancing quarterback, was obvious despite the fact that his freelancing quarterback was having success by opening up his rigid offensive system.
Childress had a my-way-or-the-highway approach that often was illustrated with vindictiveness:
- Marcus Robinson, cut after the receiver’s criticisms were published
- Troy Williamson got his paycheck docked because he had the gall to spend too much time grieving his grandmother’s death
- Chris Kluwe faced off-the-street competition for failing to keep the ball out of Devin Hester‘s hands
- Randy Moss cut for speaking truth to power by telling Zygi Wilf that his head coach doesn’t know what he’s doing and should be fired
Which leads us nicely into Seifert’s second point: Childress’ alleged “kick-ass” offense.
An Offensive Offense: Turns out, Terrell Owens was right.
There’s that famous clip of Owens chewing out Brad Childress on the sidelines of an Eagles game that shows Childress tight-lipped and stewing while Owens rants. Too bad T.O. hadn’t long ago discredited himself or we might’ve paid closer attention to that clip and the reasons for the outburst.
Prior to joining the Vikings, Childress was the offensive coordinator for an Eagles team whose head coach, Andy Reid, called all the offensive plays.
Childress’ tenure has been marked by predictable play calling that has been too often too easily countered by defenses and has been littered with quarterback complaining about their inability to audible based on their read of defenses.
Communication: I’d add to Seifert’s list Childress’ poor communication skills.
The guy labors to articulate a simple, declarative sentence and for a coach, that’s pretty disastrous. Beyond people skills, beyond calling plays, a coach must be able to communicate effectively if he is to be effective.
A major aspect of coaching is being a teacher. Poor communicators are by definition poor teachers because if a student is to learn anything, that which is being taught must be communicated clearly.
One of the major selling points as a potential head coach was Childress’ ability to develop talent, with Donovan McNabb‘s rise to fame under Childress’ tutelage as his quarterbacks coach.
I”ve always argued that McNabb was a talented quarterback who succeeded despite Childress.
Exhibit A would be one Tarvaris Jackson, Childress’ hand-picked athlete that he would be able to mold into an NFL superstar quarterback. But in Childress’ hands, the clay that is Jackson has never formed into an NFL-caliber quarterback, let alone a superstar.
Too bad for Jackson that he had the misfortune of being picked by Childress. I suspect Childress wrecked Jackson as thoroughly as the Chicago Cubs wreck their pitchers.
It’s not that Jackson doesn’t have the athletic ability or even probably the talent; it’s that Childress has failed to get the most out of that ability and talent. And that, right there, is the story of this year’s team: Stocked with all the talent Zygi Wilf could buy and yet vastly underperforming to the last.
I suspect a lot of that has to do with Childress’ inability to communicate.
FRAZIER THE PLAYER
Former Bears head coach Mike Ditka called Leslie Frazier “the most underrated cornerback I’ve ever been around,” according to the Pioneer Press‘ Brian Murphy. Here’s why: [WATCH a video highlight of a Leslie Frazier interception.]
LESLIE FRAZIER’S PRESS CONFERENCE
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf announced yesterday that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will take over for the rest of the season as interim head coach, after which Frazier addressed the media. The good news is, the new coach is a superb communicator. [WATCH Leslie Frazier’s press conference.]