NFL coaches are always on the hot seat. There are 32 teams in the league where 10 are usually in the cellar (for a variety of reasons), eight are usually at the top of the class (most from the AFC), and the remaining 14 teams are caught in the middle trying to avoid the cellar and climb to the top. Minnesota is one of those “upper-middle” teams in my opinion and seems bent on staying there for the time being.
The Vikings have steadily improved under Childress’s tenure as head coach, even winning the NFC North in 2009 before exiting the playoffs via the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round. It should be noted that the Vikings won that division while the Green Bay Packers defense took a year off, the Bears were inconsistent, and the Detroit Lions were 0-16. However, the NFL is all about what you have done lately and all the Vikings have done lately watch those teams all improve (some significantly) this off-season.
The Viking defense was very good last year and should be more of the same this year. Adding a few extra pieces is all that side of the ball needed. The offense is another story. Running back is solid with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Gone is the best lineman (C Matt Birk). There is still no breakout wide receiver on the team, and the quarterback situation is still not where it needs to be. Sage Rosenfels was a guy Childress and co. wanted last year but couldn’t work the deal. They got him now to push/take over for the solidly inconsistent Tarvaris Jackson. Drafting a QB is too long term for this team right now. They did that with John David Booty from USC. They needed someone to come in and get this team over the hump in the passing game. The wide receivers are not great, but they are serviceable if the triggerman is more solid. The Rosenfels move might be passable if there weren’t other plausible options. However, there were other options – a lot of them.
Matt Cassel. Jay Cutler. Jeff Garcia. Derek Anderson. Brady Quinn. Jason Campbell.
All on the market at one time or another during the off-season and none of which the Vikings could or would make a move to get. To me, Garcia or Anderson make the most sense and of those two Garcia was one that could have been had for not a bad price. I know, Garcia is old, but he’s still good and he’s an immediate upgrade in that West Coast offense than any other QB on the roster. If Garcia doesn’t float the boat, the Vikings could have used their first round pick to get Anderson or Cassel. (The Jay Cutler price tag was probably more than they were willing to deal at this point. Plus, what QB would they have dealt to Denver?) Instead, the Vikings burn the first round pick on WR Percy Harvin out of Florida. I cannot for the life of me figure out teams who draft situational players with questionable character issues. Harvin is explosive and interesting, but he’s not a feature WR or HB unless the Vikings plan to run the “Wildcat” formation 90% of the time.
Character issues are nothing new to draft picks. One thing to look for is what the former college coach says about the player in question. Nick Saban did everything but hire a sky writer to help Andre Smith rebound from a dreadful off-season. Urban Meyer did not say jack about Harvin other than the obvious. That says a lot to me.
It also says a lot about teams like Minnesota who are clearly a few right player moves away from really being able to contend for the wide-open NFC yet do not take advantage of the opportunity while the window is still open. Maybe I’m wrong and Rosenfels (doubtful) or Jackson (highly unlikely) are the “right guy” at QB for the Vikings, but until proven, I’m sticking to my guns and calling this laughable at best.
And while I’m on this, Brett Favre is not the answer either. Favre, a sure-fire hall of famer, can no longer do what he used to do in the glory years as evidenced by his decline over last season with the NY Jets. No matter how badly he wants to stick it to the Packers, this move would be nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Someone in Minnesota must not want Brad Childress to hang around beyond this season after the dreadful off-season free agent moves and the rather questionable draft picks for the Vikings. If these calls were Childress’s own, then maybe he doesn’t want to be around the purple people haters either.