The Vikings have released Randy Moss. Technically they waived him, but in my opinion nobody is going to claim Moss and take on his nearly $4MM of remaining salary for this year. When Moss clears waivers, the Vikings will release him and they will officially be on the hook for the rest of his salary. Moss will then likely sign a veteran minimum contract for about $450K, so Moss will actually make more money by getting cut.
I've been one of Childress' biggest defenders over the last few years. I'm certainly not a supporter of him, as I agree there are much better options available. However, I've been realistic to this point. Childress turned a mediocre Vikings team into a very, very good one in three years. Childress had a lot to do with a lot of the acquisitions, and he deserved credit for that. When Childress was hired he said he was going to bring a 'kick-ass' offense with him. The offense struggled in his first few seasons here because the team didn't have a quarterback, and while people tend to blame Childress for that, the Vikings passed on a grand total of zero pro bowl quarterbacks since drafting T-Jack in the 2nd round. There simply hasn't been an opportunity to acquire or draft that franchise quarterback. Once the Vikings got Favre, it was pretty clear that Chilly's offense was indeed 'kick-ass' as long as it had a good quarterback running the ship. That's no surprise. Favre had his best season ever last year, and Childress deserves credit for that, too. Even if they didn't always agree, Favre clearly was no longer in his prime but still played like it last year.
However, Childress has consistently been a terrible in-game coach, often failing to make even minor adjustments when necessary. He feuds with players constantly, and he seems to think he's Bill Belichick when it comes to strategy. He's terrible at challenging, and for a team with Adrian Peterson they sure seem to fail on third and fourth and inches far too often. Before coming to Minnesota, Childress famously feuded with Terrell Owens on the Philadelphia sideline. T.O. was widely blamed for it, but the more and more we see of Childress the more likely it seems to me that Childress continued to add fuel to the fire and eventually T.O. snapped. When I found out about Moss, my first thought was "Damn, why couldn't Childress just have stayed in Afghanistan during that mission visiting the troops during the off-season?" But then I instantly realized he would have made idiotic decisions there too, and likely would have cost some soldiers their lives. Trouble and drama follows Brad Childress.
It's no secret I love Randy Moss. Even if the decision to waive him made sense from a football standpoint, I would have hated the move because of how much I love him. However, no matter how hard I try to think of ways this will benefit the team on the field, I can't think of any. When Randy Moss is lined up wide, the rest of the offense is playing 10 on 9. There was a safety lined up fifteen yards over Moss yesterday on basically every single play. That allowed Percy Harvin to utilize the middle of the field, and it opened up a lot of short passes for Adrian Peterson to catch and run. Even when Moss has just one catch for eight yards, he's providing more value than a box score can show.
Moss clearly doesn't like Childress. I get the feeling most of the players don't like him, but Moss knew he wasn't going to stay in Minnesota past this year, so he had no reason not to call out Childress yesterday. Moss comes in on his day off last Tuesday to help prep the defensive coaches on many of the tendencies and formations the Patriots offense would use. According to Moss, the team either ignored him completely or did very little to prepare for what Moss suggested. If true, Moss has every right to be pissed. It's inexcusable for an NFL coaching staff to take someone's advice who knows the offense probably better than anyone in football besides Brady and Belichick, and then decide not to implement what they learned into their own defensive schemes. Brad Childress did say he disagreed and thought they did a good job listening to Moss and implementing a game plan that was based off what Moss knew, but the results seem to be pretty black and white. The Patriots offense did what they needed to do against the Vikings all day. If they needed a first down on third and long, they got it. If they needed simply to get the ball 30 yards down the field to set up a better place to punt from, they did it. They weren't flashy, but they were clearly controlling the game and the defense looked helpless for most of the game. It would appear they didn't listen to Moss.
Percy Harvin is banged up, and now they release Moss. Sidney Rice still isn't all that close to returning, so if Harvin is indeed as banged up as he seemed after the game yesterday, the team could be looking at a receiving corps of Bernard Berrian, Greg Lewis, and probably the return of Hank Baskett. The team is poised to go back to what Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio calls 'Chilly-ball.' The goal of Chilly-ball is to simply keep the game close, hope the other team makes a mistake, and then steal the game late. It works sometimes, no doubt, but it's not going to lead to very many playoff appearances. It's a strategy that will keep the team in the 7-9 to 9-7 range.
Jay Glazer reported that Percy Harvin is 'livid' with the decision, and rightfully so. He's been the biggest beneficiary of the Vikings acquiring Moss, and Moss has apparently gladly taken Percy under his wing and helped him read defenses even better. Without Moss, and Rice not yet healthy, Percy likely will be moved back to the outside and expect him to struggle again. He's simply not ready to be an outside target yet; he's great as a dynamic slot receiver, running crossing routes, screens, and even running the ball at times.
The Wilf's are about to cross a very dangerous line. Asking Vikings fans to watch Randy Moss leave again, while Brad Childress continues to be employed, is something that will not go over well. Moss is loved by the fans here, and he always will be regardless of what Brad Childress tries to do to that legacy. Moss' agent, Joel Segal had this to say about the move in an e-mail to the Star Tribune:
"Randy is very sad to find out about being waived by the Vikings this morning. He has and always will remain fond of the fans in Minnesota. We will let the process of the waiver wire take its course and we will move on from there."
There's really only one way that Childress gains any respect back, and that's if the Vikings improbably run the table, finish 11-5 and win the division. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that's not going to happen. Childress appears to be on the hot-seat, and that will make all Vikings fans happy. If the team gets rid of Childress, though, Leslie Frazier cannot be the answer. If Zygi fires him mid-season, fine, let Frazier take over and see what he can do. But if they fire Chilly after the season, Frazier cannot be the replacement. They need a big name, proven coach, and there are plenty of those guys available. Jon Gruden would be my number one target, but others are available as well, including Bill Cowher.
When Moss clears waivers and re-signs with the Patriots, (not a certainty by any means, but I think it's going to happen) Belichick will again get the last laugh. Not only do the Patriots now own the Vikings 2011 third round pick, they also basically 'rented' Moss to the Vikings for four games and got the Vikings to pay Moss' entire salary for this year. It's possible someone claims him to keep him from returning to New England, but that seems like a pretty expensive gamble considering Moss is a headache if he doesn't want to be somewhere.
The Vikings gave up a third round pick and likely $4MM for four games of Randy Moss. And the reason appears to be because Brad Childress can't take criticism when he's clearly wrong. It's frustrating, and the Vikings will continue to fail at getting a new stadium no matter who becomes the next Governor unless they replace the bone-head.
Brad Childress, I hate you.