Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Childress Firing Creating False Optimism



Viking fans have been rejoicing all day upon hearing the news that Brad Childress has been relieved of his duties as the team's head coach. As fans we grew tired of Childress because the team has terribly underachieved this year, Childress seems to have absolutely terrible people skills, and most of the players reportedly had no respect for him. Naturally, I was happy to hear the team had gotten rid of Childress. There's no doubting he had worn out his welcome here, and after getting embarrassed 31-3 on Sunday Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had little choice but to fire Childress. It was absolutely the right choice.

But just because it was the right decision at this time doesn't mean it's going to benefit the team in the future. First, and foremost, the Vikings need a franchise QB. The only realistic way they will get that franchise QB is if they continue to lose games at a high-rate, to put them in the best position to land a high draft pick and use that pick on a highly regarded rookie QB. Every game the Vikings win will obviously lower their chances to land this potential franchise QB. There's no doubt the team has looked terrible under Childress pretty much all season, and that certainly wasn't going to change over the next six games if he remained head coach. So, oddly enough, the Vikings have now given themselves a better chance to win, but considering the team is all but mathematically eliminated, winning now isn't what this team needs to contend next season and into the future.

Second, I don't think Leslie Frazier is the answer. He's been hyped and hyped over the last several years as a future head coach, but despite getting seven interviews for head coaching vacancies in the last few years, he was never chosen. However, he's in a very good position to look good auditioning for this job for the rest of the season. The team's schedule is fairly weak for the rest of the year. I think the team will play very well this week against Washington, because first of all Washington isn't good and secondly the team will come out with energy thanks to the ouster of Childress just like the Cowboys did a few weeks ago. This is going to cause some issues for the organization; if the Vikings go 3-3 under Frazier, losing to likely playoff-bound Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, the decision to replace him shouldn't be all that difficult. However, if the team beats Washington, Buffalo and Detroit, along with pulling off one or two upsets, the decision will be a lot tougher. I'm hoping Zygi is targeting Jon Gruden or a similar big name coach to take over after the season, but if Frazier leads this team to a 4-2 or 5-1 record against a watered down schedule, I find it hard to believe he'd let Frazier go.

Fans always talk about what a great coach Mike Tomlin is. That's true. However, these same people tend to think that because Tomlin is both black and a former Vikings defensive coordinator that Leslie Frazier is going to be just as successful. Frazier may end up being a great coach, but he also may end up being terrible. If Childress deserved to be fired because the team has played poorly, it seems silly that Leslie Frazier was promoted to replace him when the defense hasn't been very good either. Frazier deserves criticism for a defense that has vastly underperformed, and I doubt he's going to be a successful head coach in this league. If the Vikings retain him after this year, I hope I'm wrong and he becomes a good coach. His track record though seems to suggest that he's not going to be the kind of coach this team needs to become a good team again in the near future.

Lastly, Leslie Frazier is committed to Brett Favre. Frazier already said today Favre was going to be his starting quarterback, which is bad news for Vikings fans. The team needs to start looking towards the future. Favre will retire at season's end, if not sooner, and with the season all but over, it's time to see if Tarvaris Jackson could be the starter next year. He's a free agent to be, and if the team was able to start him for the last six games they would have a good idea if he would be capable of starting for this team next season. With Frazier convinced Favre gives the team the best chance to win (I disagree) he's going to continue to start Favre because he's auditioning for the team's head coaching job into the future. Favre has been terrible, and replacing him now is what would be best for the organization; unfortunately, as long as Frazier is running the ship and Favre is on the roster, that won't be the case.

The firing of Childress has created a false optimism among us fans. We are excited that our least favorite person in sports is no longer connected to one of our favorite teams; who can blame us? However, we need to realize as fans that this team has a long ways to go to actually get back to the level they were at even last year, and replacing Childress with Frazier at this point in the season may actually hurt this team more in the future than it helps. Not because Childress was going to lead this team anywhere, but because now the team may choose to keep Frazier around next season as the head coach. They also will spend the majority or all of the season watching Brett Favre play without getting even a glimpse at Tarvaris Jackson or Joe Webb. And, of course, they will probably win more games now under Frazier than they would have under Childress, costing them a franchise QB. Sometimes, what we want as fans and what is absolutely the right decision at the time, is not the answer for the future of the team. Unfortunately, this looks like it's going to end up being one of those cases.