Saturday, October 10, 2015

brad childress

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If I were to ask any Vikings fan what they thought of Mike Zimmer, they’d likely tell me he’s the greatest head coach since Bud Grant. In one season, Zimmer has started to erase memories of the past 12 seasons, when Mike Tice, Brad Childress, and Leslie Frazier led the Vikings to a combined 92 wins and 99 losses. It may be too early to proclaim Zimmer a top-flight head coach, but he’s well on his way to a long career in Minnesota, and that starts with a winning season in 2015.

But, what if the Vikings had never hired Zimmer? What if, in some cruel, twisted universe, the Wilf brothers were forced to choose one of three head coaches — Tice, Childress, or Frazier — to lead this team? What if Zimmer had never inherited Xavier Rhodes, or even worse,  what if Teddy Bridgewater was forced to operate from Musgrave’s minuscule play card?

Optimism around the team definitely wouldn’t be as high, and Minnesota’s faithful sports fans would suffer yet another year of futility. Luckily, that’s not the case, but it’s always fun to look back and remember our favorite head coaching blunders and mishaps. After the jump, I’ll share a few quotes that encapsulate everything that made each of the Vikings’ last three coaches such disastrous hires:

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Note: This is the last installment of a three part series detailing my personal, complicated feelings about Randy Moss. I love him for the player he was, but hate him for what could have been. Hit it here for Part I and Part II.

Hate is a strong word.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that a person should never truly hate anything. It simply takes up too much time and mental energy to actively hold disdain for something or someone. But as a younger, less mature man, I can honestly say that I hated Randy Moss. I’m not proud of it. It was the sort of irrational feelings that a fan projects on a player who wasn’t as great as he could have been (despite being a future first ballot Hall of Famer) while sulking his way out of town. Twice.

Quarterback Jay Cutler isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  His personality rubs some the wrong way, his leadership has been questioned countless times, and he won’t be winning any Mister Congeniality contests anytime soon.  Still, he is an accomplished veteran at the NFL’s most important position, and recent rumors stating the Bears might let him walk after this season are sure to grab attention.

It is an especially intriguing scenario for Vikings fans who are as hungry as ever for some new hope at the quarterback spot.  For every rumor in the NFL a counter-rumor is sure to follow, and some are wisely betting that the Bears don’t simply let Cutler leave, but let’s pretend for a second they do.  Should the Vikings be interested?  Would they be?

First off, they clearly will enter the offseason in the market for a new quarterback or three.  The Christian Ponder experiment is pretty clearly on it’s last legs, Matt Cassel can opt out of the second year of his deal, and Josh Freeman can’t be happy riding the bench after migrating north from Tampa midseason.  None of the above have proven they can lead the Vikings in an overly impressive way and so it seems they will once again be looking for the guy that just has “it.”

Secondly, they are preparing to play the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, and finding a quarterback that can have success outdoors in Minnesota could be even trickier than trying to find one that can succeed in the Metrodome… which hasn’t been the easiest task ever.

Cutler, now 30 years old, has played outdoors in every home game of his professional career.  He has three seasons in Denver under his belt, and four in Chicago, and so that experience could be mighty attractive.  He has not only played in the cold and wind, but he’s also been fairly successful.

Cutler has a career passer rating of 84.4 and 23,224 yards on 3,220 attempts.  He’s thrown for 149 career touchdowns and has thrown 108 interceptions.  Durability has been a concern lately, however, as he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009.

The Vikings showed some interest in Cutler when he was on the trade block in 2009.  They were reportedly involved in a three-way negotiation that would have sent Cutler to Minnesota and Matt Cassel, of all people, to Denver.  The story goes, though, that head coach Brad Childress was not as sold on Cutler as the front office was and put a stop to the talks.  Of course, the rest is history.

Childress is gone now, though, and much of that same front office remains intact.  While intra-division trades are very rare, and Cutler would almost certainly have to become an unrestricted free agent to make this scenario possible, I am curious as to how receptive our readers would be to having Cutler be the next starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings.  Keep in mind while voting that signing Cutler would not necessarily kill the team’s chances of drafting a young quarterback in May’s NFL Draft.

The Vikings season is not over yet, but it is certainly dead, and before we get too far ahead of ourselves by looking towards the offseason for quick fixes, I wanted to look closer into the causes of death.  In this series we will look at the long list of reasons this season has been such an epic failure.  Up first, my good buddy, cornerback Chris Cook.

Today, I had a bit of an online scuffle with Cook, after he let the world know that he was “still in bed” on his day off I noticed that many of his teammates were volunteering at a Children’s Hospital at that very moment.  Then, chippy bastard that I am, I suggested that maybe Cook’s tweet about taking a day off was actually meant to be posted on Sunday.  He then decided he had seen enough of me and told me to “get a life” and promptly blocked our VT account from communicating with his.

He then went on a little rant stating “I swear some people live to try and make other people look bad” and “I guess I’m not allowed to have a day off!”  I assume the people that he is referring to are all NFL wide outs.

He then went on to say “laptop thugs are the worst.”  I would actually argue that, you know, real thugs are worse.  Whatever, though, different chokes for different folks.  He then suggested that he would like to be rude, presumably back to me, but that the “little birdie called media” prevents him from doing so.

Now perhaps I didn’t utilize much tact in my tweets, and didn’t show much respect, but the fact is Chris Cook is my least favorite Vikings player we’ve had in a long time and his social media habits in contrast to, say, Greg Jennings is one of the reasons for it.  I can’t think of a single moment, in almost four full seasons, that I have been proud to see Cook wearing a horn on his helmet.

Injuries, an arrest involving a firearm, and an arrest for felony domestic assault by strangulation have caused him to be one of team’s least reliable players over the last four years.  He only played in six games his rookie season, six in 2011, 10 in 2012, and eight so far this year.  When he does manage to stay on the field, however, the results have not been very impressive.

Through 30 games played (26 starts) Pro Football Reference credits Cook with a career stat line of 84 tackles, one sack, and 13 defended passes.  That means he has zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, zero recoveries, and virtually no big plays to his name whatsoever.  Turnovers aren’t the only measure of a defender in the NFL, but a lack of them has been a big reason the Vikings secondary continues to look miserable.

Cook is far from the worst talent the Vikings have at the position, but he has failed to live up to the hype that caused the Vikings to draft him in the second round in 2010, and he doesn’t seem to have progressed at all since last year.  You wouldn’t expect a player of his size to play so soft so consistently, but he does, and the result is a player as unintimidating in coverage as he is in run defense.

Rick Spielman and Brad Childress made Cook their top choice in 2010, but Childress is long gone and Cook is now in the final year of his rookie deal.  Cook was acquitted of both his felony charges, after the Vikings essentially paid him to stay home, and Judd Zulgad has reported a few times that his presence on the roster didn’t sit well within the locker room at that time.

Cook is going to be a unrestricted free agent following this season.  The Vikings could likely keep him around for another year on the cheap, but it remains to be seen if they have any interest in doing so.  Nearly every week he has been a giant question mark since joining the team and never once has he appeared to be any sort of answer.

One thing is for sure, though, and that is that the Vikings surely won’t be content relying on Cook going into 2014 and will be forced to search for more upgrades at the corner position.

Stay tuned for the next version of our Autopsy Report on the 2013 season.  I might even update you all on whether or not I finally got a life.

A half game out of first place.  An intense battle with Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson coming up.  A need to rebound following a disappointing loss to Washington.  A team in need of some serious progression this season.

The work week must be intense at Winter Park this week, right?  Well, probably, but there is also an abundance of TMZ-type stories going on with these Vikings and I thought we’d better just get them out there in the open here at VT, even though I would rather just avoid them.

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