The 12-men-on-the-field challenge was a key moment in the Redskins game, one that more-or-less slammed the door on any chance the Vikes had of mounting a comeback. Initially, Brad Childress tried to argue that the Skins had subbed, which by rule meant the Vikes had to be given sufficient time to sub themselves. Chilly was mad enough about it during the game to actually become animated, something that never happens. Since then, however, Childress has acknowledged that the Skins didn’t substitute, meaning the Vikes were indeed guilty of having 12 men on the field (if only Spencer Johnson could run a little faster).
Right before all that, Childress had a chance to throw the challenge flag himself and possibly get Santana Moss’s first-down catch on the sideline reversed – but Childress spent all day staring at the Jumbotron, giving the Redskins time to get up to the line and snap it (though the snap was of course fumbled and recovered by Kevin Williams, momentarily giving the Vikes the ball back). Chilly can possibly be criticized for being indecisive in that moment: You can argue that, given the game situation, he should’ve just thrown the flag and taken his chance on losing the time-out. Some might point to Childress’s lack of aggressiveness with the red flag in that moment as being emblematic of his overall coaching, which has tended toward the conservative, sometimes frustratingly so.
The bigger beef against Chilly, to me, is the way the first half was handled. It was clear from very early that the Redskins were going to throw everything they had against the Vikes’ running game and basically let the Purple pass at their leisure. Unfortunately, our offense was not able to take advantage of this soon enough – we continued running our normal plays and getting stuffed; and even when we did pass, Tarvaris Jackson was so bad it didn’t really matter much. Only in the second half, with the game already all-but-lost, did Childress decide to take what was being given – he began passing on every play, and Tarvaris responded by having one of his more-impressive stretches. Maybe if we’d adopted this aggressive approach earlier, we could’ve won. Who knows? At the very least, the scenario provides more ammo to the Chilly-bashers, who have argued all along that he doesn’t adjust quickly enough, if at all.
All that being said, it’s hard to fault Childress for continuing to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson, even after the opponent has gotten well ahead. Because when you hand it to Adrian, presumably, you are one broken tackle away from a touchdown.
Which begs another question…when is Adrian Peterson going to get back to being Adrian Peterson? My guess would be next season. Or maybe, if we’re lucky, this weekend against what has not been a good Denver run defense. I’ve pretty much lost faith in Tarvaris and Chilly’s combined ability to give us a truly balanced offense, so there’s nothing left to hope for but a sick 200-yard, 3 TD day from Adrian. Unfortunately, the way he’s run lately, I don’t think he has that in him.