Brad Childress may be coming back to the NFL. As a head coach. For the Indianapolis Colts. Take a moment and let that sink in. A year-and-a-half after the Vikings canned him, Chilly is a candidate for head coach with one of the proudest and most successful organizations in the league.
Well let’s look more closely at this situation. There’s one thing to keep in mind: this proud and successful organization is currently operating without the man who, in most people’s eyes, was responsible for building that tradition of pride and success. Bill Polian is long-gone, and owner Jim Irsay is now running the show. Yes, the same Jim Irsay who regularly communicates with the masses via tweets of rock lyrics. The same Jim Irsay who recently got into a slight Twitter tiff with actor Rob Lowe. The same Jim Irsay who makes Sinead O’Connor look like a model of mental stability.
That Jim Irsay thinks Brad Childress would make a fine head coach for a team that is currently in the process of picking itself up off the mat after a 2-14 season. But wait a second…maybe Crazy Irsay is on to something here. Didn’t Childress inherit a fairly chaotic situation when Zygi Wilf picked him to lead the Vikings? And didn’t Chilly have the Vikings in the playoffs after just three seasons? And didn’t he get them into the NFL title game in his fourth year?
Yes and yes and yes. However, there is some doubt – at least in my mind – about how much credit Childress actually deserves for the Vikings’ turn-around. It’s true that Childress and Rick Spielman were responsible for some savvy personnel moves, including the poison-pill deal for Steve Hutchinson, and the Visanthe Shiancoe and Chester Taylor signings. But let’s be honest – they lucked into some good players too. Adrian Peterson fell in their lap after several teams passed on him due to injury concerns. Percy Harvin slipped to them because a few teams were worried about character issues. Jared Allen was basically handed to them by a Chiefs organization that feared he would slide in his personal life and get suspended. Those three players were instrumental to Chilly’s success, and without pure good fortune Chilly would’ve had no shot at them.
And of course there was Brett Favre. No other single player meant more to the Vikings’ 2009 run than Favre. And most people believe Favre led the Vikings to 12 wins and a title game berth that year in spite of Childress’ leadership. In fact, most of the stories that year were about what a clown Childress was in Favre’s eyes, and how much better the Vikings’ offense was when Chilly backed off and allowed Favre to run it his way.
Wherever you fall in the great Chilly debate, you must admit there are valid reasons to question his qualifications as a head coach candidate. His handling of the QB situation heads that list of reasons. Despite Chilly’s reputation as a QB guru, Tarvaris Jackson never developed in his hands. With the Colts moving on from Peyton Manning by drafting either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, they will certainly be looking for a guy who knows how to handle a young quarterback and build his confidence. After five years of watching Childress I can state without fear of contradiction that Chilly is not that guy. In fact, Chilly is about the last guy I’d want going near a young QB. I bet if you asked Tarvaris – or Brett Favre for that matter – he would concur with my position.
Whatever reputation Chilly has earned as a guy who knows how to rebuild a floundering organization was more a matter of luck than skill. And it’s certain that his status as a QB guru is mostly a load of hooey. You hear me Jim Irsay? Avoid Brad Childress. That’s not a line from an old Pink Floyd song. That’s good solid advice.