John Madden is in Minneapolis to call tonight’s Bears–Vikings game for NBC. Cue the local media types who all want to grill John on what he thinks of the Vikings. Here’s a sampling from the Pioneer-Press‘s Q&A with the football broadcasting legend and noted Brett Favre supporter. First up, Adrian Peterson:
"Q: You’ve seen a lot of great running backs in your time in the NFL. Where do you put Adrian Peterson?A: I’ve always been one that kind of separates the position of running back from runner. I think as far as a runner, he’s one of the best I think that’s ever played. The greatest runners that I’ve ever seen would be guys like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. The greatest running back that I ever saw was Walter Payton because he did it all. He would run it. He would block it. He would catch it. In every area, he was the best.When I say runner, I think (Peterson) is a runner. As far as a running back, where you have every facet of the position, I still think that he has some pretty big steps to take. Runner, he’s great. He has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. Running back, he still has some work to do."
I don’t dispute anything Madden says – Peterson has so far not developed into a complete running back. That’s why he still gets taken out in 3rd down situations and late-game scenarios where the team has to pass almost every play. Of course, there’s always that nagging question – is this some inherent inadequacy of Peterson’s or is it bad coaching? Chester Taylor came to this team with all the pass receiving and blocking skills necessary – Peterson came raw and, well into his second year, still doesn’t seem to have it.
Speaking of coaching…the Pioneer-Press also asked Madden about Brad Childress, and Madden’s answer was interesting to say the least:
"Q: Brad Childress runs hot and cold with Vikings fans. What do you think of the job he’s done?A: I think he’s done a pretty good job. If you remember back when he took the job, Daunte Culpepper was the quarterback. They were kind of going in that direction. Then he came here and for whatever reason, he didn’t have Daunte Culpepper anymore. So he had to start all over at the quarterback position.Of all the things in the NFL that a coach or an organization has to do, that’s the toughest thing, is to start all over with the quarterback. That’s what he’s experimenting with. The (Tarvaris) Jackson thing went in one direction, and now he’s with a journeyman’s journeyman in (Gus) Frerotte. There’s still no real answer there.Until you get “the guy,” it’s very difficult in this league."
I agree that there’s no real answer – Gus is more the lesser of two evils at this point – but what I don’t agree with is Madden’s apparent willingness to deflect blame for the quarterback disaster away from Brad Childress. His answer suggests two things: One, Daunte Culpepper screwed Childress over by forcing his way out of Minnesota. Two, Drafting Tarvaris Jackson was a legitimate move but, unfortunately, the “experiment” didn’t work out. Wrong and wrong. Culpepper, as we’ve since discovered, was through when he hurt his knee, so it was actually a lucky break for Chilly that he went full jerkass and forced the trade. Childress may have thought he had his starting QB with Culpepper, but he was flat wrong, and the way things turned out was basically Childress being saved from his own dumb self. Secondly, it was not a shrewd move to trade up and draft Tarvaris Jackson – it was a horrible miscalculation that Childress actually made worse by failing to acquire other legitimate options just in case Tarvaris didn’t work out. This remains, for me, the single unforgivable act of incompetence on Childress’s part – not covering his ass on Jackson. It’s fine if you want to turn the starting job over to a completely green quarterback and not even have real open competition in training camp, but for God’s sake man, don’t back him up with Brooks Bollinger and Kelly Holcomb and then Gus Frerotte. Don’t spend money hand-over-fist to build a veteran squad and then go cheap on the single most important position on the team. It never made any sense to go after guys like Bernard Berrian and Jared Allen and then roll the dice at quarterback – but that’s exactly what Chilly did. Even going into his second year as the full-time starter, Jackson was still a huge gamble.
Madden basically lets Childress off-the-hook. Must be a coaches-stick-together thing. Whatever. I stopped taking Madden seriously years ago. He’s the national equivalent of Sid Hartman – an old fossil who stays in the game by trading on his past relevance and kissing ass. At least Madden is entertaining. Sid is only sometimes amusing by accident when he says something completely asinine.