Brad Childress Takes Credit For Donovan McNabb’s Development


Brad Childress was notoriously tight-lipped as head coach of the Vikings – hence his nickname “Secret Squirrel” – but since taking on his new gig as NFL Network yammering cranium he has been anything but. In a new Q&A posted on Chatty Chilly holds forth on a number of topics including – don’t laugh Viking fans – his past success as a developer of quarterbacks, especially Donovan McNabb. The exchange went this way:

"Q: What’s the perfect job for you: being the top guy, the offensive coordinator, or quarterbacks coach?Childress: I love coaching quarterbacks. Think about this: As a head coach, you’re a CEO. To get to be a head coach, you know, you have to develop a level of perfection, you have to be good at what you do. If you’re a quarterback coach, can you take a rookie and make him a player? A Donovan McNabb? Remember that was the year (1999) of the quarterback. Cleveland took Tim Couch before us, Akili Smith went directly after us. Cade McKnown. Daunte Culpepper. You think about the guys that were flash-in-the-pans. So can you take a guy, mold him, and then can you repeat? Shoot, we went to four NFC Championship Games before we won one to go to the Super Bowl. I’ve been there five (times), because I got the Vikings there. But as a head coach, it’s the only job where you become an expert in the lower levels, where you do less of what got you there. That’s the only thing that’s maddening about it."

So basically what Chilly is saying is that Donovan McNabb would’ve been Akili Smith, Tim Couch or Cade McKnown without his expert guidance. Hear that Viking fans? If Donovan McNabb plays great this year and leads the Purple to the Super Bowl, a lot of the credit will have to go to Chilly because he’s the guy who taught Donovan how to play quarterback. Finally, Chilly will have gotten the Vikings to the big game…sort of.

I would be curious to know what Donovan himself thinks about Chilly’s assertion. How much credit does Donovan give Childress for his success? A lot? Some? None? Would the question make Donovan do a spit take?

The next logical question to ask is, “Okay Chilly, if you’re such a genius at developing quarterbacks, what the hell happened with Tarvaris Jackson?” I think we all know the answer to that: T-Jack never had it to begin with, a fact Chilly more-or-less acknowledged by giving up on him and signing Brett Favre. The T-Jack experiment was less a failure of Chilly’s QB guru skills than his personnel acumen. But it didn’t exactly cast his QB guru skills in a favorable light either.

I’m not going to sit here and summarily dismiss the notion that Chilly played some role in Donovan McNabb’s development, but I do think it’s ludicrous for Childress to clearly suggest McNabb would’ve been a “flash-in-the-pan” without his tutelage. McNabb was always going to be a good-to-great quarterback, no matter who was coaching him, and no matter what system he was plugged into. Chilly probably deserves a small amount of credit for McNabb’s early development but to say that without Chilly’s mentoring McNabb would’ve been another Akili Smith? Utterly ridiculous.

Every time Chilly opens his mouth he embarrasses himself. I would feel bad for him if the whole thing weren’t so entertaining.

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