Sunday, April 8, 2007

Give Brad Some Time

Why is is that football seems to be the only sport in which fans want to throw the coach under the bus after the first losing season. Perhaps, it is because there are more people passionate about football than any other sport? Perhaps because us males are generally inpatient and want instant gratification? Maybe because firing a coach and hiring a new one feels like we are accomplishing something, even though in many cases it sets a franchise back years every time it happens?

The 2006 NFL season was not even finished yet and I started to hear fans grumbling about the coach. I was even one of them. The Vikings are my favorite team ever and I can't stand to see them lose. Eventually, the rational part of my brain took over though. This was not Brad's team. This was Mike Tice's. Sure, Brad may have added a few players through the draft and sure he added a couple free agents but this team still had the Mike Tice era written all over it.

Let's not give up on Brad Childress yet. We gave Mike Tice 4 years. I say we give the same to Brad. Let's take a look at a few other coaches in the league and how they did in their first couple seasons. I am sure there were fans that wanted to see their coaches get canned too only to find that a couple more years was all that it took to find success.

When Dick Vermeil returned to the NFL by coaching the Rams in 1997 he went 5-11. In 1998, he did worse, 4-12. In 1999, the Rams exploded and went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl.

The Philadelphia Eagles hired Andy Reid in 1999. Andy led the Eagles to a 5-11 record that year. In 2000, the Eagles reached the post-season after posting a 11-5 record.

The Patriots employed Bill Bellichick in 2000 after a subpar season by Pete Carroll. In Bill's first year they went 5-11. In 2001 the Pats flip flopped the record to 11-5 and won the Super Bowl. We all know the rest of the story.

John Fox took over a struggling franchise in Carolina. He went an impressive 7-9 in his first season. The following year they lost to the Patriots by 3 points in the Super Bowl.

Lovie Smith, current head coach of NFC North Champion Chicago Bears only went 5-11 in his first season as coach. The year after they went 11-5 and made the playoffs. The season after that they lost in the Super Bowl.

As Brad Childress has said the difference between 6-10 and 10-6 is only a few plays. The margin is razor thin. I think that Brad Childress has a plan and it will take 2-3 years before we truly see the affect of that plan. There are positive things about this franchise. The defense is very good. A couple more pieces and the defense will be considered top 5. The offense had very little talent at the skills positions when Brad took over for the team. However, the offensive line is looking pretty good and should only get better as they continue to play together.

It seems that the teams that stick with a coach over the long haul seem to do better. The Steelers were always competitive when Bill Cowher was head coach. The Broncos are always going to be a team to be reckoned with as long as Mike Shanahan is coach. It can take many seasons for a brand new coach to shuttle out the old players that don't fit his system and to find the rookies and free agents that do. If you switch coaches every couple years you will always be in a state of rebuilding.

If by the end of the 2010 season the Vikings franchise has not moved in the right direction then by all means you can go Donald Trump on Brad Childress. "You're FIRED!"