The Writing Is on the Wall for Brad Childress

Greg McKnightCorrespondent IMay 9, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 23:  Head coach Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings watches the action from the sidelines during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 23, 2007 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It appears that Brad Childress is approaching the end of his tenure as Minnesota Vikings head coach.  After three years of the Childress plan and the self-described Kick Ass Offense, the net gain in Minnesota from the team he inherited has been one win on the season. 

Mike Tice achieved a record of 32-33 as the Vikings head coach, one of those losses being the last game of the 2001 season after being elevated from offensive line coach to interim head coach after Dennis Green was fired.

Tice even managed to win playoff game in his third season as head coach, with a resounding 31-17 victory in Green Bay during the 2004 season playoffs. 

This was achieved mostly by having a QB that was capable of astonishing play for great stretches and a defense that played better than it's personnel should have most of the time. Having the league's best WR for the majority of the time helped as well but the rest of the team was largely made up of nobodies and castoffs.

Tice was given a shot at coaching the team mainly because the owner at the time, tightwad Texas used car salesman Red McCombs, had come to the realization that taxpayer money wasn't going to be forthcoming in his dream of a new stadium for the team. 

When the franchise showed that is was likely to deliver a much better profit if he sold it, McCombs chose to put it on the market.

So in walks New Jersey real estate tycoon Zygi Wilf with his brothers and other partners as the new owners of the Vikings franchise with hopes of doing what McCombs never could—get a new stadium built. 

To achieve this end, Wilf hired what was one of the league's hottest offensive coordinators at the time to be his new head coach. 

He also opened up his pocket book to sign some of the most sought after free agents in the league to upgrade a fairly depleted roster in hopes of supercharging the team, delighting the fans, and relaxing the attitude that public finds weren't coming.

But rather than build on a .500 record from the previous coach and team, Brad Childress' Philadelphia offense has been able to only keep it barely afloat.  Despite the influx of top talent in free agency, trades, and the draft, the Vikings have achieved the same results that Tice's largely average rosters did during his time as coach. 

And to add insult to injury, the fans haven't been showing up for the often bland product Childress has been fielding. One can only wonder how desperate the situation would be if the NFL's most exciting running back weren't in the Vikings' backfield.

If Childress had added a top QB through free agency or trade, or had used a high draft pick on one and achieved lackluster results, he may have been able to be forgiven for trying but falling short. 

But his inexplicable resistance to upgrading the position he coached upon entering the NFL has most fans scratching their heads, if not calling for his.

The recent overtures to Brett Favre have made it appear that Childress might finally realize that QB is more important than he has recently believed, but I can't help thinking that the interest is more Zygi Wilf's than Brad Childress'

So it stands to reason that, given the unimpressive results of all that money spent and the lack of fan support for funding his new stadium, that the new owner will have to make a move to excite the fan base the only way there is to excite a fan base: Win a Super Bowl.

Easier said than done of course, since even the most free-spending owner can't guarantee a Lombardi Trophy (Snyder, Al Davis, etc.), but at this point in his ownership, Zygi Wilf must surely recognize that only a sure-thing, experienced, top notch NFL head coaching candidate will make fans think things are going to be different than when Red McCombs was running the show. 

That candidate could be any number of men, and only Wilf's opinion of the candidates matters, but surely would have to include Super Bowl winners Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, and Mike Holmgren among others. 

Perhaps even a man like Brian Billick would interest him since the offense is widely believed to be underachieving.  Although Billick's history with QB development is nearly as unimpressive as Childress', and a big improvement at QB is the team's biggest need.

But regardless of who replaces Childress, it would seem that he likely will be replaced, barring a monumental step forward in the playoffs this season. Simply making an appearance and a quick exit like last season shouldn't be enough.

He's had the time, the talent, and the support long enough to do better than he has. Staying the course and remaining as second-tier franchise, more often than not being on the outside looking in will not put fannies in the seats and Wilf knows it.

As much as most of us would like to avoid a coaching change resulting in a dreaded "rebuilding" process, there may not be much of a choice for the Wilfs.  If Zygi Wilf's stadium push ends up in the same alley as McCombs' did, he'll probably have to do just as McCombs did and sell the team. 

This is not a very optimistic time to be a Vikings fan.