2008 Vikings Season Wrap Up

Researches say that the secret to beauty lies in symmetry. People who have symmetrical features are found to be rated more beautiful in studies. Architecture that is symmetrical tends to be more aesthetically pleasing. So there must be some beauty in the Vikings season as it ended the way it began.

The year started and ended with poor coaching decisions and poor play calling. In the game against the Eagles there were several terrible decisions. For example, Childress not taking the holding penalty in the first quarter and basically giving the Eagles 3 points, as well as those questionable play calls at the end of the first half. Many fans are asking in the days since the Eagles game (and I\’ve been asking all year), where are the adjustments? This team is not good enough to go out and play \”their game\” regardless of what the opponents do. There are very few teams who can do that. This year in the NFL there isn\’t any team that can do that. The 2007 Patriots could do that, although it burned them in the Super Bowl. The Bills of the early 90s could do it (and it burned them in the Super Bowl(s)). The 85 Bears could do it. The 2008 Vikings could not do it, but they did anyway. Even Bobby Wade took a shot at the coaches during a post game interview. He said he didn\’t understand why the Vikings didn\’t make any adjustments. Bernard Berrian also said something to the effect of \”we just run the plays we\’re told\”. Sounds like a vote of \’no confidence\’ to me.

The year started and ended with poor QB play from Tavaris Jackson. T-Jack had a couple of good moments in the Eagles game, but when it mattered most he fell apart. On the last meaningful drive he looked as lost as he did in Week 1. Of T-Jack\’s 15 completions, 10 of them were thrown for 5 yards or less. He has \”tremendous upside potential\”, but at what point does that potential become past tense?

The year started and ended with poor offensive line play. The O-line was inconsistent all year long, with poor performances book-ending the season, but plenty of good and bad in-between. I feel we\’ve see the last of Matt Birk here in Minnesota unless he decides to take a pay cut. But there are plenty of teams who will be willing to overpay for an above average center. The right side of the line is continually suspect, but is not the largest hole on this team.

The year started and ended, and was filled to the brim, with poor special teams coverage. The Vikings tied the record for giving up the most punt return touchdowns during the regular season (4), and their poor play contributed significantly to the loss against the Eagles.

Lastly, the year started and ended with solid defense that gives up the big play. The Vikings played a consistent bend but don\’t break defense all year long, but gave up the more than occasional big play. That was the case again versus the Eagles when Westbrook scampered for 71 yards on a simple (and not all that well executed) screen pass. I never used to feel this way, but I think Brian Westbrook actually *is* underrated.

My prediction from Week 1 was \”9-7 record, tied for first in the NFC North with GB, and hopefully we’ll have the tie breaker against them\”. My prediction was somewhat accurate, and if it weren\’t for the Giants packing it in during the second half of the final game (and a nice kick by Longwell) I would have been very accurate in that record and the prediction of having the tie-breaker over another team in the NFC North. Shockingly that \”other\” team was the Bears and not the Packers. I am still surprised that the Packers crumbled, and amazed that the Bears found a way to win 9 games with their team. I also predicted that the Vikings would lose in the first round of the playoffs. This team (with Gus or T-Jack) was not a team that was going anywhere in the playoffs.

So where do the Vikings go from here? Most would say that T-Jack has got to go. I believe that the Vikings definitely need to look for an experienced quality quarterback in the off-season, but if they aren\’t willing to pay for a quality QB they shouldn\’t pick up next year\’s version of Gus Frerrotte. However, if T-Jack is still on the roster next August, that won\’t be the end of the world.

The real problem with the Vikings is the coaching staff. Brad Childress was quoted last week that he didn\’t \”relish\” playing the Eagles. That tells me one of two things. Either he didn\’t like playing against them because they were his friends, or he didn\’t want to face them because he knew they could out-coach him. Either way, who wants a coach like that?

I\’d rather see a guy who said \”I\’m looking forward to facing my old friends and kicking their ass!\” You want a coach who is confident, if not cocky. You want someone decisive, not wishy-washy. You want someone who would use that familiarity to his advantage, and out-think and therefore out-coach his old friends. Some people are not cut out for head coaching. Brad Childress is one of those people.

So even with all of their holes, the Vikings are an attractive head coaching spot, more than any other team with an opening today (Cleveland, Detroit, Broncos, or Jets). A top 10 defense (with key players coming back healthy next year), a top 5 running game, capable (although average) receivers, a top 10 kicker, a top 5 punter. And they play in a weak division.

Additionally, they are a playoff team and should be the favorite to win the division next year. That\’s a team that should catch the eye of Mike Shanahan, of Bill Cowher, of Marty Schottenheimer. If Zygi Wilf is serious about spending money to upgrade his team, he needs to look on the sideline before looking on the field.

Sadly none of that will happen. Childress just completed the 3rd year of a 5 year deal. Wilf has repeatedly said that he supports Childress and has given no indication that he would just say that publicly and be working behind Chilly\’s back; and besides, the Vikings organization is so full of snitches that the press would catch whiff of any possible coaching change that could happen. Also, regardless of the outcome and expectation, the team has progressed from 6-10, to 8-8, to 10-6. Someone with rose colored glasses would think that next year should see that same improvement.

Additionally, this off-season doesn\’t look too great for quality experienced QBs. The Cardinals would have to stun the world by picking Leinart over Warner. McNabb recently got a vote of confidence from the Eagles owner, so they won\’t be trading him. Favre will most likely retire (again). Kerry Collins isn\’t going anywhere. So do you gamble on someone like Derek Anderson (assuming the Browns go with Brady Quinn)? Do you overpay for Matt Cassel (assuming Tom Brady is healthy enough to play next year, which I don\’t think he will be; and assuming Cassel would look as good throwing to Berrian, Wade, and Shiancoe as he did to Moss, Welker and Watson). But what about Jeff Garcia? He could be a decent QB who could teach T-Jack (and more importantly Booty) and perform on the field. Beyond that the free agent pile is thin (Grossman, Boller, Batch, Losman, and Ramsey).

Worst case scenario: Childress stays, defense plays even better

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(even with possible suspensions to the Williams Wall), T-Jack starts with Patrick Ramsey as his backup. Vikings finish the season with T-Jack going 7-9 overall. Peterson rushes for 1800 yards, Chester Taylor is the Vikings leading receiver.

Best case scenario: Childress stays, defense plays even better (even with possible suspensions to the Williams Wall), Vikings bring in Jeff Garcia. Garcia starts team wins the division at 10-6 and wins their first playoff game in a decade.

Or maybe Zygi will surprise us all by finding a way to get McNabb or Warner, dropping Chilly and promoting Leslie Frazier to Head Coach. Only time will tell.

I\’ll leave you with this aside:
I went back and looked at my post from the last game of the 2005 season. I realize I\’m cherry picking here but:
I\’m not too excited about the hiring of Childress. Most of the successful Head Coaches as of late come from the defensive ranks. Think of Belicheck, Dungy, etc. On the offensive side you\’ve got Martz and Brian \”The Brain\” Billick. My Philly connection tells me that although it\’s been widely reported that Childress didn\’t call the plays, Andy Reid scripted the first X number of plays, and Childress took over after that. Although I\’m not sure that\’s true, at least the media isn\’t reporting that. At least it seems like Philly is somewhat disappointed the guy is leaving, which should be a good sign.
Childress does have a good reputation as a smart, well organized, football coach. Someone very good at the administration that comes along with the position. Less is known about his play calling and his in-game coaching.

Childress will bring a stronger hand to the team, but he will be criticized for poor play calling and not using the players’ strengths.

Sometimes I hate it when I\’m right.

Skol Vikings!







3 responses to “2008 Vikings Season Wrap Up”

  1. Nursedude Avatar

    Wade, I was at the game on Sunday. To say that the fans around me were perplexed and upset with Chilly’s play calling and poor clock management would be a gross understatement. Childress is trying to make a John Unitas , pocket passer out of a guy who is best rolling out and showing movement. T-jack had some brutal throws, but in fairness, I think the Eagles put a great deal of pressure on him, too. Starting the second half, they actually had some success on a couple of throws that gained dsome decent yardage having T-Jack roll out…then Childress inexplicably stopped. The ball that Samuel took back for a pick six was a floating knuckleball that Tim Wakefield would have been proud of. The Defense did not play that badly-the one exception was the Westbrook screen pass for a touchdown. They really missed Pat Williams in the middle.

    To your thesis from 2005, former Viking Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin’s success in Pittsburgh only adds another strong argument supporting your point.

    The Vikings need a new head coach-but are not going to get one, and it looks like they will be in the market for another Defensive Coordinator, because it sure looks like Frazier is going to be getting a head coaching job somewhere-hopefully in the AFC with Denver, and not in the division at Detroit.

    The thing that was frustrating about the Vikings against the Eagles, is that the Vikings were THIS close to being able to beat them…don’t be surprised if the Eagles beat the G-men in the Meadowlands this weekend.

  2. wadE Avatar

    Nursedude, I’m sorry you witnessed that in person. I agree with your thoughts on T-Jack. You have to modify your system for the “talent” you have.

    On the other hand, I think you give the Eagles too much credit. They are peaking at the right time, but I expect the G-men to bury them.

  3. Nursedude Avatar

    Don’t look now, Wade, but the Eagles are brushing off the graveyard dirt and going to be playing AT Arizona for the NFC title. Has there been anything this surprising since Lyle Lovett married Julia Roberts?

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