Monday, November 01, 2010

Brad Childress Flips the Script, Loses Anyway

Last week, Vikings head coach Brad Childress was assailed by his fan base for a couple of gaffes during the team's loss to Green Bay. He failed to challenge an obviously dubious call that gave the Packers a touchdown in the second quarter, and he failed to take advantage of having the ball at the end of the first half.

Sunday, the Vikings lost 28-18 at New England. Once again, the head coach appeared to come up short in a couple areas. Oddly, he appeared determined to avoid the mistakes that hurt him in the previous week.

Of course, that meant he would still be making mistakes.

Near the end of the first half, the Vikings faced a fourth down at the one. Looking at a chance to take a halftime lead, the Vikings decided to go for it, instead of taking the points with the knowledge that the Vikings would have the ball to start the second half.

No dice. Adrian Peterson got stuffed on fourth down, apparently after cutting upfield too early. The Patriots then got their defense straightened out in the second half, playing much better, and the offense picked things up.

There is no way of knowing how the game would have turned out if the Vikings had taken the points. I'm not even sure Childress deserves to be criticized for this. However, his flip from being too conservative to arguably being too aggressive may have taken him from one extreme to the other.

And still open to criticism from the local media and fans.

Also questionable was Childress' decision after a long pass from Tom Brady to Brandon Tate that set up the Patriots' first touchdown. Tate caught the ball after safety Madieu Williams -- in position to intercept the ball -- inexplicably had the ball bounce off his hands and right to Tate. Tate bobbled the ball and caught it, then fell to the turf. Childress must have been seeing things, because he challenged the obviously correct call. Maybe an assistant saw something and told him to challenge. Either way, it was a waste of a valuable challenge and a blown timeout.

Was that an overreaction to missing the challenge on Andrew Quarless' "touchdown" the previous week? Maybe. Perhaps Childress just blew the decision.

He's not the first coach to blow a challenge on an obviously correct call. There are times that it almost seems like coaches are challenging calls on purpose, perhaps because they know a challenge is a longer stoppage of play than a normal timeout, so they can get their players a chance to breathe by using the red flag instead of just calling a timeout.

So maybe Childress wanted to do that.

Or maybe he's just getting desperate, as his 2-5 Vikings continue to fade into Mike Tyson's bolivion.

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