This Sunday's game at Mall of America Field was supposed to feature two teams playing for a top spot in the conference, instead, it's going to be two teams looking to avoid the cellar.
The Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings both came into the season with a reasonable expectation to win the NFC Championship. But, they both own 1-3 records and they both lost coming out of their bye week. The disappointment at Winter Park is rivaled only by the disillusionment in Dallas.
Wade Phillips-coached teams have been known more for their failures and this year is no different. Much like Norv Turner, no other coach gets less with more. Interestingly enough, Phillips beat out Turner for the top spot.
Phillips took over the Cowboys a year after the Childress era took hold. With the blocks already in place from Bill Parcells, he has rode along as his team has compiled a 22-10 record, but only 1-2 in the post season. Overall, he has a record of 70-49, with a dismal 1-5 playoff record.
Wade's claim to fame is not getting the most out of his players. He is most successful in the first years of his contracts, riding the coattails of the previous coaching staff. It's only after he begins to make the team his, do things begin to go south. It's an amazing ability to continually get less from his players, while earning another chance to coach.
It's the complete opposite with Brad Childress. Chilly has done a good job building a winning team. I'd say great if it wasn't for a complete breakdown at the quarterback position. Without a General Manager to oversee the personnel decisions, Childress has a lot of influence on what happens with the team.
In 2006, Brad began with a 6-10 team and has continually improved since, but those wins have come despite the head coach. It was the talent on the field that was able to overcome the decisions that got them there.
Childress promised a west-coast offense based on ball-control, smash-mouth football. That hasn't happened; it has been a dominant defense that has limited opposing teams' ability to score, which has allowed the team to succeed.
It's become too much though.
In New York the defense played well, it was the poor showing of their offensive counterparts that did them in. Of the six Jets scoring drives, four of them started in Vikings territory and they only gave up one touchdown.
The blame can't solely be laid on the heels of the offensive players either; it belongs on the head coach.
Because of the bye week, the team had an extra week to prepare and since they were on Monday Night Football they even had an extra day on top of it. It didn't matter though. They still came out flat and indecisive.
A few days after bringing in one of the league's top down-field threats, they finished their first two drives without even attempting a pass.
ESPN's Kevin Seifert quoted Childress as saying "I didn't think we were ready coming out of the locker room to play this football game." When asked how that could be the case he replied "your guess is as good as mine."
Not quite the confidence you want to hear out of the head coach.
With the season dangerously close to slipping away, the team has gotten themselves into a must-win situation. The team will be favored in only one of their next six games and will have to win at least three of them to even have a chance at the post-season. The only saving grace for the purple this year, is that only the Atlanta Falcons have emerged as a dominant team in the NFC.
Lose to the Cowboys though, and door begins to close.