Vikings Corner: Childress should not have receieved contract extension
Last year when Vikings coach Brad Childress sat down for turkey dinner he was to grab the wishbone and give thanks to a broken collarbone, the one that allowed Adrian Peterson to slip in the draft.
Fresh off a contract extension, Childress' Thanksgiving will be much different this year, but without Adrian's injury, the coach would have never gotten that extension.
Hamstrung by ineffective quarterbacks, Chilly's offense continually struggled for an identity. The best running back in football helped relieve the pressure, but questions were mounting.
Where was the dominant offense the coach had promised? "Play within the system," Childress would repeat, but the only thing his system was producing was third-and-longs.
A failure to find a suitable quarterback meant the head coach had failed. Time was short; the team was built to win now.
Much to the chagrin of many purple loyalists, Childress found a way to win.
But does that alone deserve a contract extension?
I'll concede that Childress has produced results on the scoreboard. The bottom line in the NFL is victories and his team has improved by at least two wins each year and is a cinch to do it again this year.
But in the same way you believe in the spirit of the law rather than the letter, you can't just focus on the short-term outcome to decide he's the coach of the future.
Throughout his tenure the organization has been against renegotiating players contracts, opting instead to force them to finish out their original agreements.
Former Vikings Center, and fan favorite, Matt Birk had every reason to remain in his home state, but he had a falling out with the team. Injuries cut short his season in 2004 and he was faced with playing the next year hurt or opting for surgery.
Birk, planning for his future, told the team he would forego surgery if they renegotiated his contract. They refused and he missed the entire 2005 season. Even though he returned to Pro Bowl form in 2006 the seeds were sewn and he signed with Baltimore this year.
Antoine Winfield is a notable exception to that stance, but the Vikings broke new ground with his contract. Although it gave him a raise to reward his all-pro play, it included de-escalator clauses as well. If Winfield lost his starting job and was used primarily as the nickel back, his salary would essentially be cut in half.
It's a contract that will only become more common, because it protects the team if the players' skills diminish. Childress' contract includes no such provisions and that's where the problem lies.
Sweet-talking Brett Favre out of retirement (or at least just leaving the cake out on the table for him) gave Chilly the quarterback he needed to run his system. Without Favre though, they're left in the exact same spot they were in the past three years, wandering around saying 'if only we had a quarterback that could play within the system.'
For Thanksgiving the coach can thank Adrian Peterson for holding things together long enough for him to find a quarterback, but can he do it for another four years?
TJ Melcher can be heard on KBUN-AM 1450.