Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Win When It Can't Be On My Own Terms?

That's presumably why Kobe wanted Shaq gone, right? "I won rings with Shaq, big deal, anyone could've done that. If I want to stake my claim to greatness, I want to do it as The Man, on my own terms." Kobe's made his bed and he's laid in it, ringless since. Brad Childress would do well to learn from Kobe's example.

This point has been driven into the ground since last offseason: the Vikings are in a position to win now, and all they need is a quarterback. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it, as Dan Akroyd's Bob Dole would say. Entering Year Four of the Brad Childress Experiment, we've had five different starting quarterbacks, none of which have proven to be anything close to be a long-term solution, let alone a guy you can depend on to win just one game. Childress's job is riding on what happens with the quarterback position this offseason and the upcoming 2009 regular season. So what are the options?

A) Look to the draft - the Vikings have the 22nd overall pick. The best quarterbacks this year are Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez, who will both be long gone by 22. They'd have to try and find something in the later rounds. I'll give this option a C+ long term, D+ for this year.

B) Trade for Matt Cassel. This would probably involve giving up Chester Taylor, a first rounder and a third rounder. Considering the amount of personnel and coaching talent Cassel was surrounded by in New England, this option is risky. (Moss, Welker and Belichick vs. Berrian, Wade and Childress is more lopsided than Tyson/Spinks) But he's still better than anyone that's currently on the roster. I'll give it a C.

C) Stick with Tar-Jack. I give this option an F-------.

D) Pick up a free agent. JP Losman, Kerry Collins, Rex Grossman, Kyle Boller and Jeff Garcia are available.

The only palatable option listed there is Garcia. His numbers the past three seasons are very good. He has a consistently high completion percentage, his TD/Int ratio is 35/12, he's been there and done that. One big knock against him is his age and health, but the Vikings have been dealing with that anyway for the past 3 years with Brad Johnson and Gus Frerotte. So that's clearly no big deal. Garcia is markedly better than those guys. I give Garcia a B-, which would make him in my view the best option available. So why was Childress so quick to mention that there is no interest in him back when he was available in 2006, or in 2009?

I think he's terrified of him.

The way Garcia plays is a coach's nightmare. If you remember, he was benched by former coach Jon Gruden after a Week 1 loss to New Orleans, and was inexplicably replaced with Brian Griese of all people for the next few weeks. (Even going as far as to let him throw 67 [67!!] times in an overtime loss to Chicago.) The rumored reason was because Garcia's nature was at odds with Gruden's hyper-detailed gameplan.

Anyone who's watched Garcia play knows he's quick to give up on a play, look way beyond his first target, or scramble around and turn it into backyard football, like a poor man's poor man's Fran Tarkenton. Gruden is commonly known as the most overprepared, hardest working head coaches in the league (or was, anyway). If Garcia threw to the wrong receiver, ran the ball himself or turned the play into a free-for-all, that would give the defense a different impression than what Gruden's gameplan had been building towards. Players are supposed to be automatons for these coaches, and Garcia is very far from one.

This aspect, rather than age or injury, is what scares Childress away from Garcia so quickly. Why do you think Tar-Jack was drafted in the first place? So he could become Childress's own customized automaton to strictly adhere to his "kick-ass" gameplan. The reason Tar-Jack is still in contention for a starting spot is the same reason Detroit Pistons GM Joe Dumars refused to trade first round flop Darko Milicic for so long - to move him would be to admit a mistake.

I keep going back to Childress's first interview I remember seeing since he became head coach. He said, "This could be my only chance. If I'm going to be successful, I have to make sure it would be on MY terms." So even at the expense of their best option available this offseason, Childress is doing it on his terms, even if the ship has been sinking for a while.

To start a guy like Jeff Garcia would mean Childress isn't doing it on his own terms anymore, and we simply can't have that, apparently. In comparison, even Kobe seems somewhat selfless.