So Childress is gone, now what?
Leslie Frazier's the interim coach, which should silence the "We can't let another Dungy/Billick/Tomlin go!" crowd. And you can bet the "interim" label isn't going to last long, considering...
- Zygi has to pay out Childress's extension, handicapping his ability to dole out more millions for Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and the like.
- A brand new coach would probably want to overturn the staff, meaning more payouts for at least a dozen more coaches.
- There's a lockout coming in 2011, and you can bet your ass Zygi's not going to pay TWO guys not to coach.
While I'm encouraged by Frazier, partly because he is in fact NOT Brad Childress, there are some concerns. For instance, he's interviewed for a head coaching job several times, and was passed over again and again, where he was beat out by such luminaries as Mike Singletary in San Fran, Chan Gailey in Buffalo and Pete Carroll in Seattle. Why? Who knows, maybe we'll find out soon enough.
Also, more obviously, the defense has been beyond horrendous this year - old and slow with no discernible strengths. Frazier did FINALLY admit defeat a couple weeks ago in realizing his front four can't get pressure by themselves anymore. He's sent a lot more blitzes, and it's helped wake up Ray Edwards and Kevin Williams. (The rest of the line? Not so much.) So that proves he can adjust, and he's at least not Mike Ticeian in terms of stubborn idiocy.
I see the logic in waiting until the end of the season to fire Childress, which is what Zygi wanted to do. That way, he takes full blame for this abortion of a season, and falls on his sword, case closed. But Chilly forced Zygi's hand - getting blown out at home in embarrassing fashion to the Packers will do that. People are pissed. Now Frazier runs the risk of getting this season's stench on him, as if he's the guy to blame for the average age on this team being 38. Or somewhere around there. At least it seems like it.
Bottom line is this team is old and slow at quarterback and on defense, and a new head coach isn't going to change that. But it saves the Vikings from the pit of total irrelevancy, which could have been the death knell for the franchise in this area, as the threat of relocation looms closer than ever. A move had to be made primarily for that reason.
So, a new season starts today. Interesting times to be a Vikings fan again. They're in Washington on Sunday, a team you could say is their mirror image. For the first time in a long time, I'm optimistic.