The subject: Brad Childress.
The strike against him not up for debate: Call it stubbornness, arrogance or any number of things ... the reason is not important. The fact is the important thing, and it is undeniable. Childress has been negligent with the single most important position on the football field: quarterback. If not for Brett Favre's decision to come back for a couple of seasons, an entirely stocked roster -- save for the most important position -- would have been wasted. As it is, there is no real plan going forward once No. 4 finally does retire, just as there was no good plan before he arrived a year ago.
The perceived grievances: Mind you, these are the things that are most likely to be addressed in ALL CAPS and followed in comments sections by FIRE CHILLY WOO! -- Lack of creativity when it comes to play-calling ... ineffective clock management ... bizarre quotes that don't really say anything of consequence ... a string of success that can't be attributed to him, but rather in spite of him.
Perception vs. Reality: Pre-Favre, the Vikings' offense often lacked imagination. It was bland. It was predictable. And it was too controlled. You could argue that Childress was hamstrung by ineffective/inexperienced quarterbacks, which necessitated this type of close-to-the-vest play-calling. You could also argue that the QB problem was also created by Childress. ... Save for a certain situation in the waning moments of the NFC title game, clock management from Team Childress has gotten much better. And it's always been better than that of his predecessor, Mike Tice, who could have found a way to not get a field goal try out of first-and-goal with 30 seconds left and three timeouts. JUST TRY IT. ... We actually kind of like Childress' quotes. It's a bag of mixed metaphors, unexpected literary allusions and mucked up football jargon. Making sense of it is like trying to put together a puzzle missing 38 percent of its pieces. ... Critics like to point out that Tice's final team was 9-7 with inferior talent to what Childress has been able to put together with better resources. While that's true, give Childress credit for being a fairly shrewd talent evaluator and for establishing a culture that, while not perfect, has not given us the Love Boat, Whizzinator, Super Bowl Ticket Scalping and other assorted off-field jokes.
Childress' indisputable magic bullet: His teams have improved by two victories every regular season -- from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6 to 12-4. And despite those turnovers in the NFC title game -- which last time we checked do not fall under "coaching" -- he and his staff had a game plan that should have beaten the Saints in their own building.
Conclusion: While winning hasn't been a cure-all for how fans view Childress, he doesn't take nearly the beating he used to take. That said, he also still takes more than his share for a coach who has the on-paper credentials he does with the Vikings. If you could wipe out the first two years of his regime -- when he truly was learning on the job and learning quite a bit -- he would be a lot more popular. But old habits die hard, and some of the criticism is still justified.