Pat Reusse: Blame Chilly? Not this time

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 21, 2008 - 9:53 AM

The Vikings offense might have had its best day in Brad Childress' 2 1/2 seasons Sunday, and to place fault in the coach for the loss is silly.

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Brad Childress has been taking heat from fans for the Vikings bland offense.

Photo: Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

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Brad Childress' area of expertise was offense when he was hired as Vikings coach in January 2006. He was coaching his 39th game Sunday in Chicago and presented the most impressive approach of his tenure in attacking a defense.

The Vikings were able to run against a Bears defensive front that had overwhelmed the rushing attempts of previous opponents. They took advantage of a B-team collection of Chicago cornerbacks to throw for 298 yards.

The much-maligned offensive line provided solid protection for Gus Frerotte, limiting the Bears to a single sack until the game's closing seconds and a handful of quarterback hurries.

The Vikings had seven scoring drives, and all had distance: 67, 70, 68, 64 and 75 yards for touchdowns, and 42 and 63 yards for field goals.

The Vikings earned their 41 points, while the Bears worked little to get 21 -- a touchdown on a botched punt try, a touchdown on a botched punt return and an interception return to the Vikings 6.

The Purple loyalists are so over-the-top in their disdain for Childress these days that they are attempting to throw these twists in the drama at the feet of the head coach.

The most comical attempts at an apology for a player are those aimed at Chris Kluwe. The suggestion is that Kluwe's confidence was so low after Childress tried out punters a couple of weeks ago that it caused him to drop Sunday's on-the-mark snap from Cullen Loeffler.

If you're embracing this theory -- that Childress should be held accountable for a fourth-year NFL punter dropping a snap -- then you have serious emotional issues and should avoid watching future sports events.

There's no Childress fault to be found in Kluwe's junior high blunder, or the bad hop into punt returner Charles Gordon as he attempted a block, or in the fact Bears linebacker Lance Briggs made a tremendous play to tip a pass that ricocheted to teammate Kevin Payne and wound up on the ikings 6.

This was a day when the Childress' version of the West Coast offense was everything he could envision -- 121 yards rushing and a long TD romp from Adrian Peterson, 28 first downs, 439 yards and 41 points.

There's nothing more that could be asked in offensive production, but Briggs created one touchdown and the Vikings' special teams gave away two, making it Bears 48-41 and gaining more momentum for the "Fire Childress" drumbeat.

The public desperately wanted Frerotte to replace Tarvaris Jackson after the season's second game. The move was made, and now he spends a Sunday in Chicago -- facing modest pressure and a novice secondary -- throwing four interceptions, and the fans want an explanation.

It's not that complicated. Frerotte has been around for 15 years and this is him. He has 108 touchdowns and 101 interceptions (including playoffs) for his career.

His quarterback rating for this season is a subpar 72.6, and in 144 career games it is 73.6.

You want to hit the head coach and the rest of the Winter Park brain trust where they are most accountable?

There have been five starting quarterbacks in 2 1/2 seasons -- Brad Johnson (14 games), Jackson (16), Kelly Holcomb (three), Brooks Bollinger (one) and Frerotte (five) -- and there hasn't been a No. 1 in the bunch.

Childress gets heat for two factors: A) feuding with Daunte Culpepper and thus leaving the Vikings with the washed-up Johnson in '06; and B) boosting Jackson as the answer for the past two seasons, at the exclusion of valid options.

The facts are that everything Childress said about Culpepper not getting in proper shape after his knee injury was correct, and the commitment to Jackson was a 2007 mistake that the Vikings sought to fix during the past offseason.

The Vikings negotiated with Houston to bring in Sage Rosenfels -- the backup to Matt Schaub -- to replace Jackson as the starter.

As was asked previously, was it Childress or was it personnel boss Rick Spielman who refused to yield a second-rounder for Rosenfels?

We don't know the answer, because they keep secrets at Winter Park, but what's clear is the coach wanted an option beyond Jackson or Frerotte for this season and didn't get him.

As for Sunday, driving for 41 points and 28 first downs without a No. 1 quarterback -- that was very impressive for the Childress offense, even as it earned him nothing but additional ridicule from a mouth-foaming public.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • preusse@startribune.com

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