Childress acts like Green in some ways

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 7, 2009 - 12:09 AM

In true Denny Green form, Brad Childress has offered less-than-candid explanations to questionable coaching moves.

When Vikings coach Brad Childress faced second-guessing, the less-than-candid response was reminiscent of former coach Dennis Green.

Photo: Ann Heisenfelt, Associated Press

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Dennis Green's playoff record fell to 0-3 on Jan. 1, 1995. It came in the Metrodome by a decisive 35-18 score against a Chicago team coached by Dave Wannstedt and quarterbacked by backup Steve Walsh.

This caused the first meaningful media criticism that Green had faced in his three seasons on the job. A few weeks later, the Star Tribune came out with its investigation on Green and sexual harassment incidents in the Vikings office and elsewhere.

So much for sweet nothings between Green and most representatives of the Twin Cities dailies.

Green had arrived after an 8-8 season but also with a roster rich in Pro Bowl talent. He was successful immediately, except in the postseason.

Brad Childress came in January 2006 following a 9-7 season. His Pro Bowl players from that winning season were kick returner Koren Robinson and safety Darren Sharper. It took Childress three seasons and many of owner Zygi Wilf's millions for roster improvements to reach the playoffs. The outcome on Sunday was a decisive 26-14 loss to a Philadelphia team coached by Andy Reid and quarterbacked by Donovan McNabb.

That playoff loss wasn't as bad as when the local media teed up Green for the first time in January 1995, but Childress' three-season résumé was lacking in comparison -- 24-24, against 30-18 for The Sheriff.

Losing a playoff game was not the only shared trait with Green that Childress demonstrated over the past couple of weeks. We've also seen unwillingness to admit coaching blunders and a large helping of paranoia.

Green never could admit that errors led to failure at the key juncture of his coaching career: Not running out the clock before the end of the first half and ordering Randall Cunningham to take a knee at the end of regulation in the NFC title game loss to Atlanta.

A decade later, Childress offered up a pair of astounding gaffes in the season's climactic games.

Against New York in Week 17, he appeared to freeze on what to do with the final 29 seconds. The clock ran down to 9 seconds before a timeout was called. Childress was saved from embarrassment when Ryan Longwell hit a game-winning 50-yard field goal on the game's last play.

Asked to explain what happened, Childress went hither and yon trying to get his media audience to believe it was strategy, not confusion. When his explanation was done, reporters were asking their colleagues if they had aspirin.

Then, on Sunday, Childress turned down a holding penalty and gave Philadelphia's David Akers a chance to kick an early 43-yard field goal rather than put the Eagles in a third-and-18 situation.

Asked if he wanted ''to kick himself'' for not taking the penalty, Childress said:

"I talked to our special teams guy and he said, 'He'll make it from there [43 yards], but he'll make it from back there [53], too.' So, rather than give them another swing at that down, we kind of have an idea where he can knock it in from ...

"You're basically giving something to get something, and nothing says you're going to stop them for zero yards and it's going to be a 52-yard attempt. ... They were moving the football, and we just wanted to get the ball out of their hands and get the offense off the field.''

Third-and-18 and McNabb being under big pressure was moving the ball in Chilly's world. He would've been better off saying, ''Yeah, that was stupid, and we chased those three points all day,'' but NFL coaches must be incapable of such candor.

As for paranoia, Childress was involved in a couple of interviews before the Giants game where he tried to explain that the 9-7 record he inherited from Mike Tice was a falsehood, because the Chicago Bears played a ''B'' squad in the season finale.

After first mentioning that theory at a weekly media session, Childress told a St. Paul reporter: "I think I said it because, usually, I saw my predecessor's record at 9-7 and [was told] I couldn't get to 9-7. That was an 8-8 year. The Bears didn't play anybody.''

Congratulations, Chilly: To carry references to Tice's 9-7 around for three years as a source of agitation is paranoia that would have made our guy Denny proud.

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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