Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Brad Childress

`Moss TV' serves the bored NFL fan

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: February 14, 2012 - 10:51 AM

If nothing else comes of it -- and that's a distinct probability possibility -- Randy Moss' clamoring about wanting to come back to the NFL is making for some interesting viewing via Ustream.tv for attention-span-challenged football fans coming to grips with the fact that there are actually 18 looong days between the Super Bowl and the start of the scouting combine. (Hey, even Mel Kiper can't fill 18 whole days.)

Moss was a shell of his former self at age 33 while catching 28 passes as a mostly disinterested participant for the Patriots, Vikings and Titans in 2010. He retired after the 2010 season and wasn't heard from again until he turned to Ustream on Monday morning to announce his plans for a comeback.

Monday night, as Moss' 35th birthday was coming to a close, he returned to Ustream -- or what he's now calling "Moss TV" -- to stoke the comeback fire by saying, "I’m coming to tear somebody’s heads off, man.”

Moss also insisted he's fully committed to this comeback and that he still runs a 4.3 40-yard dash.

Moss also said he wants to play for a team that's "missing a piece here and there."

As for regrets, Randy, like Frank, said he's had a few: “I got regrets of how I left New England, I got regrets of how I left Minnesota, and I got regrets of how I retired.”

Moss said he'd "doubt" that he'd play for the Vikings again. It's good he feels that way because there is no interest in a SuperFreak III sequel at Winter Park. Moss also laughed when one of the viewers commenting warned him that Brad Childress, the coach he clashed with in Minnesota, was now offensive coordinator in Cleveland.

Moss said he'll return to Ustream, so consider yourself perched upon pins n needles. And don't worry. If "Moss TV" becomes a bore, there's still plenty to look forward to. Randy says he's saving all the behind-the-scenes details of his 2010 Minnesota meltdown for the book he plans to write.

Moss wants to return to NFL

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: February 13, 2012 - 12:33 PM


Streaming by Ustream

Randy Moss was a shell of his former self at age 33. But after a year out of football, the now-35-year-old SuperFreak has announced he wants to return to the NFL. He made the announcement during a 35th birthday celebration. It was reported on Pro Football Talk with a link to the announcement on Ustream.tv.

"Faith, family and football, that's my M.O., bro," Moss said. "Your boy be back for the upcoming season."

Yes, the Vikings need a receiver. No, Moss won't be coming back for a third stint with the team. Strike Two was embarrassing enough for everyone involved that a Strike Three isn't required to call the SuperFreak out as a potential free-agent signing.

It's not a given that anyone will take a flier on Moss at his age, with all his behavioral baggage and with what he put on tape in 2010. That year, he played for the Patriots, Vikings and Titans, catching just 28 passes in 16 games for 393 yards and five touchdowns.

It is possible that someone will sign him considering it wouldn't cost a draft pick and Moss is in no position to bargain for anything but the minimum one-year salary.

The Vikings, who drafted Moss in the first round in 1998 and held onto him until trading him before the 2004 season, were burned too badly when they reunited with Moss in 2010. Former coach Brad Childress traded a third-round pick to the Patriots but had problems with Moss from nearly Day 1. The tension between the two boiled over following the Vikings' loss at New England, leading to Moss take to the post-game podium and interview himself

Going against team protocol, Childress released Moss without consulting ownership. It came 26 days after the trade and ultimately led to Childress' firing later in the season.

Browns hire Childress as offensive coordinator

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: January 27, 2012 - 2:42 PM

Former Vikings coach Brad Childress is back in the NFL, having just been hired by the Browns as their offensive coordinator, according to NFL.com.

It's uncertain whether Childress will call plays for coach Pat Shurmur. Shurmur went without an offensive coordinator while calling his own plays during the 2011 season, his first as an NFL head coach.

Shurmur and Childress worked together on Andy Reid's Eagles staff for seven seasons. Shurmur said after the season that he's open to giving up his play-calling duties. The only year Childress called plays was 2006, his first season as Vikings head coach. Reid called them when Childress was offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

Childress improved from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6 and 12-4 in his four full seasons. He won the NFC North his last two full seasons and reached the NFC Championship game at the end of the 2009 season. He was fired after starting 3-7 in 2010.

Childress still has one year left on his contract with the Vikings. It's worth about $4 million. Whatever the Browns pay him will be deducted from what the Vikings owe him.

The Browns have struggled since returning to the league as an expansion team in 1999. They've made one playoff appearance in those 13 seasons. The franchise's last playoff victory came during the 1994 season, a year before the original Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens after the 1995 season.

The Browns strayed from their power running game behind Peyton Hillis while going 4-12 in 2011. Childress will at the very least play a role in game-planning. He'll no doubt help return the Browns to their running roots. 

The Browns aren't sold on Colt McCoy as their long-term answer at quarterback. It's possible they'll look to upgrade the position this offseason, but they also have several other needs to take care of.

Vikings fire defensive line coach Karl Dunbar

Posted by: Updated: January 6, 2012 - 6:40 PM

On a day the Vikings formally interviewed Raheem Morris to potentially become their new defensive coordinator, head coach Leslie Frazier began executing other coaching staff changes as well. Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar is the first official casualty, let go after six seasons with the team.

Dunbar's exit is the first move in what could ultimately be a total overhaul of the defensive coaching staff.

"This is what they wanted," Dunbar said in a phone interview with the Star Tribune. "Coach Frazier told me the ownership wanted to go in a different direction. And for me, that’s fine. As football coaches, we know we’re all migrant workers and we go where the jobs are. Now, my job in Minnesota is over."

Dunbar joined the Vikings in 2006 when Brad Childress became coach and helped the defensive line establish a reputation as a sturdy, run-stopping unit. Pat Williams, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen all earned Pro Bowl invitations while playing under Dunbar. And this season, despite the well-documented struggles of the entire defense, the d-line may have had the most solid season of any Vikings' position group, ranking 11th in the NFL against the run. The Vikings also tallied 50 sacks as a team with defensive end setting a new single-season team record with 22.

Still, after a 3-13 finish, Frazier has vowed to shake things up and make significant changes to his coaching staff. Dunbar's exit is likely just the start of the revolving door at Winter Park.

Dunbar said he wasn't able to diagnose the root cause of the Vikings' 3-13 freefall.

"I’m a position coach," he said. "I’m not a coordinator. I’m not a head coach. When I look at what I did with the Minnesota Vikings, my piece of the puzzle was to make the defensive line play as well as they could. We played well against the run. I think we finished No. 11 against the run. And we finished No. 1 in sacks. And the guy I coached led the league in sacks with 22 on a team that really didn’t have a lead the last eight games of the year. So I thought that was my piece of the puzzle. I can’t worry about running backs, defensive backs, receivers, linebackers. When you do it, you focus on your job, put your piece of the puzzle in and go from there."

Asked if he felt he had gotten a raw deal with his dismissal, Dunbar took the high road.

"No sir," he said. "No sir. You get what you’re given. And I spent six great years in Minnesota. So there’s no raw deal. They didn’t kill my wife and they didn’t kill my family. They took care of my family. So no, I didn’t get a raw deal. Leslie is a good man who treated me fairly. And Coach Childress did the same thing. Now they’ve decided to part ways and that’s fine."

Certainly Dunbar won't be the last assistant coach to be let go. At present, Fred Pagac remains the defensive coordinator. But needless to say, Morris' Friday visit doesn't say a lot for Pagac's job security.

If Morris were ultimately hired to take over the defense, it would not be a surprise if Frazier opted to dismantle his current staff on that side of the ball, working with Morris to put together a new assistant coaching tree.

 

Vikings hot topics: Tebowmania, Leslie Frazier's job security and a new long snapper

Posted by: Updated: November 30, 2011 - 8:47 AM

A snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Broncos at Mall of America Field.

 
Player in the spotlight
Tim Tebow. Heard of him? Yep, the Broncos quarterback is headed for the Twin Cities this weekend riding the high of a four-game winning streak. It’s hard to know how much to make of Tebow’s much-publicized success. He’s certainly been clutch in the closing minutes, helping Denver score comeback wins over the Dolphins, Jets and Chargers. In fact, he’s led more fourth-quarter touchdown drives this season (nine) than he’s had in the first three quarters combined (five).
 
That seems to be convincing evidence that Tebow is a spirited leader with a contagious will to win. But he’s far from unstoppable. And the Vikings’ injury-ravaged secondary should get a bit of a breather in pass coverage this weekend. After all, Tebow is completing only 45.5 percent of his passes this season and averaged just 7.5 completions and 110 passing yards per game during Denver’s undefeated November surge. Still, Vikings defensive backs will be relied on heavily in run support against a unique Broncos ground attack that relies heavily on the spread option. Denver has averaged 208 rushing yards per game since Tebow took over as the starter in Week 7.
 
Most pressing question
Just how much security does Leslie Frazier have?
 
Boy, this is a tough one. At this stage, there’s little to indicate the temperature of the seat in Frazier’s Winter Park office is elevating. Overall, even with the Vikings’ 2-9 record and obvious struggles, Frazier still seems to be well-liked by his players and handles himself with an admirable combination of grace and honesty. Yet through 11 games, he’s shown little to indicate he is a long-term answer with the ability to turn things around quickly.
 
The Vikings are not only winless since the bye week, they’ve been outscored 58-7 in the first halves of their past three losses, an apparent sign of an unprepared team lacking a spark. In Frazier’s defense, it’s hard to imagine many coaches would be in the playoff hunt with the Vikings’ current assembly of talent.
 
Also don’t forget, the Vikings are still in the midst of paying Brad Childress in excess of $6 million in buyout money through the end of 2012 after cutting him loose last November. With all that’s on Zygi Wilf’s plate, it’s hard to imagine him wanting to have two former head coaches on his payroll next year.
 
Keep an eye on …
The Vikings struggle to generate takeaways. But when they have forced turnovers this season, they sure have been good at capitalizing. On Sunday, they turned a Ryan D’Imperio fumble recovery on a punt into a touchdown. Overall, the Vikings have scored touchdowns after their last seven takeaways dating all the way back to Week 6. Overall they have turned 14 takeaways into 66 points this season.
 
Scouting the Broncos
Lost in Tebowmania is the spirited effort of the Denver defense, which has allowed only five touchdowns during the team’s current winning streak. In that span, defensive end Elvis Dumervil has re-emerged as a major force off the edge, notching 5.5 sacks in November. Meanwhile, linebacker Von Miller has established himself as an obvious frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He has 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Plus, he had a game-saving tackle of San Diego’s Mike Tolbert late in overtime Sunday, stopping Tolbert for a 4-yard loss immediately before Chargers kicker Nick Novak missed a 53-yard field goal.
 
True or false
Jared Allen will continue on as the Vikings’ long snapper: False.
 
Cullen Loeffler’s back injury is severe enough that the team placed him on injured reserve Tuesday, then signed Matt Katula as a replacement. Katula, who played in college at Wisconsin, spent five seasons in Baltimore and part of last season with New England.
 
And why didn’t the Vikings stick with Allen handling added special teams responsibilities? Simple. He’s being paid incredible sums of cash to be a menace to opposing quarterbacks. And as Loeffler found out Sunday, all it takes is one blindside hit in punt coverage and you've got a broken bone in your lower back. Imagine the outcry that would erupt if Allen suffered a serious injury while playing the role of long snapper.

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