If Childress wants another job, he’ll have to change his approach with players

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20: Head coach Brad Childress and Ray Edwards #91 of the Minnesota Vikings against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

My guess is that it’ll be a while before Brad Childress finds another head coaching job in the NFL. And if he doesn’t change his philosophy on how to mange relationships with players, then he may never have another chance.

One of the main reasons Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf hired Childress in 2006 is because he thought Childress would help restore order off the field. The “Love Boat Scandal” was still fresh on everyone’s minds and Wilf fell for Childress’ harden approach with players.

The problem is that Childress didn’t have much coaching experience at the time. He had never been a head coach at any level and while he was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles before arriving in Minnesota, head coach Andy Reid called most of Philadelphia’s plays over that span. Thus, Childress’ football resume was highly barren of legitimate experience.

There were also warning signs about the way Childress handled players. It was highly reported that Terrell Owens had asked Childress not to speak to him during the 2005 season. When he did get to Minnesota, several veteran quarterbacks including Brad Johnson and Gus Frerotte didn’t see eye-to-eye with Childress because they weren’t allowed to go off-script during games.

Childress also got into a spat with Brett Favre last year because he didn’t appreciate the veteran quarterback’s freelancing. More recently, he’s gotten into spats with receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Antoine Winfield. Out of the handful of articles that I read so far on his firing, not one player has defended or stuck up for him. That says a lot.

All of this leads to the obvious: Childress doesn’t know how to handle NFL personalities. He desperately wanted Favre to be his quarterback, but he didn’t know how to handle Brett’s massive ego. He wanted Randy Moss to save his fleeting passing game, but the first time the receiver gave him any guff he waived him on the spot.

Some coaches can get away with being a disciplinary. Bill Cowher made his mark in Pittsburgh with that approach, although he also knew how to strike a rapport with players. He knew he couldn’t constantly belittle them or they’d eventually turn their backs on him, which is exactly what happened to Childress. Vikings players put up with him last year because they were winning. But now that this has become a lost season, they had no problem giving marginal effort for a guy whom they don’t respect.

All this leads to is this: if Childress doesn’t change his ways then he might as well drop down to the college ranks where players are easier to mold. While he’s down there, he may want to learn how to maximize his players’ strengths, too. It never ceased to amaze me how much he misused Adrian Peterson throughout his years in Minnesota. But that’s a topic for another time.

For now, “Chilly” might want to work on his people skills.

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