When Tony Dungy retired from the Colts yesterday, Indianapolis lost not only one of the finest men to ever don an NFL headset, they also said goodbye to one of the league's top coaches. Dungy's retirement, and the promotion of his known successor Jim Caldwell, signaled the seventh potential head coaching change in the NFL this off-season. As the Wilf family made it known immediately after the Viking's playoff loss to Philadelphia -- Brad Childress is not among those on that list of seven.
That was the right choice.
It became briskly apparent toward the closure of the season that the Purple wasn't going to land an "available" luminary leader such as Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer. And while Mike Shanahan's firing in Denver surely could have fueled the rumor mill for his migration to the Bread Basket, his removal came after the Wilf's committed to Chilly. Furthermore, the Vikings are too veteran-leaden to hired a youngster (a la 32-year-old Josh McDaniels' gig with the Broncos), nor were the Purple in a position to land a fella with hometown ties (see: Eric Mangini's new job with Cleveland). And as per up-and-comers through the coaching ranks, our own (for the day being) d-coordinator Leslie Frazier is among the highest on that list, and I suspect he'll be the St. Louis Rams next head coach.
In regard to the aforementioned Dungy, of the 21 coaches who have skippered the same team from the 2006-'08 seasons, he is second most winning on that list with 37 wins in the last three years. The Pats' Bill Belichick is first with 39 victories. They are the only two head coaches to have accrued double-digit victory totals in each year with their respective clubs in that time span. Childress? He's 24-24, placing him tied for 10th on that list of 21; although it should be noted that six coaches on that list either retired or were given the proverbial blue slip at the closure of the year.
What is perhaps most sanguine of Childress' tenure is his ascending win totals through the last three years: going from 6-10 in '06, to 8-8 last year, to 10-6 this season. Only two coaches on that list of 21 can mimic such ascension -- Tom Coughlin with the Giants (8-8, 10-6, 12-4) and Jeff Fisher with Tennessee (8-8, 10-6, 13-3). Brad aside, all of the four coaches noted in these last two paragraphs have either won the Super Bowl or gotten their team there.
In Chilly's three years in Minnesota, the Vikings can lay claim to a top-5 rush offense in two of those years and a #1 rush defense in every year. Relating to Childress' offensive pedigree, the Purple has improved in league point scoring in each of his three seasons, going from 26th in '06, to 15th last year, to 12th in '08.
Brad Childress is a polarizing figure in this town and his in-game coaching unquestionably needs further seasoning. Based on his presentation of himself with the local media, he is viewed -- in a public sense -- as a mirthless, mustachioed, penultimate version of Andy Reid. But in the "this week" league that is the NFL, he has never wavered from this image, and that is worthy of praise. For next season at least, Brad Childress will remain our mirthless, mustachioed, penultimate version of Andy Reid. And we should support him.
Poor Bert. In his 12th crack at getting into Cooperstown, former Twin hurler Bert Blyleven again came up short on of the necessary 75 percent of ballots needed for entry, gathering instead a solid 62.7 percent, his highest vote total to date. Despite being fifth on the all-time strikeouts list with 3,701 K's and 27th in wins with 287, Bert remains plaque-less for another year. Detractors surely point out Blyleven's lack of Cy Youngs and 250 career losses -- but am I alone in wondering if it's his goofball image that has kept some voters on the sideline?