Since the end of last season, the 'Fire Lovie Smith Squad' - myself included - has been out in full force. There have been numerous mishaps within the Bears' organization that could easily justify the release of Lovie Smith. This season, the nay-sayers, too, have been out in full force. Yet, Lovie has been able to keep the team focused, confident and playing hard in all three phases of the game.
Just a five hour ride up north on I-94, Brad Childress has lost his teams' trust, confidence and loyalty. Ironically, he's the one with the team that was supposed to continue to gel with the long-awaited return of some guy named Brett Favre.
One of the most painful and helpless feelings, as a coach, is when your team begins to doubt what you are teaching them. I have coached a few years and have felt this feeling. But, I adjusted in order to save our team. No matter what you say or do, if things aren't going your way, the team will have doubts until you fix the problem(s).
When the players begin to doubt, you either move on, or hope to fix the issues before the next season begins. As a high school coach, there are times when a team just has poor leadership, and both players and coaches begin to think about next year. Usually, it's the result of playing someone who hasn't earned it, preferential treatment of certain players or a general lack of enthusiasm. In the case of Minnesota, Brad Childress has spiraled down all three of those avenues.
Believe it or not, Brett Favre is both: The reason Brad Childress is still employed, and the reason he should be fired. Favre's abilities were supposed to take this team to the promised land. But, the problem in Vikings land is that Favre needs to take a minute and reflect on what he is doing - on and off the field - so poorly.
Coach Childress simply continues to allow Brett to do his 'thing,' and not do what is best for the team. There are a group of players in that locker room that love Brett as a person, but there is a larger group that despise him as a player.
At any level of football, when you don't perform, you're supposed to sit. In Minnesota, coach Childress can't pull the trigger on Favre and go with Tarvaris Jackson. Partially, because doesn't want to be the one to ruin Brett's streak of consecutive games started, despite the subsequent numbers that are piling up in the 'L' column.
Coach Childress, what is more important: How many games Favre starts, or the TEAM winning football games? You should have done what was best for your team weeks ago. Instead, you've successfully lost a third of the team by sticking with Brett. Why do I say a third? It will all come together later...
Coach Childress, you began the painful process of picking out your own coffin when you sent the players down to Mississippi to talk Favre into coming back. There are 52 other guys on your team who bust their butts, day in and day out, who do not get the same treatment you have shown Brett. You told your players, with your actions not your words, that Favre was the Alpha male. How is it possible to preach to your team the importance of camaraderie during training camp, yet allow Brett to blow it off? As soon as you did sign him, all of the words you told the team about building relationships, trust and continuity, were just that: Words. No one, in the entire history of the NFL, is bigger than the team. No one! As a result, you lost another third of the team.
Tenacity is a quality coaches look for in their players, and strive to build within their team. Coach Childress, your decisions this year have robbed your team of just that quality. How can I say your team is not tenacious? Well, I watched your team get punked by my Bears. Yes, it is the NFL, and any team can win on any given Sunday, but your team laid down and died.
I watched Jared Allen go through the motions against a sub par tackle. Really?! He should have been licking his chops, and instead, was playing patty cake. Adrian Peterson has had a number of field days against the Bears, and he ran like he was carrying the team - your team - on his back. Bernard Berrian obviously sat out on purpose. He was fine all week and even said he didn't tweek his groin during warm-ups, and he says he can't play? If that isn't a lack of emotion, I don't know what is.
Coach Childress, your team played uninspired football on Sunday, and the only person to blame is the creepy headset-wearing bum in the mirror. And there goes another third of your team. As of now, you've lost... ALL of your team. You even lost me, and I wasn't trying to find you.
Watching a coach fizzle out in their later years is a terrible thing to watch. But, when it's the fault of a middle aged coach, and it's his fault only, it's inexcusable. You are pounding the nails in your own coffin and your team has no interest in taking those nails out. In fact, I am pretty sure they are digging your hole, writing a eulogy and have picked out floral arrangements. If you ask me, right there is the team camaraderie you were looking for in July.
Fire Lovie, maybe. Fire Childress, impossible. Fires require oxygen and energy. You, Brad, have neither. Please, just bury your sorry a$$ already.