Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings
November, 15, 2010
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
After the Minnesota Vikings' 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears, here are three issues that merit further examination:
Kevin SeifertFollowing their loss to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings step into the examination room.
- Quarterback Brett Favre admitted to feeling pain in his right shoulder over the weekend, but at this point there is no indication he will miss any game time. Coach Brad Childress said Monday that Favre is "sore" but should resume practicing later this week. "I think he anticipates practicing Thursday and being ready to go Sunday against Green Bay," Childress said. The coach also claimed to be unaware of Favre's plans to consult Dr. James Andrews or undergo an MRI. Basically, this is what happens when you have a coach who is fanatical about hiding injury information and a quarterback who wants everyone to know how painful his every move is. At the end of the day, all that is important is whether a personnel change is looming. It isn't. At this point, I think we can be fairly certain Favre will start against his former team Sunday.
- Based on the way Childress told it, the Vikings had two receivers who decided against playing Sunday. Sidney Rice declined to be activated to the 53-man roster in order to give his hip more time to heal, while Bernard Berrian told Childress during pregame warm-ups that his injured groin would prevent him from playing. The Berrian case is especially curious because he has disputed Childress' version of the events. Berrian hasn't explained what did happen, however, and on Monday, Childress reiterated that Berrian didn't tell him until after the 11:30 a.m. ET deadline for finalizing game-day rosters. "You have to believe [he can play] or an hour and a half before the game we would have had somebody else in his suit," Childress said. It's never a healthy situation when coach and players are disagreeing publicly on an injury. The Vikings have multiple instances floating around.
- Via Twitter, punter Chris Kluwe said there were "three separate" illegal blocks during Devin Hester's 42-yard punt return. Childress said there were a "couple pushes in the back." Maybe there were and maybe there weren't. But the significance of those blocks were minimal. The Bears took over at the Vikings' 37-yard line but didn't score, courtesy of safety Husain Abdullah's interception in the end zone. So let's not get too worked up about a play that, in itself, had no impact on the outcome of the game.
We'll dive into this in more detail later this week, but here is the broad question: Why is Childress still employed? I think that question could be answered reasonably by owner Zygi Wilf, but his silence has left us in a speculative state. We know the Vikings are 3-6 despite a payroll north of $150 million. Childress and players are openly and publicly contradicting each other. It's a mess, to be sure. You don't necessarily fire a coach just because his team is a mess at the moment. But it would be instructive to know what Wilf is basing his inaction on. Does he consider Childress equipped to resuscitate the team and franchise? Is Childress' long-term contract a factor? Does he not hold defensive coordinator and presumptive replacement Leslie Frazier in high esteem? Is he just tentative at the switch? Who knows.