Childress Has Quarterback Dilemma

Vikings coach Brad Childress wasn't publicly naming his starting quarterback for Sunday, saying wouldn't "competitively" do that. Either way, the uncertain quarterback situation has Childress in a quandary.

Frustrated by Brad Johnson's struggles at quarterback, Vikings coach Brad Childress seemingly would like to make a change at the position. However, Childress faces a dilemma if he goes that route.

Backup Brooks Bollinger, the guy Childress likely would turn to for Sunday's game at Detroit, has a separated left shoulder. Childress' other option is rookie Tarvaris Jackson, who admits he might not be ready to take over the job.

As of Wednesday, Childress wasn't revealing much other than the fact he has picked his starter for Sunday but isn't saying. Jackson indicated in the locker room that Johnson would remain the starter.

The problem is that the move to Jackson would be an admission by Childress that he believes the Vikings' playoff hopes are dead even though they remain in contention in the incredibly weak NFC.

Long term, however, handing the keys to the second-round pick out of Division I-AA Alabama State might be the best move — no matter how it is perceived.

There are multiple reasons for this and they extend beyond just shaking things up for the sake of it.

For one, it has become increasingly obvious that the 38-year-old Johnson won't return next season, and even if Bollinger hadn't suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday in his relief appearance at Chicago, he is nothing more than a career backup.

It's debatable whether Johnson or Bollinger could help the Vikings make a playoff push in the final quarter of the season. But if that happened, this team still isn't going anywhere with its current makeup.

Minnesota's offensive problems extend beyond the quarterback position and include a lack of talent at receiver and questionable play-calling by Childress, whose clock management can be as baffling as the decision he makes.

If Childress is not comfortable with Johnson running the show — and it's clear he isn't — now would be a good time to find out if the stronger-armed Jackson gives the Vikings a better chance to get the ball down the field and run the offense the way one would hope Childress wants it run.

If this does not happen with Jackson at quarterback, it could lead to the realization that Childress simply is in over his head when it comes to play calling. Remember, it was Andy Reid, not Childress, who was in charge of this assignment in Philadelphia when Childress served as the Eagles offensive coordinator.

With the Vikings, Darrell Bevell has input as offensive coordinator but it's clearly Childress' show.

Coming to the conclusion that this show is failing would be a harsh reality and could prove to be a major problem for owner Zygi Wilf and others in the front office, but it would be better to know this now than to realize it in the first part of the 2007 season when a new quarterback does not prove to be the answer.

Calling plays and taking care of all the matters associated with being a head coach is a big chore and it might be that Childress needs to bring in a veteran coach who he is comfortable game-planning with and then turning to on Sundays to handle the offense.

NOTES

  • RB Chester Taylor did not practice Wednesday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game at Detroit because of bruised ribs.

  • QB Brooks Bollinger did not practice Wednesday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game because of a separate left shoulder.

  • RG Artis Hicks has missed the past two games because of a sprained left ankle and is listed as questionable for Sunday. Hicks was believed to have taken part in a portion of practice Wednesday. Jason Whittle has replaced Hicks for the past two weeks.

  • C Matt Birk has a neck stinger that has bothered him for several weeks and is listed as probable for Sunday.

  • RT Marcus Johnson has missed the past two games because of a sprained left ankle and is listed as probable for Sunday.

  • TE Jermaine Wiggins is listed as probable after playing last Sunday despite a sprained MCL in his right knee.

  • NT Pat Williams has played several weeks with a sore right knee and is listed as probable.

  • CB Cedric Griffin has battled a neck injury for several weeks and remains listed as probable.

  • LB Napoleon Harris continues to wear a cast on his dislocated left wrist but is playing with the injury and is listed as probable.

  • P Chris Kluwe did not take any snaps Wednesday in practice because of an injury to his wrist but is listed as probable.

  • WR Marcus Robinson has been playing with an ankle injury and remains listed as probable.

  • QB Drew Henson was re-signed to the practice squad for the second time this season to add depth at the position because of the injury to Brooks Bollinger. The Vikings released guard Jimmy Martin to make room for Henson.

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