Reading between the lines with Chili
In a recent Q&A with Pioneer Press reporter Sean Jensen, Vikings head coach responded to several questions put before him. In most cases a little coachspeak interpretation is needed, so we offer our take on some of the key issues heading into the offseason.
The quarterback situation
Quarterback does not appear to be an intense priority to Childress. He’s not going to boldly declare that the job remains that of Tarvaris Jackson without any challenge whatsoever, but the reality is that there simply are not clear-cut better solutions at quarterback than to remain committed to the development of Jackson.
Childress understands (perhaps much better than the average fan) the realistic expectation when you choose to develop a young quarterback. It’s a process, it’s tough, it requires patience and there’s nothing comfortable about it.
The final five minutes against Denver in the regular-season finale counted for something. Childress liked what he saw from Jackson and recognizes there were missed opportunities by others that even put the game in that position. He remains committed and invested in Jackson as his starting quarterback.
Don’t rule anything out; don’t rule anything in at this point. The market itself will dictate their action or inaction. At this point, it doesn’t appear that anyone available offers any more than the veteran backups they have in Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger. But if an upgrade hits the market, they could act.
Areas of need
Childress is keeping that one close to the vest. But it is clear that he and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman are on the same page in regard to a draft strategy – that being to target quality football players and NOT reach to fill a position of need.
Historically, some of their best first-round draft picks have been when they drafted (another) player at a position of already-perceived strength – RB Robert Smith (1993; already had Terry Allen), WR Randy Moss (1998; already had Cris Carter and Jake Reed), QB Daunte Culpepper (1999; already had Randall Cunningham and Jeff George) and of course RB Adrian Peterson (2007; when they already had Chester Taylor).
Many of their least productive top picks have come when reaching to fill a pressing need – DE Derrick Alexander (1995), DE Duane Clemons (1996) and WR Troy Williamson (2005) to pick on just three.
Their first-round pick could come at virtually any position this year – any position.
Childress values continuity, and to this point his entire staff from a year ago is expected back. That is very little turnover for the NFL. He’s put together a solid, solid staff and would like to keep it that way. But he won’t necessarily stand in the way of assistants pursuing their own goals.
Smith and Williamson
When questioned about the future of veteran safety Dwight Smith (misdemeanor marijuana citation in December) and wide receiver Troy Williamson, Childress offers very politically correct answers that really reveal nothing at this point. They do not support each player’s future with the team. They do not signal any imminent departure.
Another day, another mock draft
“Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer, but neither is a rookie like Andre’ Woodson (Kentucky),” Cox writes. “The pass rush has been a problem although with a bevy of young players at defensive end they aren’t likely to add another rookie. Other than picking up Eric Frampton off Oakland’s rookie scrap heap prior to this season they have done nothing to address their aging safety position. Both starters are over 30 and the backups are getting close. Phillips is possibly the only elite prospect at the position in this draft although he has already sparked widely varying opinions. That was also the case for different reasons with Antonio Cromartie out of Florida State. He turned out pretty well for the Chargers.”
In a side note, Cromartie was a player the Vikings were very high on the year he came out. They opted for Chad Greenway only because he was a safer pick and had less concerns in the character department. If Greenway hadn’t been there, however, Cromartie could very well have been the Vikings’ guy in 2006.
Vikings backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb will be doing some charity work back on his home turf for Super Bowl Sunday. An ex-Middle Tennessee State alum, Holcomb and former Tennessee wide receiver Cory Fleming will be signing autographs for a donation to the United Way. Holcomb will be at a store in Murfreesboro, and Fleming at the Smyrna store.
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