To say that Brad Childress isn't the most popular man in Minnesota is an understatement. "Fire Childress" chants have circulated around the Metrodome as recently as last year – and those even came during a win.
But, according to a recent ranking of NFL head coaches and coordinators by The Sporting News' RealScouts division, Childress' staff might be underrated by Vikings fans.
The story ranked Childress 11th among NFL head coaches, giving the following explanation: "The team has gotten better every year under his watch, and last season he got the Vikings to the playoffs without a viable quarterback."
Depending on where you start the Childress timeline in Minnesota, the explanation can be true. Childress' first team in 2006 was 6-10, followed by regular-season records of 8-8 and 10-6, so they did improve each year under Childress. But it's also worth noting that Mike Tice's last Vikings team in 2005 was 9-7.
Childress' old boss, Eagles head coach Andy Reid, was ranked No. 3, while Childress' first defensive coordinator with the Vikings, Mike Tomlin, was ranked fifth as head coach of the Steelers.
Childress also ranked highest among NFC North coaches, with Green Bay's Mike McCarthy listed at No. 15 and Chicago's Lovie Smith ranked 20th. First-year head coach Jim Schwartz of the Lions is ranked 27th.
RealScouts also ranked the top 20 offensive and defensive coordinators in the league. Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell didn't make the top 20. Former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, now, with the Lions, is ranked sixth.
"He likes the downfield passing game and is more likely to call passes in the red zone," read the analysis on Linehan. "He was the man behind the scenes in Minnesota when QB Daunte Culpepper was playing his best ball. The Lions' problem is a poor offensive line and lack of depth at receiver.'"
Joe Philbin of the Packers ranked 16th and Ron Turner of the Bears 18th among offensive coordinators.
The Vikings fared highest on defense, where coordinator Leslie Frazier ranked third in his peer group. Dick LeBeau of the Steelers was first and Jim Johnson of the Eagles second.
"He has the horses up front to send a nice pressure package at quarterbacks, and he likes to play some mixed zones behind it with cornerback Antoine Winfield more often in press coverage," read the analysis on Frazier. "With DE Jared Allen joining the team last year, the blitz package is a thing of the past, though it could return if the Williams Wall misses significant time."
New Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers ranked fifth and Gunther Cunningham of the Lions ranked 15th.
Bill Huber of PackerReport.com combined the head coach and coordinator rankings to come up with a ranking for coaching staffs as a whole. He assigned two points to a head coach's ranking and one for the coordinators. Coordinators not ranked in the TSN story were given 21 points. Here are staff rankings he came up with based off the RealScout individual rankings.
Using that method, the Vikings' coaching finished tied for eighth. Here are points each staff received:
1. Pittsburgh, 22 points (fifth-place head coach for 10 points; 11th place offensive coordinator, first-place defensive coordinator).
2. Philadelphia, 23
3. Giants, 29
4. New England, 31
5. Tennessee, 34
6. Miami, 37
7. Baltimore, 52
T-8. New Orleans and Minnesota, 46
T-10. Arizona and Atlanta, 47
12. Green Bay, 53
13. Dallas, 58
T-14. Carolina and Cincinnati, 59
16. San Diego, 61
17. Jacksonville, 64
18. San Francisco, 68
19. Kansas City, 71
T-20. Buffalo, Seattle, Washington, 72
23. Detroit, 75
24. Chicago, 79
25. N.Y. Jets, 82
26. Tampa Bay, 83
27. Houston, 85
28. Cleveland, 89
29. Oakland, 91
30. Denver, 92
T-31. St. Louis and Indianapolis, 32
No doubt, the Brett Favre story has grown old. But players around the league have checked in with their opinions on his potential comeback as well.
Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said Favre has the respect to be able to change his mind and come back when he wants. Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter put it another way.
"Brett Favre's different. He owns the league. He don't ever have to leave," Porter told 790 The Zone in Atlanta. "He can quit for three years and they'll still give him a job. Whenever they give you $20 million just to quit, you know you own the league. I wouldn't be surprised if they put the new logo with him on the ball. He owns the league so he can have it any way he wants it to happen."
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs wasn't quite as complimentary to Favre.
"He's going to hurt you, but he's also going to throw you a few (interceptions)," Briggs told Solomon Wilcots of NFL.com. "He threw me the first interception I ever returned for a touchdown in the NFL.
"… He's thrown me a few, but I've also dropped several that I should have caught. We'd love to see Favre go (to Minnesota) to play. We'd welcome it."
Briggs did say he thinks the Vikings are the team to beat in the NFC North
BACK AT CHICAGO
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen had similar playful words toward the Chicago Bears last week. He was asked if he talks much to new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
"He's avoiding my text messages," Allen said.
Asked the tone of those texts, Allen joked: "Always good. Always good. Actually I'll be in Chicago for the 16th for the Billy Joel, Elton John concert. I'm excited for that. Maybe I'll invite Cutler to come with me."
When it comes to Favre talk, it's pretty apparent that Allen is tired of being asked about that topic.
"This entire thing's been speculation. ‘What do you think about this, this, this?' We're watching just like everybody else," he told KFAN radio.
"Honest to God, I don't have Brett Favre's number. The thing is I honestly don't care. Obviously I care about who our QB is and how he plays offense. But as a defensive player, our mindset is as long as they don't score the ball, they can't win."
Sunday Notebook: Ranking the coaching staffs
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