It's time to can Chilly
With the Vikings' playoff hopes on life support, Wilf should make a move now
CHICAGO -- Chilly is cooked. Just sprinkle some cheese, onions and a pink slip over him and he's ready to be served.
There can't be any question that Brad Childress is Dead Mustache Walking, right? Not after the Minnesota Vikings' 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Sunday. Not after watching a team (and perhaps staff) play and coach in spite of him, rather than for him.
Childress knows what's coming next: more criticism, more calls for his dismissal. That's how it works in the NFL -- the Not For Long league.
"You deal with it," said Childress. "It's not something you're happy to deal with, but you deal with what's out there. My name's behind the Vikings team. It all starts with me. So if it gets directed there, that's part of the equation."
Right now, the equation is this: Childress + Vikings = 3 wins. Given how this team has come completely unstitched at the football seams, Childress gets voted Most Likely To Get Canned. And rightfully so.
Of course, Childress, who has three-plus years left on his contract, doesn't sound like a guy going anywhere. Asked if he'll be the head coach a week from now, he said, "Until I get told differently, yeah."
I know what ESPN's Ed Werder reported after the game -- Vikings owner Zygi Wilf isn't "considering" a coaching change -- but so what? He isn't considering it now. But what happens if Minnesota gets cheeseheaded to death by the Green Bay Packers next Sunday at the Metrodome? Then Wilf's team is 3-7 and channeling Wade Phillips.
And speaking of Phillips ...
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued vote after vote of confidence to the clueless Phillips -- at one point, insisting that he was safe for the remainder of the season -- and then fired him. So what happens? Jones gives the job to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and the one-win Cowboys play perhaps their best football of the season in Sunday's win against the best team in the league, the New York Giants. Maybe someone needs to send the game tape to Wilf.
Childress already has lost his team and Vikings fans with it. The fact that he hasn't lost his owner -- yet -- can mean only one of two things: Wilf needs to be tested for post-concussion syndrome or Wilf is a prisoner to his own sense of loyalty.
Loyalty is good. Loyalty is admirable. But Childress has rewarded that loyalty with three victories and a series of well-documented knucklehead moves (third-round pick for four games of Randy Moss, anyone?). Perhaps it's time for Wilf to show the same loyalty to his players and give longtime assistant coach Leslie Frazier the same chance that Jones gave to Garrett.
I thought the Vikings, with a win against the Bears and then the Packers, could work their way back into the NFC North race. Forget it. The Vikings' season is so underwater that it needs a half dozen bilge pumps.
Brett Favre is 41; his body is 141 -- and it shows its age more each week. He threw three interceptions and fumbled once Sunday.
Sidney Rice, the Vikings' best wide receiver, is still out.
Bernard Berrian, not their best wide receiver, lasted one pass in the pregame warm-up and was a last-second scratch.
Center John Sullivan injured his calf early in the game.
The once-dominant Vikings defensive line could manage only one sack against an offensive line that led the NFL in sacks allowed.
The Vikings gave up 11 of 19 third-down conversions.
Minnesota's Adrian Peterson rushed for only 51 yards, 20 on one carry.
"You name it," said Favre. "Pick something ... I can't think of any one thing that doesn't need to change."
Favre didn't spare himself from the criticism. How could he? A week after throwing for a career-best 446 yards in a comeback overtime victory against Arizona, he had 170 yards against the Bears. He was undone by the patience of the Bears' Cover 2, by a so-so group of wide receivers and by his own mistakes.
"We are running out of games," he said. "The rate we're playing, it won't take but a couple more and we'll be out of it. And that's just being honest. I don't know how to sugarcoat it."
Sugarcoat it? Favre was scathing in his analysis. He didn't go Jim Mora ("Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs?") on us, but there was no happy talk about the Vikings' 2010 postseason chances.
"If I had to gauge today I would say no," he said. "I'm not writing us off. But guys are in that locker room as we did right after the game [saying], 'We've got to find a way to turn it around' -- all the cliches that go with it, as you would expect. 'We've got to pick it up. We've got to find a way to win.' And I say yes to all of those.
"Can this team make the playoffs? Yes, I'll say yes to that. Will we make the playoffs? I have no idea. No idea. And for anyone in our locker room to think beyond next week, or really beyond today ... we will be watching the playoffs. That's probably a better guess than us making the playoffs. And that's just being honest."
It was only a Sunday ago, after the comeback against the Cardinals, that Wilf stood at the doorway of the Vikings' locker room yelling, "Great heart! Great heart!"
There was no yelling, by anyone, as the Vikings filed into the locker room after the loss to the Bears. Instead, there was silence and looks of resignation.
Speaking of resignations ...
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.
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