Childress: 'I want us to be hard to beat'
[size=13pt]Childress: 'I want us to be hard to beat'[/size]
Brad Childress doesn't have a catchphrase such as "Randy Ratio" or "40 for 60" to describe his philosophy. Simply, he says ...
Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
Last update: September 11, 2006 â€“ 12:34 AM
Prime time was fast approaching when Brad Childress stood in front of his players last month. At a team meeting prior to the Vikings' preseason finale at Dallas, Childress delivered a message that neatly encapsulated the type of team he wants to build.
Quoting from motivational speaker Jim Rohn, Childress said: "Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals."
Childress' Vikings, who make their regular-season debut tonight at Washington, have no plans to revolutionize football or surprise their opponents with unexpected twists. Their coaches are not devising seven-receiver packages or finding schematic shortcuts to cover for personnel weaknesses; they will use the same West Coast offense and Tampa-2 defense utilized by many other NFL teams.
No, if Childress has his way, his Vikings will win games simply by doing what most other teams do -- only better, more efficiently and with fewer mistakes. Asked to describe that mission in his own words, Childress said: "I want us to be hard to beat."
To that end, Childress has assembled a pointedly veteran team he hopes will set a tone of poise and composure for his nascent program. The average Vikings starter is in his sixth NFL season. A mere five rookies made the team (compared to 17 on the rebuilding Green Bay Packers), and defensive back Cedric Griffin is the only rookie who figures to see action on offense or defense tonight.
The Vikings' lineup includes maximum experience at some of the most important positions: A 15-year quarterback in Brad Johnson, a nine-year center in Matt Birk, a 12-year fullback in Tony Richardson, a 10-year nose tackle in Pat Williams and a 10-year free safety in Darren Sharper.
Even their backups are experienced. The Vikings' No. 3 receiver, Marcus Robinson, is in his 10th year. Jason Whittle and Mike Rosenthal, their top two reserve offensive linemen, are in their ninth and eighth years, respectively. Backup nose tackle Ross Kolodziej is entering his fifth year, and reserve linebacker Jason Glenn is in his sixth.
"We have a lot of proven players on this team," Johnson said, "guys that have played in this league. You just want to come out there Monday night and be polished. That's the way games are lost mostly in this league, whether it's in the kicking game or giving up the short field."
In four preseason games, which included a full overtime period against the Cowboys, the Vikings committed only three turnovers -- the second-lowest mark among NFL teams. Overall, their 13-3 takeaway-giveaway ratio was the league's best.
Meanwhile, the Vikings committed 22 penalties, an average of 5.5 per game and good for ninth fewest in the NFL. That figure compares favorably to their average of eight penalties per game in 2005, when the Vikings ranked No. 22 in the league.
Usually, preseason statistics can be dismissed as meaningless. In this case, however, it is hard to ignore such a clean performance amid typically sloppy preseason affairs in which starters played less than a half of the 17 quarters.
"Being hard to beat," Childress said, "whether it be with turnovers, whether it be with penalties, whether it be with assignment errors, you need to be tough-minded to be able to do that, particularly when you are going into somebody else's stadium. Those are hard games to go in there and win, and you have no chance to win if you beat yourself. [Players] have had a little resolve in that area. ... They've done a decent job so far."
Childress' vision of efficiency is built on his larger message of accountability.
Much has been made of Childress' plan to force players to account for their off-field actions, a point backed up by the August release of troubled receiver Koren Robinson. On the field, however, Childress has proved equally tough.
In the third quarter of the Vikings' Aug. 19 preseason game at Pittsburgh, presumptive No. 2 quarterback Mike McMahon forced a pass downfield to McMullen. The ball sailed into the hands of Steelers linebacker Rian Wallace, and Pittsburgh soon capitalized with a field goal.
By his standards, Childress was furious.
McMahon played only two more series before being benched in a game he originally was scheduled to finish. Childress pointed out the mistake in his postgame news conference, and McMahon played only one more quarter for the remainder of the preseason. He was released Sept. 2.
"They want you to be professional here," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "When [owner Zygi] Wilf came in here, that was one of the things he was real big on. He wanted you to act responsibly, be accountable, be professional and always do the right thing, on or off the field. I think that's the biggest thing these guys stand on."
Which, fittingly, should come as no surprise.
Kevin Seifert â€¢ [email protected]
Re: Childress: 'I want us to be hard to beat'
Less turnovers and penalties is enough of a reason to be optimistic.
...In four preseason games, which included a full overtime period against the Cowboys, the Vikings committed only three turnovers -- the second-lowest mark among NFL teams. Overall, their 13-3 takeaway-giveaway ratio was the league's best.
Meanwhile, the Vikings committed 22 penalties, an average of 5.5 per game and good for ninth fewest in the NFL. That figure compares favorably to their average of eight penalties per game in 2005, when the Vikings ranked No. 22 in the league...
That alone can win a few games.
I hope the trend continues/improves.
Re: Childress: 'I want us to be hard to beat'
Childress likes his vets...goes a long way towards explaining why Jason Carter is still on the practice squad and not on the active roster.