Minnesota Vikings Coach Fired
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
It's been a bad year for the Minnesota Vikings: three wins, seven losses. And today, they fired their head coach, Brad Childress. The Vikings had high hopes for this season. Last year, they were just a play away from making the Super Bowl.
NPR sports correspondent Mike Pesca joins us now. And Mike, it is a bad month for head coaches. A couple weeks ago, it was the Dallas Cowboys' Wade Phillips who was fired, now Brad Childress. What happened?
MIKE PESCA: Well, I don't know if you could definitely say this is a trend in firing coaches midseason because it's very hard to fire an NFL head coach for a couple of reasons.
Coaches aren't interchangeable. The game plan in the NFL is very complex. But also, they have a short schedule. So that means by the time you have a data set - you know, half the season's over, or you have seven or eight games to evaluate - if the coach is terrible enough to be fired, the season is usually lost. So why make the change? Why put yourself in a bad position in terms of hiring his successor?
If there's anything that's coincidental about both those teams that have fired their coaches midseason, it's that they both had very high expectations going into the year, and that certainly played a role. So it's not just an example of a team being bad or poorly coached. It was it's also two teams that are terribly disappointing.
And the other common thread is, they both suffered huge losses at the hands of the Green Bay Packers the day before they were fired. And we haven't seen a I was trying to think historically, if there was a trend like this. I think during the 1862 and '63 season, Robert E. Lee started defeating Union generals, and Lincoln started firing those generals every time Lee won. So maybe that's an analogy behind what the Packers are doing to the NFL this year.
BLOCK: And the Vikings lost pretty spectacularly to the Packers yesterday, 31-3. It sounds like Childress, the head coach, had lost the support of the fans, clearly. They were booing and chanting that he should be fired. Had he also lost the support of the team?
PESCA: We had, week after week, anonymously sourced material from different Vikings players saying, we don't like our coach anymore, and he's lost us. And two big players - one very important to the team, and one who wound up not being that important - also played a role here.
Brett Favre was the quarterback again this year. Just like last year, he hemmed and hawed about returning. But last year when he did return, he had one of his and played in the NFL, he had one of his best years ever, took the Vikings to the threshold of the Super Bowl, like you say. But this year, he's been awful, and that really his interceptions have hurt Childress as much as anyone's personality.
Then you also have Randy Moss, who's the wide receiver who the Vikings traded for, and it did not work out. And in dismissing Randy Moss, which Childress decided to do, it has been reported that he angered his owner, Zygi Wilf, who felt he wasn't consulted in the move to jettison Moss. And that's one of the reasons why Wilf was eager to get rid of Childress. And this last loss just pushed him over the edge.
BLOCK: Mike, what happens with teams when they change coaches midyear? What kind of success do interim coaches have in the NFL?
PESCA: They usually lose, too. In fact, I went back over 20 years. Before this year, there have been 22 examples of interim coaches. Only two who have taken over losing teams have had winning records.
Weirdly, one of those two was Wade Phillips, who had a winning record in 2003 with the Falcons. And this year, Jason Garrett, who replaced Wade Phillips on the Cowboys, he's won both his games.
BLOCK: Okay, Mike, thanks so much.
PESCA: You're welcome.
BLOCK: That's NPR's Mike Pesca, talking about the firing today of the Minnesota Vikings head coach, Brad Childress.
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