Occasionally, different Vikings players and personnel have been kind enough to sit down and answer some questions sent in by fans and media. Today the media has grilled coach Brad Childress on a variety of topics, including the 2008 Vikings season, free agency, and the upcoming draft:
Q: Coach, the Vikings season ended on a difficult note in the playoffs against your former team, the Eagles. Although the team was bitten by the injury bug towards the end of the season, it seemed that more teams were able to focus on the run with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson back in as starter and thusly shut down your offense. Did that affect the teams overall play during the last quarter of the season and into the playoffs?
A: Well, you mentioned a couple things in there that I think are true, yes. We had a couple of guys go down on each other, and that just really sapped our strength, especially late. I remember when Pat was on the bottom of the pile, yelling and screaming, and I thought “Boy, as if this story couldn’t get any more rough”. It’s hard, it’s been hard, and it’ll continue to be hard. But people get excited when you can plug an open hole, especially if it’s a hole as big as one left by Pat or Gus. I think Tarvaris is a bit young still, and not as experienced as some people would like. Sure, sometimes he releases a bit prematurely, but it’s a maturation process really. Everyone learns from their mistakes. Does that happen all the time with him? No. We all saw in Arizona when he scored four times in three hours. I’d say that’s pretty good. And he didn’t even break a sweat. The tangibles are all there, he’s built for the job. It’s just a matter of finishing. And that goes for all of us, all the way until the last gasp.
Q: Thanks for taking my question coach. This free agency has been rather disappointing for Vikings fans. The big upgrade that people were looking for at quarterback materialized as Sage Rosenfels, and although you flirted with former Bengal wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh, he eventually signed with Seattle, leaving your team signing only their own free agents back to squad. Does this make your team any better or worse, and what can fans expect this off-season then?
A: Well, free agency is all about value versus need. We’re always trying to get bigger, faster, and better. Sometimes you find something attractive that you want to buy that would fit the right hole. Sometimes it’s too expensive. But if the cost isn’t too high to hit just the right spot, you have to jump on it, hard and fast. With TJ, his price tag was a little high. We brought him in here, took him out for a nice steak dinner, but he just wouldn’t come. We did everything we could; offered more money, allowed him a bit more freedom to try some things … we were basically on our hands and knees. He just wouldn’t bite. So we turned our attention elsewhere. We won’t know if we’re better under we try to perform under pressure, all together, and see who dominates. Usually, the stronger, more determined people get what they want, and I think we have plenty of famished guys looking for a challenge, so we’ll see.
Q: Coach, the 2009 NFL Draft is coming up quick. Many fans are clamoring for a top flight quarterback to pair with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, yet there doesn’t seem to be a quarterback of this caliber in the draft. If the Vikings don’t take a quarterback, are there any other hints of where the team may be looking at in the draft to upgrade the team at all? Cornerback? Right Tackle? Where is the team looking?
A: Well, we’re always trying to make sure that things are set in the back. We don’t want any surprises back there. Even if we did take someone that fit that position we needed them in, we’d probably bring them along slow so as not to surprise them too much. Really, you do that with any rookie. Will we take a quarterback at all? Again, and especially with the draft, it’s all about what holes do you fill. Is there a big one that needs immediate attention? Can you wait a while and reach around for a solution? Do you just grab whatever is available and jam it into the empty spot? You have to be smart about it. We have plenty of open spots to put guys into, so we’ll have to see how the draft goes. I will say that at the combine I saw some hard bodies and I know our coaches are excited to get their hands on them to mold them to our needs. There are just some real good looking boys coming in here, that’s for sure.