Braden Gall: Childress got a raw deal. The inmates were running the asylum up in Minneapolis, and any good businessman knows that a clearly defined chain of command is imperative to success. Let's look at some facts. Childress improved the Vikings by two wins every season (from 6 to 8 to 10 to 12) in his first four years and was one bad pass away from the Super Bowl last fall. His starting quarterback didn't participate in the preseason. His star wideout mistakenly put off surgery and cost himself half of the season. Finally, I have had bosses that I did not get along with, but I never went to the media bitching and crying about how mean he was to me. Chilly was the boss and carries the burden of responsiblity ultimately, but the Viking players need to be held accountable for their play on the field as well.
Steven Lassan: After going 6-10 in Childress’ first season, the Vikings improved their win total each year until the disappointing 3-7 start in 2010. Although the performance on the field improved, Childress clearly lost the support in the locker room this season and it was time for a change. The Vikings have an uphill battle to make the playoffs and this gives Leslie Frazier a chance to earn the job for next year or allow the team to look outside of the organization for the next head coach. Childress can’t be blamed for all of Minnesota’s problems, but when the players disrespect their head coach, something has to give.
Nathan Rush: Yes. Brad Childress lost control of that team a long time ago. He probably should have been fired after his unilateral decision to release Randy Moss following the Patriots loss of Week 8. At that point, Childress was in panic mode, desperately trying to salvage his respect within the locker room — after both Brett Favre and Moss tore him down publicly as a strategist and as a man. But the team still had half a season to play, including two division games (at Chicago, vs. Green Bay) that have since been lost. At 3–7, the season is all but over for interim coach Leslie Frazier. But if Childress left with Moss a month ago, things might have been different.
2. Jeff Fisher or Vince Young. Which side are you on?
Braden: For starters, neither are perfect and both probably have regrets on how they have handled this quagmire. Also, an owner should have no say in who starts at QB. Fisher's ego and stubbornness are apparent, and at times, maybe unfair. But he is a Super Bowl-caliber coach that has a 17-year track record that is as good as any in the league. In his 15 full seasons of coaching, he has four losing seasons. He has a golden repuation for looking out for his players almost to a fault. And the laundry list of Vince Young decisions that were directly detrimental to his team's success is as long and (un) distinguished as his throwing motion. The bottom line is that Young has never dedicated himself to being a professional quarterback. Professional being the key word. Maybe this will shake him back to reality — which is 2010 in Nashville (for now), not 2005 in Austin.
Steven: I know Jeff Fisher doesn’t trust Vince Young and that may have held the Titans back since he was drafted, but there’s no way anyone can defend the quarterback in this case. Young may be competitive, but there are over 1,000 players in the league that share that same characteristic, yet know how to handle themselves after a loss. Think Peyton Manning liked losing to the Patriots on a late interception? Did he throw his shoulder pads into the stands after the game? I know Young gets credit for being a winner, but he’s an average quarterback with a great running game and offensive line in front of him. There’s a reason why Fisher is the longest-tenured head coach in the league and the Titans would be foolish to choose an immature quarterback over him. It’s time for Tennessee to say goodbye to VY.
Nathan: I’m on owner Bud Adams’ side. Jeff Fisher is a proven coach and Vince Young is a winning quarterback. These two guys need to work it out. Fisher can’t hold a grudge against V.Y. because he wanted to draft Matt Leinart back in the day and resents the fact that Adams hand-picked the Houston hero as Steve McNair’s heir. And Young needs to stop being so sensitive to criticism from his coach or the home crowd. Fisher and Young don’t have to be best friends or go out for a beer together after the game; they just have to act professional — which neither of them is doing right now.
Was Big Ben a victim or bring it upon himself?
3. How did you view the Richard Seymour-Big Ben incident?
Braden: I saw a classy 11-year veteran who was frustrated and let his emotions get the better of him. But there are few things to note: It normally takes a gaggle of 300-pounders to drag Big Ben to the ground, but a little slap to the helmet caused his knees to buckle? You also don't see this type of thing happen to Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. Big Ben is a Super Bowl champion, but his reputation precedes him. He was clearly getting right into Seymour's face and was likely popping off. On the surface, Seymour set a bad example for children on how to handle adversity on the field. But on the inside, there are a few guys that I don't mind seeing slapped in the helmet from time to time (Jerramy Stevens comes to mind). Credit Mike Tomlin for taking the high road after the game, blaming both teams for being a little emotional when asked about the incident.
Steven: Only the two players know what happened, but it sounds like Seymour simply overreacted to Roethlisberger walking up to congratulate his offensive lineman after the touchdown pass. The game was poorly officiated and the play was getting chippy on both sides, which led to some frustration on both sides. I don’t blame Roethlisberger for what happened and as a 11-year veteran of the league, Seymour should have more poise in that situation.
Nathan: On the surface, it looked like a cheap shot. But these two undeniably great players have decidedly different track records and reputations. Richard Seymour is a class act who was a captain for three Super Bowl winning Patriots teams and somehow, some way has carried his champion’s swagger to the Black Hole in Oakland and helped turn around what was a miserable organization with a loser’s mentality. On the other hand, Big Ben pretty much has an irresponsible jerk persona based on multiple rape accusations, a careless helmet-less motorcycle wreck and countless other unconfirmed creep stories. So in an issue of character, I’ll side with Seymour. I don’t know what was done or said, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Ben crossed the line and Seymour didn’t let him get away with it this time.
4. Should the Lions be playing on Turkey Day every single year?
Braden: Please, Roger God-ell, can we remove the Detroit Lions from my single favorite day of the year? Yes, I loved watching Barry Sanders run around on T-Day as much as the next football fan. But for a team that has not been over .500 since 2000, and has three 10-win seasons in forty years, Thanksgiving Day should not be their reward. What have Lions fans had to be thankful for...ever? Maybe that is why the NFL throws them a bone, or leg, every November.
Steven: If the Lions were posting winning seasons, I don’t think there would be much debate about their games on Thanksgiving. However, I’d prefer to see the Thanksgiving games rotate around the league. I know it’s tradition to have them in Detroit and Dallas, but let’s give the other 30 teams in the league a chance to have a showcase game on Thanksgiving.
Nathan: For the love of Barry Sanders and a second piece of pie, of course the Lions should play on Thanksgiving — even if No. 20 has retired and I can barely breathe I’m so full. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday rooted in family and tradition. And while you don’t necessarily have to invite your crazy uncle to dinner or serve turkey and dressing as the main course, both customs have been and will continue to be the right moves to make. Detroit has fallen on hard times — both on and off the field. But does that mean they don’t get invited back to Thanksgiving? The Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1934 and that tradition should remain intact.
5. Will NFC home field advantage be determined this weekend when Green Bay travels to Atlanta?
Braden: Yes, because Atlanta will win. If Green Bay wins, they will still need plenty of help to get to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Falcons, under Matt Ryan, are nearly unbeatable at home and the remaining schedule is manageable. Two games with lowly Carolina and road tests (more like quizzes) against Tampa Bay and Seattle are very winnable games. That leaves the Week 16 Monday Night battle with New Orleans as the decisive game in the NFC South with the winner taking NFC home field advantage. That game, by the way, is in the Georgia Dome where Ryan is 18-1 all-time.
Steven: Hard to say. I still think the Eagles and Giants will figure into the mix for the top spot in the NFC, but this game will give a nice boost to Atlanta or Green Bay. After this game, the Falcons upcoming schedule is favorable, while the Packers have two easy games before a tough three-game stretch to close out the season. It wouldn’t surprise me if this game is the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed, but the Giants and Eagles need to be kept in the conversation.
Nathan: For Atlanta’s sake, it better be. Matt Ryan is 18–1 at the Georgia Dome and just 10–11 on the road during his career. I’m not a big believer in the Falcons — I’d trust the Eagles, Giants and Saints over them in the NFC playoffs — but if they can beat the Packers this week, the Dirty Birds will take a 9–2 record into a schedule that includes two games against Carolina, a trip to Tampa Bay, a trip to Seattle and a home game against New Orleans. That’s a favorable home stretch. So sure, Atlanta could definitely take a huge step towards wrapping up homefield advantage this weekend. I wonder how fans will react when the new and improved Mike Vick comes back to town with the Eagles for a postseason bird fight?
We’re a week beyond the end of the byes at this point. Frankly, there shouldn’t be too many truly worthwhile pieces available on your waiver wire. Those that are were probably mentioned in a previous waiver-wire article (or else we disagree on the while of their worth).
So instead of spending this week discussing why you should go after Sidney Rice, Vincent Jackson or Keiland Williams (go for it, within reason), I’ve decided to look at some significant name players who I think can be dropped at this point.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego
The rookie previous missed Week 3 with an ankle injury, similar to the situation that kept him out of the Week 11 Monday night game. Mathews also ceded the start to Mike Tolbert in the two games following his return at that time. It took him five outings before he got 15 carries in a single one. He got hurt again the following week. Overall, Matthews hasn’t reached 20 carries in a game since Week 1 and has just the one other 15-rush outing. He’s produced decently with the light workload, but is a 10-carry back someone you plan on starting in your fantasy playoffs? If so, then by all means, keep him. I look forward to playing against you.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina
This one might seem obvious to many fantasy owners, but Smith remains at least 69 percent owned in Fantrax.com leagues, Yahoo! leagues and CBS Sports leagues. (CBS – where I have to admit I have yet to drop him for lack of an intriguing replacement in a fairly picked-over “experts” league -- comes in the highest at 81 percent.) I don’t know how much keeper leagues account for those numbers, but such formats make up a fairly small portion of fantasy leagues overall. If you own Smith in a redraft league and are clinging to hope, let go. He has caught more than four passes in just two games this year, and only one of those gave him more than five. Both outings came with Matt Moore under center.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco
This one might be a tougher sell because Crabtree has caught touchdowns in four of his past six games. OK, then try to trade him instead (if your deadline hasn’t passed already). I think the proximity of Crabtree’s scores clouds the overall mediocrity of his production. His four touchdowns for the year ties him for 27th in the league with 17 other players. Of those 17 (including some who have missed games), only six have fewer receptions so far than Crabtree. Six sit behind him in yardage. As for Crabtree’s particular upside, the Niners’ supposed No. 1 wideout has reached 60 yards just twice all year, only once surpassing 61. Like Smith, he has reached five catches in a game just twice and surpassed that only once. If I’m starting a guy that I hope will deliver a touchdown to realize some fantasy value, I’d much rather take my shot with Robert Meachem or Mario Manningham, and Lee Evans even brings a higher ceiling. All three of those players sit among that four-touchdown group as well.
Chris Wells, RB, Arizona
I put Wells last because he’s the most conditional of this group. I don’t think that all Wells owners should go dump him right now for whatever attractive piece is out there, but I do think plenty can. To put it mildly, Wells has been awful this year. Injury has obviously played a huge role, keeping him out of three full games and limiting the second-year player in who-knows-how-many others. That limitation is part of the anti-charm. Even when the young Cardinal is active, we generally have no idea just how many times he’ll carry and no reason for optimism that he’ll finish the game healthy. When he has been on the field this year, Wells has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. He has reached 60 yards only once, with 75 against Oakland. That was also the only time he averaged at least 4 yards per rush. Perhaps the only week that fantasy owners knew they could use him and got something resembling a reward for doing so was in his lone start against Tampa. Wells finished that one with 50 rushing yards, a touchdown and one catch for 14 more yards. He carried once the following week and missed the game after that. If Wells gets right and claims the primary role within the next week or two, perhaps he could position himself as a playoff helper. As things stand, though, fantasy owners need to see him do it for at least a week before being able to trust Wells in an all-important matchup. Time is dwindling for show-me-something players.
Like with Wells, I’m not advocating that all fantasy owners blindly dump the rest of the guys on this list. A sensible move in one league will be an unnecessary risk elsewhere. If you’re eyeing the waiver wire this week, however, ready to pick up some help and wavering on whether to dump one of these disappointments, consider this your push in the right direction.
Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for RapidDraft.com.
It was a marriage that was doomed to fail, right from the very beginning. And Bud Adams probably should’ve known better. Saddling a coach with a player he doesn’t want is never a good idea.
And when that player is a quarterback, it can only be a disaster.
That’s what the relationship between Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and his quarterback, Vince Young, has become after they reportedly had a confrontation after the Titans’ overtime loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Fisher was incensed that his moody quarterback tossed his shoulder pads into the stands after the game and then stormed out of the team’s locker room.
He responded by immediately and publicly stripping Young of his starting job.
Young ended up on season-ending injured reserve with an injured thumb that didn’t really seem to concern Fisher much. The coach’s frustration with his erratic team leader was painfully obvious. He wasn’t trying to hide it at all.
And why, at this point, would anyone be surprised? The icon coach and the petulant quarterback have been headed in that direction since 2006, when Titans owner Adams — and his then-general manager Floyd Reese — made Young the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft, apparently over Fisher’s objection.
It’s been mostly rocky sailing ever since.
“They are going to have to work together,” Adams told the Tennessean on Monday. “I haven’t given up on Vince, and I am sure Fisher hasn’t either. Vince was upset and said some things he regretted after doing it, but you have to get to the bottom of it, straighten it out and move on.
“It is one of those things that happened. It has happened, it is all over with and we want to get Vince back and playing again for us.”
Adams may feel that way for obvious reasons, especially since Young is scheduled to make $8.5 million next season. The fifth-year pro is also loaded with tantalizing talent and potential. Through eight starts this season he had completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 1,255 yards with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He had also run 25 times for 125 yards.
The feeling among many was that, starting with a strong finish to the 2009 season, he was just beginning to tap into that potential. And for that, he has Adams to thank, at least in part. A year ago the Titans were 0-6 and coming off a horrible, 59-0, loss to the New England Patriots. Adams stepped in then and reportedly ordered Fisher to bench quarterback Kerry Collins and replace him with Young.
Young thrived, and the Titans made an unlikely playoff push, and Fisher even seemed to get behind his revived leader. But his faith seems to be continually tested. On Sunday it was challenged again when Fisher declined to put Young back in the game after he injured his thumb.
That sent Young reeling over the edge, but it also put the spotlight on the festering issue: What good is a promising franchise quarterback if the coach doesn’t believe in him?
And why, in hind sight, would an owner ever think that forcing a coach to live with a quarterback he didn’t want would be a good idea?
“I just want them to get over it,” Adams said after this latest blow-up. “It is like you made the wrong turn and went down the wrong highway and you were upset because someone caused you to do it, but when it is all over with you didn’t have a wreck. You just have to sleep on it and do better the next day.’’
Oh, if only it were that easy.
For the short term, Fisher doesn’t have to deal with the issue. With Young now on IR, the coach can deflect all questions about their fraying relationship by saying, “We can deal with all that when the season is over.”
When the season is over, though, both Fisher and Young will only have one season left on their respective contracts, which Adams will clearly have to address. If Fisher doesn’t want Young, he’ll likely want a quarterback in the April NFL Draft. But if Adams wants Young, will he let his coach choose his own man?
It sure seems like the 87-year-old Adams is more in the Young camp than the Fisher camp, which could lead to a messy ending for the longest-tenured coach in the NFL (16 seasons).
“(Young) is a young guy and he is learning and he has done a good job with us,” Adams said. “I talked to all of them and told them to get this thing settled down and get back to work.”
That sounds like such a simple solution to a messy situation that’s been simmering for four years. But Adams may have to come to grip with the reality that it just might not be possible anymore.