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Mike McFeely column: I'll give Chilly his due

The good news is, Brad Childress is no longer the most unpopular coach in Minnesota. The bad news is, it's not because Vikings fans are cutting him any slack.

The good news is, Brad Childress is no longer the most unpopular coach in Minnesota. The bad news is, it's not because Vikings fans are cutting him any slack.

No, Chilly is simply the recipient of somebody else's ineptitude. Kevin McHale, once the most unpopular front-office executive in the state, has been moved to the bench of the Timberwolves by clueless owner Glen Taylor. That makes McHale, who has deftly led the Wolves to a 0-5 record since his demotion, the least popular coach.

The reason for Childress' move out of the top spot might not be anything about which to brag, but know this: The demotion - or would it be promotion? - is deserved.

It's time to admit it, Vikings fans: Childress is no longer deserving of your scorn.

Getting such an admission from a follower of the Purple might be akin to right-wing crackpot Sean Hannity praising Barack Obama. Childress inherited a 9-7 team in 2006 and promptly went 6-10. He followed it with an 8-8 record in 2007. All the while, Childress was secretive and coy and exhibited as much personality as a fence post.

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It didn't help that the coach's offense moved with all the efficiency of Dom DeLuise in quicksand. It didn't help Childress strapped his fortunes to a quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, who was not quite ready for prime time.

It's time to let those dark days pass, folks. Let it go. Serenity now.

The Vikings, if you haven't noticed, are one of the hottest teams in the NFL after Sunday's impressive 35-14 road pasting of the playoff-bound Arizona Cardinals. It was Minnesota's fourth straight win. Only the Indianapolis Colts, winners of seven straight, can claim to be on a better roll than the Vikes.

The Vikings have turned an 0-2 start into their current 9-5 record. They are close to clinching a playoff spot.

A major reason for Minnesota's turnaround can be attributed directly to a daring move Childress made after two games: He replaced the struggling starting quarterback, Jackson, with veteran Gus Frerotte. While Gus had nobody flashing back to Joe Montana or Dan Marino, he was competent enough to give the offense a chance.

Combined with the jaw-dropping excellence of Adrian Peterson and the improved play of Minnesota's well-compensated stars like Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen, Bernard Berrian and Antoine Winfield, the Vikings are finally what Zygi Wilf envisioned when he signed all those checks.

Oh, and by the way, Jackson returned after an injury to Frerotte and looks like the QB of the next 10 years.

The head coach, the guy steering the ship, has to get some of the credit. Doesn't he?

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The problem might be that Vikes fans are facing an interesting dilemma. They know if Minnesota makes the playoffs, they're likely stuck with Childress for at least a couple of more years. The only way those fans can realize their dream, a Childress-free Metrodome, is if the Vikings miss the playoffs.

So what's the better option? The playoffs and Childress? Or no playoffs and no Childress?

Given the Vikings improved play the last 10 weeks, and particularly the last four, that would seem to be an easy choice.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5580. His blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

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