May 10, 2006
"Meritorious Work or Unsubstantiated Hype?" by Vikes Geek


When the Minnesota Vikings hired new head coach Brad Childress they characterized their hiree as a man of integrity and family values. Once the Vikings’ front office deigned to speak in more meaningful terms about Childress, they assigned to Childress the label of “quarterback guru.? For his part, Childress has neither run from this label nor done anything other than perpetuate the conception that it suited him. But does it?

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Childress’ designation as a quarterback guru derives from the work that he did with quarterbacks while serving as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. Addressing whether Childress truly is a quarterback guru is a fairly straightforward proposition, then, requiring only an analysis of the benefits of Childress’ work with the Eagles’ quarterbacks.

In a previous column on college quarterbacks, I offered numerous statistics that suggested the potential value of certain quarterbacks beyond the college level. At first blush, all five quarterbacks about whom I wrote had impressive credentials. Upon further review, however, some concerns undoubtedly arose in the minds of some regarding where recent NFL draftees fall in the scheme of things. The same might be said of Childress’ work with his purported savants.

More Hype than Substance?

The following are some statistics for five well-known NFL quarterbacks:

Player..... Yards........ Comp. %.... TDs.... INTs.... Rating

1............ 2,654........ 55.8........ 16...... 13...... 86

2............ 2,385........ 62.7........ 17...... 9........ 98.6

3............ 4,110........ 63........... 26...... 14...... 92

4............ 4,456........ 59.1........ 28....... 16...... 85

5............ 2,059........ 45.4........ 9........ 14...... 55.2

A casual glance at the statistics suggests that quarterbacks three and four are far ahead of the other three quarterbacks on the list. It also suggests that quarterbacks one and five have a considerable amount of work to do to. It’s not surprising, then, that quarterback three is New England Patriot Tom Brady or that quarterback four is Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, whose 2005 numbers are prorated here over a sixteen-game season. Nor probably is it surprising that quarterback number two is Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

What might surprise even the astute NFL observer, however, are the identities of the two remaining quarterbacks. Quarterback number one is former Eagles’ backup quarterback A.J. Feely—whose 2002 numbers with the Eagles are prorated here. And Quarterback number five is former Eagles’ backup Mike McMahon—whose 2005 numbers are prorated here.

What’s surprising about Feely and McMahon is that, despite working with a purported quarterback guru in Brad Childress, both have, at best, very modest NFL numbers. In the case of McMahon—the quarterback that Childress now has tabbed as the backup to Brad Johnson in 2006—the numbers are far below modest spiraling to the depths of awful.

Is McMahon’s poor 2005 performance the result of poor quarterback tutelage under Childress in Philadelphia? Probably not, given that McMahon’s 2005 numbers look very much like his career numbers in Detroit. But neither can it be said that Childress did anything to make McMahon better—at least nothing that someone in Detroit had not already at least matched. And that makes one wonder.

Feely is an even more interesting case with respect to Childress’ purported quarterback-grooming prowess. The casual NFL fan will point to the Eagles’ ability to the fifth-round pick Feely into a second-round pick for Feely in a trade with Miami. What that same fan will ignore, however, is that the Feely trade was predicated on Miami’s desperation more than on Feely’s performance. For, even with prorated numbers in his most active season with the Eagles, Feely was a modest to below average quarterback. His performance since leaving the Eagles does nothing to alter that view. That, again, makes one wonder what it is that Childress has done that merits labeling him a quarterback guru.

But more disconcerting with respect to Childress’ purported ability to cultivate prior unknown quarterbacks is the fact that Feely was not an unknown when he entered the NFL. Instead, Feely entered the NFL with scouts having only one concern—whether he had recovered from an injury that he had suffered in his junior season. Feely was a star in the PAC-10 prior to his junior-year injury. Only after his injury did he lose some luster—yielding to future first-round selection Joey Harrington during his senior season. That made him an injury risk in the draft, but one that most expected to pay off if he had recovered from his injury. At best, Childress merely showed Feely for what he was when he entered the NFL—a quarterback with modest to below average ability. That’s not Childress’ fault. But neither is it a cause to celebrate Childress as a quarterback guru.

Nor would anyone say with a straight face that Donovan McNabb has exceeded expectations since being drafted. In fact, most Philly fans would probably voice their concern over virtually all of McNabb’s non-Terrell Owens years with the Eagles. And the fairly modest QB ratings suggest just why that might be the case.

In short, if Childress truly is a quarterback guru, it is not on the strength of the work that he has done with Feely, McMahon, and McNabb. In fact, one could make the argument that, on the basis of what Childress was able to accomplish with these three quarterbacks, he is no better than average in developing quarterbacks. And that should raise at least a concern about Childress’ self-professed ability to develop a quarterback in Tavaris Jackson who, by Childress’ own admission, is “a piece of unmolded clay.?

Up Next: SWAC, 2007, and Mini-Camp

Posted by maasx003 at May 10, 2006 1:01 AM