Our Classic Vikings Replay today at 1 on FM 100.3 KFAN takes us to week five of the non-playoff 2006 season, the first year of HC Brad Childress's 4 1/2 years leading the charge. They finished 6-and-10, the season-long offense was a work-in-progress, failed to generate more than 19 points the first 1 1/2 months of the season but did come on late and put up some fat numbers.
Our Classic Replay is the first game of the 2006 season they scored more than 20 points in beating the Lions, 26-17. It was a home game so when listening I'll be curious to hear if the Metrodome "boos" are palpable, especially in the first half when the offense amassed 146 yards, zero touchdowns, two punts and a Brad Johnson interception.
Childress was hired after coordinating Philadelphia's offense and off a very respectable run. Brad could be gruff -- especially with the media -- and didn't have much to share with a fan base begging for answers as to why the offense was below-average early in the season, averaging 15 ppg the first four games. It got to the point that season Dan Barreiro with KFAN's "Bumper to Bumper" concocted a brilliant bit on Childress's "kick-ass offense" where he would play nondescript plays, and we would hear something like "and that was another moment from a 'kick-ass' offense."
Even though Brad implored fans through the media his approach, indeed, was a tried-and-true, tested "kick-ass offense," the 2006 team scored 30 or more points just twice.
In the Detroit win played on KFAN Sunday they scored 23 fourth-quarter points to win, but two of the TDs were defensive when Ben Leber scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone, and EJ Henderson picked off Jon Kitna and got to the house from 45.
Kick-ass win but far from a "kick-ass offense."
The 2006 truly was the first season with the Wilfs as owners of the team even though they became "Stewards of the Skol" May of 2005. By that time, though, the draft, free agency, the Whizzinator, the Randy Moss trade, etc. had come to fruition. This time around Zygi, Mark and the Wilfs were ready to spend and compete.
They acquired stud guard Steve Hutchinson via a contractual "poison pill" and gave him a seven-year $49 million deal. He was HOF in training at the time.
The also signed former Chargers LB Leber, former Ravens RB Chester Taylor and doled out $48 million to re-up with LT Bryant McKinnie. Too, Henderson received a five-year $25 million contract and "Big Ticket" Kevin Williams received a seven-year deal for $50 million.
Most of these moves were antithetical to the way things operated under previous owner Red McCombs, and it only was a harbinger. The Wilfs certainly haven't reaped the benefits on every free-agent signing, but to date they have done everything possible to follow the lead of personnel and make teams better.
That year LB Chad Greenway was their first-round pick, and he blew out his ACL on the first kickoff of the very first preseason game. As that preseason advanced they had one of the quirkiest, least-memorable preseason games in my 18 years calling their games.
It was the fourth preseason game at Texas Stadium outside of Dallas, and that August day it was 103 degrees. The Cowboys scored with 17 seconds remaining to make it, 10-9, Minnesota. Late game, fourth preseason contest, sweltering heat ... and Cowboys HC Bill Parcells OPTS TO KICK A BLEEPING EXTRA POINT FOR THE TIE AND TO FORCE OVERTIME.
That he didn't go for two that late in a fourth preseason game still baffles the mind.
The game -- of course -- went the full overtime and ended, 10-10. Mike "Idiot Kicker" missed twice from around 30 yards in the OT. LOL.
So, through all of that -- new HC in Childress, plunged in free agency, etc. -- perhaps the most noteworthy new inclusion to the Purple and Gold Covenant was hiring Mike Tomlin from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to become defensive coordinator. Mike was straight-forward with his thought, a master motivator and a man who squeezed the most out of everything his defense had. Tomlin opened so many eyes he was hired after the season to become head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The defining moment 2006 came week eight at home and a Monday-night game with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. After scoring a combined 63 points their first four games the Childress-Darrell Bevell offense got hot running up a combined 57 weeks five and six. They had the BYE week seven and we're 4-and-2 largely due to Tomlin's defense wreaking havoc.
In come the Pats, and there goes the season. Belichick's bunch waxed the Vikings, 31-7, and the only TD we scored was on a Mewelde Moore punt return. Brady spread out five of some of the most inauspicious receivers we would see that season. To wit, WRs Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel would haul in 12 catches for 167 yards and a score. Tomlin and his group couldn't stop them, the offense couldn't chew the clock long enough for the defense to rest, and in honesty that was "Belichickmate" on the 2006 season.
That nationally televised debacle would trigger a five-game losing streak. Yep, from 4-and-2 to 4-and-7.Yikes! They would be swept by Green Bay, which never goes over well with the fan base.
That year they also traded up in the second round for Alabama State QB (the late, God rest his soul) Tarvaris Jackson, and Childress described him as a "sponge" in terms of absorbing offensive plans, ideas and minutia. Jackson's first start would come Dec. 21st in a Thursday-night game at Lambeau Field. The offense that night wasn't "kick-ass" it mentally kicked our collective asses it was so bad.
They failed to score a point, and the only reason they scrimmaged from Packers territory is GB punter Jon Ryan botched a punt that went 30 yards. The Vikings set up at GB's 48, moved an awe-inspiring 15 yards before Charles Woodson intercepted a Jackson pass. Yep, the Vikings offense failed to cross the 50 yards line all stinking game.
The 2006 season. Weird. Leber did lead the team with three forced fumbles. Cool.
The most memorable thing for me, though, from the Minnesota Vikings 2006 season came on Christmas Eve when Childress cut veteran WR Marcus Robinson, one of the most popular guys on the team. If Brad was attempting to impose authority and establish the "Childress Culture" that was an awful way to commence.You can't cut a guy on Christmas Eve!
Many in the locker room loathed the decision and not much resistance was offered the final game of the season when Scott Linehan's Rams rolled into the 'dome and shellacked the Vikings, 41-21. Given the reactions from players I knew off the Robinson cut and that it was a non-playoff season this was one of just two Vikes games I have called where I knew into it there was a 1 percent max chance they'd win.
That outcome was the most predictable facet of a 2006 Vikings season that lacked identity, consistency and offensive thrust. It ended on an amazingly snowy day Dec. 31, and four months later the vibe would change when they drafted Adrian Peterson.
Let the good times roll!