The official press conference hasn’t happened yet, but it’s being reported just about everywhere in the sports universe that the imploding Vikings have fired head coach Brad Childress and replaced him on an interim basis with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. According to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, interim head coaches are 21-51-1 in their debuts, so you would be forgiven for thinking that this means good things for the Redskins, who will be hosting the Vikings on Sunday. (Gosselin’s stat is actually 20-51-1, because his piece was written before Jason Garrett upset the Giants in his Cowboys debut.)
But the last time a team came to FedExField with their former defensive coordinator starting his first game as interim head coach, things didn’t go so well.
That would be the 2008 game against the St. Louis Rams, and the first three grafs of the AP gamestory really tell how that one went:
The St. Louis Rams seemed almost determined to sink to 0-5.
They fumbled at their own 4-yard line on their second play from scrimmage. They were going nowhere until a fluke turnover flipped the momentum. They blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter. They set themselves up for a gimme field goal to win the game, then committed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
But this is the start of the Jim Haslett era, so maybe the ball is finally going to bounce the Rams’ way.
Calling that turnover a “fluke” is an insult to flukes everywhere. A Jason Campbell pass was tipped and caught by offensive lineman Pete Kendall; Kendall inexplicably tried to run with the ball, only to see it stripped and returned for a touchdown in the other direction. That made the score 10-7 Rams, and essentially served as the first real negative turn for then-head-coach Jim Zorn’s rookie campaign.
“A thousand things went through my mind,” Kendall said after the game, in a postgame interview session that lasted well over half an hour. “I felt like the ball was up forever. I should have gone with my first thought, which was to knock it down. But I felt if I grabbed it and threw it down they might call it a fumble, and so I held on and tried to get it back to the line of scrimmage. My sense is that we were near field goal range, but that’s just thinking too much. I’ve just got to knock that ball down, and we’re talking about a different thing today.”
In the department of numerical coincidence, the final score of that game was 19-17 on a last-second field goal by the visiting team. The last time the Vikings came to FedExField was the season opener of the 2006 season; that game marked Childress’ regular season Vikings debut, and the final score was 19-16 on a last-minute field goal by the visiting team.
And that signifies … nothing, really, but it’s an interesting quirk of the numbers.
Another potential coincidence this week: Brett Favre threw his first pass against the Redskins, back in November of 1991. (Appropriately for the NFL record-holder in interceptions, he managed two picks in four passes, including his first NFL pass, which was returned for a touchdown by LB Andre Collins.) His first (preseason) pass as a New York Jet came against the Redskins back in 2008. Now, the way things are breaking for the Vikings this year, there’s a better-than-average chance that Favre could throw his last NFL pass again the Redskins.
So, you know, just another week in the NFL.
Tags: Brett Favre, interim head coaches, redskins @ rams 2008
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