Bernard Berrian (Jeff Gross/Getty)
Receiver Bernard Berrian said former head coach Brad Childress was confrontational with players and winning last year masked some of the problems with the team. Berrian described the players’ relationship with Childress during an interview on Sirius NFL Radio.
One day removed from the coaching change from Brad Childress to Leslie Frazier, Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian talked about Childress’ sometimes-icy relationship with players.
“I think it was a working relationship, I think is the best way to describe it," Berrian said during an interview Tuesday with Sirius NFL radio. "I mean, couldn’t really, it wasn’t too friendly all the time. You don’t really need to be friends, but a working relationship is all that’s needed. I think that the biggest thing with him was just he was too confrontational.”
Childress is known to have his run-ins with several players over the years. From a Christmas Eve release of Marcus Robison to fining Troy Williamson for being away too long and not communicating while tending to the funeral of his grandmother to an in-practice confrontation with receiver Percy Harvin over getting an MRI on an ailing ankle this year, Childress hasn’t always had a great relationship with his receivers or quarterbacks.
Ultimately, Berrian admitted, Childress lost the players in the locker room.
“Yeah, you could say it happened, yeah. I mean, yeah it did. I mean it just, I think people got to a point where it was just, it was too overbearing,” Berrian said.
"He was just confrontational. I think that was the biggest thing. Instead of, you know, going to players like men and just talking and conversating about it, it was kind of brought to their attention in a confrontational way and just people just didn’t really conform to that way of, I guess, him talking and speaking to his team, or players individually.”
While Childress’ relationship – or maybe lack of a relationship – with quarterback Brett Favre has been well-known, Frazier told KFAN radio on Tuesday said he has already talked to Favre a few times about offensive strategy. Berrian said Childress and Favre had disagreements over several items, some that were “tedious and small” while other things were “large and big.”
Berrian admitted that players don’t always have to agree with decisions that are made by coaches, but he indicated that some of the on-field strategies that players disagreed with were masked by winning.
“You don’t have to believe it, but you’ve got to try to trust it as much as possible because if you don’t trust it, it’s not going to work anyways. We got away with it for a little while, but eventually it crumbled,” he said.
“A lot of things you’re seeing now, they were masked by wins.(Now) we’re not really executing, we’re not playing up to what we should be playing as a group, as a whole team.”
After a 12-4 season that brought the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last year, they haven’t been able to find that magic this year. That championship game might have been won at the end of regulation if not for the Vikings having 12 men in the huddle, a penalty that pushed them out of field goal range. Trying to force the ball back into kicker Ryan Longwell’s range, Favre threw an interception on what turned out to be the Vikings’ last possession. The Saints advanced to the Super Bowl with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.
This year, there have been plays that should have been challenged and weren’t and a few fourth-and-1 decisions to go for a first down or a touchdown instead of taking a field goal that haven’t worked out. Those decisions all contributed to a losing 3-7 record, which was ultimately the downfall for Childress.
“You could kind of see it was in the works," Berrian said of Childress’ firing on Sirius. “A lot of management being around a lot all the time, and just the way things were going, and then that final loss against Green Bay, it was kind of the last straw I guess you could say.”
Childress’ relationship with players didn’t help.
“It was a working relationship. Everybody doesn’t have to be best friends. Even players on the team don’t have to be best friends. As long as you work well together, that’s fine,” Berrian said. “That’s a winning formula. You can get by with that. There were just more problems deeper than just that that eventually caused where we’re at right now.”
Berrian declined to go into further details on the players’ relationship with Childress, but he believes Frazier will bring a new attitude to the team.
“He’s not going to tolerate a lot of the stuff that happened these last few years,” Berrian said, “and eventually led to a coaching change.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.