A Wild Card Meeting of the Sensei & the Apprentice

When the Eagles head to the land of the Vikings on Sunday evening, one of the most interesting battles will not take place on the field but rather the opposing sidelines.

Head Eagle Andy Reid vs. Minnesota Head Coach Brad Childress

These two coaches aren’t division rivals -- they may very well be good friends. They don’t represent a battle of legends, but instead a classic match-up that transcends football.

It can be seen in all occupations:

  • Teacher vs. Student
  • Mentor vs. the Mentored
  • Sensei vs. Apprentice

It's like the Karate Kid taking on Mr. Miyagi in a battle of crane kicks.

Andy Reid gave Childress his first major shot in the NFL. Childress started as the quarterback coach in 1999 before moving onto becoming the Eagles’ offensive coordinator from 2002 until 2005.

Childress was with Reid at the beginning in Philadelphia and arguably was one of the main contributors to Donovan McNabb’s success. The years McNabb thrived were the years in which Childress was on the offensive staff.

Before arriving in Philadelphia, Childress was a journeyman collegiate offensive coach for twenty years. He had one prior pro gig in 1985 as Quarterback coach with the Indianapolis Colts. That job lasted just one year.

After his success in Philadelphia, he was rewarded in 2006 with the head-coaching job in Minnesota.

The funny thing about Childress is that his offensive mindset is almost completely different than the one of his mentor.

Childress’s version of the vaunted West Coast Offense revolves around a spectacular running back, Adrian Peterson. His offense is about feeding Peterson the ball on the ground and builds everyone else from the run.

As we all know, his teacher, Andy Reid has a special running back as well. In many respects the offense runs through Brian Westbrook.  Despite this, Reid’s mindset is "throw baby throw." 

Eagles’ fans would love for the teacher to learn a thing or two from his student.

Reid’s Eagles has more offensive talent by far than the Vikings. And if he would have taken a step back and imitated the "run first than pass" attitude of his protégé perhaps the Eagles would have ran into this postseason instead of needing the dramatics of last Sunday. 

But this week the Eagles should stick to their throwing ways because it takes a bulldozer to run through the big men on Minnesota's defensive line. Meanwhile, the secondary of the Vikings is suspect -- expect "bombs away" for the Birds.

Excuse the X’s and O’s digression.

It’s ironic how life works out. Reid’s coaching career was steady uphill climb with Childress by his side -- since it's been a series of peaks and valleys.

Now Reid has a head-to-head collision with the man he once groomed. Factor in that this is Childress’s first postseason game as head coach just to add a bit more drama to the storyline.

But in many respects this game and the entire postseason are about proving the doubters wrong for Reid. He would prove that he still has what it takes and that he is at the top of his game. 

For now, expect Reid to continue to teach Childress one more lesson on Sunday because Reid’s team is more talented overall.

But, if somehow the Vikings were to knock off the Eagles, it would be a major notch on the belt of Childress. Out coaching Andy Reid may be the best way the Vikings advance to the second round of the playoffs.

So who will it be, the sensei or his apprentice?

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