Leslie Frazier is the right man for Vikings' cloudy future

Categories: Sports
Thumbnail image for Leslie Frazier.jpg
Frazier went 3-3 with his interim label.
Now that the 2010 Vikings season has come to a merciful conclusion, the Purple made the correct choice to remove the "interim" tag beside Leslie Frazier's name on Monday, naming him the eighth coach in the team's 50-year history. 

Promoted from defensive coordinator/assistant head coach after Brad Childress was canned in late November, Frazier inherited a 3-7 mess of a team and matched his predecessor's seasonal win total with a 3-3 mark to close out the season.  

Keeping Frazier with the Purple may not be best defined as a "necessary" decision for Vikings' ownership--but it was the right one.

"This is a special day for a lot of reasons. I couldn't think of a situation I would rather be in than the one I'm currently in," Frazier said at Monday's press conference. "You know sometimes in life, you have dreams, you have aspirations, and sometimes you achieve those and sometimes you fall short. But for me, this is a dream come true."

Should either Bill Cowher or Frazier's former boss, Tony Dungy, have hinted at a desire to lead the Vikings, the decision to retain Frazier could be called into some question. Yet neither of those former Super Bowl winners expressed any interest in the gig, and understandably so, as the Vikings are in a state of turmoil at present. In brief, the team: is coming off one of the worst seasons in their five decades of football, owns no solidified quarterback for next season (and doesn't hold a top-10 draft choice to help fill that void), and has no stadium deal beyond 2011.  In addition, with the over-current of an NFL lockout looming over next year--the job reeks of red flags before rose buds.

Statistically, the Vikings basically mirrored their scoring averages before/during Frazier's interim stint. Under Childress, they scored a mere 17.2 points per game and yielded 19.5.  With Frazier, they averaged 18.1 points per and allowed 20.3.

But of course, the firing of Childress offered no slow of what may have been the most bizarre campaign in Minnesota sporting history. Here's a brief rundown/reminder of what Frazier achieved and endured en route to his .500 mark:

 

Game No. 1 (11/28/10)
The Vikings win in Frazier's debut, beating the Redskins 17-13 to end a nine-game road losing streak.

Game No. 2 (12/5/10)
After Brett Favre is knocked from the game on his first pass attempt, the Vikings fell the Bills 38-14 under Tarvaris Jackson to give Frazier a 2-0 start and claim their first regular-season win streak since weeks 11 and 12 of 2009.

Game No. 3 (12/13/10)
After the collapse of the Metrodome roof, the Vikings "host" the Giants at Ford Field in Detroit in a rescheduled/relocated contest that sees Favre's streak of 297 consecutive regular-season starts come to a close. The Purple fall 21-3 in a sloppy mess where Jackson's own season concludes and rookie quarterback Joe Webb sees his first game action under center.

Game No. 4 (12/20/10)
A second consecutive relocation takes the Vikings outdoors to TCF Bank Stadium, and a sanguine start devolves into an ugly 40-14 loss to eventual division champ Chicago. After Favre leads the Purple to a game-opening touchdown drive, he's later concussed and the Vikings are outscored 30-7 in the game's final three quarters.

Game No. 5 (12/28/10)
Despite their game with Philly being questionably delayed two days because of an East Coast snowstorm, the Vikings and Webb shock the nation with a 24-14 win over the then 10-4 Eagles in the NFL's first Tuesday game since 1946. The victory gives Frazier a signature win, ensures a .500 record in his '10 tenure, and readily evidences his influence over a Viking team already eliminated from playoff contention.

Game No. 6 (1/2/11)
The circus finally closes (back in Detroit) as the Vikings lose 20-13 to a Lions team that ends the season with a four-game win streak. Webb makes his second consecutive start for the Vikings and evidences all the growing pains of a rookie QB as the Purple score nary an offensive touchdown.

It's almost a wonder that Frazier's mellow head didn't spontaneously explode during some

Frazier card.jpg
Image via Topps
juncture of the above timeline.  But under the leadership of the former Bears d-back, a beat-up Vikings squad showed some signs of pluck despite their woeful standing, and veteran players were quick to endorse his value over the course of the past month. By keeping Frazier--who has been in Minnesota since 2007--the Purple are ensuring some degree of continuity in a Viking landscape otherwise filled with more horns than shields.

"One of the things that gets me excited about my job here in Minnesota is the fact that I don't think we're that far away," Frazier, who has coached in the NFL since 1999, added at his presser. "I really believe--there are some things that we'll address this offseason--we're right back in the hunt for the NFC North Championship and the NFC Championship as well. I really believe that in my heart. Just knowing our roster, knowing our division, understanding what you have to do to win in our division. I don't think we're depleted, and obviously there's some people that we want to be able to retain, but our roster's going to turn over, there's no question about it. But we're not that far away."

Leslie Frazier owns two Super Bowl rings--one as a player (Chicago) and one as a coach (Indy). I don't see another finger being occupied in the very near future (if there even is a "very near future" in the NFL), but the guy was the correct hire in these curious football times. If the Vikings can broker a savvy addition to the sport's most important position, I see no reason why Frazier can't bring the Purple back to instant respectability and return them to the playoffs next year.


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14 comments
Tchuddle
Tchuddle

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Waffler1
Waffler1

I can't buy the "instant respectability" comment. I think it's going to take years for anyone to get this team back on the right track.

Drew
Drew

We're likely more than a few years away. This turnover hit is going to be big, and we don't know yet who will be his coaches. Some key players really like him, and I hope we'll be able to retain them. It was a great move by ownership; they got this one right.

Anyone going to call the Pats and ask for our draft pick back?

myles
myles

Good choice for continuity and knowledge of current Viking strengths, and weaknesses

duker
duker

good choice in light of what is available. now we just need to see who will take control and make the big decisions.

Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris

Dire predictions for the Vikes from all sides. Get a QB. Get rid of Mckinnie. Get a D-back or two, and no Judd, a healthy Chris Cook is not the answer. That guy is just plain bad. Cut the dead weight. Shiancoe was on AM 1500 today talking about how guys that didn't need to sit with injuries sat out anyway, a-hem, Steve Hutchinson. What we really need is an attitude adjustment. I think the Wilfs have been fantastic as owners. They have spent spent spent, they have been patient with the State Legislature, and they have been perfectly willing to provide the tools necessary for our team to win. Their big mistake was leaving things in the incapable hands of Childress. Hopefully we can field a dynamic team in the future that can score, defend, put teams away and maybe finally be able to run a 2 minute drill. How hard can it be right?

Malone
Malone

The Wilf's built the Vikings to win last year and that didn't happen, so now they are left with an expired team, a one-time explosive running back whose time has come and gone, and young, inexperienced players filling in all the other holes. The Wilf's backed into hiring Leslie Frazier as head coach because no one knows what is going to happen next year with the CBA. After hearing Zygi speak at the Chilly firing press conference and seeing their decisions in action last year, I seriously doubt his commitment and ability to run a successful franchise for the long-term. Prove me wrong, Zygi - and join a toastmaster's group for God's sakes. Please. For all of us.

B-nugget
B-nugget

Who will be the vikes QB next year?When will our O-line get better?When will our D-backs get better?

Answer these oh Juddy Boy and maybe the NFC North will be ours....

Judd
Judd

But the NFL is a fickle beast. And please note the preface that I trult think they need a quarterback other than young Webb to get there. Alos, note that of last year's 12 playoff team's, just six returned. Among the newcomers: K.C. won six more games in '10 than they did in '09; Atlanta and Chicago won four more; Pitt won three more. A return to health for the o-line and d-backfield coupled with resigning some key dudes (Rice, Greenway, Edwards) could get them there if, again, the QB is legit.

Judd
Judd

Seriously -- the Pats only have nine of those babies, including six in the first three rounds.

Judd
Judd

You're right about the Wilfs, although we can't wholly disregard that "the incapable hands of Childress" have been in college and pro football since 1978, went over .500 (39-35), won 22 games in 2008-09 and came within a play of the Super Bowl. He'll have a job next year if he wants it -- count on it.

And per Cook: the jury is still far out on this youngster. Give him time, and let's see what the future brings with some overall health in the d-backfield.

Judd
Judd

". . . a one-time explosive running back"? C'mon, now. A.P. finished with nearly 1,300 yards (6th in the NFL) and that's minus one game. At 86.5 per game, he would have finished with 1,385 in 16 games -- that would have been 3rd in all of football. His fewest yards in his four pro seasons? Yes. But his 4.6 yards per carry and 12 rushing TD's were both in the league's top-10.

Judd
Judd

Well, you first question is aptly placed atop the list. Unfortunately, I don't think anybody can answer that with any certainty. McNabb and Carson Palmer will be names we hear a lot in months to come, Joe Webb is of course an option and, with the No. 12 draft pick, I trust that guys like Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, and Cam Newton will all be part of the conversation.

Per the line and d-backs, those areas should be fast solidified once the fallen (Hutchinson, Herrera, Griffin, Cook) return to health

Malone
Malone

I'm just saying...pretty soon AP is toast...the average career of an NFL running back is 2.57 years. Going into year 5, how much longer do we have? His legs have lost some pop. This year he was 6th in the NFL, what will he be next year? Odds would tell you he will be going more towards 7th over 5th (i.e. on the downslope)....

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