Minnesota Vikings: Make or Break Season for Leslie Frazier in 2012
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It’s a big season for many members of the Minnesota Vikings.
Christian Ponder needs to progress as an NFL quarterback. He’ll have had nearly two full seasons as a starter in the NFL when 2012 is over.
Kyle Rudolph needs to validate his skills as a pass-catching tight end. He should see more playing time in 2012 and have better receivers around him to take heat off him.
Percy Harvin must take the next step to becoming a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He’s shown glimpses of being able to make plays but must prove able to do it consistently.
There are many players on the list beyond those three, but possibly the biggest name on the list is Leslie Frazier.
Minnesota’s head coach is 6-16 in one full season as the Vikings’ head coach and six games as the interim. His team showed little fight in 2012 and was notorious for blowing first-half leads.
He is known as a players’ coach who isn’t afraid to tell how it is (i.e., cutting Bryant McKinnie during training camp last season for showing up out of shape among other things) or make his voice heard on trades (he was the No. 1 advocate for acquiring Donovan McNabb).
But cutting McKinnie and acquiring McNabb (two moves that Frazier advocated for) proved to be failures.
The McNabb experiment ended like the Titanic and McKinnie proved he can still be a solid offensive tackle all while Minnesota was left with Charlie Johnson, who is better suited to play guard—to protect the quarterback’s blindside.
If the franchise doesn't take a turn for the better after the 2012 season is Leslie Frazier's job in question?
In Frazier’s defense, those were both moves I advocated for too, but they are on his resume and not mine.
The reason 2012 is so important for Frazier is that the contract of former Minnesota coach Brad Childress finally comes off the team’s payroll, making it more likely that the Wilf family would, once again, be willing to pay two men to coach one team (especially since Frazier's contract is up after the 2013 season).
The Vikings don’t have to make the playoffs in 2012 for Frazier to keep his job beyond 2012, but the on-field performance must improve greatly. The team can finish below .500, but it must be legitimately in more of those losses than it was in 2011.
Yes, the players like Frazier (so far as we know). Yes, it has only been one year. But one more year with a similar on-field performance to go with a losing record and he’s history.
The team needs to show signs of becoming a winner in 2013—if it doesn’t shock the world and win in 2012. If that doesn’t happen, then Frazier can expect to pack his bags and hit the unemployment line come 2013.
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