Should Leslie Frazier Still Be Coaching the Minnesota Vikings at Season's End?

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Should Leslie Frazier Still Be Coaching the Minnesota Vikings at Season's End?
(Photo by Andy Clayton KIng/Getty Images)

To answer the question posed above in a single word, yes; but don't take that as any type of endorsement of Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier. It's more of an indictment of his two coordinators, Bill Musgrave and Alan Williams.

Frazier is in the unenviable position of driving a car that has no brakes. The 2013 season is a ride that is not going to end well, but there isn't a coach that ever lived that could put his foot out like Fred Flintstone and stop this team from crashing.

Just a year removed from a 10-6 season and a playoff berth, the Vikings stand at 1-6 and they might be playing worse than their record indicates. The team is a mess on both sides of the ball; the defense can't stop anyone, the offense can't block anyone and the guy in the cubicle next to you might be playing quarterback for them by season's end.

It's a sinking ship, and there is almost zero chance the current coaching staff will be on the sidelines to begin the 2014 season.

Should Leslie Frazier Make it to the End of the Season as the Vikings' Head Coach?

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The Vikings' miserable record and complete disarray on the field begs the question, why not fire Leslie Frazier now? The answer is that there isn't a competent replacement on hand. As much as Frazier looks like he's raised the white flag, his two coordinators can be called out for complete incompetence.

The Vikings, from top to bottom, thought they had a team that was primed for a run at a division title. At 1-6, that seems laughable now as the Vikings have floundered in every facet of the game.

What's very damning to Frazier and his staff is that their football team seems to be getting worse, not better. The first three losses were all gut punches, games that were there for the taking, but the Vikings continually found ways to lose instead of making plays to win.

After a win over a terrible Steelers team, Minnesota went on their bye week, and they've been completely awful since then.

A home game against the Carolina Panthers has proved to be the pivotal game in a dreadful season. Both teams entered the game with 1-3 records, and a win would have put the Vikings right in the thick of things in their division. Instead, they got blown out by a team that's getting better while the Vikings get worse.

In one of the worst NFL games ever played, Minnesota was embarrassed by a New York Giants team that proved to be every bit as bad as their 1-6 record. They followed that up by getting drubbed by the Green Bay Packers 44-31, a score that was nowhere near indicative of the Packers superiority.

Frazier is clearly shell-shocked. He toes the company line in all of his pressers, but his well-worn mantra that they'll "check the tape and improve on some things" now rings completely hollow.

The Vikings head to Dallas this Sunday, and as of Wednesday, they still haven't announced who will be the starting quarterback. The problem for the Vikings is that we're at the point where nobody even cares who will be playing quarterback. They're choosing from Larry, Curly and Moe in deciding between the clueless Christian Ponder, the horrifically inaccurate Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel. 

Cassel played the best of the three in his opportunity, but he's the one they know they can't move forward with, so he's the odd man out. Ponder has proven too many times that he's not an NFL quarterback. That leaves Freeman, and while he was certainly thrown to the wolves in starting against the Giants with only four practices under his belt, the truth is that he's been in a throwing slump for eight games now, dating back to last season. It might not be a slump at all.

The quarterback morass in Minnesota has seemingly dragged down the rest of the team as well. The offensive line is awful, with two guards who have no right starting in the NFL and the other three starters all having down years.

The defense? It might be worse than the offense.

Leslie Frazier and his staff will be gone heading into the 2014 season; they've done absolutely nothing that would warrant them keeping their jobs. Their team is ill-prepared, unmotivated and they run schemes that seem to be light years behind every opponent. 

Even their successes have been stupefying. Against the Packers, with under 10 seconds left in the half and the ball on the Green Bay eight-yard line, they handed the ball off. Adrian Peterson scored on the play, probably keeping the Mall of America crowd from storming the Vikings locker room at halftime.

The Vikings coaching staff has become completely impotent. The problem is that nobody on the staff deserves to get the job on an interim basis, and it wouldn't make sense to saddle a new coach with such a lousy environment for the remainder of the year.

Who's More to Blame for the Vikings' Failures?

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Every bit as culpable as the coaches and players is Rick Spielman, Minnesota's general manager. You can have all the good drafts you want, but in today's NFL, if you miss on your quarterback choice, you've failed. Christian Ponder was a reach as the 12th pick in the 2011 draft, and he's proved to be what most scouts thought he was: a backup quarterback at best. Spielman and Frazier have both been anything but transparent when they've publicly assessed Ponder's play.

Much of that is to be expected. You can't blast a player while you're still trying to get him to figure things out, but Spielman and Frazier might be the last two people who follow the NFL to realize that Ponder wasn't the answer.

The Vikings will march out Freeman at quarterback, and they'll continue to lose football games. Vikings fans can only hope that the team shows more of a pulse in the final nine games. They have nothing to lose at this point, so they should play with a reckless abandon born out of not really having anything left to play for.

Frazier will end up being the scapegoat in an organization that has plenty of blame to go around. Spielmen will more than likely get to choose the next coach and get a second chance at drafting a franchise quarterback. 

The next four to five years of Vikings football will depend on him not missing so badly again.

Is that fair? Who knows? Frazier probably won't think so. This franchise is broken, and it needs fixing. There are enough good players on the roster for a quick turnaround. The Vikings traded up in to the first round to get the electric Cordarrelle Patterson, who has certainly brought excitement to the field every time he has touched the ball.

So, as Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus tweeted on Tuesday, how can it be that 117 NFL wide receivers have seen more offensive snaps than Patterson, including undrafted free agents Darius Johnson and Myles White?

Fair or unfair, the following are simple facts: The Minnesota Vikings hired Leslie Frazier four days before the San Francisco 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh in 2011. Both teams were coming off of 6-10 seasons. The 49ers selected their franchise quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, 24 spots after the Vikings selected Christian Ponder. 

Frazier and Ponder vs. Harbaugh and Kaepernick
Frazier 2011: 3-13 2012: 10-6 2013: 1-6 Overall: 14-25
Harbaugh 2011: 13-3 2012: 11-4-1 2013: 6-2 Overall: 30-9-1
Ponder 2011 QBR: 30.0 2012 QBR: 51.7 2013 QBR: 44.6 Overall: 43.3
Kaepernick 2011: QBR: 93.4 2012 QBR: 75.2 2013 QBR: 75.2 Overall: 73.7

ESPN.com

The biggest problem for Leslie Frazier is that he tied his head coaching career in Minnesota to a failed draft pick at quarterback. He'll be Minnesota's coach for the rest of 2013 but not in 2014.

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