For most Minnesota Vikings fans, these last two games mean little more than deciding which spot the team will take in April's NFL Draft. For Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, these last two weeks will likely determine if he'll be around at draft time.
Three weeks ago, Frazier was given the infamous vote of confidence by owner Zygi Wilf and was told that he would continue to be the head coach of the team next season. Speculation abounds about the reasoning behind this, mostly excuses for a bad season—injuries, rookie quarterback, shortened preseason and first year as a head coach, among other things.
Additionally, it was speculated that Wilf didn't want to pay three sets of head coaches next season. The Vikings are still paying for former head coach Brad Childress and would have to pay both Childress, Frazier, their staffs and the new head coach and staff next season. With Wilf constantly stating that the Vikings aren't able to make enough money in the Metrodome and heavily pushing for a new Vikings stadium, this seems like something that would certainly play into keeping Frazier.
However, after Sunday's embarrassment against the New Orleans Saints and statements from players after the game, it's hard to believe that Wilf will keep Frazier if the team doesn't dramatically improve its play in the last two games.
When asked after the game by ESPN1500's Judd Zulgad about Frazier's future, Wilf only stated "We'll wait until the end of the season to comment."
Against the Saints, the Vikings looked completely unprepared and unmotivated. After the game, there were statements by Jared Allen, Chad Greenway and Visanthe Shiancoe that some players had just given up on the season and that some players weren't following the plays and schemes called. While talking to reporters after the game Shiancoe stated, "I would say, ya know, you could see some guys hung it up. Not a lot though. Like a very small handful of guys. That’s very, very, very disappointing, man."
Criticism has been building against Frazier all season. In the preseason, he advocated for the signing of QB Donovan McNabb, cut LT Bryant McKinnie for showing up significantly overweight and had WR Bernard Berrian penciled in as a starter. McNabb failed miserably and was benched in Week 6 before getting cut a few weeks later. McKinnie signed with the Baltimore Ravens and has been having a good season. Berrian was cut after Week 7.
In-game, Frazier has made some very questionable calls and non-calls: a fourth-and-goal attempt against Atlanta that failed, starting QB Christian Ponder while recovering from injury and not challenging various questionable calls by the referees.
With a 2-12 record right now, a locker room in shambles and a fanbase that is only excited for a high draft pick next year, Frazier is certainly on the hot seat. If the Vikings come out against Washington next Sunday and Chicago the following week with the same effort as they showed against New Orleans, then it seems very likely that Wilf will be forced to bite the bullet and fire Frazier.
While speculation builds, Frazier has remained confident. When asked by Star Tribune reporter Mark Craig if he was concerned about his job, Frazier replied:
"I'm really not. I'm really not. I know what we're trying to get done. I'm really optimistic about the future. It's difficult, and as crazy as that may sound, I think I have a good idea of what we need to do to not be in this situation in the future.
"No. Not concerned about 2012 at this point, other than the Washington Redskins, 2011. That's really where the focus has to be."