The Vikings are 1-6 and there is PLENTY of blame to pass around.
The defense is giving up the third-most points in the league, the pass defense is ranked fourth-worst in the NFL, and aside from giving up 23 points to the one-win Giants two weeks ago, Minnesota has surrendered more than 30 points every game this year.
The offense is dazed and confused, with its superstar tailback having carried the ball 13 times or less each of the last three weeks, its wide receivers combining for just 53 yards yesterday against Green Bay, and the vicious cycle of quarterbacking coming full circle last night, with the benched Christian Ponder once again proving his ineptitude.
Outside of Cordarrelle Patterson’s special teams ability, the Vikings lack anything that resembles excitement, with the biggest Purple cheer outside of the Patterson kick return coming when Joe Webb lined up in the wildcat next to Adrian Peterson.
That’s the same Joe Webb that Vikings supporters and media alike wanted to bury for his rushed-into-duty performance against these same Packers in the playoffs last year. How fitting of the night that the snap was never made on the one play Webb would’ve been involved in, as a false start penalty killed the buzz before center Jon Sullivan could get rid of the ball.
So its as bad as its been for Minnesota in quite some time, and a man that has already endured one 3-13 season is staring down the barrel of another one. Should Leslie Frazier be given the chance to get there?
Before we get all analyzey on you, let’s first point out that the likely replacement for Frazier would be an in-house member of the coaching staff that would come with an interim label to the head position. Problem is, the top two candidates, defensive coordinator Alan Williams and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, run two awful units, so have they earned and do they deserve a promotion? The answer seems obvious.
Nevertheless, getting outscored 102-48 the last three games, a span in which you’ve started three different quarterbacks, seems to indicate the season is spinning out of control and change needs to be made.
Taking a look at Vikings coaching lore, and we use the term lore VERY loosely, it looks like Leslie’s time is just about up.
The three coaches prior to Frazier taking over were Denny Green, Mike Tice, and Brad Childress, here are their Viking careers in a nutshell.
GREEN (1992-2001): 97-62, 4-8 postseason
TICE (final game of 2001-2005): 32-33, 1-1 postseason
CHILDRESS (2006-midway through 2010): 39-35, 1-2 postseason
FRAZIER (2010-current): 17-28, 0-1 postseason
Green didn’t have a losing record until his final season of 2001, when he saw Minnesota lose 10 of the 15 games he was around to coach. Then-owner Red McCombs had seen enough, and got rid of Denny, who later became the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and fired off this classic rant.
Taking over for him was Mike Tice, who at the time was assistant head coach and offensive line guru.
Tice had just one losing season with the team, his first, while taking them to the playoffs once and getting dismissed after a 9-7 season in which the Vikings missed the playoffs.
Then came Childress, who was highly thought of around the league as an offensive mastermind but like Tice, had a 6-10 season to start his tenure before going on to three seasons at .500 or better, then being shown the door midway through the 2010 season.
Finally Frazier, who’s alleged defensive knowledge got him this position. He rode the coattails of the greatest single-season performance by a running back in NFL history to his only winning season last year, while sandwiching that with two atrocious seasons.
What should we take from this comparison?
First, that a head coaching move really isn’t made unless there is someone highly thought of around the league ready to step into the position.
Bill Musgrave and Alan Williams aren’t that.
Second, something we already knew, that losing is not tolerated around the NFL. Tice was fired after a 9-7 season and Green had nine straight winning seasons, with just the one bad year costing him his job, while Childress got the Vikings to a NFC title game just 11 months before he was pink-slipped.
Third, Frazier’s career appears to be mirroring that of Tice and Childress, except sped up and without the consistent success.
Tice managed non-disastrous seasons, while Childress got the Vikings the closest to a Super Bowl they’ve been since Gary Anderson missed wide left in 1998.
Frazier has had two terrible years while getting the floor mopped with his squad in Green Bay in his only playoff game. Even if he were to win out this year and Minnesota went 10-6, his career winning percentage still wouldn’t be that of Tice or Childress.
The more likely scenario? Minnesota scrapes together two or three more wins, if that, and they finish roughly where they did in Frazier’s first full year of 2011.
Is now the time to part ways with Leslie? That’s not up to us.
But if its not now, we extend the warning that you shouldn’t get too used to seeing him on the sidelines sporting a purple pullover.