The Denver Broncos search for a head coach in January 2009 led them to a list of finalists that included New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

This wasn't the first time Frazier had been seriously considered for a job and by all accounts Broncos owner Pat Bowlen really liked Frazier. Denver, however, went with McDaniels.

It's fairly certain now that the Broncos would like a second shot at that process. McDaniels was fired Monday with Denver sitting at 3-9 and replaced on an interim basis by running backs coach Eric Studesville.

Meanwhile, Frazier is 2-0 working as an interim coach himself, having replaced Brad Childress two weeks ago following the Vikings' 31-3 to the Green Bay Packers.

One thing is very clear: McDaniels' dismissal means there is another team that likely will make a run at Frazier as their coach if the Vikings don't sign him first. Unless something happens, Frazier stands to become a coaching free agent on Jan. 3. That will be one day after the Vikings finish the regular season in Detroit. (Call me negative, but I'm assuming this team won't be going to the playoffs.)

Teams looking for a coach will have to get permission from the Vikings to talk to Frazier but that is nothing more than a procedural step. Frazier has interviewed for seven jobs in recent years -- some have been to satisfy the Rooney Rule, but most have been because he's viewed as a quality coach -- and it wouldn't be surprising if teams like the Broncos, Bengals and Panthers look to talk to him after this season.

The question for Vikings ownership becomes what do they need to see from Frazier to decide he's their guy and that conducting a coaching search would mean letting perhaps the best candidate get away?

Frazier deserves a ton of credit for stabilizing a situation that appeared to be beyond repair when Childress left Winter Park on Nov. 22 with the Vikings sitting at 3-7. Frazier's calm, cool and collected manner have pumped a breath of fresh air into the locker room and provided other teams with a glimpse of what he can do when give the opportunity.

This is not to say Frazier should have the interim tag removed immediately by owner Zygi Wilf. It's too early for that and there is simply no need to rush right now.

The Vikings are about to face a stretch of three games against teams that are a collective 25-11. Minnesota will play the Giants (8-4) and Bears (9-3) at Mall of America Field before traveling to face the Eagles (8-4) the day after Christmas. If the Vikings are impressive in those games then Wilf might have an easy decision.

If he makes it before Jan. 3, getting Frazier signed to a multi-year deal shouldn't be all that difficult. After that date, it could get much more competitive.


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