After years of wondering just how things work at Winter Park, Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf stepped to the podium today and made it clear right off the bat whose neck is on the line for all football matters.
While introducing Rick Spielman, who was promoted from vice president of player personnel to general manager, Wilf wiped away any confusion by saying: "In this role, Rick will oversee all football-related activities and operations. He will also continue to direct college and pro personnel programs and departments. We are very pleased to make this announcement and we have a great of confidence in putting all roster and personnel decisions for the Vikings in Rick’s hands.
"We have worked closely with Rick for several years and have seen first hand a tremendous work ethic, experience and ability to evaluate talent. My brother, Zygi, and our ownership feel very strongly that we needed to establish a clear organizational structure, accountability and consistency throughout our decision-making process, enhancing our ability to achieve success for many years to come. We are committed to do everything we can to get the Vikings back on the winning path and bring world championships to Minnesota and all of our fans. We have a lot of work ahead of us and today is an important step in moving the Vikings forward."
Spielman said he was excited about the pressure that comes with being held accountable for all final roster decisions. Spielman was asked whether he had confidence in coach Leslie Frazier.
"Ownership will make that determination on the head coach," Frazier said. "I know I will still work very closely with Leslie on all our decisions going forward. But I know now that I will be held accountable for all those decisions."
Asked to clarify whether there was some question about Frazier's future, Spielman said, "No. There’s no question. Leslie is our head football coach going into next year. In Leslie, I have the utmost confidence in him leading us to where we need to go."
Like most GMs, Spielman would have to get clearance from ownership when it comes to firing and hiring coaches.
Said Frazier: "Congratulations to Rick. I think that's a good move for our organization. Having Rick in that GM role really should enhance my role and my responsibility here with the Minnesota Vikings. It should help me tremendously and help our football team as well. We've had a good working relationship over the last year and a half. This should really help us going forward to help us improve our football team."
Although Frazier shared the decision-making process with Spielman before, he said he doesn't see it as a demotion because he still expect he and Spielman to work together to get what the coaching staff needs to enhance the roster.
Spielman said Frazier will have the power to hire and fire assistants. Frazier said no decisions have been made regarding his assistants. He'll spend the rest of this week evaluating them and could make changes after that.
In other news:
- Spielman said Frazier will make the decision on who starts at quarterback, but he did voice strong support of rookie Chrisitan Ponder, saying he has the "utmost confidence" in Ponder.
- Frazier said running back Toby Gerhart injured the MCL in his left knee and will be monitored for two to three weeks before it's decided whether he'll need surgery.
- Adrian Peterson is back in town already rehabbing after Friday's surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee.
- Frazier carried cornerback Chris Cook on the roster for the last eight games, giving him essentially a paid leave of absence while he battled felony domestic abuse charges. But Frazier said today Cook's situation is so up in the air legally that "Chris is not on my radar" as Frazier looks to rebuild the secondary.