Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier walked the sideline during the first half against the Detroit Lions.
McKenna Ewen, Star Tribune
Hartman: If it was Frazier's finale, he went out a winner
- Article by: SID HARTMAN
- Star Tribune
- December 30, 2013 - 12:20 AM
When an NFL team finishes the season 5-10-1, there are always rumors of the coach getting fired, especially when he has only one year remaining on his contract.
The Vikings had just won their final game of that 5-10-1 season, beating the Lions 14-13, and after the game the setup was perfect for club owners Zygi and Mark Wilf to give coach Leslie Frazier some indication about his future with the team while the brothers were spending time in the locker room after the game.
They did have a short conversation before the game in which Frazier was told to go out and win. He did.
After the game the Wilfs and Frazier had another short conversation, but nothing about the future. Asked how quickly he thought his situation will be resolved, Frazier said: “Not sure about that.
“I have a contract, our staff has a contract through 2014, and I hope the Wilfs will honor that and give us a chance to come back next season and try to get our quarterback situation fixed, try to get the depth of our roster, along with some other errors that need to be fixed. I hope they will give this staff the chances to finish what we got started.
“We’re only a season away from the playoffs. I think our guys are still playing hard and we’re under contract. We will see.”
The Wilf brothers normally fly out to their homes in New Jersey right after the game, but Mark Wilf made it clear he and his brother would be at Winter Park on Monday.
Most coaches don’t like to work with only one year on their contract. But maybe the Wilfs are going to allow Frazier and his staff to play out 2014.
However, there have been rumors of a shake-up in the coaching staff, and it’s evident a change has been discussed because members of the personnel department are talking about how the talent on the roster was good enough to have a much better record than the one the Vikings achieved this year.
CBSSports.com reported last week that the Vikings were interested in Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, but it now appears he is headed to the Texans.
There are several possibilities regarding the coaching staff.
It could be that Frazier will be fired, just like Mike Tice and Brad Childress were by the Wilfs in past years.
It could be that Frazier is retained but changes are made to the defensive coaching staff after the Vikings gave up an NFL-worst 480 points, losing four games in the final minute and also failing to protect a 16-point lead at Green Bay in a 26-26 tie.
One more reason why Frazier might be retained: The club suffered a number of injuries. And the Vikings had a lot of replacements step in and play very well. Two examples from Sunday were running back Matt Asiata and tight end Chase Ford. Asiata, filling in for the injured Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, got his first start in Week 15 and ran for three touchdowns, and against the Lions he ran 14 times for 115 yards, including a 39-yard run near the end of the game that enabled the Vikings to kill the clock. Ford, getting a chance with Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson out, had five catches for 43 yards Sunday, nearly matching his season total of six catches.
So stay tuned. If the present staff remained intact, it would shock a lot of people.
Patterson on fire
If General Manager Rick Spielman someday tries to select the best trade he has made during his tenure with the Vikings, there is no doubt he will choose the draft-day trade with the Patriots that secured the No. 29 overall draft pick that brought wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in April.
Patterson is one of only two players in the league who have scored a touchdown on a run, a catch and a return.
Sunday, he was responsible for both Vikings touchdowns, the first on a 50-yard run and the second on an 8-yard reception. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the run made him the first player in NFL history with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 75-yard TD reception and a 50-yard TD run in the same season.
Asked to describe his rushing touchdown, Patterson replied: “Just like the last time we were in the Dome. It was supposed to be a pass. I saw Greg [Jennings] covered at first and I was thinking about running. Then he got open and I told him when I scored that I was sorry, I saw you open at the end but my mindset was that I was going to run.”
Patterson wasn’t a factor again until the fourth quarter, although the Vikings ran only four plays in the third quarter.
The rookie, who barely played on offense at the beginning of the season, was asked if he would have liked to have been a bigger part of the offense.
“No, you really can’t think that way about that,” he said. “Coach Bill Musgrave, he is doing a good job putting me in the offense, no matter if it was late in the season. So I really can’t say what I would have done if it would have been that way the whole season. I probably would have got hurt. I don’t know, so I don’t even think about it.”
Spielman was not a very popular man when he traded Percy Harvin to Seattle, but in Patterson he appears to have acquired a player who might be even more dangerous than Harvin.
Allen quiet on details
Sunday’s game might end up as Jared Allen’s last with the Vikings after six seasons because he is set to become a free agent. The defensive end refused to reveal any details about negotiations that might be going on between his agent and the team.
“The conversations we have had are between us, and I’d like to keep it that way,” he said. “I’ve always told you guys [the media] that I’ve always been on the same page as them.
“There is no rug going to be pulled from underneath anybody. I am not naive on the business side and neither are they. The relationship here with management and the coaches has been nothing but great. I’ve made some great friends, so it will be a conversation about where they are going and where I see myself going.
“If it is on the same path, great, but if not, we will part ways. But we will do it with the best intentions for everybody.”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org
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