Scoggins: After stellar season, Frazier gets 'vote of no confidence'

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 22, 2013 - 9:29 PM

Leslie Frazier won seven more games in 2012 than the previous season and finished third in NFL Coach of the Year voting after guiding the Vikings to the playoffs in a supposed rebuilding campaign.

For that, Vikings ownership gave him a golf clap.

Rather than offer Frazier a contract extension -- or even call his agent to discuss it -- the Vikings delivered a lukewarm vote of confidence by picking up his option for the 2014 season. That means Frazier technically has two seasons remaining under contract, but, in essence, he really only has one because the Vikings likely won't subject him to a lame-duck season. That's too much of a distraction.

In other words, Frazier finds himself in the same spot now as he did this time last year -- on the hot seat. He either wins a meaningful number of games again in 2013 and receives an extension, or he probably will be fired.

Regardless of what they say publicly, the Vikings' actions demonstrated that they still are not convinced Frazier is their long-term answer as coach. By declining to discuss an extension with Frazier or his agent, Vikings owners basically said, Nice job, Les. Now prove that 2012 wasn't a fluke and then we'll talk.

That's their prerogative, of course, and it might be smart business. But they handled the whole thing poorly in terms of timing and communication. And they're being naïve if they think this doesn't create an uncomfortable situation for Frazier, or that he's buying their "we're all in this for the long haul" spiel.

Frazier made his first public comments on the matter Friday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and reporters noted that he framed his words carefully and seemed disappointed.

"I moved past it," Frazier said. "It is what it is."

On a basic level, it seems odd that the Vikings chose not to reveal -- or at least leak -- that they had held an option year in their pocket as Frazier's contract status became a frequent topic of discussion this past season. That created a perception that Frazier would receive an extension after overseeing the largest single-season turnaround in team history because his contract option never was made public. In fact, Frazier's agent, Bob Lamonte, said the team never even initiated contract negotiations.

The Vikings season ended Jan. 5 in a playoff loss at Green Bay. Did they really need six weeks to announce a transaction that seemed like a no-brainer? In truth, the team exercised Frazier's option weeks ago -- via a written notice, according to a source -- and elected not to announce it until a media report surfaced, which is a strange way of doing business.

If anything, the team's decision underscored the notion that owner Zygi Wilf removed emotion from the equation and acted as a businessman. He didn't become so emotionally intoxicated on his team's surprising success that he opened his checkbook and told Frazier to name his price.

That's probably because Wilf didn't want to run the risk of repeating a mistake he made four years ago with Brad Childress. The Wilf brothers got swept up in the excitement of the Year of Favre in 2009 and handed Childress a lucrative contract after the Vikings raced to an 8-1 start. Wilf fired Childress the next season and reportedly owed him a buyout of $6.6 million over the past two seasons, though the financial hit softened some once the Cleveland Browns hired Childress as offensive coordinator in 2012.

Wilf never has been one to hide his Purple fanaticism. He takes off his tie and gives it to a key player after important victories. He once stood at the locker-room door after an emotional victory and greeted every coach, player and staff member with the same phrase: "Great heart," he shouted, shaking each person's hand.

Wilf's reluctance to give Frazier a multiyear extension does not mean he didn't deserve one. By any measure, Frazier grew into his role this season. His sideline communication and in-game decisions were markedly better than in 2011. He handled Christian Ponder's roller-coaster season with a consistent message, and he didn't allow Percy Harvin's late-season disappearance to become a distraction.

Vikings officials at every level profess their admiration for Frazier, but the team clearly is taking a wait-and-see approach before committing to him long-term. Frazier assumed he was in line for an extension, but he vowed Friday not to let his contract become a distraction. He faced questions about his job status on a routine basis the past two seasons, so this is nothing new.

He just figured those questions would go away after this season.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Latos 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Boston - J. Kelly 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Detroit - K. Lobstein 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Penny
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
LA Angels - C. Wilson 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Texas - D. Holland 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close