Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Leslie Frazier got fired today because he won five games this season. Fair enough.
If given a decent quarterback and decent cornerbacks, I say he would have won about nine games this season and won the NFC North.
Let's take it game by game:
Game 1: At Detroit
Remeber how the Lions played like idiots in the first half? If Christian Ponder doesn't play like an honorary Lion, the Vikings have a chance to win that game. Let's not call it a win with good quarterback play, let's put it in the ``Possible'' category.
Game 2: At Chicago.
The focus wound up on defensive coordinator Alan Wiliams after the Vikings' veterans felt they were out of position on the Bears' game-winning drive, but if Ponder and Cook play better, even that doesn't matter. Should have been a victory.
Game 3: Home against Cleveland
Ponder's lousy play put the Vikings into a position where Cleveland could take advantage of the Vikings' weak secondary in the final minutes. With better quarterback and cornerback play, the Vikings win this and are, under these circumstances, 2-1.
Game 4: Pittsburgh in London
With Matt Cassel starting, the Vikings win. Would be 3-1.
Game 5: Home against Carolina
The Panthers turned into one of the better teams in the NFL. The Vikings might have lost this no matter who played quarterback. Make them 3-2.
Game 6: At Giants
If Ponder hadn't struggled and then gotten hurt, the Vikings probably wouldn't have signed Josh Freeman. If they had been 3-2 instead of 1-4, they certainly wouldn't have started him in this game. With decent quarterback play, the Vikings would have whipped a bad Giants team and moved to 4-2.
Game 7 :Home against Green Bay.
Because of Aaron Rodgers' success against the Vikings defense his whole career, let's call this a Packers victory regardless and move the Vikings to 4-3.
Game 8: At Dallas
The Vikings' defense collapsed down the stretch against a highly beatable team. With better QB and CBS, Vikes win to move to 5-3.
Game 9: Home vs. Washington
Vikings won. Under my fantasy scenario, they'd be 6-3.
Game 10: At Seattle
A loss under any circumstances. 6-4.
Game 11: at Green Bay
They tied. With a couple of more plays from the quarterback and cornerback position, they win easily to move to 7-4.
Game 12: Home vs .Chicago
A win puts them at 8-4.
Game 13: At Baltimore
A close loss that would have been a victory with a couple of more plays from QB and CB. 9-4.
Game 14: Home vs. Philadelphia
A win makes them 10-4.
Game 15: At Cincinnati
Few win at Paul Brown Stadium. Make the Vikings 10-5.
Game 16: Home vs. Detroit.
Win makes the Vikings 11-5.
Now, the reality is that every NFL team loses one or two games it should win, so let's say that with slightly better quarterback and cornerback play, the Vikings finish 9-7. That would have won the division.
If Rick Spielman had given Frazier a good quarterback and competent cornerbacks, Frazier would be receiving an extension, not getting fired.
I'll be on 1500ESPN (1500AM) at noon.
It's usually difficult to invest much emotion in NFL coaches. They're mostly vagabond mercenaries who travel from city to city, knowiing they'll most likely be fired within two or three years, and they often display all the interpersonal charm of vagabond mercenaries.
Leslie Frazier was, and is, different. He brought with him a remarkable personal story and a unique personal touch. He was the rare NFL head coach who became beloved by people at all levels of his organization, who made sure he ate lunch with different employees every day, who was about more than winning and losing.
Of course, losing did him in. He won 18 games in three full seasons as the Vikings' head coach, and that number justifies the Wilfs' decision to fire him, whether I agree with it or not.
It's easy to blame the head coach when an NFL team loses, but I never believe it's that simple. With the exception of Joe Gibbs, every great coach in recent NFL history has been defined by the play of his quarterback. I believe that if Frazier had been given a franchise quarterback, he would still be employed. If he was capable of winning 10 games with an erratic Christian Ponder, what could he accomplish with a real NFL quarterback?
Rick Spielman has a good batting average while running the Vikings' draft, but his choice of Ponder cost Frazier his job.
So while the Wilfs and Spielman begin their search for a new coach, what will matter most is the combination of coach and quarterback upon which they settle.
Frazier has been blamed for the choice of Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator. I've been given indications that wasn't his decision alone. Alan Williams wasn't his first choice as defensive coordinator, either.
If you want to blame Frazier for something, blame him for not playing a bigger role in defensive play-calling, and for not forcing Musgrave to use Cordarrelle Patterson more early in the season.
I was lucky enough to spend time with Frazier in his hometown of Columbus, Ms. I saw the remains of the shack in which he was raised, and met with people who are still close to him.
He's a remarkable human, and if he had been given a good quarterback, he'd stil be employed.
I'll be on 1500ESPN (that's 1500AM) at noon to talk about Frazier. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
The Vikings won the last game to be played at the Metrodome on Sunday, won what might have been the last game in purple for Leslie Frazier, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, and they did so with a glimpse of the future.
Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored both of the Vikings' touchdowns and set the franchise record for kickoff return yardage during the Vikings' 14-13 victory over the Detroit Lions. His day gave the Vikings a consolation prize in a lost season, but also made you wonder what might have been had the Vikings settled on the right quarterback and made Patterson a bigger part of the offense earlier in the season.
The Vikings honored their Metrodome past by bringing back great players ,and allowing Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant to blow the horn before the game.
The victory locked the Vikings into the eighth pick in the upcoming NFL draft, when they are sure to be seeking a franchise quarterback.
The Vikings are expected to announce the fate of coach Leslie Frazier early in the week.
Please check back on startribune.com tonight and in the newspaper tomorrow for full coverage, including videos, blogs, grades, analysis and sidebars. My Monday column will be on the promise and stunning athletic ability of Cordarrelle Patterson.
Like arguing about sports?
Then the Vikings did you a disservice on Sunday, during theri 42-14 loss.
They robbed of us of all interesting debates.
Now we know that Leslie Frazier and his staff will be fired, the Vikings will search for a new quarterback in the offseason, and, just as important, they will need to rebuild a defense that was whipped by the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
Before Andy Dalton, AJ Green & Co. went after Chris Cook, I hadn't seen a Vikings cornerback targeted and burned so frequently since Steve Smith rowed his boat after torching Fred Smoot in 2005.
Before Sunday, you could have argued that Frazier had his team ready to play under adverse circumstances, and that the Vikings performed their best when Cassel started. Both statements were true as of 11:59 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday's result doesn't make those statements false; it just makes them irrelevant.
This was the kind of game that makes it easy for an owner to clean house.
Please read our full coverage in the Star Tribune and on Startribune.com, complete with videos, analysis, features and sidebars.
I'll be on WJON in St. Paul at 7:15 Monday, and on 1500ESPN at noon.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Greg Jennings caught 11 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Which is one way to prove that he hasn't entered the witness protection program.
The Eagles were hot, and had desirable matchups all over the field against the injury-riddled Vikings, and yet the Vikings won, 48-30, on Sunday at the Metrodome.
It's remarkable how differently the Vikings function with Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Christian Ponder. With Casel in the pocket, the Vikings' receivers look more than good enough. Unlike Ponder, Cassel doesn't rely on tight ends, or a strong running game, for production.
The Eagles are not a good defensive team, but their offense has been dynamic with Nick Foles at quarterback. Sunday, the Vikings not only won without their top two running backs and top two tight ends, they won without their top three cornerbacks.
If the Vikings' braintrust was intent on firing Leslie frazier and dumping all of their quarterbacks, this game might cause a little reconsideration. Frazier has had the Vikings playing hard all season. With better cornerback play and a better defensive coordinator, they might be in contention. And when Frazier has the benefit of decent quarterback play, the offense is good enough to win.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m., and on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow to talk Vikings.
My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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