Jim Souhan: Frazier not the reason Vikings flopped

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2011 - 8:56 PM

While the rookie coach has struggled, inferior talent puts the onus on owner Zygi Wilf and the front office.

hide

Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Leslie Frazier's news conferences have become requiems. Soft-spoken by nature, Frazier for weeks now has quietly lamented his team's losses, sounding more defeated than defiant, and if there is a common denominator among most losing football coaches, it is defiance.

This week, Frazier did something rare for an NFL head coach. He invited criticism. Asked an innocuous question about the state of his team, Frazier said he was "more angry with myself in not being able to get us where we needed to be, so we wouldn't be 2-9.''

He also said: "In this league, there are no excuses.''

Frazier is right to blame himself, and right not to beg for mercy. His first team should be better than 2-9. When evaluating his rookie season, though, it's important to recognize that this team shouldn't be a whole lot better.

With sharper coaching, the Vikings might have held on to one or two of their early-season leads. Maybe they would be 3-8 or 4-7, but those extra victories would be like gauze on a camera shooting a closeup of Steve Buscemi. You know he's ugly. He knows he's ugly. Why fake it?

What's important for this organization is to find the cause of ineptitude, not a scapegoat for it. The difference between Frazier and the Vikings' front office is that Frazier is unproven, while the front office has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is not adept at building a deep roster.

Rick Spielman is the Vikings' chief personnel guru. He is in the crosshairs, but owner Zygi Wilf is just as culpable for bad decisions because he has failed to install a general manager, making the front office an amorphous committee.

Spielman and his crew have generally made good use of their first-round draft picks, landing Chad Greenway, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen (via trade), Percy Harvin and Christian Ponder since 2006.

Where the front office has failed is in finding the kind of overachievers who pop up on virtually every NFL roster every season.

Three times since 2006 the Vikings have traded up to make a second-round pick. Those deals landed Tarvaris Jackson, Tyrell Johnson and Toby Gerhart. When the Vikings traded down into the second round in the 2010 draft, they chose cornerback Chris Cook, who is suspended from the team after allegedly strangling his girlfriend.

The 2010 draft in particular left the Vikings with almost no depth, and no cures for their three most glaring weaknesses: the secondary, offensive line and wide receiver.

They traded out of the first round, then chose Cook with the 34th pick in the draft. He may never play for the Vikings again. They traded up in the second round to take Gerhart, at best a backup running back.

Their third-round pick went to Houston in the Gerhart deal. In the fourth round, they chose defensive end Everson Griffen, an intriguing talent who is not starting for a struggling defense. In the fifth round, they chose offensive lineman Chris DeGeare, who was released and re-signed to the practice squad.

In the sixth round, the Vikings chose UAB quarterback Joe Webb, who will be a good value if he remains the team's backup quarterback. In the seventh round, the Vikings chose tight end Mickey Shuler, another player who was released and later re-signed to the practice squad.

Partly because of that draft, this roster has two big problems:

• The front office sold out to try to win a Super Bowl in 2009, an understandable gamble that did not pay off.

• The trading of draft choices to move up to take mediocre players, and the inability to find quality players in later rounds or off the streets, has made this roster incredibly lopsided. There are stars in Peterson, Allen and Harvin. There are a couple of promising youngsters, such as Ponder and Kyle Rudolph. And there a dozens of players who cannot help an NFL team win.

Frazier has yet to distinguish himself as a head coach, but only Tim Tebow or someone else who believes in miracles could have expected this team to win this year.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 5
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 2 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 14
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Bassitt 2 FINAL
Detroit - LP: K. Lobstein 0
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Houston 3 Top 8th Inning
Texas 4
St. Louis 7 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
Arizona 5 Bottom 7th Inning
Minnesota 1
LA Angels 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Oakland 1
San Francisco 1 Top 2nd Inning
Los Angeles 0
Colorado 0 Top 2nd Inning
San Diego 1
Chicago 24 3rd Qtr 10:26
NY Jets 13
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 20:00
Philadelphia 0
Washington 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Minnesota 0 3rd Prd 2:45
Winnipeg 2
St. Louis 2 3rd Prd 16:49
Dallas 2
Anaheim 1 2nd Prd 4:14
Colorado 2
Colorado 0 1st Prd 8:33
Anaheim 2
Los Angeles 1 1st Prd 8:24
Arizona 1
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close