Wilfs don't plan on any major changes

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2012 - 10:13 PM

But don't be surprised if Rick Spielman is promoted and put in charge of the football side of the operation.


Vikings VP of player personnel Rick Spielman

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, while saying he was disappointed with the 3-13 record after losing 17-13 to the Bears on Sunday, said that there would be "no radical changes among the football executives, including coach Leslie Frazier, for the 2012 season."

That likely means that all those who call the shots when it comes to football personnel will return, including Rick Spielman, vice president of personnel; Rob Brzezinski, vice president of football operations; George Paton, director of player personnel, and Scott Studwell, director of college scouting. But there could be some changes among the assistant coaches.

While members of the media continue to encourage the owners of the team to name a general manager, this is something the Wilfs haven't believed necessary, and Zygi refused to comment on that subject. But I wouldn't be surprised if a move is made before Zygi and Mark Wilf leave the Twin Cities on Tuesday, with Spielman being put in charge of the football said of the operations.

After going 6-10 last year and 3-13 this year, I have a hunch that the Wilfs will give strong consideration to giving more power to somebody in the organization, and the likely candidate would be Spielman.

While a loss to the Bears improved the Vikings' draft position -- they will pick third behind the Colts and Rams -- the Wilfs were pulling for a victory.

"You never know for sure how a draft choice is going to do," Mark Wilf said.

Zygi and Mark both made it clear that they are willing to delve into free agency to improve the team for next season.

"We will do anything necessary to make the Vikings a winner," said Zygi, who said he believes the Vikings personnel is better than the record indicates.

The fact that the Vikings went 0-6 in the division didn't make the Wilfs very happy.

As for the subject of a new football stadium, Zygi said that Arden Hills continues to be their No. 1 choice because of the parking availability and all of the other potential amenities that other proposed sites can't deliver.

However, Zygi said that the Vikings will be taking a look at all of the Minneapolis sites and investigating what they have to offer.

Surgery goes OK

Adrian Peterson, who had knee surgery Friday, watched Sunday's game on television and, after watching Jared Allen get 3 1/2 sacks, put in a phone call after the game to congratulate his friend. Allen had a fantastic game and finished the season with 22 sacks, only a half-sack behind former Giant Michael Strahan's NFL record.

I got a chance to visit with Peterson after Allen got through talking to the great Vikings running back on his cell phone.

"Surgery went well, it was maybe an hour and 45 minutes, woke up and everything was fine," Peterson said. "So we'll get started with the recovery and start fresh."

Peterson was asked if Dr. James Andrews, the Birmingham, Ala., surgeon who did the operation, found anything unusual.

"Not really," he said. "The MCL was torn at a weird position, kind of toward the bottom, so he had to go in and kind of tweak that while they were fixing the ACL. But other than that it wasn't anything that stood out from other determinations with ACL and MCL tears."

About where he will do his rehab, Peterson said: "I'll be back in Minnesota. I'll actually be going back and forth [between Minnesota and Houston], but I'll still be in Minnesota throughout my rehab, get there and get comfortable with the guys -- Eric Sugarman and his staff."

Fourth-quarter problems

I don't know how many games this year the Vikings could have won -- they lost eight by seven points or fewer -- if the offense could have scored late in the game or the defense could have made a big stop in the fourth quarter.

Sunday was a typical fourth-quarter situation against a team that had lost five in a row. The Vikings gave up a crucial field goal in the quarter after allowing a first down despite having the Bears in a second-and-28 situation.

"I think Coach said at the beginning of the year that a lot of these games in the NFL come down to the last possession," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Unfortunately this year -- maybe it's different from '08 and '09 -- we lost a lot of these games. Our biggest thing is all you can do is cleanse yourself of the season in the next couple months and then come back next year rejuvenated and ready to go and get better."

Bad snap hurts, too

With longtime snapper Cullen Loeffler injured, fill-in Matt Katula made a bad snap on a Ryan Longwell field goal attempt from the 23-yard line with the score 17-13 for the Bears with 5 minutes, 15 seconds to play.

Loeffler had been almost perfect as a long snapper until he injured his back and Katula, who had been idle this year, replaced him.

This was another case where a field goal could have put the Vikings in a position to win the game with another field goal on their next possession.

"That's something where the more you work together, the more comfortable of a rhythm you get," said punter Chris Kluwe, who also is the holder.

"Obviously with me, Ryan [Longwell] and Cullen being together for so long we have a rhythm. Matt came in and did a great job.

"I could have handled it a little better. It's on both of us, but like I said it was unfortunate that I just couldn't get it down and let Ryan do his job.

"It's disappointing. Hopefully we'll do better next year."

As with the failure of the defense to come through, this bad snap hurt the chances for the Vikings to win the game.

Kleinsasser's last game

Tight end Jim Kleinsasser played in his last game after 13 years with the Vikings.

"It wasn't quite as emotional as I thought it would be,'' Kleinsasser said. ''I got a little emotional, but in the game guys were fighting, it was a good game to be a part of. That's all you can expect from guys. We came out there, we competed. It would have been nice to have a win, but I feel content with everything. Sometimes it doesn't go the way you draw it up. I can't be second-guessing anything about how lucky I am because I've been very fortunate."

And Kleinsasser was grateful to the Wilf family, who provided 120 tickets to the game for the people who came down for the game from Kleinsasser's hometown, Carrington, N.D.

"The Wilf family was very gracious," Kleinsasser said.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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