Hartman: Wilf indicates he's confident in coach

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 10, 2012 - 7:57 AM

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and his brother, team president Mark Wilf, both backed Leslie Frazier.

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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf

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At halftime of the Vikings' 21-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf expressed complete confidence in Leslie Frazier and said he would continue coaching the Vikings.

When asked when they plan to announce who will coach the Vikings next year, Wilf said, "He is our coach," referring to Frazier.

As Wilf spoke, he gave every indication that he had confidence in Frazier's coaching ability and that there wasn't any question that Frazier, who has one year left on his contract, will coach the Vikings next season. While Wilf didn't mention Frazier getting an extension, that often happens when a coach has only one year left on his contract.

When Mark Wilf, the team president, was asked whether he has been happy with the progress the team has made this year, he remarked that the coaching staff has done a good job with a young team and said he saw no reason why Frazier wouldn't return next season.

The Wilfs are very happy with the job General Manager Rick Spielman has done, and Spielman gets along great with Frazier, so why make a change? The team has already made a great improvement over last year's 3-13 record, going 7-6 with a chance to make the playoffs, so that is positive.

This is the ninth year the Wilfs have owned the team. They have replaced two coaches working for them in that time: Mike Tice, head coach from 2002 to 2005, and Brad Childress, head coach from 2005 to 2010. But they have a good relationship with Frazier and aren't going to make another coaching change.

Positive future

What has made the Wilfs happy about this Vikings team was exemplified Sunday when six of the team's draft choices from this year played a big part in the victory.

Harrison Smith, a first-round draft choice, intercepted a Jay Cutler pass in the third quarter, with the game very much in doubt at 14-7, and ran it back for a touchdown. Smith also had six combined tackles.

Josh Robinson, a third-round choice, intercepted a pass and ran 44 yards to the 5-yard line in the first quarter, setting up Adrian Peterson's second touchdown, and also had five tackles.

Wide receiver Jarius Wright, a fourth-round pick who is healthy and finally contributing, caught two passes for 29 yards, one for a critical first down.

Then there were tight end Rhett Ellison, who started and did his usual great job of blocking, and Matt Kalil, another first-round choice, who played a superb game at offensive tackle. Those two played a big role in Peterson's dynamic game.

And kicker Blair Walsh, who didn't kick any field goals Sunday, is 24-for-27 on field goals this season and on Sunday continued his good job of kicking off deep enough for touchbacks on a regular basis.

The Wilfs have been talking about how they wanted to build for the future, but naturally they want to win now.

On another subject, Mark Wilf was asked about the status of superstar Percy Harvin, who has been put on injured reserve for the rest of the season because of a bad ankle and has just one year left on his contract. He said that every effort will be made to keep Harvin with the Vikings because of his great contributions to the team when healthy.

Peterson thriving

After rushing for 154 yards, to bring his season total to 1,600, Peterson is getting closer and closer to becoming only the seventh running back in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 yards -- but his numbers this season are already mind-boggling considering he tore two knee ligaments in Week 15 against Washington last season. His 1,600 yards through 13 games are only 6 fewer yards than NFL leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew had all of last season and only 16 fewer than Arian Foster accumulated in leading the league in 2010.

He also has the second-most rushing yards of any season in his career -- trailing his 1,760 yards in 2008, his second year in the league.

Great Vikings interest

The local television and radio stations were telling their listeners about Sunday's snowstorm being one of the biggest ever in December.

They were telling their listeners and viewers there were cars in ditches all over and not to travel unless necessary.

Well, apparently even a big storm can't keep people away from a Vikings-Bears game.

The largest announced regular-season Vikings crowd in history at the Metrodome was 64,482 against the Packers on Nov. 2, 2003.

The crowd Sunday, in the worst kind of driving conditions, was announced as 64,134, the Vikings' highest number of the season.

The game was sold out days before it was to be played. At one time the Vikings announced no-shows, people who buy tickets but don't attend the game, but they don't do that anymore. But it was interesting there were fewer empty seats on Sunday than during any good-weather games this season.

It holds true that this Vikings football team has the public's backing.

A penalty in question

Vikings linebacker Everson Griffin, who was fined $15,750 last week for making what the NFL thought was an illegal tackle, was penalized again for making a tackle that the officials thought was against the rules.

He is hoping he doesn't get fined again. He hit Bears quarterback Jay Cutler helmet-to-helmet in the fourth quarter Sunday.

"I'm just trying to go out there and make plays," said Griffen, who has come a long way as a defensive player this year. "You know, they called a penalty and I just don't know what you're supposed to do when the quarterback is going to the ground.

"How are you supposed to tackle him? But at the end of the day we have rules and you have to play by the rules and it is what it is. We got the 'W' and we won the game. That's all that matters in my book."

Better Bears stats

It's strange, but Cutler had better statistics Sunday than he did in the Bears' 28-10 victory in Chicago.

In the win, Cutler completed 23 of 31 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown while Sunday he went 22-for-44 for 260 yards and one touchdown.

Home field is a big advantage in the Vikings-Bears series, with the Vikings now winning eight of the past 11 games at the Metrodome. On the other hand, in the past 11 games in Chicago, the Vikings are just 1-10 overall.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM 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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