“He’s a good man,” Sanford said. “At the end of the day, this is a business, but you felt it in his voice that he was really hurt, and I hate to see a good man [hurting] like that.”
Several players said change ultimately might be good for the organization. Spielman said he hopes a fresh start can bring a “spark as well.”
The first priority is the quarterback issue. The team selected Christian Ponder No. 12 overall in 2011, but Ponder never materialized as a long-term solution. He was ineffective and benched twice this season. Frazier noted after Sunday’s finale that the team needs to “fix” the quarterback position.
The Vikings started three different quarterbacks this season in a rotation that became disruptive; Frazier used seven different starting quarterbacks in the 55 games he coached.
Spielman, who had final say over the 2011 draft when the team selected Ponder, admitted that he hasn’t “got it right yet” in regards to that critical position.
“I have confidence we’ll get this quarterback situation resolved,” he said.
Frazier’s pointed comments about the quarterback situation demonstrated his frustration and raised questions again about who actually made the final call in those decisions. Frazier said that he consulted with Spielman and the Wilfs about every quarterback change and described it as a “collective decision.”
Spielman acknowledged that he discussed changes, but he said he left playing time decisions to Frazier.
“I would never want to say, ‘Hey, you have to play that guy or you have to play this guy,’” Spielman said. “That’s not my role. Just like I wouldn’t want a coach to say, ‘You have to take this guy.’ As a GM, whether I’m right or wrong, I don’t believe you dictate to a coach who needs and who doesn’t need to play.”
The Vikings defense came within four points of setting a team record for points allowed in a season and needs to be rebuilt. Spielman has turned over the roster significantly in recent years and, with 15 unrestricted free agents, more changes loom.
Spielman said he believes he has plenty to sell coaching candidates.
“This is a very attractive job,” he said. “When you talk to people on the outside, that the young talent that we do have on this roster, with all the new coming in, the new stadium and potential facilities online coming in, I don’t think we’re in a total rebuilding mode. It’s a situation where a head coach comes in, and I feel it can be a quick turnaround.”