Hartman: Frazier, Tampa Bay talk about coaching job

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2014 - 12:21 AM

Lovie Smith is looking for a defensive coordinator, but the former Vikings coach also is hearing from other teams.

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Former Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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Leslie Frazier doesn’t have to worry about a job if he wants to coach in 2014 because the former Vikings head coach has a number of teams interested in him.

One of the calls he has received was from new Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith. Frazier said Thursday he has been contacted by Smith, but nothing is finalized.

“I don’t know [if I’m taking the job], I’m waiting to hear back from them,” Frazier said. “There’s a couple of things that have to be worked out. I may. I’m not sure yet.”

Will he take the job if it’s offered?

“I might. I have to think through some things,” he said. “I want to get into a good situation. I just have to pray about it and get into a good situation with good people. I just have to be careful.”

Frazier also said there are a few other teams talking to him.

“There’s a couple other things that I don’t know if they’ll come to fruition,” he said. “I just have to wait to see what happens. There’s a couple other teams I’m talking with, I just have to wait.”

Was Frazier surprised the Vikings fired him?

“You know, after we beat Philadelphia [48-30 in Week 15], I don’t know if you remember, there was this report that the Vikings had interviewed or contacted another college coach,” he said. “When I heard that report, that made me concerned that something might be going on, so not completely surprised, no.”

The Vikings lost six games by 12 points or fewer, and Frazier said he believed he and his staff could turn things around next season.

“We’re not far away at all … our team was not that far away,” he said. “We were competitive, and we played good down the stretch. It’s just a little disappointing.”

Frazier said he still believes first-round draft choice Christian Ponder can be the Vikings quarterback.

“He has a chance to develop, he still has a chance, time will tell,” Frazier said. “He has a chance, yeah.”

And what does Frazier think of the Vikings’ future?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just think stability is important in our league, if you can have some stability. I don’t know what’s going to happen with them. I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

Would he recommend a coach to accept the job?

“They’ll find somebody that will take that job,” Frazier said. “There are only 32 of those jobs. It won’t be hard to find somebody that will take it.”

Will firing Frazier make the Vikings better next season? They have a lot of holes to fill and there are no miracle men around. My opinion is Frazier would have done as good a job as any coach they might hire.

Bevell a good choice

If the Vikings are looking to hire a coach who is familiar with the organization, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell — a class act like Frazier — would be a good choice.

Bevell, who came to the Vikings in 2006 when Brad Childress hired him to be the team’s offensive coordinator following five years with the Packers as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach, would know everything about the team’s personnel and organization and wouldn’t need much time to get re-acclimated.

In his first three seasons with the Vikings, Bevell increased offensive productivity each year. The team scored 282 points in 2006, 365 in 2007 and 379 in 2008 when they went to the playoffs before losing to the Eagles in the first round.

The 2009 season was one of the best offensive seasons in Vikings history. Childress and Bevell orchestrated the signing of Brett Favre, whom Bevell had worked with in Green Bay, including three years as his quarterback coach. The Vikings scored 470 points that year, the second-best total in franchise history, trailing only the record-setting 1998 campaign when they scored a then-NFL record 556 points.

The 2009 season was Favre’s best as a quarterback, as he posted a 107.2 quarterback rating while throwing for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. The Vikings lost a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game, and the following season was a disaster. The team went 6-10 and Brad Childress was fired with six games left in the season.

When Frazier went from interim coach to head coach in 2011, Bevell was not retained as offensive coordinator and went to Seattle to work under second-year head coach Pete Carroll.

The Seahawks have gone 31-17 since Bevell took over the offensive reins. They ranked eighth in points per game in 2013 (26.1) after being ninth (25.8) in that category in 2012.

One of the main reasons for the Seahawks’ success has been the continued improvement of 2012 third-round draft pick Russell Wilson, who, like Bevell, played quarterback at Wisconsin.

Carroll has given a lot of credit for the drafting of Wilson to Bevell. Seattle already had signed former Viking Tarvaris Jackson and former Packer Matt Flynn before selecting Wilson, so it was a somewhat surprising decision.

In the past two seasons, Wilson has posted a 100.6 quarterback rating, trailing only Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers during that span. He took the Seahawks to the NFC Championship Game last year, and they are the No. 1 seed going into this year’s playoffs and a popular choice to win the Super Bowl.

Clearly, Bevell would fit in a lot better with the Vikings than any newcomer. He knows the personnel, and he has a history of working with both young quarterbacks such as Wilson and Jackson and seasoned quarterbacks such as Favre.

Jottings

• Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones, who made a verbal commitment to the Gophers in February but has since decided to take an official visit with the Florida Gators later this month, won MVP honors for Team Nitro at the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Thursday. Jones gained 37 rushing yards, 35 receiving yards and had two touchdowns.

• Former Gophers player and coach Joe Salem has to be proud of his son, Brad, who is quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Michigan State and must take some credit for the success of the Rose Bowl champions.

• The Gophers will have some real competition at center next season with Jon Christenson healthy after breaking his leg in the Nov. 2 Indiana game and missing the rest of the season and Ohio State transfer Brian Bobek, who missed most of last year with an illness but practiced in the latter part of the season.

• Some 43,000 tickets have been sold for the Gophers-Ohio State outdoor hockey game, which will be held Jan. 17 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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