The season isn’t over yet – as of this posting there’s still a half of (very boring) football left – but Zygi Wilf isn’t waiting to make up his mind on Leslie Frazier. According to the Star-Trib, the Vikings are set to make Frazier the head coach for 2011 and beyond. Given Wilf’s past history of quick decisions and quicker announcements, the Frazier hire could be made official as early as today.
There was some thought that Wilf could put off making a coaching decision until after the season, just to see what other names might bubble to the surface, but clearly Wilf thinks Frazier is the guy and wants to get the thing done. Had Wilf delayed the decision for a few more weeks, Frazier would likely have been interviewed by the Denver Broncos, who considered hiring Frazier two years ago before settling on Josh McDaniels.
Frazier was given the interim coaching job after a terrible home loss to the Green Bay Packers convinced Wilf to jettison controversial coach Brad Childress. The Vikings quickly rallied under Frazier, winning consecutive games at Washington and at home vs. Buffalo.
After that initial surge things seemed to go backward with back-to-back awful games against the Giants and Bears. Frazier may have been cut slack for these flat performances however, as both happened during a two week homeless period for the Vikings in the wake of the Metrodome roof collapse.
The Vikings followed up those two miserable losses with a seemingly miraculous road victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. That left Frazier with a 3-2 record, including two road wins, going into the season finale against Detroit.
Frazier has already faced a lot of tricky situations during his brief tenure, including the weekly Brett Favre drama, two postponed games and a slew of personnel decisions. Through it all he has remained calm and collected, a marked change from Brad Childress who often seemed in over his head.
Perhaps the greatest factor in Frazier’s favor has been his relationship with the players, which has been marked by the kind of mutual respect that was sorely lacking during Childress’ tenure. One assumes the endorsement of the players helped make Frazier’s case with Wilf.
Now, Frazier will have to tackle another tough test: helping Rick Spielman (who everyone assumes will be bumped up to full GM status in the coming weeks) retool a Vikings roster filled with impending free agents and aging players. The quick hire of Frazier gives the Vikings stability going into what is sure to be a difficult off-season.
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