Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Eagles 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Someone still loves you Leslie Frazier, and his name is Adrian Peterson. The rest of Minnesota may already have moved on from the Frazier era but the Vikings’ biggest and most important star is still standing behind the embattled coach.
But it likely won’t make any difference as the Vikings seek to move on from another frustrating season and the negative fan sentiment that goes with it.
Fan-favorite Peterson voiced his support for Frazier in the immediate wake of the Vikings’ 42-14 dismantling at the hands of the playoff-bound Bengals, saying he would do all within his power to make sure Frazier is brought back as coach in 2014.
“I’m definitely not an individual that’s looking for dramatic change,” Peterson said. “So, yeah. it would hurt if [Frazier] leaves.
“I try to say what I have to say. There’s a time and place for everything. And with the season [wrapping up], that time is coming. I’m going to give my input and see what they have to say and go from there. … Right now, I’m just trying to focus on finishing the season strong, with Detroit. And then that’s when I’m sure things will get rolling, and we’ll see what’s going to go down.”
Greg Jennings also spoke in defense of Frazier, saying, “I’m in full support of Coach Frazier. He’s my head coach. … Whatever decisions are made down the road, that’s in the hands of the guys upstairs, the ownership. I’m in full support of Coach Frazier.”
Frazier has always been a popular, respected figure with veteran players, but the team’s performance on the field in 2013 has left fans, media and possibly ownership with plenty of very valid reasons to question his ability.
The handling of rookie players, especially with regards to playing time, has become a major issue on more than one occasion. Frazier’s loyalty to certain veterans has, in some people’s eyes, led to decisions that have held back the development of young stars.
For a team that’s in (seemingly perpetual) rebuilding mode, player development is everything, and this is arguably the area in which Frazier and his staff have been weakest.
Perhaps the most damning indictment of Frazier’s overall coaching acumen comes in examination of the team’s defense, which has sagged to historically terrible levels in 2013. Frazier was a defensive coordinator before becoming head coach and was once reputed to have a good defensive mind, but after a series of late-game collapses this year, Frazier’s reputation in that area has taken a massive hit.
Fairly or unfairly, Frazier’s performance before the media has also become a major mark against him. A team as PR-conscious as the Vikings suffers mightily when the man making the bulk of the statements is so painfully uncomfortable in front of the press. Fan confidence has suffered as a result of Frazier’s weekly awkwardness and cliche-spinning.
With the team moving out of the Metrodome and into a two-year period of fiscal uncertainty in a smallish outdoor facility not designed to house an NFL team, the Vikings will be looking for any edge they can find in the battle of public perception. A new coach with a fresh approach and more dynamic personality would go a long way toward winning that battle.
Adrian Peterson may be on-board with Frazier, but there very few good arguments in favor of keeping the coach in the fold.