The Minnesota Vikings are preparing to move on Leslie Frazier as their new head coach. The initial thought process at Winter Park was to give Frazier until the end of the season to prove his merit as head coach. That made sense, given some of the Vikings' defensive difficulties this season and the lingering question of whether any issues that existed on defense were the consequence of inadequate personnel or coaching. While the jury is still out on that question, the jury appears in on Frazier's acumen as a manager of talent. That, and other league dynamics, have shifted the Vikings' focus forward for making a decision on Frazier.
The one question remaining for the Vikings' ownership group regarding Frazier's merit as head coach is whether Frazier can deliver victories over the haves of the league rather than merely over the league's have-nots. Beating Washington on the road and running Buffalo at home showed that Frazier can do what a team loaded with talent ought to do. The test now is whether he can put his talent up against another team with good talent and emerge victorious. Fortunately for Frazier, that test will come first at home, rather than on the road. That test was to have been test three of four--the fourth being beating a talented team on the road, or at least playing competitively against such a team on the road. Other factors have made that fourth prong, and possibly the third prong, less salient in the eyes of Vikings' ownership.
On Monday, the Denver Broncos relieved their head coach of his coaching duties, approximately a year and one-half too late. The opening in Denver means more opportunities for Frazier. And given his rapport with players, media, fans, and coaching staff, and his humility in the face of immediate success--despite unexpected obstacles such as the loss of the starting quarterback--Frazier's stock has only risen since he took the reigns as Vikings' head coach. That fact has not been lost on the Vikings' ownership group.
While it is possible that the Vikings will announce Frazier's signing as early as this week, it is also possible that they will wait until after this week's game to determine whether Frazier can extend his run against better competition. The downside to the latter ploy is that the team allows Frazier more time to prove himself and consider that there are other openings in the off-season. That would increase Frazier's asking price and the Vikings would prefer, of course, to pay less rather than more for the same product. It would also at least create the possibility that the Vikings would be searching for a new head coach this off-season, having let get away the coach that they preferred.
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