Last week, the Minnesota Vikings' front office was all but set to offer interim Vikings' head coach Leslie Frazier the permanent head-coaching duties. That was after two Vikings' victories against league bottom-feeders and in the aftermath of former head coach Brad Childress' 31-3 going-away party at Lambeau Field. Vikings' officials had set this week, concurrent with the naming of the Vikings' top 50 players of all time, as a possible announcement date.
Monday night's drubbing at the hands of the New York Giants, a loss replete with all of the failures evident during the Childress regime, has the Vikings' ownership group second-guessing how quickly it needs to make their head-coaching decision. The thought process now appears to be that the team needs to accept any possible cost associated with waiting to make a decision on Frazier (i.e., the possibility of having other suitors bid up the price on Frazier) to make certain that Frazier is their man.
Monday disaster aside, it ought to be noted that Frazier is a breath of fresh air inside and outside of the locker room. He also remains saddled with Childress' offensive system, offensive coordinator, offensive line, and poor decisions regarding Tarvaris Jackson, Ryan Cook, and Matt Birk. Those are significant liabilities that the Vikings overcame, at times, during Childress' tenure and that Frazier appeared to handle well despite the added loss of Favre at the beginning of the Buffalo game. Things clearly unraveled against the Giants, however, raising questions about whether this team needs minor or major adjustments, outside of the evident holes.
No matter who is coach of the Vikings in 2011--or whenever the next season begins--that individual will need at least one bona fide interior offensive lineman, a quarterback, and a few other pieces before the Vikings can be considered favorites to win even their own division.
The money here is on Frazier, both in terms of who the Vikings will and ought to hire as their next head coach. But that says nothing about what the Vikings will or ought to do about other positions on the coaching staff. Fred Pagac might be the answer at defensive coordinator, but Darrell Bevell almost certainly is not the answer at offensive coordinator as his entire professional grounding is in a diseased version of the West Coast Offense.
Paramount among the concerns of the Vikings' ownership group this off-season will be ensuring continued public support for the team and sustaining a modicum of momentum for a publicly funded stadium. If the Vikings want to make a big splash, they need not change head coaches from Frazier to someone like Bill Parcells, a short-term mercenary at best. Rather, the Vikings can make a statement with Frazier at the helm if they also bring in an established offensive coordinator. If the Chargers flame out in round one, that might make Norv Turner available. If the Cowboys decide to go in a different direction, Jason Garrett would be available. And if the Vikings want to make him an assistant head coach, they can make a pitch for Green Bay Packer offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. All would represent an upgrade over the present as, undoubtedly, would numerous others.
Joe Webb Trending Up
With Tarvaris Jackson essentially having played his last game as a Minnesota Viking after being placed on injured reserve, Joe Webb almost certainly will start his first NFL game on Monday night against the Chicago Bears. Webb was not spectacular in his time against the Giants on Monday night, but he was intriguing. While Jackson continued to miss receivers badly and went into a shell when things did not go well, Webb showed a rifle arm, poise, and amazing speed to go along with a bounce-back personae.
It's not Jackson's fault that he was a reach in the draft. Nor is it his fault that his career was molded by a coach incapable of mentoring quarterbacks. At this point in his career, however, Jackson clearly is a lesser quarterback than even Webb. And Webb, the guy that Childress wanted to use strictly as a receiver--making that almost certainly the wrong decision--shows the kind of promise at this point in his career that suggests he might some day be the kind of quarterback that Childress always attempted to convince us Jackson already was.
Up Next: Shameful, Baseless Shaming.