In a season where drama and not winning has reigned supreme, it has been another exciting week.
On Sunday the Minnesota Vikings' crumbling balance devolved into a full collapse against divisional rivals the Green Bay Packers. Lethargic and struggling on their home turf, the Vikings failed to dominate in any aspect of the game and a once championship-caliber team was reduced to arguing on the sidelines while fans shouted for their coach to be fired.
Something had to be done.
So, for the disgruntled Vikings fans who've been calling for team owner, Zygi Wilf, to fire coach Brad Childress, Thanksgiving came early. On Monday, after the Minnesota Vikings worst home loss in close to a decade dropped the struggling team to a disappointing 3-7 record, Zygi and Mark Wilf dropped the hammer and fired Childress. Defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier is now the Vikings' interim head coach, and that brings us all up to date on "As the Horns Turn."
The media, still chafing about being lied to regarding Brett Favre's return to Minnesota in August and Randy Moss being released from the team earlier in the month, shouldn't have cause to complain this time around. This latest installment of drama was handled promptly on Monday. Childress was fired in the morning, an announcement was made to the players during a team meeting at 1pm, and by 3pm there was a press conference with both Zygi Wilf and Leslie Frazier to formally inform the world that Childress was out, Frazier was in, and the Vikings would attempt to focus on preparing to play the Washington Redskins next Sunday. And, it would seem that the media is in a benevolent mood because just about every report I've read said that Frazier said all the right things and looked very sharp in his gray suit.
Maybe it's just my lingering affection for the Super Bowl Shuffle*, but I like Leslie Frazier. And that's why I have mixed feelings about him getting his first NFL head-coaching job this way. With only six games left in the season he has to show that he can help the underachieving Vikings to pull together and play like the team they should be. It smacks of being a Mission Impossible that might simply be setting Frazier up for failure and allowing the Vikings organization to be compliant with the Rooney Rule before they hire another white dude to coach and overhaul the team next season.
If Frazier is going to retain the Vikings' head coaching job beyond the remaining six games of this season, he's going to have to pull off a kind of miracle. With the way this season has gone, it may be a stretch to think this Vikings team is capable of miracles.
- First, Frazier's going to have to find a way to use his zen-like presence to unite the Vikings locker room. That could be a challenge because, even though there were plenty of players unhappy with Childress, he did have some supporters who probably weren't happy that he was fired. Not only that, but as the losses have piled up, players have started to publicly criticize one another. Job one has to be uniting the team so that they fight opponents during games and not each other.
- Secondly, the Vikings are going to have to start winning. To have any kind of chance to get into the playoffs, the Vikings have to win every last game they have and get lucky. Considering the way they have played up to this point, I'm not sure the Vikings will be able to do that. But, for Frazier to keep the head coaching job they need to start winning and show improvement.
- Finally, the fans need to approve Frazier. The Wilf's may think they own the Vikings, but teams are more the property of their fans. Fans drive the revenues that make NFL teams the multi-million dollar entities they are. So, if Frazier is going to win the Vikings' head coaching job next season, he's going to have to win over the fans as well as the locker room and the Wilfs. Winning will probably go a long way toward making that happen.
This evening, enjoy time with your families, your Thanksgiving leftovers, and the holiday specials. Rest up, we have six games coming up and a new coach in charge-things will be interesting.
*As a kid in the 1980s, even in Vikings Land, you couldn't get away from da Bears and their annoyingly catchy "Super Bowl Shuffle".