We're getting to the last three weeks of the 2013 season for the Minnesota Vikings, and regardless of how these last three weeks fall in the win-loss column, the debate has already started as to what should happen with the Minnesota Vikings in the off-season. Not necessarily with the players on the field, but the men on the sidelines and, potentially, those in the front office.
The immediate reaction is that Frazier needs to be fired. . .and I'll be honest, that's the mindset that I'm currently of as well. However, there are a lot of things to consider as far as what should be done.
We know that this season is shaping up to be one of the most disappointing seasons in Vikings' history. However, it follows up a 2012 that was a surprise by pretty much anyone's standards, when a team that was supposed to be competing for the top overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft did enough to make the playoffs on the last day of the season. This year, with three first-round draft picks and much higher expectations, the team has dropped off rather than taking a step forward.
A lot of things have gone awry this season for this team. . .obviously, the gamble on Christian Ponder at quarterback didn't pay off the way that the Vikings hoped that it would. However, the offense is still managing 24.2 points a game, which is right around the NFL average, and is also right around the league average in yardage. While the offense is still scoring points regardless of who's manning the quarterback spot. . .well, unless it's Josh Freeman back there. . .the defense has been disappointing on pretty much every level.
The Vikings are 31st in the National Football League in terms of yardage allowed/game (only the Dallas Cowboys are worse) and in points allowed/game (only the Washington Redskins are worse). The team has allowed 395 points so far this season, and if they allow
86 89 points over the final three games. . .which would be slightly less than their average of 30.4 points/game allowed. . .they will "surpass" the 1984 team for the most points allowed by a Vikings' defense in franchise history. With games remaining against three of the top ten scoring offenses in the league this year, including two of the top three, it would probably be considered an upset if they didn't reach that figure.
Despite that, it's pretty obvious from the performance on the field. . .not just this season, but over the past couple of seasons. . .that the team has respect for Coach Frazier and consistently plays hard for him regardless of circumstances.
The Minnesota Vikings have played 51 games under the guidance of head coach Leslie Frazier. Of those 51 games, 27 of them have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Vikings' record in those games is 10-16-1. But, it's been a roller coaster that has directly correlated with the team's success in a given year. In 2011, the Vikings played eleven games that had a final margin of a touchdown or less. The team went 2-9 in those games en route to a 3-13 season. In 2012, the Vikings had just five games with that same margin, and went 4-1. This year? Nine games decided by a touchdown or less, with a record of 3-5-1.
And we can't overlook the fact that, of those six non-victories in 2013 that were decided by a touchdown or less, the Vikings had the lead with under a minute remaining in five of them (at Chicago, Cleveland, at Dallas, at Green Bay, and at Baltimore) and have a 0-4-1 record to show for their efforts in those contests. Not to mention the fact that two of their victories in those situations came as a result of holding off frantic, last-minute rallies inside the ten-yard line in the waning seconds of regulation (against Pittsburgh in London and against Washington), and the other came in overtime after both teams missed field goals in the extra session.
When it comes to close losses and the team's performance in those sorts of games, it tough to tell how much of it is on the coaching staff and how much of it is the talent on the field. There's really no denying that, for whatever reason, this team battles its tail off for Leslie Frazier. Maybe that speaks to Frazier's ability to motivate, maybe it has more to do with veterans like Jared Allen or Kevin Williams rallying the troops. . .I don't know for sure. But as the fate of Leslie Frazier and this Vikings' coaching staff looks to be a hot topic of debate from here on out, what do you all think should happen?