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Is Christian Ponder Leslie Frazier’s Last Chance?

On Sunday night, we shall witness Christian Ponder leading the Minnesota Vikings to a huge upset victory over the Green Bay Packers, en route to securing a wild card spot with a 10-5 record before taking us straight to triumphantly hosting the Lombardi. And somewhere in Florida, many fans will be gathered to witness the beginning. (Yes, shameless plug.)

Or not. OK, let’s be fair here- very much probably not. I’d love to go homer on this one but odds are, the season’s lost, and odds are, the Packers will defeat the Ponder-led Vikings this Sunday. (Odds are. I’m still rooting like hell for us regardless. And so should you.)

The question is- how much ‘probably not’? Is Ponder the answer? Is he maybe the answer? Or is he clearly not the answer? That remains to be seen- but it raises an interesting question regarding the future of one Mr. Leslie Frazier. Join me after the leap of faith, where I prove one can write a story involving CP7 without a single pun.

Frazier is in his first full season as a head coach. He ended last season as an interim, securing the job at the close of the season’s final game. He’s also had the misfortune of going through a lockout whilst trying to revamp the team- including a new defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, and quarterback.

Me, personally, I like Frazier. Yes, there have been questionable decisions on his part throughout the season, but come on, it’s his first real dance. And again, he’s started out in some rough straits. I think, like many a quarterback, he can ‘develop’, and become the great leader that this team has needed for a long time. I think his struggles this season, and the struggles of the team, should not be overblown, and he should be given a little slack.

That said… the truth is, Frazier whiffed big with McNabb. Unfortunately, when we picked ol’ Donny up, Frazier’s signature, fingerprints, and DNA (get your mind out of the gutter) were all over the move. Frazier pushed for it, Frazier selected him despite poor performances in Washington, Frazier gave his full faith and confidence that it was what the team needed to remain competitive in 2011 while Ponder was developing. And Frazier was wrong… very, very wrong.

Again, I’m going to give him a pass. He’s a brand new head coach, and there was no offseason. The man was in a tough spot. And I’m giving him kudos for the thought- he wanted to remain competitive, and he felt we needed one more year of a stop-gap vet to do so.

But what happens if he whiffs big… again? Granted, the drafting of Ponder had less of Frazier’s mark on it- it seemed more a collaborative decision- but he was certainly in favor of it, also giving his full faith and confidence that we had landed our man. What happens if our new head coach chooses wrong twice in a season in regards to quarterback, one of the Minnesota Viking’s most enduring questions since our fateful game against Carolina with Daunte Culpepper at the helm?

I’m going to say it- if we’re drafting Andrew Luck in 2012, it won’t be with Leslie Frazier as the head coach.

Again, I’m not in favor of that. I think, even if Ponder isn’t the man (and I also want to state here- I do believe he is), Frazier should receive just one more pass. Drafts bust, and FA pickups/ trades disappoint. It can be a matter of pure bad luck for a coach to suffer both at the same crucial position in a season, and while sometimes it is a reflection of the HC, sometimes it’s not. But regardless, that would be a hard thing to survive.

Of course, Zygi Wilf did stick with Brad Childress for far longer than the fanbase wanted. And he may not want to be on the hook to three different head coaches, as he would be in 2012 if we were to fire Frazier and hire someone else. So there’s that potential saving grace. But in the current climate- with a new stadium on the line and all- that may actually not be as helpful as Frazier would like in the doomsday scenario.

So when we see Christian Ponder line up Sunday against the Pack, and against our other foes in the coming weeks, he may be playing for more than just his job- Frazier’s may be on the line, too.

What say you, Viking faithful? If Ponder doesn’t pan out, will Frazier see a second year as a head coach?