The Minnesota Vikings fired Leslie Frazier; their head coach of three-plus years on Monday just one day after a 14-13 win against the Detroit Lions to close out this season 5-10-1.
“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for Leslie and what he has done for the Minnesota Vikings,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement released by the team. “He stepped in and established a strong positive culture here and he has been the consummate professional as our head coach and in this community. Making this change is difficult, but what we determined is best for the organization.”
Frazier was well-respected by the team’s players and was always commended for his calm, steady approach and consistent message. But this season was a failure.
The Vikings were 21-32-1 under Frazier, beginning in 2010 with six games as the interim coach after Brad Childress was fired. Frazier started for the Vikings full-time after guiding the team to a 3-3 record as the interim.
A 3-13 record in 2011 following the lockout tied a franchise-worst mark. Minnesota improved by seven games last year and made the playoffs following a surprising four-game winning streak at the end of the season, which seemed to save Frazier’s job.
Instead of a contract extension following the playoffs though, the team exercised a little-known option for another season with Frazier, keeping him under contract through the 2014 season. Minnesota lost six of its first seven games this season and surrendered the lead in the final minute five times.
A 4-3-1 finish in the second half, with more consistency with Matt Cassel at quarterback, wasn’t enough to save Frazier again.
“Unfortunately, we did not achieve consistent success and did not achieve the progress we expected,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in the release. “We believe a coaching change is needed to help build a successful team moving forward.”
Frazier appeared to make his final plea following Sunday’s game, and was forthright in the shortcomings of the roster in his time as coach.
“I have a contract,” Frazier said. “Our staff has a contract for 2014 and I hope that the Wilf family will honor that, and give us a chance to come back next season and try to get our quarterback situation fixed, try to get the depth of our roster fixed, along with some other areas on our roster that need to be fixed. I hope they’ll give this staff a chance to finish what we’ve gotten started. Only a season removed from the playoffs, I think our guys are still playing hard and we’re under contract. So, we’ll see.”
Frazier later added: “I’ve done everything I can do in my tenure here as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. I just know, as I mentioned earlier, in our league, you need to get that quarterback position fixed.”