Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who could be heading into his final game with the team, said neither he nor his agent has talked with Vikings ownership about his job status, adding he remains focused on the Vikings’ Week 17 game against the Detroit Lions.
The Vikings are 4-10-1 this season a year after they went 10-6, winning their final four games to make the playoffs. The Vikings picked up Frazier’s 2014 option after last season but merely sent him a letter informing him of the move and did not engage in any discussions with Frazier’s agent, Bob LaMonte, about a contract extension.
That effectively put Frazier in a prove-it season, and with the Vikings in last place, indications are the team is exploring options beyond Frazier. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Vikings ownership has told others around the league that it is planning to make a head-coaching change after this season, although one team source was adamant that nothing has been decided yet.
Frazier said he expected the Vikings would discuss the season once it was complete but did not plan to engage in those conversations before the Vikings’ final game.
“I think for our players, it’s important that they focus on the task,” Frazier said Monday. “That’s what I’m asking them to do, and I need to do the same thing. It’s very, very important if you want to have a chance to win these games down the stretch that I stay focused on what’s involved with leading our team and I want them to follow. It’s important I handle it the right way.”
Running back Adrian Peterson said last week he looked forward to playing for Frazier “for the rest of my career,” and said Sunday that he would go to ownership after the season in support of Frazier, adding, “I’m not an individual that’s looking for dramatic change. It would hurt if he leaves.”
Asked how he felt about Peterson’s show of support, Frazier’s voice quavered slightly as he said, “He’s a special player, a special guy.” But then Frazier turned his focus back to Sunday’s game and whether the Vikings would sit Peterson to rest his sprained foot.
“We always want to just do the right thing by him when it comes to playing the game of football,” Frazier said. “He means so much to our franchise and our organization, so you’ve just got to be wise when we’re talking about how to use him.”
The Vikings have blown last-minute leads in five games this season, treading water after a 1-7 start that effectively ended their chances of making the playoffs. They have used three different quarterbacks in search of a consistent starter, and after they cut cornerback Antoine Winfield in March, making the decision to go with a young secondary, the Vikings have given up more passing yards than any team in the league.
“We had some changes personnel-wise and it took the guys a little while to get in touch with what we were trying to get accomplished,” Frazier said. “Now, we’re into our depth quite a bit [because of injuries] and we have been for a few weeks, so that’s got something to do with it.”
- Previously covered Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press
- Also covered Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild and Washington Nationals
- Twin Cities native and University of Minnesota graduate