Right now, Minnesota’s media outlets (and hack bloggers) are poised to have a field day with Leslie Frazier’s contribution to the Vikings loss column this season. Of course, journalists and beat writers have the luxury of hindsight, and many are currently contradicting items they themselves had written less than two months ago, but with losing comes criticism and Frazier knows it.
To his credit, he is not hiding from it.
“We get that fourth-and-1 late and I decided I was going to go for it, thinking that (if) we get this score, the next time we get the ball back we might be going to win the game. Instead, it really went the other way and that’s purely on me. Just a bad mistake on my part putting us in that position,” Frazier said of his mishandling of Sunday’s game against the Falcons. “The guys, they battled. They battled to the very end. Just got to be smarter on my part in that situation and not put us in that situation, not let my emotions get in the way when we have to get in the game the way they fought to get in the game.”
“Just the fact that we were at the 1 (-yard line) and just believing that we could get that one yard. I really thought that we could and then when we get the ball back we’d be going to win the game rather than trying to tie the game,” Frazier continued to explain. “Just didn’t work out that way. Something you’ve got to learn from personally.”
“Just trying to be aggressive, just trying to win the game, have a win-the-game attitude. That was my attitude,” he said. “I wanted to win the game and get a touchdown there and come back and win the game. But it didn’t work out.”
Of course, the criticism doesn’t end there. On the previous play, a third and goal, it appeared that Percy Harvin actually did get a touchdown and that a coach’s challenge may have resulted in a Vikings score. Frazier, however, kept that red flag in his pocket.
“From my vantage point, I couldn’t see it well enough to say he was in or out, and nothing was coming from upstairs to say he was close enough to challenge it. There was no dialogue on that,” Frazier said. “If there were, if he were close, we would have challenged it if we thought he had gotten in. But we didn’t have any dialogue, so I’m not sure if they didn’t show the picture or what may have happened but there was no dialogue regarding that.”
With writers, myself included, beginning to wade into the waters of “hot seat” articles it should be noted that Frazier has had plenty of obstacles thrown in his way during his first year as head coach. He inherited an aging team without a quarterback, he inherited a team with hardly any cap space to help him improve the roster, and he inherited a team in major transition but could do little to prepare due to the NFL lockout.
I think articles floating about right now blaming Frazier for his choice to bring in veterans like Donovan McNabb and Benny Sapp are unfair considering the circumstances.
What is fair, however, are those articles focusing on Frazier’s inefficient game management decisions over the course of this season. It is a bad sign when so many of your games come down to a fourth down decision, but it is an even worse sign when each of those decisions works out poorly.
And, as evidenced by the above quotes, Frazier knows it.
[Editor’s Note: Taking things in a slightly unrelated direction… if Toby Gerhart can’t hack it as a short yardage back, what the hell is this guy good for? Seriously, how many times have we just needed this “bruiser” to pick up just one lousy yard?]