Tuesday, May 31, 2016

leslie frazier

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Dear William Percival Harvin III,

Your time with the Minnesota Vikings was greatly appreciated by at least some of the team’s fans. On behalf of those fans, there are a few accomplishments that you should be thanked for.

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Cordarrelle Patterson’s future with the Minnesota Vikings has been a hot topic for three seasons now, sometimes for the good he has and done on and off the field, and often due to his lack of production on the field.

The thing that keeps cropping up within the fan base, however, is Patterson’s seemingly aloof attitude and perceived lack of dedication to being a professional football player. This narrative came to a head on Sunday when Patterson allowed Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby to catch him from behind and save a potential touchdown by popping the ball loose from Patterson’s grip.

The turnover allowed Green Bay an unnecessary chance at a comeback, while Patterson’s sideline demeanor drew scorn from Vikings fans from all around. Patterson appeared to be laughing and joking with teammates on the sideline shortly after the huge mistake and that seemingly jovial attitude came to a peak when Xavier Rhodes intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass in the endzone to keep the Packers at bay.

These images, Patterson smiling after a kicker bested him in a major way, brought all of the built up frustration with the former first rounder to a head.

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#InZimWeTrust

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Firing a head coach in the NFL is like wielding a double-edged sword. With one swing, you can eliminate problems like poor game management or outdated defensive schemes. Or, you can catch the wrong side of the blade and fracture team chemistry, as the Vikings did when they parted ways with Leslie Frazier after the 2013 season.

Fans of the team rejoiced, but one player — Adrian Peterson — was reportedly frustrated with the team’s decision to fire Frazier. According to ESPN’s Ben Goessling, Peterson contemplated leaving the Vikings near the end of the season:

“I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t feeling good about being here in Minnesota at the end of last season,” Peterson said in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN. “Coaches change, but everything was shaken up.

General manager Rick Spielman made sure to right the ship quickly, hiring Mike Zimmer as the Vikings’ newest head coach less than a month later. The move to bring in Zimmer — a no-nonsense, football-first mind — stabilized the franchise and rallied a young team to aim higher in 2015.

Under Zimmer’s leadership in 2014, the Vikings went 7-9 and succeeded in the face of multiple obstacles, including Adrian Peterson’s absence, Teddy Bridgewater’s rookie growing pains, and the implementation of a new defensive scheme. Unlike Tice, Childress, or Frazier before him, Zimmer has won over his players and quickly navigated the trials and tribulations that come with being a head coach in the National Football League.

While there’s room for improvement in year two, its safe to say Zimmer has established himself as the captain of the Vikings ship, and its time everybody climb aboard.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If I were to ask any Vikings fan what they thought of Mike Zimmer, they’d likely tell me he’s the greatest head coach since Bud Grant. In one season, Zimmer has started to erase memories of the past 12 seasons, when Mike Tice, Brad Childress, and Leslie Frazier led the Vikings to a combined 92 wins and 99 losses. It may be too early to proclaim Zimmer a top-flight head coach, but he’s well on his way to a long career in Minnesota, and that starts with a winning season in 2015.

But, what if the Vikings had never hired Zimmer? What if, in some cruel, twisted universe, the Wilf brothers were forced to choose one of three head coaches — Tice, Childress, or Frazier — to lead this team? What if Zimmer had never inherited Xavier Rhodes, or even worse,  what if Teddy Bridgewater was forced to operate from Musgrave’s minuscule play card?

Optimism around the team definitely wouldn’t be as high, and Minnesota’s faithful sports fans would suffer yet another year of futility. Luckily, that’s not the case, but it’s always fun to look back and remember our favorite head coaching blunders and mishaps. After the jump, I’ll share a few quotes that encapsulate everything that made each of the Vikings’ last three coaches such disastrous hires:

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Our weekly look throughout the NFC North at what is the hottest topic for each of our foes:

GREEN BAY PACKERS

This is the time of year when overreactions to OTA’s are a dime a dozen.  Out of Green Bay, however, one rookie is making clear strides towards an unlikely landing spot on the starting roster.  With Jermichael Finley still looking like a giant question mark, and Andrew Quarless reeling from an injury, third round selection Richard Rodgers is turning heads in Green Bay.  We all hope that Mike Zimmer can fix a lot of things on this Vikings defense, but in the recent past they have struggled to match the size and athleticism presented by opposing tight ends, and Rodgers seems like the type of guy that could feast against a Leslie Frazier defense.  If you are looking for a late-round fantasy sleeper, however, being a potential starter in Green Bay’s offense can’t possibly be a bad thing.

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