The saying is that nice guys finish last and that proved to be true on Monday morning when the Minnesota Vikings gave head coach Leslie Frazier the axe after his team finished, well, in last place.
The Vikings finished last in the NFC North one year after clinching a Wild Card spot and finishing in second behind the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings finished 5-10-1 in this just completed season which is a steep five win drop-off from the season previous.
Was this five game downturn solely on the shoulders of Leslie Frazier? No, but it’s always easier to fire one guy than to cut 53.
A combination of the NFL’s unequal scheduling (which does lift the bottom up and a big reason why the Vikings made the playoffs in 2012), a horrid secondary, the decision not to put Cordarrelle Patterson on the field earlier plus the regression and insistence of Christian Ponder being the team’s quarterback all equals up to a losing team and someone needing to pay.
Sadly, that someone is Leslie Frazier.
From every reporter to every single player who talks to the reporters, it sounds like Leslie Frazier is an amazing human being. He’s a nice guy and goes above and beyond the duties of a football coach, especially one at the NFL level, when it comes to his relationship with his players.
I won’t try to pretend that I extensively know the ins and outs of how football works and comment on that part of the equation. People smarter than me say that Frzsier’s defensive scheme, the Tampa-Two, is outdated. The obvious rebuttal to that is that everything looks outdated when your defense is one of the worst in the league.
Frazier is the man that gets to fall on the sword. Frazier is the man that loses his job because another man’s job depended upon trying to prove that Christian Ponder was an NFL quarterback.
Rick Speilman owes Leslie Frazier fruit baskets for life after taking the fall for Speilman’s own failed draft pick.
Les Frazier now gets to sit at home and get a paycheck to do nothing for a football season if he so chooses. Speilman gets to choose (or at least help choose) a shiny new coach and a redo on another quarterback, despite the fact that if he would have allowed Frazier to play backup Matt Cassell for the majority of the season we’d probably be talking about the Vikings’ opponent in the Wild Card Round.
I don’t know if Rick Speilman is a nice guy or not, but I’m 99.9 percent sure that Leslie Frazier is.
It’s not a guarantee that if Frazier would have had sole control over his lineups that he would have made the playoffs, but I’m 100 percent sure that a nice guy can finish first somewhere. Now if only there was a place or maybe even a whole state that was known for their niceness.