The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 30, 2013

Vikings fire Frazier

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings fired coach Leslie Frazier on Monday morning, one year after they made the playoffs and one day after they finished a 5-10-1 season.

After going 10-6 in 2012, the Vikings regressed this year, done in by a leaky defense and an ongoing inability to find stability at quarterback. Frazier finished 21-33-1 in three-plus seasons.

The 54-year-old Frazier had one season remaining on his contract.

"We have tremendous respect and appreciation for Leslie and what he has done for the Minnesota Vikings," owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement distributed 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."

The Vikings planned an afternoon news conference at Winter Park.

Quarterback Christian Ponder sputtered and produced three straight turnover-plagued performances to start the season. The Vikings lost all three, on last-minute touchdowns to Chicago and Cleveland.

They lost two other games and tied one in similar fashion, squandering leads inside the 52-second mark in all five of those. Though veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield was cut before the season to save space under the salary cap, the defense that has been Frazier's expertise faltered badly. Drafting Ponder 12th overall in 2011 was the primary responsibility of general manager Rick Spielman, but the shaky quarterback situation was far from the only problem for this team.

Hired by Brad Childress to be the defensive coordinator in 2007, Frazier interviewed for seven head coach openings over a three-year span: Atlanta and Miami in 2008, Denver, Detroit and St. Louis in 2009, and Buffalo and Seattle in 2010.

Finally, his opportunity came with the Vikings when Childress was fired in the middle of a messy 2010 season.

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