5 Potential Replacements for Leslie Frazier as Vikings’ Head Coach
5 Coaches Who Could Replace Leslie Frazier
On Black Monday, the Minnesota Vikings severed ties with head coach Leslie Frazier following the team’s 5-10-1 finish on the 2013 campaign. While it raises a number of questions the Vikings must answer this offseason, none are bigger than who will replace Frazier as their head honcho?
For the last decade or so, the Vikings have had a tough time finding a long-term option at head coach. From Mike Tice to Brad Childress to Frazier, every time they feel confident about a current coach, the next season leaves them wondering what was wrong with them.
Frazier’s contract ran through 2014, but was cut short after a disappointing 2013 season that saw a plethora of talent go to waste. Despite their improved roster, the Vikings failed to match the same magic that led them to the playoffs the previous year. Instead of matching their 9-7 record from 2012, they barely mustered five wins – and Frazier took the fall for the lack of success.
Moving forward, the Vikings need to find a coach who can make the most of the tools available to them. On paper, Minnesota has a very talented roster, especially after hauling in such an impressive 2013 draft class. If they’re going to keep their players happy and make sure they get back what they’ve invested in this roster, the Vikings need to hire a coach capable of taking the team to the next level.
Here’s a look at five coaching candidates who could replace Frazier as the Vikings’ head coach.
While it seems like an odd fit, Smith joining the Vikings after flaming out with the Bears isn’t completely out of the question. He was once considered a quality NFL head coach, and hasn’t been able to find a new gig since. Seeing as the Vikings aren’t exactly a fantasy destination, they might have to scrounge around the second tier of coaching talent before they finally find a head honcho willing to accept the job.
This is a bit of wishful thinking, but a potential deal with the Houston Texans could fall through for O’Brien. One of the hottest college coaches due to his recent success with a floundering Penn State program, Joe Paterno’s successor has coached his way onto the NFL’s radar. He’s turned a depleted team into a consistent contender and didn’t have too much trouble battling through the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. If the Texans can’t get the deal done, maybe the Vikings can table an offer for O’Brien.
Jack Del Rio
A linebacker for the Vikings back in the day, Del Rio has enjoyed his fair share of success as an NFL coach. After a nine-year stint as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach, Del Rio joined the Denver Broncos in 2012 and has enjoyed an outstanding two seasons. Now headed for the playoffs, the former All-Pro might let nostalgia bring him back to the team that helped him make a name for himself in the NFL.
Another candidate who has already flamed out as a head coach, Whisenhunt might be the best short-term option for a Vikings team that simply isn’t a desirable destination. Whisenhunt is an offensive coordinator who tries to pretend he’s a head coach. During his stint as the Arizona Cardinals’ leader, he failed to make the most of his roster. As the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator, he’s revived Philip Rivers’ career and could be a good fit to lead a Vikings offense that lacks chemistry.
One of the top up-and-coming coordinators in the NFL, Gase has helped the Broncos field one of the most prolific passing attacks in history. While Peyton Manning deserves much of the credit for his rise to prominence, Gase could be a hot commodity this season for teams looking to hire a young, energetic coach with a promising future. The Vikings have already inquired about Gase, and have the ability to interview him this week with the Broncos enjoying a first-round bye.