Blame falls on execution as Frazier defends his coordinators
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- There isn't one singular reason the Minnesota Vikings have lost four of their five games this season.
But after following up their bye week with a 25-point loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, many began to wonder if this coaching staff is qualified or capable of correcting course before the season is lost.
Frazier likely won't coach this team in 2014 without an extension and as 1500ESPN.com columnist Judd Zulgad pointed out, it's fair to wonder if he'll even make it through the season.
After losses to the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns this season, Frazier often levied the blame on himself and his coaching staff for not preparing properly or making the correct in-game adjustments.
But on Monday, Frazier uncharacteristically placed some blame on his players while defending his coaching staff, specifically offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive coordinator Alan Williams.
"You know, I can't catch that interception for them. I can't throw that ball early, where we threw the pick. I can't do that for them," Frazier said. "But we just got to get them in the mindset, the importance of execution."
On Sunday, Frazier's teams fell to 0-3 after the bye week and have lost by an average of 27 points in those contests since he took over as interim coach in 2010.
Frazier said he felt his team was properly prepared coming out of this particular bye week.
"I did and I thought we came out firing on all cylinders, moving the football right down the field and the turnover, we weren't able to overcome it," Frazier said. "It would have been nice on the very next play from their standpoint for us to catch the interception that we would have had and that would have barred any momentum that they may have had. But we didn't."
An offense that had scored the fifth-most points in the league entering Sunday's game produced just three points until a last-minute touchdown lifted the loss to 35-10.
Across the board, the Vikings have been dismal. Their defense allows nearly 50 percent conversion rates on third downs to opponents this season. The Vikings had six third-down conversions the entire game on Sunday, while the Panthers converted in four of those situations on their first drive alone.
"I think our coordinators are doing a good job," Frazier said. "We're going to do the very best we can to give our guys the best game plan for this upcoming game. But they're working as hard as they can to put our players in the best position to succeed. And our players, when they're put in those positions, they've got to execute their assignments when that happens."
Down by 35-3 at one point, the Vikings offensive play calling switched to pass-only as Musgrave called 19 pass plays in a row between the third and fourth quarter. Still, the Vikings averaged only 4.9-yards per pass and failed to stretch the field.
Veteran players like defensive end Jared Allen expressed their dismay and frustration with the team's performance after the game.
"It comes down to making plays and putting people in the right position to make plays," Allen said. "Obviously we're not doing any of that right now."
Allen, 31, was essentially a non-factor in the loss. He registered just two quarterback hurries in 61 snaps and finished with two tackles, one missed.
"I don't want those guys to feel as if it's a lost season because they're veterans and they could see, possibly, an opportunity slipping away," Frazier said. "There has to be a sense of urgency. There's no question about it. We can still get things turned, but we're going to need everybody believing that, as well."