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Updated: January 1st, 2014 3:33pm
P.J.R.: A timeline for the falling out of Spielman and Frazier

P.J.R.: A timeline for the falling out of Spielman and Frazier

by Patrick Reusse
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Here's the timeline as to how the Vikings arrived in a season with complete quarterback chaos, and General Manager Rick Spielman's determination to fire coach Leslie Frazier.

1-January 2006: Brothers Zygi and Mark Wilf have their first chance to make a coaching change, firing Mike Tice on Jan. 1 and hiring Brad Childress five days later. The Wilfs are so excited to hire Childress, the first candidate they had interviewed, that they include in the coach's contract full authority over the 53-player roster.

2-May 2006: Fran Foley is hired as vice president for player personnel on Jan. 26, bumps heads with Childress and others at Winter Park, and is fired on May 3, right after the draft. Rick Spielman, a former NFL executive the Wilfs had seen on ESPN, is hired for the VP personnel job three weeks later. He is a secondary figure to Childress in the football operation and in his clout with the Wilfs.

3-November 2010: The Vikings reach the playoffs in the 2008 season, and lose in the NFC title game in New Orleans after the 2009 season. Brett Favre's apprehension before he returns, injuries and general chaos mark the start of the 2010 season.

The Vikings are without a deep threat as a receiver with Sidney Rice being lost for the season. They start 1-2 and, during the bye week, Childress and the Wilfs agree that it is worth the risk to bring back Randy Moss in a trade with New England.

Moss finds out the Vikings have no intention to give him a contract extension and turns into an unproductive pain in the posterior. On Nov. 2, Childress uses his roster authority to cut Moss - without informing the Wilfs.
Three weeks later, the Vikings drop to 3-7 with a 31-3 loss to the Packers in the Metrodome. Childress is fired and Frazier, the defensive coordinator, is named interim coach.

4-January 2011: The Metrodome roof caves in, home games are moved to Ford Field and TCF Bank Stadium and a game in Philadelphia is delayed two days by a snowstorm. Frazier manages to go 3-3 amidst this mess and the Wilfs reward him with a three-year contract, plus an option for 2014.

There is no roster control in Frazier's contract. He will have much less input in personnel matters than did Childress. Also, Spielman will have greater control in the draft room.

5-April 2011: The Vikings select Florida State's Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the draft. This is Spielman's call. Frazier also gives a very positive report on what he's seen from Ponder, as is the custom with all coaches and team officials on draftees.

6-July 2011: There were only two quarterbacks on the roster when the NFL lockout ended: rookie Ponder and the raw Joe Webb. The Vikings were going to bring in a veteran as a backup before camp -- with Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck and Bruce Gradkowski mentioned as possibilities.

Frazier was unwilling to sacrifice his first season to a rookie starter, particularly in view of Ponder's lack of preparation due to the lockout. Frazier pushed for Donovan McNabb to come in as a veteran starter, and got him.

7-October 2011: McNabb threw a better sinker than Carlos Silva, was benched when the Vikings sat at 1-5, and Ponder started the final games in what would become a 3-13 season.

8-January 2012: Spielman was officially named as General Manager and given full personnel power, including to determine the 53-player roster.

The Vikings were all-in on Ponder during that season. He was OK early, horrendous in the middle, and adequate during three straight victories, and then outstanding in a closing win over the Packers that gave the Vikings an unexpected playoff berth at 10-6.

9-January 2013: Ponder was injured for the playoff game at Lambeau Field, Joe Webb was awful and the season ended.

And then came the first true sign of tension at Winter Park: Frazier didn't get the contract extension he was expecting. With Spielman's strong input, the Vikings merely picked up Frazier's option for 2014.

10-September 2013: Ponder was the quarterback for a 0-3 start. He was awful. An injury kept him out of the "home'' game played in London, Matt Cassel had a solid day and the Vikings won 34-27.

11-October 2013: The Vikings signed Josh Freeman, released in Tampa Bay, coming off their bye week. The legend had been this happened strictly on Spielman's initiative. In actuality, Frazier pushed hard to sign Freeman and the Wilfs went along with the idea.

The coach knew he had to win some games with a "quarterback of the future'' (meaning, not Cassel) to save his job. He also had seen enough from Ponder to know he wasn't the guy, and was hoping it could be Freeman.

The Vikings rushed Freeman into the lineup for a game in New York and he was horrendous. The Vikings quickly learned that everything Greg Schiano had indicated about Freeman in Tampa Bay - no commitment, no attention to detail - was true.

After that fiasco, Frazier was stuck going back to Ponder. He kept saying Ponder gave the Vikings "the best chance to win,'' when he probably wanted to say was, ''I know Cassel gives us the best chance to win, but if Ponder doesn't show he can play and be our future at quarterback, I'm going to get fired anyway.''

12-December 2013: Ponder started six games and was mostly bad. He suffered a concussion, Cassel came in and won a game against the Bears, and played the rest of the way.

It made no difference by then. Spielman and Frazier had gotten fully crossways with the Freeman fiasco. The GM got permission from the Wilfs to fire Frazier and did so before sunrise on Monday.


Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse