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Matt Cassel Just Cost Leslie Frazier His Job


Chris Schad

The backup quarterback scorched the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and Leslie Frazier's reluctance to put him in may be the final nail in his coffin as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. (PHOTO: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

During the entire 2013 season, the Minnesota Vikings have played musical chairs at quarterback. While that sounds like a blast, it hasn't resulted in winning cakes or cheap toys (or football games for that matter).

Instead, it's cost the Vikings several games and lead them to the 4-9-1 record that will likely relieve Leslie Frazier of his duties as head coach. But what exactly caused his demise? Could this have been prevented?

The answer is yes. All Frazier needed to do was cut ties with Christian Ponder and trust Matt Cassel.

Frazier went down that road originally when the team started 0-3 and decided to play Cassel after Ponder "broke his ribs" against the Cleveland Browns. All Cassel did was secure the team's first victory of the season over the Pittsburgh Steelers and give the offense a threatening dynamic through the air.

Still, it wasn't enough for Frazier as he decided to pull Cassel after a brutal loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 in order to execute the one-week Josh Freeman experiment.

After that failed miserably, Frazier had to make his choice between Cassel and Ponder once again.

Instead of going with the guy that looked amazing against the Steelers and ran into the red-hot Panthers defense, Frazier gave Ponder one last chance to do what he does best: Underwhelm.

Somehow, Frazier decided that throwing three-yard passes and a comically short Hail Mary gave the Vikings the best chance to win.

What he didn't realize is that Cassel was the one that got the most out of their offense. While he's not a franchise quarterback, he is the guy that has been utilizing their $42 million receiver, getting sustained drives out of the offense and using his weapons to their full potential. These were things that Ponder wasn't doing.

While it may not have turned some of these games into wins, it might have swung a game or two in the Vikings direction and turned them into surprise contenders in a weak NFC North.

It's another blunder in a long list for Frazier during his tenure with the Vikings. He's kicked several pieces of key talent out (Bryant McKinnie, Percy Harvin) to "send a message" while compiling a 7-22-1 record when the 10-6 playoff run from a year ago is thrown out.

Frazier is not the answer for the Minnesota Vikings, and a change on "Black Monday" will become the official end of an error.

Chris Schad is the Minnesota Vikings Lead Writer for Pro Football Spot. He also serves as the NFC North Division Manager and has had his work featured on the Yahoo Contributor Network. You can follow Chris on Twitter @crishad.


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That's just one of many mistakes Frazier has made with that offense.  He's failed to get Patterson and Wright (both of whom have talent) involved, especially Patterson.

 

He failed to use Rudolph and Carlson effectively. 

 

He picked the worst of his QB options to roll with.

 

It's time for him to go.

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I don't know if Frazier thought Ponder would magically figure it out or what, but Cassel could have kept this team competitive. He's not a long-term answer, but the team was built to win now and build off 10-6 a year ago.

 

There's just way too much writing on the wall now.

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God forbid the Vikings win their final two games against Cincinnati and Detroit, and finish with a 6-9-1 record, where would that leave Frazier?

 

Coaches are judged more off their records than the decisions made to accumulate those records. There is a chance the only thing that is different next season is that Ponder is no longer rostered on the Vikings.

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I think the fact this game was won without Adrian Peterson is even more of a dagger for Frazier. Cassel was able to lead the team to a W without one of the league's premiere backs. I've been wondering why Cassel hasn't been the go-to QB all season. In each game he's played in, they've won. I agree that this win could prove Frazier's inability to coach successful teams.

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I think the fact this game was won without Adrian Peterson is even more of a dagger for Frazier. Cassel was able to lead the team to a W without one of the league's premiere backs. I've been wondering why Cassel hasn't been the go-to QB all season. In each game he's played in, they've won. I agree that this win could prove Frazier's inability to coach successful teams.

 

That is a great point. Now the question is, what happens with a new head coach, assuming that is what happens? Head coaches like to come in, and bring their own style with. That includes personnel to match, both on the sidelines, and on the field. Cassel put himself in the drivers seat for the starting job next season, but with a new head coach, where in the world does he fit in?

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I'm not as sure of the rest of you that Frazier is gone. Plenty of people have speculated that the powers that be forced Frazier to start Freeman against the Giants. Of course, we have no idea who is pulling all the strings and whether or not Frazier agrees with them all. I don't mind Frazier and some of what you guys see as bad decisions really aren't fair.

 

Failing to use Rudolph and Carlson effectively.....could be a result of the QB.

 

Picked the worst of his QB options to roll with...he had two options and he went with the young guy in hopes he would be a franchise guy. Obviously it didn't work out.

Renee said "In each game he's played in, they've won". That simply isn't true....not much else to say about that

 

In regards to Cassel's first two starts. He beat an 0-3 team (Steelers) and earned another start. Sure, looking back, Carolina's D is very good, but at the time Cassel lost to them, they were 1-3 and the Vikings didn't score a TD until the fourth quarter.

 

I agree that Cassel has looked a lot better than Ponder. That being said, taking each situation as it occurred, Frazier's decisions weren't terrible IMO. I've mentioned this before, but it isn't convenient to Ponder bashing so people like to forget about it; The Vikings weren't losing games early in the season because of Ponder. The defense gave games away plain and simple.

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I'm not as sure of the rest of you that Frazier is gone. Plenty of people have speculated that the powers that be forced Frazier to start Freeman against the Giants. Of course, we have no idea who is pulling all the strings and whether or not Frazier agrees with them all. I don't mind Frazier and some of what you guys see as bad decisions really aren't fair.

Failing to use Rudolph and Carlson effectively.....could be a result of the QB.

Picked the worst of his QB options to roll with...he had two options and he went with the young guy in hopes he would be a franchise guy. Obviously it didn't work out.

Renee said "In each game he's played in, they've won". That simply isn't true....not much else to say about that

In regards to Cassel's first two starts. He beat an 0-3 team (Steelers) and earned another start. Sure, looking back, Carolina's D is very good, but at the time Cassel lost to them, they were 1-3 and the Vikings didn't score a TD until the fourth quarter.

I agree that Cassel has looked a lot better than Ponder. That being said, taking each situation as it occurred, Frazier's decisions weren't terrible IMO. I've mentioned this before, but it isn't convenient to Ponder bashing so people like to forget about it; The Vikings weren't losing games early in the season because of Ponder. The defense gave games away plain and simple.

That's a fair point, but the offense had opportunities to put several games away too and not leave it up to that leaky defense. If the Vikings could have made one extra first down, I think they win another game or two and compete. Ponder didn't give them the chance to do that.

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Renee said "In each game he's played in, they've won". That simply isn't true....not much else to say about that

I see that I misspoke. In each of the Vikings' wins, Cassel has played. They've lost two that he's played in as well but seem to only win with him making a contribution. That's what I meant.

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Tough Criticism on Frazier.  I see what you guys are saying, but let me play devil's advocate here.

 

Did you guys really think Cassel would be the guy at the beginning of the season too?  What if he had been the starter and struggled when Ponder had led the team to a 10-6 record the year before.  I wouldn't have wanted my coach to switch QBs.

 

Also, when the Vikings came back from their bye week... Ponder was playing better, with the exception of the Seahawks (the best Pass Defense in the league hands down) he put up decent games against GB and Dallas (look he's not Manning or Brady... good for Minnesota's offense).

 

Take out last week's win against the Eagles and Cassel's stats don't look that much different.  Cassel has more of a vertical game than Ponder, but the stats look pretty similar.

 

Also the "Josh Freeman Experiment" , in my opinion, was forced on Frazier.  I don't think he wanted him at all.

 

My 2 cents, but he got his team to show up when the season was long over against the Eagles when Tom Coughlin couldn't get his team to show up with all the weapons they have.  Something to think about.  I'm not trading Chip Kelly for Leslie Frazier, but if I'm another team (Cowboys, Buccaneers, Redskins, Texans) I'm hoping Frazier gets hired.  I think he'll get a look somewhere else for sure.

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Oops forgot to mention that if you take away patterson's miracle touchdown against the Ravens, look at what Cassel's stats become.

 

Considering that they were in a blizzard, I'm ok with his Baltimore performance...

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