Peterson among Vikings stumping for Frazier's return
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A decision on Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier's future will come next week, but it sure felt like the end arrived at Paul Brown Stadium during Sunday's embarrassingly lackluster 42-14 beat-down loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
When the Bengals went ahead 35-7 on the opening drive of the second half, they had two more touchdowns (five) than the Vikings had first downs. The Vikings offense went 0-for-9 with zero yards and two turnovers on third downs, while the defense allowed Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to complete 7 of 10 passes to five different targets for 120 yards, five first downs and a touchdown on third downs.
The list of head-turning incompetence could continue, but let's just say it was a debacle in every facet but rookie Cordarrelle Patterson's electrifying kickoff returns and 35-yard touchdown run.
After the game, players came to Frazier's defense, which has been a common occurrence down the stretch of a 4-10-1 season that has dropped Frazier to 20-33-1 in his three-plus seasons as head coach. One player with considerable clout said he would be talking to management to express his desire to see Frazier coach another season.
"I'm definitely not an individual that's looking for dramatic change like that," running back Adrian Peterson said. "It will hurt if he leaves.
"I'll try and say what I have to say [to management about Frazier], but there's a time and place for everything. With the season getting ready to wrap up, that time is coming. I'm going to give my input and see what they have to say."
Frazier's contract, which runs through 2014, is working against him. He won't get an extension and coaches typically aren't put into a lame-duck status because of the distractions that can create.
Also working against him, obviously, is two double-digit-loss seasons in a three-year span. Also, being a defensive-oriented coach, it's not a good sign when your team has allowed a league-high 467 points and is within 18 points of unseating Les Steckel's 3-13 team from 1984 as the worst in franchise history.
Still, Frazier is doing a fairly good job staying focused on trying to win games. A week before the Bengals fiasco, he did manage to guide the Vikings to a 48-30 upset of a Philadelphia Eagles team that was leading the NFC East.
"I think for our players, it's important that they focus on the task," Frazier said Monday. "That's what I'm asking them to do, and I need to do the same thing. It's very, very important if you want to have a chance to win these games down the stretch that I stay focused on what's involved with leading our team and I want them to follow. It's important I handle it the right way."
--DE Jared Allen had half a sack against the Bengals and needs another half-sack in the season finale to extend his streak of seasons with at least 10 sacks to seven years. He also has a half-sack lead over Brian Robison for the team lead. Allen hasn't failed to lead his team in sacks since 2006, his third year with the Chiefs.
--Peterson (foot, groin) returned Sunday after missing the Baltimore game because of a sprained right foot. But he clearly wasn't himself because of the foot and a groin injury that has nagged him for weeks. With the Vikings trailing the Bengals by 28 points early in the third quarter, Peterson was pulled after just 11 carries. Peterson will be reevaluated this week.
--RB Toby Gerhart (hamstring) also returned Sunday after missing the Eagles game. He tweaked the hamstring chasing down a defender who had recovered a fumble. He's unlikely to play this week.
--TE John Carlson (concussion) was placed on injured reserve on Saturday. Carlson has a history of concussions, including two in two years with the Vikings. He's going to consider retirement in the offseason.
--CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle) missed his second straight game and will be reevaluated this week. Without Rhodes, punt returner Marcus Sherels made his sixth career start. He's not the most physically gifted player, but he's a quick little scrapper who knows how to stay in position.
--RG Brandon Fusco (knee) returned Sunday after missing the Baltimore game. He made it through the Bengals game and will play on Sunday against the Lions.
--CB Chris Cook (knee) returned after missing the Baltimore game. He didn't start, but that was performance-related. He rotated with Shaun Prater after Prater left briefly because of an injury. At this point, even Prater, who was claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Oct. 22, is better than Cook.
--MLB Audie Cole (ankle) left Sunday's game early with a high ankle sprain and won't play in the season finale. Without Cole, WLB Erin Henderson, who was ineffective in the middle earlier this season, returned to the middle. Marvin Mitchell moved back to weak-side linebacker, a small role in the Vikings' defense because of how often they play nickel.
--CB Shaun Prater (ankle) left Sunday's game briefly but returned. He'll be reevaluated this week. He has been one of the surprise backups to step forward down the stretch. He has a chance to stick with the team beyond this season.