With the word yesterday that talks are becoming serious about removing the “interim” tag from former Bear player and current Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier‘s title, I’m left with the question of what is holding things up?
Frazier has a lot going for him. For one thing, the team is playing better. For another, there is a possible work stoppage on the horizon and no owner wants to pay two coaching staffs not to work.
Not surprisingly, Todd Archer at ESPNDallas.com is reporting that Jerry Jones is leaning toward leaving interim head coach Jason Garrett permanently in charge, as well. Indeed, Clarence E. Hill, Jr. at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting this morning that Jones is likely to retain Garrett according to a “high-ranking team source”.
One answer to the Vikings problem is likely control over personnel. Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins at the Minneapolis Star Tribune explain the current situation:
“When owner Zygi Wilf overhauled things after his first season in 2005, he implemented a triangle of authority that divided power between [former head coach Brad] Childress and vice presidents Rob Brzezinski and Fran Foley, who would quickly be replaced by Rick Spielman.”
“Wilf and the rest of the decision-makers could look at what happened with Childress and realize giving a coach so much power wasn’t a good idea in the first place — especially, when that never seemed to be the original intent.”
The situation highlights a problem with the Vikings organizational structure. Because the owner in Minnesota is very active in managing the organization, whoever has his ear is more or less in charge. That can lead to decisions which aren’t always the best for the organization.
Right now the highest ranking official in Minnesota, and the one with the most direct access to Wilf, is vice president of player personnel, Speilman, who would undoubtedly like to be general manager. He wouldn’t want Wilf hiring a new head coach or, worse, another general manager who would demand complete personnel control. That means its in his best interests to see that Frazier remains in place and he’s undoubtedly whispering into Wilf’s ear about the advantages of such an arrangement.
Is that what’s best for the Vikings? I have my doubts. Spielman has been a GM before for the Dolphins and I saw nothing at the time that indicated that he’s particularly good at it. Other than spending Wilf’s money, I don’t see that the Viking personnel department has done anything worth more notice than usual. Indeed, the irony is that Frazier may be thinking the same thing as he considers how much control of personnel he can or should wield. As the likely hot minority candidate, he has some leverage and that may be the sticking point.
Admittedly there’s a bit of speculation in the above scenario. Maybe quite a bit. But the bottom line still remains. We are fortunate right now in Chicago to have ownership which has taken a step back from making football decisions for the organization. When that’s not the case, internal politics can take priority over doing what’s best.