The NFL coaching guillotine came down hard and swift Monday morning, with the Minnesota Vikings axing Leslie Frazier after three seasons, and the Washington Redskins jettisoning Mike Shanahan with one year left on his contract.
“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for Leslie and what he has done for the Minnesota Vikings,” owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement distributed by the team. “He stepped in and established a strong positive culture here, and he has been the consummate professional as our head coach and in this community. Making this change is difficult but what we determined is best for the organization.”
Frazier, 54, like Shanahan, had another year on his contract. Frazier was 21-33-1 in his tenure and was done in by poor quarterback play. Christian Ponder was the starter and did not amount to much. Neither did any of his replacements. And so, the Vikings’ offense was totally Adrian Peterson, and, despite his greatness, teams keyed on him to contain him, rendering the offense futile.
Meanwhile, Shanahan was a disaster with the Redskins. His teams were 24-40, which did not sit well with the loyal fan base.
“Redskins fans deserve a better result,” Snyder said in a written statement released by the team. “We thank Mike for his efforts on behalf of the Redskins. We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs.”
Shanahan team rallied to win six straight at the end of last season to make the playoffs. But many blame him for not sitting an obviously ailing Robert Griffin III in the playoff loss to Seattle. Griffin, a premier young quarterback, suffered a torn ACL and was out until the first regular season game this season.
The Redskins won just three games this season and Shanahan benched Griffin in the final three games supposedly to protect him from injury. His fate was sealed by then.
“I thought we’ve done a lot of good things,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to win. We weren’t able to do that, and for whatever reason, I’m responsible for that and disappointed we couldn’t get that done.”