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Don't Blame Rick Spielman for the Minnesota Vikings' Failures

The Vikings GM Whiffed on the Christian Ponder Pick, but Has Put Together a Talented Roster that His Coach Hasn't Been Able to Use Properly

Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Vikings are wrapping up one of the most disappointing seasons in team history as they trudge into Sunday's Week 14 game with the Baltimore Ravens with a record of 3-8-1. Seasons like this usually mean that change is coming in the NFL, and with a 3-13 season already on his resume, there's a good chance that head coach Leslie Frazier will be shown the door on "Black Monday."

That leaves the future of general manager Rick Spielman up in the air. He whiffed badly by selecting Christian Ponder with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and that's lead to the continuation of mediocre quarterback play the franchise has seen since Fran Tarkenton retired. However, looking at his track record with the Vikings, it's hard to say he is the reason for the team's demise.

Spielman has put together a quality roster for a team that finished 10-6 and went to the playoffs a season ago. His overall plan to build through the draft has stocked the Vikings with quality, young players such as Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes.

He's also been aggressive when he's needed to be. While he was overaggressive on the Ponder pick, he also used this trait to trade four draft picks for Cordarrelle Patterson in last April's draft and signing Greg Jennings to try and give their quarterback the weapons he didn't have the year before.

Patterson and Jennings haven't had the success that most Viking fans envisioned last spring, but that's on the coaching staff more than it is on Spielman.

Frazier's staff has been dreadful in 2013. Offensive coordinator "Wild Bill" Musgrave has limited the team's potential for big plays outside of giving Adrian Peterson the football and has yet to find a way to get his new toys involved. For instance, it apparently took Patterson eight months to learn how to take a handoff and get to the end zone like he did in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

The defense has been just as bad. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams put blind faith into Josh Robinson as an outside corner and that became one of the worst decisions in the entire league. He also banked on his defensive line sustaining pressure on the quarterback, but a drop in sacks has meant more time for opposing quarterbacks to pick the Vikings' beat up secondary apart.

Then there's Frazier, who has turned Spielman's efforts into an incredibly lousy team on the football field.

Although there was enough talent on the field to make a playoff run, Frazier held the team back with bad decisions and terrible in game management. His love for Ponder has become incredibly unjustifiable after Spielman spent three million dollars in season on Josh Freeman and he's dropped several games late thanks to a conservative approach that is almost comical to watch.

The simple truth is that Frazier was never Spielman's choice to be the head coach. He was promoted when the "Triangle of Authority" method was in place for Viking management and it wouldn't be a fair shot for Spielman if he is sent packing for Frazier's failures.

With the addition of a coach that knows what he's doing, the Vikings can get back on track with Spielman and return to the playoffs sooner than people think. If they let him walk, it will be another mistake for a franchise that seems content to be mediocre.

Chris Schad is a lifelong Vikings follower that has seen triumph and heartbreak for the franchise over 27 seasons. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.

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