The Broncos, who fired the embattled and controversial head coach Monday, are in the process of looking for a replacement head coach. That search may well bring them back to a candidate they bypassed in the last job search – Leslie Frazier.
Frazier was a finalist for the Broncos job following the firing of Mike Shanahan after the 2008 season. At the time, many viewed Frazier as the favorite to win the position, since McDaniels was viewed as a coach who, while coming from a successful program in New England, simply didn't have the level of experience to be a head coach. Frazier, who had worked his way up the coaching ladder with successful stints in Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Minnesota, was a logical contender, but, when the decision came down, the Broncos went with McDaniels.
It may have been one of the worst franchise decisions in Broncos history to choose McDaniels over Frazier. Before he coached his first game, McDaniels created controversy when word got out that Denver had tried to work a three-team deal, widely reported that the Vikings were the third team, that would have sent QB Jay Cutler to the Vikings, Matt Cassel from the Patriots to the Broncos and the Vikings' first-round pick in 2009 from the Vikings to New England. The deal fell through, but when Cutler found out about it through channels, his relationship with McDaniels was permanently severed. As a result, Denver had to scramble, trading Cutler to the Bears for a pair of first-round picks and QB Kyle Orton. Within a year, McDaniels butted heads with star receiver Brandon Marshall and traded him to Miami.
In the span of 12 months, McDaniels got rid of a young franchise QB and a young superstar wide receiver because they didn't fit in "his system." He was fired less than two years into his tenure as coach and the Broncos are in the scrambling process to find a permanent replacement.
While the Vikings haven't let their intentions be known, the business of football is going to continue and, given that the Broncos seriously considered hiring Frazier, the pressure may be on the Vikings to make their decision prior to or immediately after the end of the regular season.
The conventional wisdom was that the Vikings would go outside the organization to hire a big-name head coach. The thinking was that Frazier would be a solid backup plan. However, with the Broncos back in the mix, the Vikings may have to ratchet up their own timetable. Having the option of Frazier in their hip pocket if they can't get a coach like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher to come out of the analyst chair and into the head coach position was a nice trump card. But, thanks to decisions made a time zone away, that insurance policy may no longer be valid. If the Vikings want to keep Frazier, they may have to step up sooner than later to get that done.
"Brett, he's our starting quarterback and if he's healthy, he's going to be out there," Frazier said. "If there's any definition of an ironman, it would be Brett Favre. It's incredible what he's accomplished in his career."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.