The Vikings are planning to replace head coach Leslie Frazier after the season, according to ESPN, despite team officials saying no decision has been made.
Not so fast, said FOX Sports NFL reporter Jay Glazer, who, like many, believed Frazier still had an opportunity to save his job before the Vikings' 42-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but a second losing record in three years doesn't bode well for him.
"There's a slight window open. These last two weeks could be very big for Leslie Frazier," Glazer said before the Vikings finished their road schedule winless. "I still think it leans more toward him leaving, but at least now there will be a conversation."
Frazier also expected that a conversation would take place.
"We'll have some internal discussion, but I've got one more game this season," he said after the Bengals loss. "I'm looking forward to hopefully coaching that final game and getting us a win at Mall of America Field as we close out the Dome."
Although RB Adrian Peterson told reporters after the game he didn't think a change was needed and that he would lobby ownership to keep Frazier, the Vikings giving up 42 points to the Bengals won't help the cause of a defensive-minded coach.
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has been one of the Vikings' reported interests over the last two weeks and ESPN added Vanderbilt coach James Franklin to that list of reported Vikings interests.
O'Brien's contract with Penn State would require a buyout between $6.48 million and $6.7 million for an NFL team, according to various reports, down from $19.33 million last year.
Franklin has a 23-15 record in his three years with Vanderbilt, including a 9-7 record in the Southeastern Conference. In the last 19 games, Franklin is 15-4, a record that is only surpassed in the SEC by Alabama's Nick Saban.
In 2011, Franklin inherited a team that had finished 2-10 in two consecutive seasons and directed them to three straight bowl appearances. This year, Vanderbilt beat Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the same season for the first time in Vanderbilt history and made it two consecutive years with at least eight wins, the first time the university has done that since the 1920s.
O'Brien has a 15-9 record since taking over Penn State's program in 2012 following Joe Paterno's long run there. O'Brien interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles in January 2013.
Peterson started and played generously in the first half Sunday, despite clearly being limited with his sprained foot and groin strain. Toby Gerhart suffered a recurrence of his strained hamstring on the Vikings' first series, further calling Peterson into duty.
But by the third quarter the Vikings decided to shelve Peterson for the rest of the game and turned to their only remaining healthy tailback, Joe Banyard, who was called up from the practice squad on Saturday.
"We ended up taking (Peterson) out in that second half. I just didn't think it was wise to keep playing him," Frazier said. "We'll see how he is this week. It just wasn't the right thing to do to keep him in there (Sunday)."
Those injuries contributed to WR Cordarrelle Patterson being the team's leading rusher for the game. He ran it three times for 54 yards and a touchdown. But he also was big in the return game, getting the opportunity to return four kickoffs for 143 yards.
"We didn't take advantage of that. We started with ideal field position to start the game and he had a few others that he had set us up with good field position as well," Frazier said. "When you don't take advantage of those on the road, it's going to come back to get you over the course of the game. It's tough to win when you miss opportunities or you're giving the ball away. We didn't play winning football for sure."
PRATER, SIMPSON BOTH HURT IN RETURN
WR Jerome Simpson and CB Shaun Prater both talked about returning to play against the Bengals, who drafted both of them. But each of them struggled to stay on the field Sunday against their old team.
Prater suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter. He returned to the game and tried to play into the third quarter but was replaced by Chris Cook, who struggled in coverage and with an injury of his own.
Simpson was hurt in the second quarter when he leaped for a high throw along the sideline and was undercut. He landed on his upper back and neck and was examined for a possible concussion but returned to the game.
Simpson was targeted five times for the game, but managed only one catch for 8 yards. Prater had two tackles.
MLB Audie Cole also suffered an ankle sprain and was replaced by Erin Henderson. Frazier said Cole had an MRI, but he wasn't certain if it was a high ankle sprain or not.
DT Letroy Guion also suffered strained quadriceps.
DALTON, BENGALS UNSTOPPABLE AT HOME
Andy Dalton continued his recent mastery at home. In throwing four touchdown passes against the Vikings, he made it four straight home games with three or more TD passes. Combined with Peyton Manning's performance on Sunday, it was the 17th time this season that a quarterback has thrown at least four touchdowns without an interception, one short of the NFL record.
In the last four games at Paul Brown stadium, Dalton has 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Bengals also reached 40 points for the fourth straight game at home.
It was also the 11th time in the last two seasons that Dalton had a three-touchdown game, tying Aaron Rodgers for third-most in the NFL.
It was the third time the Vikings have given up 40 points this season, all in losses.
FREEMAN INACTIVE AGAIN
The Vikings had no big surprises on their inactive list Sunday. Peterson and Gerhart were both active against the Bengals, but third-string running back Matt Asiata, who carried 30 times in the absence of Peterson and Gerhart last week, was inactive with an ankle injury. That allowed Joe Banyard, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, to get some playing time when Peterson and Gerhart were out for much of the second half of the game.
QB Josh Freeman was inactive once again, which would seem to signal his fate and future with the Vikings. Also inactive were CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle), T Mike Remmers, WR Rodney Smith, DT Chase Baker and DE Justin Trattou.
Prater started in place of Rhodes.
The Bengals were without LB James Harrison because of a concussion he suffered last Sunday, with Michael Boley starting for him, but G Andrew Whitworth and DE Carlos Dunlap played after suffering concussions last week, too.
Joining Harrison on the list of inactive Bengals were WR Dane Sanzenbacher, CB Terence Newman (knee), RB Rex Burkhead, DT Devon Still and WR Ryan Whalen. Dre Kirkpatrick got the start for Newman and Mike Pollak started for G Kevin Zeitler (foot).
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Notebook: Conflicting views on Frazier
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