Bus Stops: Frazier needs Favre, other players to step up for Vikings
If Leslie Frazier wants full-time gig, Brett Favre will need to lead charge
John Fox and Gary Kubiak could be next coaches to lose their jobs
Colts-Chargers is the one Week 12 game I'm looking forward to most
Throughout the 2010 NFL season, SI.com's Nick Zaccardi will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the latest happenings in the league. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
The Vikings players will rally around Leslie Frazier. They've been griping about Brad Childress for weeks and finally got their wish. Whenever a coach is let go in-season, the players are left with the pressure to perform. Fail and they may lose their jobs, too. It's an almost identical setup to what Dallas is facing in the wake of the Wade Phillips firing. The Cowboys, by the way, are 2-0 since their coaching change.
Can the Vikings (3-7) make the playoffs? No, but everybody has incentive to play hard and prove their worth over the final six games, under a clean slate and in an environment more conducive to success. Frazier will energize this team much like Jason Garrett has sparked the Cowboys. Unlike Garrett, Frazier faces a quandary at quarterback.
Brett Favre looked finished during and after Sunday's 31-3 loss to the Packers. He said after the game that he needed to "re-evaluate" his situation. I'll re-evaluate it for him. Favre needs to play. Not for his legacy or his streak, but for Frazier, who's operating under an interim tag. Favre definitely isn't the quarterback of the future in Minnesota, but he's a better option than Tarvaris Jackson right now, and Frazier needs to win quickly to secure the full-time job going into 2011.
Favre's in a tough situation. You see it all the time in sports when aging stars hang on a little too long. I was an exception, so sure I was going to retire after Super Bowl XL that I told Art Rooney before the game it would be my finale, win or lose. I haven't had the hunger to suit up again. But consider that Favre has been playing football for the majority of his life. It can be scary to leave the sport when it's one thing you've known for decades. The day football is no longer in your life is a traumatic experience.
Maybe this shakeup is just what Favre needs, for the team to come together under a common goal. The key term in Minnesota right now is "self-preservation." For Frazier and for every man in that locker room, their jobs are now on the line.
John Fox and Gary Kubiak could be the next coaching casualties. Fox has been a very good coach for a long time with the Panthers since succeeding George Seifert in 2002, but it's time to mix things up in Carolina. The Panthers are 1-9 with four straight losses, and it's clear Fox's time is running out (his contract, fittingly, expires after the season). It's similar to the end of Mike Shanahan's tenure in Denver in that the organization needs to be refreshed.
Kubiak has to take responsibility for the Texans' inability to close out games. When you're losing games like the Texans are, the head coach is held accountable either for a lack of preparation or attention to detail. Clearly, this team owns playoff-caliber talent and is capable of beating anybody in the NFL. Yet they've fallen into last place in the AFC South with four straight losses.
Stay tuned to the situation in Tennessee; it could get ugly. Jeff Fisher decided Vince Young wasn't fit to return to Sunday's game after suffering a thumb injury, and Young obviously didn't agree. When a quarterback publicly goes against his coach, it's very telling. It's a sign he doesn't believe in the coach. To me, that means the Titans need to look at making a serious change.
That change should be simple: Fisher parts ways with Young and finds a new quarterback. It won't be that easy. Owner Bud Adams has been very vocal in support of Young, and he reiterated that point to Nashville media Monday. So Fisher's hands may be tied to a certain degree, but while Young is in a precarious position, I think Fisher's job is safe.
Like Fisher, Marvin Lewis and Mike Singletary don't need to worry yet. Lewis' Bengals blew a 17-point halftime lead and were outscored 35-0 by the lowly Bills in the second half of Sunday's loss. They're 2-8 with seven straight losses and in last place in the AFC North. I don't see any change happening in Cincinnati for one reason: Marvin Lewis is the best coach the Bengals can afford. That franchise is thrifty and won't want to hire a big-name coach that can come in and make quick, positive changes. They're also likely to stand pat because they don't have the expectations of winning like the Cowboys or Vikings. Lewis is not on the hot seat.
Singletary isn't as safe in San Francisco, but I don't think his seventh loss was the last straw. The 49ers will evaluate him on the merits of a 16-game season and not on a game-by-game basis. Singletary has six games left to get his team to respond and prove to management that he deserves to keep his job.
A few more quick thoughts ...
--Richard Seymour needs to be suspended for his cheap-shot hit on Ben Roethlisberger. Seymour's actions were inexcusable, but I bet Roethlisberger said a little bit more than, "Let's get ready for the extra point."
--Ndamukong Suh's hair takedown of Marion Barber was very reminiscent of a vintage Troy Polamalu highlight. I can tell you Polamalu never thought about trimming his locks when we were teammates. It's just an occupational hazard as Barber found out.
--If I had the chance to play football in a baseball park, I would have preferred the old Yankee Stadium or Tiger Stadium.
--Week 12 features an interesting slate of games, including Packers (7-3) at Falcons (8-2) and Bucs (7-3) at Ravens (-7-4), but I'm most intrigued by a battle between a 4-5 team and a 6-4 team on Sunday Night Football. Two MVP contenders will go at it when the Chargers face the Colts in what's sure to be a high-scoring affair. I'll take Peyton Manning to beat Philip Rivers at home and bounce back from Sunday's loss in New England.