Spielman on QBs: ‘I haven’t got it right yet’

Fair or not to now-fired coach Leslie Frazier, the Minnesota

Vikings have had a glaring void at quarterback since he was

hired.

General manager Rick Spielman said he’s confident he will solve

the problem, but he also acknowledged Monday his prior lack of

success at doing so.

”I haven’t got it right yet,” Spielman said. ”We’ve worked as

hard as we could to try to get that right.”

Spielman has had full charge of the roster for the last two

seasons and been a chief decision-maker on the draft with the

Vikings for seven years. He said he takes full responsibility for

the personnel decisions, which include taking Christian Ponder with

12th overall pick in 2011, that shaped the roster Frazier was

given. Ponder was one of seven quarterbacks to start at least one

game in Frazier’s three-plus seasons.

Spielman also had an underwhelming record in Miami, where in his

time running the personnel department he also failed to deliver a

trustworthy starter at the sport’s most critical position. His

most-maligned move was to trade a second-round draft pick and and

invest a three-year contract in A.J. Feeley, who struggled in 2004

for the Dolphins.

First, Spielman has to hire Frazier’s replacement. Then he must

turn his focus toward the market and the draft, with the importance

of procuring at least a solid long-term starter as pressing as

ever. The Vikings finished 5-10-1, and Matt Cassel either started

or finished all five of the victories. Twice, he relieved an

injured Ponder.

Ponder has one year left on his contract, as does Cassel, who

can opt out of his early to become a free agent. Josh Freeman,

signed in October for an awkward midseason tryout, almost certainly

won’t return after taking one turn on the carousel and producing

the worst passing performance of the year for a team that has had

many bad ones.

Ponder said he wasn’t sure whether the Vikings would keep him,

trade him or cut him. He said he thought Cassel would probably be

named the starter this spring, assuming both he and the team want

him back. Ponder also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings

draft a quarterback. They’ll have the eighth pick in the first

round.

Spielman said the new coaching staff will be heavily involved in

this process.

”I think I would expect that once a decision is made, it will

be probably to stick with that guy and not have what happened this

year,” Ponder said.

Ah, this year. From Ponder to Cassel to Freeman to Ponder again

to finally Cassel, that carousel kept spinning.

”I would never want to say, `Hey, you have to play that guy or

you have to play this guy.’ That’s not my role,” Spielman said,

denying he forced Frazier to start Freeman two weeks after he was

signed or go back to Ponder for more evaluation after that.

In the end, the influence on and blame for another lackluster

season throwing the ball by the Vikings is irrelevant.

”Every team is always going to be looking for that franchise

quarterback until you actually get one,” Spielman said. ”And

you’re going to continually grind away until you finally hit on

one.”

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

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