Rick Spielman named Vikings GM
Following a disastrous 3-13 season that prompted calls for a power shake-up, Rick Spielman is now the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings.
The move essentially represents a promotion of Spielman from Vice President of Player Personnel -- a position he has held since May 2006 -- to the undisputed top personnel management spot in the organization.
From '06 until today, the Vikings "triangle of authority" personnel management structure divided power between the head coach (first Brad Childress and now Leslie Frazier), Spielman, and Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski. That triangle helped build an impressive roster that advanced within one play of the Super Bowl just two years ago, but also oversaw the Vikings' sudden decline from those heights to back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North.
Prior to coming to Minnesota, Spielman had a short and unsuccessful tenure as general manager of the Miami Dolphins. In 2004, his last year with the club, the Dolphins put up an ugly 4-12 record, resulting in his ouster along with head coach Dave Wannstedt.
Spielman had an unsuccessful tenure as Miami GM before coming to Minnesota in '06.
A Dolphins blog encapsulated Spielman's shortcomings as follows: "Perhaps nothing doomed Spielman more than his penchant for trading away valuable draft picks and failing to secure fair compensation for key players lost to free agency."
With the Vikings, Spielman's main responsibility has been overseeing the draft. In this respect, he has a mixed track record. Highlights include drafting Adrian Peterson in the first round in '07, drafting Percy Harvin in the first round in '09, and snagging Joe Webb in the sixth round in 2010. But he's also overseen questionable picks like safety Tyrell Johnson in the second round in '08, cornerback Chris Cook in the second round in 2010, and right tackle Phil Loadholt in the second round in '09.
At a press conference following his promotion, Spielman said he now has final authority on all personnel matters, but said Leslie Frazier will return as coach next year and have authority over any potential coaching staff changes.
Heading into this offseason, the roster Spielman helped construct has more holes than the logic deployed during a Republican presidential debate. After Peterson's knee was blown up during the Vikings' late-season win at Washington, the only sure-thing player on offense appears to be Harvin. The offense line is a mess, it remains unclear whether the Vikings have a competent quarterback on the roster, and the 2011 team trotted out one of the least heralded and productive receiving corps in franchise history.
The defense, outside of stud pass-rusher Jared Allen, looks to be equally shaky, with the secondary in particular in need of a major overhaul.
Reaction to Spielman's promotion in the Twitter-verse appeared to be almost exclusively negative. A couple particularly witty tweets came courtesy of local sports blogger Canis Hoopus, who parodied Speilman's news conference as follows:
Spielman: I cannot wait to do to the Vikings what I did to the Dolphins. I'm so thankful all of you expect different results.-- canishoopus (@canishoopus) January 3, 2012
Hoopus also echoed many other tweeters in criticizing Vikings brass for not pursuing more wholesale changes following the worst season in team history:
Congratulations, Vikings fans.You get the same people running the team...with different titles!!! #somehowitwillbedifferent-- canishoopus (@canishoopus) January 3, 2012
With a shaky track record and in-shambles roster, Spielman has a lot to prove. And while the squad only won three games last season, Vikings fans must hope Spielman has more success in his second go-round as GM than he did during his short-and-bitter stint with Miami.
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