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Vikings should focus on Lions, not Frazier’s job

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had purposely avoided mentioning his uncertain job status around his players until changing his mind shortly after Sunday’s lackluster 42-14 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals.

So on Tuesday, he went into his team meeting and brought it up for the first time.

“It’s like the elephant in the room,” Frazier said when asked about the timing. “I just felt like I needed to get that addressed. Looking back at it, I probably should have dealt with it a week ago. I don’t want those guys to be distracted. I want them to focus on the opponent. I felt like we got a little distracted last week. I want to make sure that we’re all focused on one thing and that’s winning this game against Detroit.”

Frazier heads into Sunday’s game against the Lions at 4-10-1 this season and 20-33-1 since replacing Brad Childress as interim head coach with six games left in the 2010 season. Frazier’s contract runs through the 2014 season, but NFL coaches typically get contract extensions or fired before reaching a lame-duck season.

Obviously, Frazier isn’t getting a multi-year extension after this season if he didn’t get one in 2012 after posting a seven-win improvement during a playoff season.

Like Frazier, Detroit’s Jim Schwartz is out of the playoff picture (7-8) and in danger of losing his job. The Lions led the NFC North and were the healthiest team in the division before blowing the season with five losses in six games, including the past three.

The game means nothing in terms of the playoffs and probably won’t do anything to save Frazier’s job. But Frazier typically gets maximum effort from his players, so he’s still trying to do all he can to win a fourth straight home game in what will be the final game in the 31-year history of the Metrodome. The Lions, meanwhile, are trying to finish with a victory after going 7-23 in 30 Metrodome appearances.

Unlike Frazier, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel said he didn’t think the team was distracted by Frazier’s uncertain job status.

“I didn’t sense that at all,” Cassel said. “I think the last game came down to pure execution. We didn’t execute and it showed on third down and throughout the course of the game. We had (four) turnovers. Obviously, myself, I have to do a better job of taking care of the football. We just have to play better football.”

Linebacker Erin Henderson said Frazier’s comments weren’t necessary.

“That was just something he wanted to do, that he felt was necessary,” Henderson said. “We just go out and play football and control what we can control. (Frazier’s job status) is something that’s very far from our hands. We’re just focusing on Detroit.”

Linebacker Chad Greenway also said it wasn’t a significant distraction.

“Maybe it is from the perspective of answering questions and stuff like that for him,” Greenway said. “But for us, we have jobs to fight for too so we’re trying to do our job as well we can.”