Vikings Make Roster Moves Official

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 3:32 pm

Anthony Herrera suffered a season-ending knee injury during last week’s game and the Vikings have made a series of roster moves as a result. Here are the specifics…

– RG Herrera was placed on Injured Reserve
– T Patrick Brown was elevated from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster
– DB Cary Harris has been signed to the Practice Squad

Harris is a 2nd-year player out of Southern Cal.

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Frazier Feels Comfortable Managing On Game Day

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 1:01 pm

Our last entry focused on how coaches on the defensive staff will see their roles change and increase with the promotion of Leslie Frazier to interim head coach. But let’s not overlook how Frazier’s role will also change.

The change will certainly not be slight, either. It’s a big change for Frazier, who will go from focusing primarily on defense to taking a more global perspective and managing aspects of the team that include offense and special teams as well. In addition to phases of his own team, Frazier will take on decisions such as whether to punt, kick a FG or go for it on a 4th-and-short situation on the opponent’s 38-yardline. Or whether to challenge a close call early in the 2nd half and risk a timeout that might be needed later in the game.

Frazier has been a head coach previously, but not at the NFL level. His experiences as a coach and player at both the college and professional level, though, seem to have him prepared for the challenge.

“I do feel comfortable in doing it,” Frazier said. “I’ve never had to do it other than to consult in the past in the role that I was in (with the Vikings). But I do feel comfortable with doing it and I’ll do some things in the days to come to prepare and be a little bit sharper than I’ll need to be. But there’s nothing like game experience, and I’ll get that on Sunday.”

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All Defensive Coaches Will See Role Increase

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 12:08 pm

We mentioned this morning that one topic sure to arise in interim head coach Leslie Frazier’s first weekly Wednesday press conference was that of the role of defensive coordinator. Since Frazier was the team’s coordinator prior to the change, that role is now technically vacated and it’s a pivotal role as the team prepares a game plan for its opponent each week.

When asked about it this morning, Frazier said that no titles will officially change but that LBs coach Fred Pagac will become the “lead guy.” At the same time, though, Frazier stressed on multiple occasions that all of the defensive coaches’ roles – specifically those of DL coach Karl Dunbar and DBs coach Joe Woods – will increase.

“Fred will handle the brunt of things,” Frazier explained, “but he’ll get input from Joe, he’ll get input from Karl, obviously I’ll have some input on what they’re doing. But he’s going to be the lead guy; he’ll give direction. He’ll give direction in meetings [and] on the field; he’ll be the lead guy.”

In terms of actually making calls and communicating those calls to players on the field, Frazier indicated that Pagac will fill that role and also that the entire process will be more inclusive than when Frazier was the coordinator.

“Yes, with some assistance from our secondary coach and d-line (coach),” Frazier said of whether Pagac will call defensive plays. “They’re (assistant coaches) going to see some things and say ‘Hey think about this.’ It’ll be probably a little more inclusive than it was when I was doing it on game day.”

Speaking of game day, that’s where Frazier’s role will obviously change the most. He’ll be responsible for all game management issues, from guiding all 3 phases of the team to challenging plays to making decisions on whether to punt or go for it on a 4th-and-short situation. As a result, Frazier will rely on his defensive staff to take care of extra responsibilities so he isn’t tied to one side of the ball.

“Between Fred, Joe and Carl, they’ll handle those calls and put our defense in the best position to be successful,” Frazier said. “I have complete faith and trust in them, just like I do with Bev (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell). And we’ll get it done.”

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On The Docket For Wednesday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 9:33 am

We know that Leslie Frazier is Vikings Interim Head Coach and we know that Brett Favre is Frazier’s starting QB this weekend. But there are some things we don’t know and to figure it out we’ll have to listen to Frazier’s press conference later this morning, which you can watch live on at around 11:20 a.m. CT today.

A few things I’ll be keying in on during Frazier’s press conference are…

– Who will get looks with the 1st team at RG? Anthony Herrera is likely out for the season and the Vikings will need to plug someone in. Will it be Ryan Cook? Chris DeGeare? What’s the plan? I think Frazier has one and I’m sure he’ll be asked about it later this morning.

– Playcalling. Has offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s autonomy changed with Brad Childress now out? Will Frazier still call defensive plays?

– Speaking of calling defensive plays, has Frazier officially appointed a defensive coordinator?

– Frazier has mentioned that the team will see changes – no major changes but tweaks – in how it operates on a day-to-day basis. What are a few examples of those changes?

Those are just a few topics that will likely be broached at this morning’s press conference. What else do you want to know? What are you looking to hear from Coach Frazier? Let us know what you think in the comments section below this entry.

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Trinity Int’l University Takes Pride In Frazier

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 8:35 am

In Leslie Frazier the Vikings have an interim head coach with a wealth of experience and knowledge gained from a successful playing and coaching career at both the college and professional level. Frazier is currently in his 23rd season of coaching, a body of work that includes 12 years on NFL sidelines and 11 years working the college game.

Prior to breaking into the NFL as a member of Andy Reid’s staff with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, Frazier got his coaching start at Trinity International University, where he was the program’s head coach from 1988 to 1996. With Frazier being named interim head coach, Trinity International University published a story on its athletics website that is worth a read, in my opinion.

The story gives you an idea of the pride the university has in Frazier, both because of the coach’s accomplishments at the school and also because of how Frazier has handled himself and advanced since leaving the program. Frazier was the founding coach of the TIU Trojan football program in 1988, with the inaugural season taking place in 1989. Frazier led the Trojans to two conference championships during his tenure at TIU.

Click here to read the story – it’s worth your time.

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Setting The Table For The Washington Redskins

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 7:45 am

The first game of the Brad Childress era back in 2006 was at the Washington Redskins. The first game of the Leslie Frazier era is at…the Washington Redskins. Frazier, who was named interim head coach after the Vikings relieved Childress of his head coaching duties, will lead the Vikings to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on Sunday to try and get the franchise moving in the right direction after a disappointing 3-7 start to the 2010 season.

The Vikings have 4 games behind the Bears and Packers in the NFC North, they’re dealing with injuries to key starters and they’re coming off perhaps their worst defeat in several seasons – a 31-3 drubbing by Green Bay at Mall of America Field. As if those circumstances weren’t difficult enough, Frazier’s first game as the head man comes on the road – the Vikings haven’t won a game on the road in over a year.

But with a new head coach comes a sense of a new beginning and a new direction. Frazier has certainly embraced his chance to lead this team.

“As we prepare for the Washington Redskins,” Frazier said on Monday, “just stressing the importance of them moving forward and not looking back. There will be a lot of things written about the past, but the one thing I am hoping that all of our players recognize, is that we can only do what we can going forward. That means our focus and our attention has to be on the Washington Redskins. Period. Anything else is really inconsequential as to what we have to achieve as a group.”

So let’s briefly discuss the Vikings next opponent – the 5-5 Washington Redskins.

On Offense
Washington is led by QB Donovan McNabb, who was traded by Philadelphia to Washington this past offseason. McNabb has not quite played to expectations – he has 10 TDs compared to 12 INTs and he’s completing only 57.5% of his passes. But there’s no question he’s still a capable QB. There are a couple of things about McNabb that I like: 1) he’s still mobile and able to make plays with his feet and 2) he has a live arm and is probably looking forward to playing against a Vikings secondary that has seen its fair share of adversity so far this season.

Donovan McNabb

Washington’s receivers are solid, with veteran Santana Moss the most recognizable name. TE Chris Cooley might be McNabb’s most reliable target. He’s in the mold of a Dallas Clark from Indianapolis – they play the TE position but behave and look more like a WR. Also, don’t sleep on a youngster named Anthony Armstrong. He had a nice preseason and I’ve noticed him several times this season making plays down the field.

The RBs are up and down, with starter Clinton Portis back in the lineup after missing several games with a groin injury [UPDATE: Portis has been placed on IR]. Ryan Torain filled in for Portis and did well, but now he’s injured as well.

Washington’s offensive line is okay and features 1st-rounder Trent Williams at LT and then a pair of former Vikings in RG Artis Hicks and LG Kory Lichtensteiger.

On Defense
When looking at Washington’s defense, the temptation is to immediately discuss DT Albert Haynesworth. We’ll get into that shortly, but the first aspect I want to mention is LB London Fletcher. He’s a pro’s pro and is a well-respected player in the NFL. He plays inside LB for the Redskins 3-4 defensive scheme and is the quintessential leader – a player who leads by example and has been a productive player for 13 seasons. The other LB I’d mention is OLB Brian Orakpo, who is for my money the team’s best pass rusher and has 7.5 sacks so far this year.

London Fletcher

I think the most dangerous part of this defense for the Vikings this week is the secondary. CB DeAngelo Hall is the most recognizable name probably because he’s been around for 7 seasons as a member of both the Atlanta Falcons and now the Redskins. If you remember, Hall had 4 INTs in one game earlier this year against Chicago. He took one of those picks back for a TD. Another member of the secondary to keep your eye on is S LaRon Landry, who can make all sorts of plays. He was drafted the same year as Adrian Peterson and is developing into a dangerous defender. Landry has 8 passes defensed and 1 INT this year; he also has a forced fumble and a sack. Landry is known as a fierce hitter as well and has terrific speed.

Okay, now let’s talk about that defensive line and Haynesworth. This is head coach Mike Shanahan’s first year on the job in Washington and he’s immediately clashed with his high-profile DT. Haynesworth is supremely talented but has gained the reputation of a malcontent and has also been known to give poor effort too often. When Haynesworth does give maximum effort, though, he’s dominant and can ruin an offense.

Special Teams
Graham Gano handles placekicking duties for Washington and he’s 19 of 26 (73.1%) of FGs this year – not great but also consider he hit a game-winner last week in Tennessee. Gano is a perfect 19 of 19 on PATs. Hunter Smith is the team’s punter and he’s netting just 32.6 yards per punt with only 13 punts being downed inside the 20. Washington is allowing 18.3 yards per return, which ranks 2nd-worst in the NFL.

From a return standpoint, the speedy Brandon Banks is Washington’s man. He’s small – 5-7, 150 pounds – but he has good speed and is as quick as a whip. The Redskins rank 9th in the NFL with 24.9 yards per kickoff return and 9th with 12.0 yards per punt return. Banks has taken 27 of the team’s 46 kickoff returns and 19 of the team’s 21 punt returns.

Brandon Banks

Other Redskins notes…
– Washington has the 22nd-ranked rushing attack and the 10th-ranked passing offense
– The Redskins have the NFL’s worst 3rd-down offense (25.5% conversion rate)
– Washington has the 27th-ranked rushing defense and the 29th-ranked passing defense
– The Redskins are +6 in the give/take ratio

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