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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Submit Your Question For Coach Frazier

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on November 23, 2010 – 10:00 am

Fans can now submit their question for Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier to answer on this week’s episode of Vikings GamePlan.  To submit your question for Coach Frazier, click here.

Vikings GamePlan presented by Sports Authority is the official Minnesota Vikings pregame TV show. Co-Produced by Vikings Entertainment Network and FS North, GamePlan airs on Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM on both KARE 11 and FS North. Vikings radio Play-by-Play man Paul Allen gives viewers an inside look at what to expect in the upcoming game through exclusive Film Study with Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier. KARE 11’s Tim McNiff goes head-to-head with opponent’s media in the popular Media Matchup. GamePlan also wires Vikings players during the game bringing you closer than anyone else can!

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Moving Forward With Frazier

Posted by cjsiewert on November 23, 2010 – 6:53 am

Seven losses over 10 games, alleged finger-pointing amongst teammates and any questions about the player’s support of their head coach can and will be put to a rest from an organizational standpoint, and Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier made that perfectly clear during his introductory press conference on Monday.

“There’s really no reason, no benefit for us to stand up or talk to anyone about what has happened in the past and try and explain away what has happened in the past,” Frazier said. “The most important thing that we can do as a group is to embrace this moment, take advantage of it and correct whatever situation there is that has contributed to our being three-and-seven, period.”

Along with the expectation that his players put forth their best effort “every single snap,” as Mike covered, Frazier stressed an expectation of nothing less than a team effort from each player, rather than an individual effort. It is clear that Frazier will not tolerate selfish play amongst his players.

“I don’t think that there is anybody on our team that can stand back and say, ‘You know what, I’ve done my part, I’m not the reason we’re three-and-seven,’” Frazier acknowledged. “And if we have a guy like that, that guy is being a selfish individual. We want guys that understand the importance of team, and that’s whether you’re on the offensive line, whether you’re a running back or quarterback or wide receiver. That’s the mantra across the board.

“There is nobody on our team right now that is satisfied with where we are and should be able to say that ‘I’m doing my part.’ No. We got to do better across the board.”

Frazier and his team’s effort will be put to the test this Sunday in Washington against the Redskins. Perhaps the most daunting task of playing the Redskins for Frazier’s first game at the helm is the fact that it will be played at FedEx Field. The Vikings have not won a road game in over a year – they beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 11 last season.

Frazier mentioned that he will be making calls to Brad Childress for advise over the remainder of the season, and the most relevant advise that he might ask this week is how to beat the Redskins in their own house.

In Childress’ first regular season game as head coach of the Vikings in 2006, the Vikings beat the Redskins at FedEx Field by a mark of 19-16. The victory marked Childress’ first win as a head coach in the NFL and you can bet that Frazier will be looking for a similar result in his first appearance in that same capacity.

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Frazier Expects Best Effort “Every Single Snap”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 22, 2010 – 5:23 pm

A disappointing record was likely a large factor in the Vikings deciding to part ways with Brad Childress and name Leslie Frazier the interim head coach. A disappointing record also has the Vikings far out of the playoff picture – not mathematically eliminated but certainly needing a drastic improvement to get back into the thick of things.

But Frazier said during his introductory press conference on Monday that he expects maximum effort from his players, regardless of record.

“In our league as a professional player, in my case both having been one and now in a coaching role, you understand that every game you’re being judged on performance,” Frazier explained. “The challenge that our players have is to understand that other people around the League are going to look at that tape. You owe it to your teammates and to your family to go out and play hard every single snap. It’s my job, along with our assistant coaches, to get those guys to play hard every single snap, regardless of record.”

Frazier did not shy away from expectations. He’s taking over a team that’s fallen to 3-7, but he’s also ready to take on the challenge of winning games, starting this Sunday in Washington.

“The best way to judge myself, the assistant coaches and the players, is wins and losses, period,” he said. “Along with the effort that we give on Sunday afternoons. I hope that you will never question the effort of our players, because that’s a reflection on me personally. We’re going to go out and do what is necessary to put ourselves in a position to win every Sunday. That’s the goal and that’s how we’ll approach it.”

– Frazier said that Brett Favre will be the Vikings starter on Sunday in Washington. “There is no hesitation for me in that regard,” Frazier said.
— Asked about individuals he might lean on during his time as head coach, Frazier said: “No question that Tony (Dungy) and I will be talking often in the days and weeks to come. He called me earlier and I haven’t been able to speak to him yet, but we will definitely be conversing over the days and weeks to come, without question.”
— Frazier said he was able to speak with Childress earlier on Monday. “Brad and I had a chance to talk and it was a difficult moment, without question,” Frazier explained. “We both gave one another a hug and just tried to encourage each other. He knows that I’m going to pick up the phone from time to time and call him up and ask him questions about various matters. I just wish he and his family nothing but the best.”

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Player Reaction To Coaching Change

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 22, 2010 – 3:42 pm

Several Vikings players have provided their thoughts on the Vikings coaching change. Here’s what they had to say…

DE Jared Allen
“Today is really a mix of emotions. I’m going to miss Coach Childress. Brad brought me here back in 2008, and I’m thankful for that. I wish him nothing but the best. At the same time, Leslie is a stand-up guy who has our respect. He helped turn this defense into a top ten unit year in and year out. Now this will be a chance for him to lead the organization. Leslie’s great at managing players and coaches, and I know the guys will play hard over the next six weeks.”

LB Heath Farwell
“Coach Frazier is very capable of stepping into this role. He’s an even-keel type of guy who has the respect of the locker room. This is a great opportunity for him to showcase his skills as a head coach, and I support him 100%. I feel bad for Coach Childress. Unfortunately he’s the guy that took the fall for us as players who haven’t been playing as well as we should. I have a lot of support for Brad and I wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

QB Brett Favre
“Leslie is a respected, knowledgeable coach and a quality person. I’ve enjoyed being around him the past couple years and I know he’s going to take this opportunity and make the most of it. What you see is what you get with Leslie. He has a background of winning Super Bowls as a player and coach and he knows what it takes to win in the NFL. He can relate to players having been in their shoes himself and will prepare the team well. Brad Childress is a good guy, a man with strong faith and a great family; I wish him the best in the future. I think we all, starting with me, could have done more to make this a successful season.”

LB Chad Greenway
“I’m saddened and humbled by the firing of Coach Childress. He gave me the opportunity to play for this organization and was responsible for bringing me into the NFL. He shouldn’t have to take the fall for our performance on the field, but now we have to move on. I have a lot respect for Coach Frazier. Leslie is a guy we’re very comfortable with. He’s never too up and down, and he does a good job with game-planning and preparing for opponents. He deserves the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL.”

G Steve Hutchinson
“It’s a tough day because I respect the work that Brad Childress put into this team. Nobody in this locker room would have thought we would be in this position at the start of the season but we have to try to make the most of it now. Brad wanted to win more than anybody, and for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened. I have confidence that Leslie will do a great job moving forward. He’s a standup guy and has a great demeanor.  I know Leslie will be a positive presence for the guys on the team and we’re going to be behind him.”

K Ryan Longwell
“I’m excited for Coach Frazier to have an opportunity to be a head coach. At the same time, it’s disheartening to see Coach Childress go. Ultimately this game comes down to players playing, and we weren’t getting the job done.”

RB Adrian Peterson
“Leslie is a good man and will do a great job as the interim coach. He’s got great football smarts and players can relate to him and vice versa. He has a certain vibe and energy that everyone can feel when they’re around him. When he speaks, guys perk up and tune in. I feel for Coach Childress today. I’ve got the utmost respect for him and I will always owe him. One of my goals when I was drafted here was to win a championship with Coach Childress. He took a chance on me and I’ve always wanted to accomplish our ultimate goals together; I’m sad it didn’t work out that way.”

DT Kevin Williams
“We’re excited to go into the rest of the season with Leslie. We’re ready to roll from here and get back on the field. I wish Brad the best in the future. He and his family were always great to me and my family. As players, we’ve got to move forward from here with a new focus.”

DT Pat Williams
“I’m sad to see Coach Childress leave. I respect him as a coach and a person, but we have to keep fighting as a team for the remainder of the season. Leslie has my full support. He’s a good person and a good coach. He deserves to be a head coach in this league. Whether it’s here or somewhere else after this season, he deserves the opportunity.”

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A Goodbye To Childress And Welcome To Frazier

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 22, 2010 – 2:31 pm

Although it comes one day after a game we’d all like to forget, the decision to part ways with Brad Childress and name Leslie Frazier the interim head coach will go down as an important day in Vikings history. The Vikings have a proud history and through nearly 50 seasons have hired just 7 head coaches – Frazier has a chance to be named the 8th head coach in team history.

But before we kickoff the Leslie Frazier era with a 3:00 p.m. CT press conference this afternoon, I wanted to take a moment to wish Childress well. He’s come under heavy fire from fans recently and was never fully embraced, but there’s no denying that he put every fiber of his being over the last 5 years toward making the Vikings better. And he did make the Vikings better.

Under Childress the Vikings improved their win total by 2 each year, going from 6 wins in 2006 to 12 wins in 2009 and a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Childress, in conjunction with VPs Rob Brzezinski and Rick Spielman, won back-to-back division titles, built a stingy defense and boasted one of the most productive and entertaining offenses in the NFL during the 2009 season. Childress was also a big part in adding quality character players to the locker room and improving the veteran leadership. Over the last 3 years, each player on the 53-man roster has participated in at least 1 community outreach initiative.

“The past five years have been a tremendous experience for my family and I as the Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings,” Childress said on Tuesday. “I have a great respect for the players and coaches who I have worked with and for their dedication to each other and to the organization. I am proud of our accomplishments and believe the foundation of this football team is stronger today than when I became Head Coach in 2006. I appreciate the opportunity that Zygi, Mark, and the whole Wilf family afforded me and wish them success as they move forward.”

As great as the 2009 season was under Childress, the 2010 season has been every bit as disappointing. And as head coach, the buck stopped with Childress. The result is what happened today – Childress being dismissed and Frazier being promoted. Regardless of your feelings about the 2010 Vikings season and the reasons you’ve assigned to the inadequacies, it’s appropriate to wish Childress well as he goes forward. From a personal standpoint, I’m thankful to Childress for many reasons and I’m also thankful to him from a professional standpoint.

In Frazier, the Vikings have a coach who has been to the top in the NFL. Frazier has won a Super Bowl both as a player and coach and he’ll look to rely on his past experiences as well as his past 3+ seasons with the Vikings to try and turn the Vikings in the right direction.

Frazier’s first steps have likely been taken today as he met with coaches and players. His next step is to meet with the media, which he’ll do shortly. From there, it’s time to prepare for the Washington Redskins and welcome a new era of Purple Pride.

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Vikings Relieve Childress, Name Frazier Interim Head Coach

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 22, 2010 – 11:46 am

The Vikings announced today that they have relieved Brad Childress of his duties and have named Leslie Frazier the interim head coach. Childress was hired in 2006 and finishes his Vikings tenure with a 39-35 (.527) regular season record – including back-to-back division titles – and a 1-2 mark in the postseason.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and Frazier will address the media at 3 p.m. CT Monday at Winter Park.

Frazier was originally hired by the Vikings before the 2007 season as defensive coordinator to replace Mike Tomlin, who left the team to take the head coaching job in Pittsburgh. The Vikings promoted Frazier to assistant head coach/defensive coordinator before the 2008 season. Frazier’s defenses have been stout against the run and improving against the pass since ’07. They led the NFL in 2009 with 48 sacks and the team ranks 3rd in the NFL with 131 sacks since ’07.

With the unique perspective of a Super Bowl winner as a player and coach, Frazier has a proven track record of success. Hist first title came as a starting CB with the 1985 Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX and he also won a title as a member of Tony Dungy’s staff in Indianapolis.

The 2010 season is Frazier’s 4th with the Vikings, his 12th in the NFL and his 23rd overall in coaching.

Frazier’s Background
1977-80 – Alcorn State (DB)
1981-86 – Chicago Bears (DB)

1988-96 – Trinity International University
1997-98 – University of Illinois
1999-02 – Philadelphia Eagles
2003-04 – Cincinnati Bengals
2005-06 – Indianapolis Colts
2007-Present – Minnesota Vikings

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