Headed into Tuesday night’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings had lost consecutive games by a combined score of 61-17 and were forced to wait an extra 2 days to play their Week 16 game due to another weather-related delay.
Frustration and anxiety could have best suited the feelings among Vikings players while waiting to play the Eagles, but instead, team leaders took a stand to staying focused and making sure the rest of the team had the same mindset.
“After having a couple of tough losses like we had and some of the circumstances involved in those losses, guys can tend to, especially young guys, begin to think more about the offseason than the next opponent,” Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier said during his day-after-the-game press conference. “I needed our veteran guys to step up in that locker room, on the field and at practice to lead the way and that’s exactly what Jared Allen did, Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield, Adrian (Peterson), different guys that are in leadership roles, that’s exactly what they did.
“They stepped up and not only backed it up with talk but they did it on the field as well and our younger players really followed their example last night.”
Frazier re-established a group of team leaders after he assumed his current role as interim head coach in order to create a stronger relationship between himself and his players. He also wanted to make sure that the team leaders would gain a better understanding of what was expected of them and to communicate that message with the rest of the players in the locker room.
The days leading up to Tuesday night’s victory and the outcome of the game may well have been the best example of the Vikings cohesiveness between the head coach, team leaders and the rest of the club.
After the decision had been made to postpone the game until Tuesday night, Vikings team leaders shared their thoughts on the issue and it is clear that everyone remained focus on the task at hand.
“Coach Frazier told us to continue to stick together, to stay focused, and that’s what we’ll do,” RB Adrian Peterson mentioned on Monday.
Other leaders voiced their opinions on Monday as well. DE Jared Allen said, “We have to remain together as a team and keep a positive mind frame.”
Vikings K Ryan Longwell referenced a meeting the team leaders had with Frazier on Monday.
“We have every reason, because of the season, to say ‘this is the last straw and I’m checking out,’” Longwell said. “But this is the NFL and you can’t do that. You have to show up ready to play Tuesday night and that’s what we’re trying to get the young guys and everybody to understand.”
Frazier needed his leaders to step up on Tuesday night and that’s exactly what they did. And it rubbed off on the younger players as well en route to the 24-14 upset victory over the Eagles.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier, Ryan Longwell
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