An Exciting Day For The Vikings Concludes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2011 – 6:15 pm

As disappointing as the 2010 season was for the Vikings, January 3 of 2011 represents an even brighter moment for the franchise’s future. Leslie Frazier was named head coach and he’ll look to guide the Vikings back to success.

The announcement came around 2:00 p.m. today and was followed by a 4:15 p.m. press conference that saw Zygi Wilf introduce Frazier as head coach. In introducing Frazier, Mr. Wilf mentioned that the Vikings new head coach is a natural leader and possesses the qualities necessary to be a successful head coach in the NFL.

Frazier then spoke with reporters and projected his excitement and ambition for his new job. Frazier said being an NFL head coach is a dream come true and he said the Vikings represented the perfect situation for him. This is significant because Frazier has been a candidate for several other head coaching jobs in recent seasons, so he’s seen the gamut of situations. He thinks the situation in Minnesota is one in which he can be successful.

Following the press conference, both Frazier and Mark Wilf stepped into Sports Authority Studios for chats. We’ll have those posted on for you tomorrow. Frazier also spent time with Twin Cities media outlets and both Zygi and Mark Wilf met with a small group of reporters.

That basically caps what’s been an exciting day at Winter Park. Be sure to check out and now and tomorrow to watch Monday’s press conference in on-demand format as well as those interviews with Frazier and Mark Wilf. Tomorrow we’ll have more coverage and reaction of Frazier being named head coach as well as our normal postseason coverage.

For now, goodnight from Winter Park.

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Vikings Players React To Leslie Frazier Hiring

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2011 – 3:28 pm

I’m sure we’ll be in touch with several Vikings players over the next several hours to get their comments about the Vikings choice to hire Leslie Frazier as head coach. So instead of writing separate entries for each player quote, we’ll compile a long list here and continually update it, with the newest quotes at the top.

DT Kevin Williams: “We’re excited that Leslie is going to get the chance to be the head coach for the future. He’s put in his time and worked his way up and showed what he could do already this year. He’s a guy who can relate to how the players feel and what they’re going through and that’s important. He’s been where we are and he’s earned our trust.”

DE Jared Allen: “I’m very happy for Leslie to have this opportunity. He’s a great coach and a great person. He provides an excellent work environment, he’s determined to win, and as a former player, he relates to the guys in that locker room. That’s all you can ask for.”

WR Percy Harvin: “Coach Frazier is the perfect fit for this team. This season and the last six weeks were tough on everyone but Coach Frazier did a great job in keeping us together. Now that we know he is leading this team it’s on the players to get his back and go out and win him some ball games. I know the 2010 season just ended but I’m already looking forward to the 2011 Vikings.”

LB Chad Greenway: “It’s great news that Leslie got the job. Guys respond to him and he’s got great respect in the locker room. Coach Frazier deserves this opportunity and I know he’s going to make the most of it.”

LG Steve Hutchinson: “At the end of the season as interim coach he was well-respected by the team. Everyone in the locker room is confident in Leslie and you saw a renewed sense of urgency under him. Leslie has a track record as a player and at a championship level. He’s won a Super Bowl as a coach as well. He knows what it takes to make those strides to get this team there.”

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Interim No More: Vikings Hire Frazier

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2011 – 2:53 pm

For most of his tenure with the Vikings, Leslie Frazier has had a long title. It started as defensive coordinator, which isn’t so long, but was modified to assistant head coach/defensive coordinator following his promotion in 2008. Then following Brad Childress’ dismissal in November, Frazier’s title changed to interim head coach.

Now, it’s a lot shorter. And better.

Frazier is now Vikings Head Coach after he and the Vikings reached an agreement that makes him the 8th head coach in franchise history. Frazier is a 23-year coaching veteran – 12 at the NFL level – and he takes the reins of the team after serving as defensive coordinator from 2007-2010.

Frazier got a head start in his new role when the Vikings named him interim head coach on November 22. The Vikings went 3-3 with Frazier as the interim boss (including 2-1 on the road after losing the previous 9 consecutive away games), but more notable than the record was the grace with which Frazier guided the organization through a tumultuous month of December that saw the Mall of America Field at the Metrodome roof collapse, a home game moved to Detroit, another home game moved to TCF Bank Stadium and then a 3-day postponement in Philadelphia due to a severe winter storm over the Christmas Holiday.

Considering how well the organization and team operated through that stretch of adversity, Vikings owners Zygi, Mark and Lenny Wilf, as well as the entire ownership group and organization, are anxious to watch their new head coach in action under regular circumstances.

Frazier has a broad and complete perspective on the NFL, having served as botha player, an assistant coach and an (interim) head coach. He was a DB for the Chicago Bears from 1981-86, including on the 1985 Bears Super Bowl-winning team. He also won a Super Bowl as an assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts following the 2006 season.

A man of great faith with a level-headed approach to coaching, Frazier is often compared to his former boss in Indianapolis – former Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy. Frazier embraces that comparison and will undoubtedly look to apply those traits to his new job in Minnesota. But Frazier will also draw upon his experiences in Minnesota since 2007 to aide him in building his program with the Vikings.

Frazier’s defense led the NFL in 2009 with 48 sacks and the team entered the 2010 season ranked 3rd in the NFL with 131 sacks. The Vikings defense ranked #6 in the NFL in 2009 and also had a top-10 ranking in 2010, marking the first time the Vikings have boasted a top 10-ranked defense in 3 consecutive seasons since 1992-94.

In 4 full seasons as defensive coordinator, Frazier has helped his players achieve at a high individual level as well, with 5 players earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors and 5 players also earning 10 different Pro Bowl berths.

Frazier came to Minnesota after coaching DBs with Indianapolis and serving as Special Assistant to Dungy for 2 seasons. The 2006 Colts defense clamped down on opponents throughout the playoff run that brought the franchise its first Super Bowl title since 1970. The team notched 7 INTs, 8 sacks and took away 6 fumbles. The Indianapolis defense allowed only 2 second-half TDs in the 4 postseason games and held the Bears out of the endzone for the final 3 quarters of Super Bowl XLI en route to the win.

Prior to his tenure in Indianapolis, Frazier served as defensive coordinator with Cincinnati in 2003 and 2004 and his NFL coach debut game in Philadelphia from 1999-2002 as an Eagles DBs coach.

Prior to coaching on the NFL sidelines, Frazier spent 11 seasons at the collegiate level. In 1997 and 1998, he worked with DBs at the University of Illinois and before that he built the Trinity International University football program from the ground up, starting the program in 1988 and winning 2 Northern Illinois Intercollegiate Conference titles before leaving in 1996.

As a player, Frazier was part of the legendary Bears defense that keyed the Super Bowl XX win over New England. He was a starter at CB on the ‘85 Super Bowl-winning club and led the team in INTs from 1983-85. His career was cut short with a severe knee injury suffered in the Super Bowl. During his career, Frazier had 20 INTs in 65 games played and returned a pair of those picks for TDs.

Frazier was born in Columbus, MS and has a degree in business administration. He was active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes throughout his playing career and currently works with All-Pro Dad, an organization that stresses the importance of fathers taking an active role in the lives of their children and putting family first.

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Check Out The Top 5 Bright Spots Of 2010

Posted by cjsiewert on January 3, 2011 – 2:19 pm

Over the course of the week we’ll take a look back at the “Top 5” bright spots of the 2010 season and what we can look forward to in 2011. I’ll post what I feel have been the most exciting features of Vikings football during their 50th season, from #5 today to #1 on Friday.

Here is the first installment – the impact of the 2010 rookie draft class.

Check back tomorrow for #4 on the list.

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DeGeare May Have Promising Future With Vikings After Solid Rookie Year

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2011 – 10:57 am

The 2010 season was not a typical one for any player in the Vikings locker room, but just imagine what it was like for the team’s rookies. Although they’ve been playing football for most of their lives, first-year players come into NFL locker rooms unsure of what to expect.

But even the most veteran players couldn’t have prepared or expected what happened to the Vikings in 2010, from a disappointing 6-10 record to all of the weather-induced adversity the team faced in the final month. Through it all, though, Vikings rookie G Chris DeGeare seems to have come out of it well and no worse for the ware. In fact, I think he’s gotten a lot better and there seems to be a place for him in the Vikings future.

“I definitely learned a lot. It was crazy; a lot of stuff went on,” DeGeare said on Monday as he packed up his locker. “The veterans told me it’s not typically like this every year and I believe them. I’ve just to keep improving and come back next year to be a better player.”

DeGeare was a 5th-round pick of the Vikings last April and did a nice job integrating into the Vikings system through offseason workouts and training camp. In fact I came away from training camp encouraged by his progress and hopeful he would be an important part of the offensive line rotation. But a high ankle sprain derailed him early in the regular season and he had to work hard to get back into form.

He accomplished that task and was a key cog in the offensive line late in the season. I’ve been told by people who would know that DeGeare was solid in relief of injured LG Steve Hutchinson and that he was sometimes the best Vikings player on the field.

“I got hurt early on this season with a high ankle sprain,” DeGeare explained. “But I did have a great training camp and I was just happy I was able to contribute. I’m happy to chip in and showcase my talent.”

DeGeare played both guard and tackle at Wake Forest University, giving him valuable experience in multiple positions and also equipping him with a mindset to be a versatile offensive lineman in the NFL. Also working in DeGeare’s favor is the fact that he plays behind and learns from a guy like Steve Hutchinson, who has been to 7 Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl.

“The man has so much knowledge and so much experience,” DeGeare said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer and really anything he says to me I take with all seriousness and take it into account. I’m truly blessed to be playing behind a guy like that and being able to have the type of relationship that I do have with him.”

All-in-all, it was a solid season for DeGeare after he was sidelined early with injury. It was encouraging to see him perform well in the offseason program and at training camp, but it was promising to watch him perform on the field in the regular season. It looks like the Vikings may have found a sneaky little prospect in the 5th round.

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Gerhart Set To Watch Former Teammates In Bowl Game Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 3, 2011 – 9:18 am

The Vikings season is over but rookie RB Toby Gerhart has one game left on his schedule of significance. His former team, the University of Stanford Cardinal, plays in the Orange Bowl tonight at 7:30 p.m. CT against the Virginia Tech Hokies and Gerhart has plans to hop on a flight to Miami to catch the game.

There is a team meeting schedule this morning for the Vikings and after that Gerhart told me he’s heading straight to the airport to catch his flight. Because of the tight time constraints, Gerhart said he’s going straight from the airport to the stadium, meaning he’s going to have a lot of luggage to tote with him to the game. But something tells me the Stanford operations and equipment staff will take good care of him.

Gerhart will see a lot of familiar faces tonight, including a current teammate. Vikings WR Greg Camarillo also played at Stanford and he’ll be at the game as well.

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