Vikings In Good Shape With Frazier, Spielman Working Together

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2011 – 2:27 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman have worked together in the draft preparation process since Frazier was hired as defensive coordinator back in 2007. But their working relationship is much different this year because Frazier is now the club’s head coach and therefore will work much more closely with Spielman and his personnel staff.

And while this is the tandem’s first run-through with the draft, it seems as if everything is running smoothly. Spielman has been effusive in his praise of Frazier’s leadership and communication style in recent weeks and on Friday at the Combine Frazier was just as complimentary of Spielman’s style.

“It’s been good working with Rick and that six-week period helped me a lot, just to see how he goes about things and what his expectations are and for him to get a feel for me as well,” Frazier said.

The 6-week period Frazier referenced is the period of time in which Frazier served as interim head coach following Brad Childress’ departure. During that time, Frazier and Spielman worked together to manage the day-to-day operations of the Vikings roster as they closed out a disappointing 2010 season.

But even during that rough stretch for the franchise, Frazier’s message to everyone who was listening was that those tough times would ultimately be looked back upon as the beginning of something great. Frazier’s mantra is and was that at some point in the near future, when the team had accomplished its goals, the team would look back at the end of the 2010 season and say “That’s where this started.”

“That was very beneficial for both of us,” Frazier said of working with Spielman for the final 6 weeks of the 2010 season. “It’s probably helped us to be further along than we would’ve been if I had been hired in February coming from somewhere else.”

Frazier was asked on Friday if he would defer to Spielman during the draft process. It’s a fair question because Childress held final say over the 53-man roster, but the Vikings have no revealed if Frazier has final say over the roster as a part of his contract as head coach. Ultimately, the “final say” aspect that many people lament over doesn’t matter, and it’s because Frazier and Spielman enjoy a respectful, working relationship.

“I have trust in Rick and the scouts,” Frazier explained. “They’ve done the homework on these players. While we were out trying to win games on Sunday, they were on college campuses gathering information.

“Myself and the coaches, we’ll spend mid-January to April getting to know them (the players), but not nearly to the degree that our scouts will have or Rick. So we’re going to trust them.”

Frazier also explained that while he and his coaching staff will trust the scouts’ research, they also know the scouts will rely on the coaches in the process.

“One of the good things about our relationship is they’re relying heavily on the coaches’ opinions,” Frazier said. “They’re not saying, ‘Okay you’ve got to coach this defensive lineman. You’ve got to coach this offensive lineman’ without the coaches’ input.”

Frazier said the coaching staff has had a chance to explain to the personnel staff what they’re looking for from certain positions.

“That kind of communication gives you a chance to be successful to the point where you trust a Rick Spielman because he’s educated on what our staff wants on Sundays,” Frazier said. “I have no problem if Rick says ‘Hey, this guy is an A+ player versus this guy being a C player. He’s done the background check, he’s done the homework, so I have confidence that he’ll have a good recommendation.”

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Frazier, Spielman Discuss Greenway, Rice And The Franchise Tag

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2011 – 11:57 am

Despite the uncertainty the labor situation brings to the NFL and despite the fact that the franchise tag may or may not be relevant in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, nearly half of the NFL’s franchises have chosen to apply the franchise tag to one of their potential free agents.

The Vikings are one of the teams that have used their franchise tag and they applied it to LB Chad Greenway, ensuring that the 5-year veteran will remain a part of the team for at least one more season and increasing the likelihood that he’ll eventually sign a long-term contract with the Purple. As positive a development as that was for the Vikings, it did leave in question whether or not WR Sidney Rice will return to the club in 2010.

Depending on the rules of the next CBA, Rice could be an unrestricted free agent. If that happens, he’s sure to draw interest from other teams. With all of that said, both Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman were asked about the club’s decision to tag Greenway instead of Rice.

“Sidney is an outstanding player and he’s done a great job for us,” Frazier said on Friday. “But we really like where Chad is right now in his career and what he’s been able to do in staying on the field and getting better every single year, and what he’s done off the field in our community, that was the way to go.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t want Sidney as a Minnesota Viking, because we do.”

Spielman also talked about the value Greenway brings to the defense as a versatile and reliable defender.

“Chad is a valuable part of our organization,” Spielman said on Thursday. “When you look at that and look at what he brings to our defense, and you weigh in the fact that he is a three-down linebacker who is never off the field, he is very important to us. On first and second down, but what he brings to us on third down as well.”

So while Frazier and Spielman spoke highly of Greenway in the same manner, they were also on the same page in how they spoke highly of Rice and feel strongly that Rice is a player the team would like to keep for the long haul.

“He is a high, high priority,” Frazier said of Rice, “and I didn’t want him to be sensitive about the fact that it was Chad being franchised versus Sidney. That does not mean that we’re not going to do right by Sidney. It’s just we couldn’t franchise both of them. We want to get Sidney signed and take care of him because he’s been taking care of our football team.”

Spielman, who along with Vikings VP of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski spent time on Thursday afternoon meeting with agents of players on the Vikings roster, was clear in saying Rice is in the Vikings long-term plans.

“Our goal and objective is to continue to work with his agent,” Spielman said of Rice, “and get a long-term deal done with Chad.”

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Schedule For Day 2 Of Combine

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2011 – 8:50 am

We’re in store for another busy day at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. Here’s a brief breakdown of what’s happening today…

– Today is Arrival Day for defensive linemen and linebackers. Meanwhile, the kickers and punters will workout on the field, offensive linemen and TEs will go through more exams and meetings, and the QBs, RBs and WRs will go through measurements, meetings, interviews and a media session.

– Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier will go through a similar schedule to what VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman experienced on Thursday. He’ll be on with Voice of the Vikings Radio Network Paul Allen at 9:15, then Sirius NFL Radio with Rich Gannon and Adam Schein at 9:45, then a press conference with national media at 10:15 and finally a meeting with local beat writers after the press conference (all times CST).

– While all of that is going on, Videographer Jordan Struck and I will be chasing down players and NFL insiders for interviews and then I’ll also share thoughts and observations on the Blog as the day moves along.

– Be sure to follow us on Twitter, either with the Vikings official account (@VikingsFootball) and/or my personal account (@wobby).

That’s it for now, but we’ll be back with much more as the day moves along.

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Emptying Out The Notebook From Thursday’s Combine Action

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2011 – 7:20 am

We’re all settled into the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium for Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, but before we get rolling too quickly here today let’s empty out the notebook from yesterday’s action.

Specifically, I wanted to share a few more thoughts from Rick Spielman’s meeting with reporters. Here we go…

– Spielman said that he and Vikings VP of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski were schedule to meet with player agents on Thursday afternoon. On-field workouts don’t get rolling until later today, so Spielman and Brzezinski had time to talk business with the agents of players currently on the Vikings roster. NFL teams are prohibited from talking to agents about players from other teams, but there is enough to talk about regarding players on their own teams, especially with the current labor situation complicating matters.

– Speaking of the labor situation, Spielman was asked if reaching a contract extension with RB Adrian Peterson was a priority for the Vikings. Spielman said that the club and Peterson’s representatives would likely wait until a new CBA is reached before they talk turkey on a new contract. Spielman also said that Peterson is a crucial component of the team, indicating that indeed the Vikings will be interested in locking him up to an extension as soon as possible.

– Spielman has led an effort over the last few weeks to get the Vikings prepared not only for the draft at the end of April but also for restricted and unrestricted free agency, which will begin at a date to be determined later. Part of that process is also evaluating the current roster, which is a bit more complex this year because the Vikings have several new coaches on staff. Through it all, though, Spielman said it’s been great working with new head coach Leslie Frazier. With the way the Vikings are structured, communication between Spielman and the head coach is key. Spielman said Frazier has been a clear communicator and is doing a nice job leading the coaching staff in the offseason.

– Every draft has a different identity. Some years the draft is very top heavy, with several elite-level players but not much depth in the later rounds. Some years the draft is stocked with offensive talent but is low on defensive stars. It sounds like this year’s draft is an especially deep one at many positions. This could play into the Vikings hands because Spielman is known for a propensity to trade back in order to accumulate additional picks and collect talented pieces.

This could be a strategy the Vikings employ this year, especially because they hold a relatively high 1st-round pick (#12 overall) that has high trade value and because the Vikings don’t have a 3rd-round pick (Randy Moss trade); Spielman has been vocal in saying he wants to get a 3rd-round pick back somehow.

“We want to have depth everywhere, especially with the roster turnover we’re probably going to have,” Spielman said on Thursday. “And that’s why when you look at the draft and look at the potential of moving out of the 12th pick and accumulating more picks, because I think it’s a really good draft, very deep draft. There are some positions in this draft that are extremely intriguing to say the least and that position (defensive line) is pretty intriguing.”

– Lastly, Spielman was asked about the status of the Vikings offensive line, a unit that endured much scrutiny last season. He spoke very highly of 3 young players in particular, saying RT Phil Loadholt has a lot of promise and C John Sullivan is poised to bounce back in 2011 after a tumultuous and injury-plagued season in 2010. Spielman also had a lot to say about G Chris DeGeare, the team’s 5th-round pick last year. We’ll have more on what Spielman said about DeGeare later this weekend.

Ultimately, Spielman said the Vikings have good, young talent along their offensive line but he also acknowledged the Vikings must continue to add youth and depth to the position.

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