Frazier Speaks To Greenway’s Leadership, Griffen’s Growth

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 20, 2012 – 7:18 am

Often times there’s nothing notable about a NFL head coach speaking in glowing terms about his players. Coaches spend countless hours mentoring, teaching and guiding their players to put them in a position to succeed both on the field and away from it, so you can’t blame them for having a positive viewpoint of their players when evaluating their performance.

While meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier spent several moments talking about a pair of his defensive players – LB Chad Greenway and DE Everson Griffen. Both are timely topics because Greenway is having perhaps his best season as a pro and Griffen is coming off a game in which he replaced an injured Brian Robison at left DE and made a huge play while doing so – a 29-yard INT returned for a TD in the 2nd quarter to break the game wide open.

That Frazier flattered both Greenway and Griffen while speaking about them on Wednesday is not surprising. But in complimenting those two individuals, Frazier did provide an interesting glimpse into how he and, presumably many within the organization’s leadership structure, had previously viewed each individual.

Let’s take a look at what Frazier was asked about each player, what may have led to that question being asked, and then what Frazier said in response…

The question: “What stood out to you as you watched Chad Greenway on Sunday?”

The context: Greenway leads the NFL in tackles with 140, and has led the Vikings in tackles in 8 of the team’s 14 games. He did so once again last week in St. Louis with a game-high 14 stops, and he also registered a sack of QB Sam Bradford and a fumble recovery as well. In addition to performing well on the field, Greenway has taken a step forward in the leadership department during his 7th season.

Frazier: “I still go back to how much he’s grown as a leader. I felt like he would get better as a player over time, but what he’s brought to our defense and to our team from a leadership standpoint has really helped us to grow up over the course of the season. That has been big for me and the rest of the staff and our players. The football part, we thought he was going to be a good football player, that’s one of the reasons we franchised him a few years ago. But what he’s provided in the locker room as well as on the sidelines has really helped our team.”

The question: “How have you seen Everson Griffen develop from a maturity standpoint since he’s come here?”

The context: The Vikings selected Griffen out of USC with a 4th-round pick (#100 overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. I remember in the build-up to that draft, Griffen was considered by many to be a potential late 1st-round prospect, but definitely a 2nd-round prospect. But some also had concerns about him from a maturity standpoint, and that’s why his stock dropped a touch. I also remember Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell being interviewed after the Vikings selected Griffen, and he explained that Griffen had too much talent for the Vikings to pass on him in the 4th round, even despite the concerns some had about him. The Vikings deserve credit for including within their organizational structure a process that helps players mature once they enter the NFL. Having this in place allows the Vikings to consider selecting or signing “at-risk” players who some teams may shy away from because of those maturity concerns despite their immense talent. Griffen is a great example of this.

Frazier: “He’s come so far. I’ve talked to him about it often. Just seeing the maturation, even through this last offseason, being able to manage his free time, understanding what it means to be a pro and act like a pro, both at practice and in games as well, and off the field. He’s one of those guys, as we speak, that has really bought in to the right way of doing things. There are other guys you can talk to about, ‘Hey, this is how it has to be.’ And they’re going to do it their way, but he’s one of those guys who’s paid attention, he’s listened and, we always knew he was a good athlete, but just being able to manage some of the other things that were happening in his life. He’s a great example for a lot of young players that come into our League. He’s really grown up. The tragedy he faced this season, losing his mother, that was hard. But the way he responded, even in the midst of that tragedy, you have to take your hat off to him at how courageous he is. I told him I know his mother would be extremely proud of him and the way he’s handled himself. He’s come a long ways.”

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