The short answer is, no one knows what to expect from the Vikings under Leslie Frazier except for the people who work inside Winter Park, and they’re probably not 100% certain
But we can guess…
Style: As far as management style is concerned, I think we need look no further than Tony Dungy, not just because Frazier is a Dungy “disciple” but because the two seem to be cut from the same cloth, temperamentally.
Wide receiver Bernard Berrian told Sirius NFL Radio that Brad Childress‘ management style was “too confrontational.”
“I think that was the biggest thing. Instead of, you know, going to players like men and just talking and conversating about it, it was kind of brought to their attention in a confrontational way and just people just didn’t really conform to that way of, I guess, him talking and speaking to his team, or players individually,” Berrian said.
If Dungy is our guide, and from all accounts it seems safe to assume so, Frazier will be the polar opposite of Childress, commanding silent respect and offering guidance in a constructive rather than confrontational manner.
Judging from the way Vikings players have griped and sniped at Childress during his tenure, both on the record and anonymously, they are likely to respond positively to Frazier’s approach.
Offense: This is the most intriguing and tough to predict aspect of the new regime.
There’s no question that Brett Favre would prefer to open things up far beyond where Childress was willing to go. Let’s face it, Favre would prefer calling all his own plays…and I’m not so sure I wouldn’t want him to, given what we don’t know about Frazier’s nor Darrell Bevell‘s offensive philosophies.
We have no information from which to judge what Frazier believes an offense should look like, considering he was a defensive back during his playing days and has been on the defensive side of the ball during his pro football coaching career.
Who knows, he could be an offensive genius in waiting. Look at Brian Billick, an offensive coach who landed his head coaching job with the Baltimore Ravens on the strength of his credentials guiding the high-powered 1998 15-1 Vikings offense, and who then won a Super Bowl on the strength of the Ravens’ defense.
We can judge Bevell mainly by his role as offensive coordinator under Brad Childress, where he called most of the plays, with heavy input (cough cough “meddling” cough cough) from Childress himself.
The problem is, we don’t know where it is that Childress ends and Bevell begins.
If you want the offense to open up, then there are glimmers of hope. First, Bevell was a college quarterback; second, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers from 2003-2005, when one Brett Favre played there; and three, he’s buddies with Favre, as a result.
You’d think, then, that he’d be inclined to want to open up the offense and would provide a sympathetic ear to Favre’s lobbying.
The most likely scenario, then, would seem to be a Bevell/Favre led offense.
So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.
Defense: This is really what is going to be fascinating to watch.
Frazier, as mentioned above, has built his career on defense. Until this year, the Vikings defense has excelled under his command.
The rub being, of course, until this year. Frazier has plenty of culpability himself for the Vikings slide this year.
The pass rush has been wanting all year until Frazier stared to rely more on blitzes. Our secondary has been a mess. Whether it’s the lack of a pass rush, inexperience and/or incompetence in the defensive backfield, or a combination thereof, who knows?
Frazier acknowledged the inexperience at the corner position during his press conference and admitted that they would need to scheme to protect Chris Cook and Asher Allen.
And by the way, when was the last time you saw a defensive back who had a chance at an interception try and catch the ball with their hands?? It appears they all went to the Troy Williamson School of Pass Catching.
Go watch the tape of Leslie Frazier picking off a pass as cornerback of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl team, come back, and tell me how the Vikings defensive backs could be so stone-handed?
Les, the time is ripe to hit up Zygi Wilf for a couple more Jugs machine and set those cornerbacks and safeties in front of them for three hours every day after practice. #JustSayin
The only solid unit on defense has been the linebacking corps.
Respect: This is the most important change.
The ultimate reason Childress was let go was that his players had lost all respect for him.
First, Frazier has the advantage of having played pro ball himself, not just on any team but on the dominant ’85 Bears team; and lastly, Frazier has treated his players with respect, which they believe they did not get from Childress.
Time, as they say, will tell.
TOBY GERHART, YOU’VE ARRIVED
Nothing says you’ve arrived like landing on the side of a soft drink. Toby Gerhart‘s likeness is imprinted on the sides of Pepsi Max cans. [WATCH the interview with Toby Gerhart about his Pepsi Max can.]