Minnesota Vikings: Setting up the strategy
MINNEAPOLIS -- Leslie Frazier had a whirlwind day Monday. He conducted exit meetings with players in the morning as the Minnesota Vikings interim coach and then in the late afternoon slipped into a suit and tie and had the temporary label lifted ...
MINNEAPOLIS -- Leslie Frazier had a whirlwind day Monday.
He conducted exit meetings with players in the morning as the Minnesota Vikings interim coach and then in the late afternoon slipped into a suit and tie and had the temporary label lifted from his title during a news conference.
On Tuesday, Frazier's real work began with no such fanfare. The power structure might not be changing around Winter Park, but that doesn't mean Frazier won't be making alterations. And some will be far more than cosmetic.
Among the most important will be his vision for the offense. Frazier wasn't willing to lay out that plan Tuesday because he wanted time to evaluate "where we are right now and what's best for us going forward based on the personnel that we have."
From the day he was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim coach Nov. 22, Frazier has been hesitant to divulge details of his offensive philosophy. Frazier, a cornerback with the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1985, has talked frequently about being strong up front both on offense and defense, but hasn't said if he favors the West Coast system the Vikings employed under Brad Childress or would prefer something different.
Analyzing the assistants
Frazier called the West Coast "a very good system," but made no commitment to sticking with it. He also said he would evaluate the assistant coaching staff, meaning that changes might be coming.
Darrell Bevell served as Childress' offensive coordinator for four-plus seasons and is as closely tied to Childress as any coach on the staff.
An extremely hard worker, Bevell had plenty of success calling plays in 2009 as the Vikings went 12-4 and advanced to the NFC title game. But in the coaching business being let go doesn't always mean you did a poor job.
Frazier could decide he wants to put his own stamp on the offense or alter how it is run. His two biggest impact hires are going to be the coordinators and there seems to be a good chance that Fred Pagac will be retained to oversee the defense.
Given that this is Frazier's first stint as a head coach in the NFL, one thing he might want to do is find an offensive coordinator who has had head coaching experience and let him run that part of the show. This could be akin to having a bench coach in baseball.
Even Childress, who wielded plenty of control, knew his expertise wasn't on the defensive side of the ball and enabled his coordinators, first Mike Tomlin and then Frazier, to run that side of things.
Timing is right
Frazier also could decide that if he's ever going to change the offense that now might be as good of time as any. The Vikings have no idea whom their starting quarterback will be in 2011 -- Joe Webb seems like an extreme long shot, and recently signed Rhett Bomar is an unknown -- and could look outside the organization for that player.
Ideally, the quarterback of the future would come in the draft and be someone the Vikings could develop as opposed to going with the stopgap options (Brad Johnson, Kelly Holcomb, Gus Frerotte, Brett Favre) that existed under Childress.
Being able to have a more flexible offensive plan would allow the Vikings to begin molding that unit around their personnel instead of trying to force players into a certain system. This could be especially beneficial for a young quarterback who isn't familiar with the complexities and expanded verbiage of the West Coast -- especially if that quarterback comes in after a lockout and doesn't have much time to digest the system.
Exactly how and when this plays out remains to be seen.
"One of the things you want to be able to do in this role that I am in, is look at everything from top to bottom and try to figure out, what do we have to do to not be in the situation we ended up in this season?" Frazier said. "That's one of the things I mentioned to our team, in our meeting.
"Every single guy, go back, do a little personal inventory, what do you have to do to help us be a successful team next season? I have got to be able to do the same thing, go back and look at our staff and just ascertain, what's the best thing to do going forward? We will figure out what's best."