The Vikings have been in the middle of some big stories this season, and the story right now is Leslie Frazier. As part of the production meetings for last week’s game against the Redskins, I had the chance to sit down with not only Frazier, but also offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, DE Jared Allen and QB Brett Favre to talk about the recent changes.
A common theme from those conversations was respect.
In different ways, Allen and Favre talked about the respect Frazier had with the entire locker room before he had even won a game at the helm of the Vikings.
Allen spoke to Frazier’s straight-forward approach. In Frazier’s first meeting in front of the Vikings, he laid out expectations for the rest of the season and how the players would be judged and held accountable. That was nothing new for the defensive players, who already had built a level of trust playing for Frazier.
Favre said the first thing he heard from Frazier was that his input for the offense was welcomed. Frazier communicated that Favre was unequivocally his starter, and as a veteran he was encouraged to be a part of game-planning in an effort to improve the team. Favre offered suggestions, and we saw some of them against the Redskins as he was out on the edge more often and used heavy play-action in third-and-short situations. A number of those things happened, and it’s a result of the mutual trust between coach and quarterback.
Frazier told me that he delivered a message to the team that it was time to use a featured running back again. He wants to run the offense through Adrian Peterson, as it should, and he believes the Vikings are at their best when that happens. The rest of the offense can get theirs when the Vikings are running it effectively.
I think Frazier has a golden opportunity to remain coach of the Vikings. More than anything, the team likes the fact Frazier has a plan and knows what he wants to do. Frazier sat in on offensive meetings throughout his first week, not only to spell out his expectations on how he wanted to run the offense, but also so the players and staff understood who he was.
I think Frazier made some smart moves off the top, and it paid off in a win.
Frazier is understated, and I think it works in his favor, partly because of the style of the coach who preceded him. I don’t know exactly how Brad Childress ran his team, but he appeared more brash with players. Frazier is understated, but don’t mistake that for a lack of toughness. Don’t mistake his ways for someone who can be taken advantage of. That’s not going to happen.
Frazier knows what he wants, and he knows how he’s going to get there. He already has the team’s respect, not because he’s now the interim coach, but because he’s always had it.