Leslie Frazier never had a chance to put his stamp on the Minnesota Vikings heading into his first season as the team’s official head coach. With the NFL lockout keeping teams from having offseason workouts with the coaching staff involved, he wasn’t able to shape his team and it seems feasible that’s at least partly to blame on a 3-13 season.
The fact that teams are having a true offseason this time around is the reason Frazier points to the team having a better season in 2012. Frazier jettisoned players from his roster, including some he seemed to think got complacent about winning, and now hopes the group rallies around young quarterback Christian Ponder.
Leslie Frazier joined KFAN in Minneapolis with Dan Barreiro to discuss the objectives of offseason workouts, his coaching style, players who haven’t been around for voluntary workouts, not having time to rebuild in this age of the NFL, areas of the team that have gotten better and making sure a losing attitude doesn’t set in.
What are your objectives during offseason workouts?:
“For me, probably the most important thing is being able to shape the team the way you want to shape the team. For us, you’re trying to change the culture of a team. Having this offseason has allowed me to really put my fingerprints on our football team. That’s probably the biggest thing. … Even our coaches, just to see how we do things and how I want things done.”
How would you say your coaching style is different from some?:
“I’m not a yeller and a screamer. I’m a guy who is going to talk to our players and really explain to them how I want it done, what the expectations are. When you get into it like we got into it a season ago, it’s a little bit harder to get that across because you’re focusing a lot more on games than you are shaping the team.”
Are you disappointed Jared Allen wasn’t around and it sounds like Percy Harvin has only been around for some of it?:
“You’d like to have 100 percent participation, there’s no question about it. But these are voluntary workouts. You have to understand that and guys have a choice. They can choose to come or not to come and that’s the way things are. Next week we have our mandatory mini-camp so you expect to have 100 percent participation. … It’s hard to do that. You really can’t file it away. It’s not required.”
Are you comfortable with the personnel changes you’ve made and the fact that it can’t turn around with the snap of a finger?:
“You know how this league is. My comfort level really doesn’t matter. We’ve got to win some games. I understand that; I understood that when they asked me to take over the head-coaching job. … You have to win, and it’s become a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. You don’t have that extended period of time to really turn things around. … I really believe the things we’re doing this offseason, we will be an improved football team, and it needs to show up from a win-loss standpoint.”
Is there one particular area you can point out and say it’s really going to be a lot better?:
“The fact that we’ve created some competition at some key positions, that alone will make us better. We haven’t had the kind of competition in the secondary that we have right now. We haven’t had the kind of competition on the offensive line that we have right now. And there’s some other areas we’ve got to improve. Even the wide receiver position we’re better now than we were a year ago. I think we’re making some of the necessary changes. Now we’ve got to grow as a team and solidify the experience at the quarterback position. As Christian (Ponder) grows, so will our entire team.”
How do you keep a losing mentality from setting in?:
“Part of it is creating competition at positions. As soon as you see guys getting complacent with winning, you’ve got to get those guys out as fast as possible. … It creates that sense of urgency on our football team.”
Listen to Leslie Frazier on KFAN in Minneapolis here (Interview begins at 13:30)