Leslie Frazier Steadily Leading Minnesota
By Travis West
Leslie Frazier took over as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings after the former coach Brad Childress led the team to two playoff appearances, including a spot in the NFC Title game in 2009.
Frazier took over the head coaching duties late in the 2010 season. In his first full off season, Frazier decided that he would acquire Donovan McNabb as his starter and after only a few games, it was clear that McNabb was not the quarterback he once was, and Frazier started at-the-time rookie Christian Ponder.
Ponder was a huge surprise pick in the 2011 NFL Draft as he went 12th to Minnesota. Many questioned selecting Ponder so early (and some still do), but in his first full season as a starter, he led his team to the playoffs. Frazier sees something in Ponder and made the jump to grab him.
If there is one word to describe Frazier's time up to this point it would be "steady." Since Frazier made the decision to start Ponder, the team has steadily improved in all areas.
2012 first round pick safety Harrison Smith has transformed the Vikings into a smash mouth defense. Although Frazier struggled in his first season, he the led the Vikings to a surprising 10-6 and a Wildcard spot in the playoffs. Steady improvement.
Frazier was able to get Ponder to perform and did an outstanding job of dealing with star running back Adrian Peterson's rehabilitation process. While Peterson was in the middle of rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee, Frazier allowed Peterson to push himself, knowing that Peterson was more determined than ever. Frazier only stepped in one time, asking his star to not be afraid to take a break from time to time. Frazier is cool, calm and collected under any circumstance. His personality is perfect for a young team. He is never too excited or too down and is all about discipline and improvement.
When it comes to calling plays, he's sound in that area. He understands the assets within his offense and choses the plays accordingly. The Vikings are a run-first team that utilizes play action, and with Peterson in the backfield, it works well. On defense, Frazier's philosophy is "bend don't break." He wants the opponent to inch their way up the field with the chance of committing a turnover.
True to his nature, Frazier made huge improvements to an up-and-coming defense in this year's draft. Grabbing two of the draft's most talented defensive players in defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes will take the Vikings' defense to the next level in no time.
Frazier has handled every situation thrown at him and the fans have shown their approval. Even though his contract has been extended only one year, many expect a long-term deal to be done in the future.
The pieces are in place to build on his success in 2012.