Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Purple people leader

Vikings coach has team on verge of surprising playoff berth

  • Print

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Vikings trudged out of Lambeau Field, their season slipping away after a nasty skid of four losses in five weeks dropped Minnesota to 6-6 and essentially turned every game from there on into a must win.

 

Fans were clamouring for Christian Ponder's benching. The coaching staff was catching heat for a perceived inability to make in-game adjustments. There was growing concern that Adrian Peterson's brilliant comeback season was being wasted by a team heading nowhere.

Through it all, Leslie Frazier never wavered.

For a coach who inherited a team in turmoil in 2010, presided over the end of Brett Favre's celebrated consecutive games streak, and had to navigate the collapse of the Metrodome's roof and the lockout in his first six months on the job, a little losing skid seemed trivial in comparison. He never bowed to public pressure to make a quarterback switch and never changed his message to his team.

Now Frazier's Vikings are riding a three-game winning streak into the regular season finale -- and a victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday puts them into the playoffs.

"Just his voice and what he has brought to this team and the locker room, it's been huge," Peterson said. "Guys really connect with him on that level. Just feeling his presence through his words and the confidence he has in us. Everything he speaks out there, we embrace and trust in his word."

Chaotic

In the middle of one of the most chaotic seasons in franchise history in 2010, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were searching for a calming presence and a steady hand to quiet things down. A team that started the season with Super Bowl aspirations saw Favre's skills diminish greatly amid a tabloid scandal surrounding his time with the New York Jets, Randy Moss come and go in the span of just a few weeks and Brad Childress get fired less than a year after a contract extension.

Frazier took over with six games left in a lost season, then had to hold the team together after the Metrodome's roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow -- forcing the Vikings to play one home game in Detroit and another at the University of Minnesota's stadium.

Then came the lockout, which prevented his newly assembled staff from working with the players all summer long. The Vikings went 3-13 in his first full season, yet avoided the implosion that often comes with so many losses. Now, the unflappable Frazier has guided the team to a 9-6 record in what many expected to be a rebuilding year.

"Leslie's the kind of guy, 'We're still in this thing. We're fighting. We're together. We're all in,"' linebacker Chad Greenway said. "And his approach is perfect, in my mind, for what an NFL coach needs to be. He's really consistent. He knows what he wants from his players."

That's always been Frazier's nature, dating to his playing days under fiery coaches such as Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan.

"Just going back to my playing days and just being around coaches who sometimes, they could be so up and down, you just didn't know when you walked in the building what you were going to get from day to day and that's hard," Frazier said.

While Childress occasionally clashed with some of the team's stars, Frazier has worked hard to form a tight relationship with his team leaders. He and Peterson are particularly close, and the two are often seen exchanging hugs after wins.

"I'm not the type of person that I really talk a lot about what's going on with me," Peterson said. "He's the kind of person that I can give bits and pieces to and I know that he's not going to judge. He's going to give me some great advice. He's going to shoot it to you straight. I can't help but respect a guy and love him for that."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 28, 2012 C8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Rumor's 30th Anniversary with Mike Wilmot, Darryl Lenox, Dave Hemstad & Derek Edwards

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Jets best defenceman so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google