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Spielman Part II: On draft success, harmony with Frazier, Walsh's emergence

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  • November 14, 2012 - 2:18 PM

In a 40-minute session with print reporters Wednesday morning, Vikings general manager delivered what amounted to a casual “state of the team” address. Spielman discussed everything from Adrian Peterson’s incredible recovery to the Vikings’ potential playoff push to the contract situations of receiver Percy Harvin and head coach Leslie Frazier. Here are more Spielman highlights from that session, in the second of three parts.

(Here also is "Part I: On Peterson's recovery, a playoff chase, building through the draft")

On why the past two drafts were so important for the direction of this franchise …

“I think you have to continually build. Because if you can build that foundation through the draft and continue to have successful drafts or guys that can come in and contribute and play, you're always going to have a competitive football team. It doesn't force you then to go out and spend tons of money out in free agency. If you can build through the draft and get your players through the draft and then, when their time comes up, you can extend those guys, [you are better off]. Because those are the guys you're going to know the best. Then you have a better chance of success doing it that way than always going out and trying to spend a lot of money in free agency”

On what the desired role for back-up quarterback Joe Webb is ...

“The coaches really focused and honed in on Joe Webb being a quarterback. I know they spent a lot of time this offseason developing Joe as a quarterback. And I know in this league, and you saw last week, you have to have a couple quarterbacks. Because if your guy, knock on wood, does go down, you have to have a replacement. We saw with the guys leaving out with concussions this week. So Joe has enough ability to be a quarterback in this league, whether it's in a back-up role or whether he had to come in and start. So we felt very strong about the depth of our quarterbacks here.”

On the job being done by coach Leslie Frazier this season 

“Leslie's been doing an outstanding job. Knowing the situation where we were going to have a lot of new faces on this roster, I think the coaching staff has done an outstanding job. Again, we can bring in guys that are talented, but it's our coaches who should get the credit for developing these guys. And our coaches should get the credit for playing these guys and letting them grow into the positions as they grow. Because you know you're going to have some ups and downs, especially when you have a young roster. But our coaches and Leslie do an extremely good job of working with these kids and [using] any chance they have to get these guys ready to play. And I think that has shown so far this year.”

On whether there’s patience with the coaching staff as the rebuilding process continues … 

"I think it’s patience. But it’s also a sense of urgency too. Because you want to win and when we went into the season, we wanted to win. We want to win every game. That's why you're in this business. Patience is a fact [where] you know you have a lot of new faces, you have a lot of first- and second-year guys that are contributing. But also know that you have to go out there and win ballgames too."

On whether there will be talks to offer Frazier a contract extension soon …

"We keep everything internally. I won't discuss anything on contracts."

On the value of having a united and cooperative harmony between the GM and the head coach …

"The biggest thing is the open communication that we have with each other, and I'm by no means an ego guy. … Leslie is the same way where it's not about him or me, it's about us. It's about the Vikings, what's best for this team. And you can have very open and candid discussion. I think that was huge for us last year when I had some discussions with Leslie and then we got all the coaches and personnel people in one room. And [it was], 'Nothing personal, let's get this all aired out so we can move forward.' I think that did wonders for everybody. But everybody is on the same page. Everybody understands what our scheme is, what we're looking for in players. And it’s our job to go out there and identify those players and it works hand-in-hand with the coaches. To me, once the personnel side and coaching side gets divided, then you have no chance. To me, they have to work hand-in-hand and they have to work together every day."

On the impressive emergence of rookie kicker Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick last April … 

“You knew the talent Blair had. But that's the fun part of it. When Blair had his struggles as a senior, why did he have those struggles? And are those struggles correctable? That's the part of really honing in and digging in. [Special teams coordinator] Mike Priefer was a big part of that. He's going to be the expert in that area. I rely on people that are experts in their area. Can you get this corrected or is this something that you don't think is correctable? And he was very adamant. We can identify the struggles. We can talk to a scout who is an expert in that area, a coach who is an expert in that area. Can we get this fixed? And can he be successful? That's why it's such a big team effort to identify those guys. There's always going to be, no matter who you pick, you're going to poke holes like hell in them and identify those holes. Then you talk about can we get this fixed? Is this something he'll come out of? Is this something he'll improve in? That's all part of the decision process.”

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