Leslie Frazier: All about 'the big picture'

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 18, 2012 - 9:55 AM
hide

Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Vikings are enjoying the weekend off and regrouping on the final day of their bye week. They're off to a surprising 6-4 start and, if all breaks right, could be playing their next game in Chicago with first place in the NFC North on the line. This past week, Vikings beat writer Dan Wiederer sat down for a 1-on-1 interview with coach Leslie Frazier. Here are excerpts from that discussion:

Q You've brought up April 23 many times this season, the first day that players could be back at the facility for offseason conditioning and training. What stuck out to you that day?

A The attendance. In all my time in Minnesota, we never had anywhere near the type of attendance that we had when we started up this year. And that was something I had challenged our guys with at the end of our 2011 season. I met with each one of them individually right here in my office before they went their different ways for the offseason. We talked extensively about coming back if they were serious about getting this thing turned in the right direction. And when more than 90 percent of our team showed up, I said to myself, "Wow. This is big. We've got a chance."

 

Q So you hit a skid a few weeks back. That Thursday nighter against Tampa Bay was certainly a sobering loss. Then you go to Seattle, another double-digit loss. For you, what was the sense on how to make sure a collapse didn't occur?

A I had to keep reminding them how long the season is. Teams go through stretches like that. It just so happens ours came in the middle of the season. ... We had to find out what we did wrong, fix it and then concentrate on this particular game. In our case, that was Detroit. ... I told our veteran guys that we've seen it, where you go into a spiral and you can't get out of it. So I had to get our guys to a point of, "See the big picture. Your goals are still within your grasp. But we've got to take care of business at home against Detroit." And they bought into it.

 

Q Coming into this season, you turn the huddle over to a 24-year-old quarterback [Christian Ponder] with 10 NFL starts. How as a head coach do you prepare yourself to be patient?

A Going in knowing there were going to be moments where Christian would struggle, I always believed that we had to do some extra things around him to help him. Because there are going to be days where he's not going to be on point. ... So the greatest challenge I've had is with our staff and with our players to make them realize that this is a team game. It's not about one player. Even though they may hear people criticizing the quarterback, we can do some things around him to help him and support him. And if they understand that component of it, then they'll never just point the finger at him and say this is all about him. It's about us.

 

Q How do you get Christian to buy into that patience?

A I try to encourage him and let him know up front that even though you may hear different people saying things, until you hear me come over and say, "Christian, you're not the guy" or whatever, block that stuff out. I reminded him that when we drafted him in April of 2011, I told him this. I said: "Remember, you sat here in my office after we brought you in town and did our press conference, I told you you were going to be the guy who leads us to a championship in Minnesota. That hasn't changed. Your mind can't ever get off of that."

 

Q It's amazing to see where Adrian [Peterson] is at through 10 games. You mentioned this past week being struck by his humility more than anything else. What stands out?

A Just seeing how he's responded this season to his success, this is not about him. He's not around pumping his chest and saying, "Look what I did." He's all about winning. ... I've been around a lot of talented guys. For most of them, it's a whole lot more about their stats. Even when you lose the game, they're griping. "I didn't get enough throws. I didn't get enough carries." Not Adrian. If we don't win, the first person he looks at his himself. I've never heard him say, "This guy should have done that. That guy should have done this." He's saying, "Man, what could I have done better to help us win?" ... You get 53 guys thinking like that? You've got a special team.

 

Q What's impressed you the most this season with the evolution of Percy Harvin as a player?

A He's stepping back and seeing a bigger picture where it's not just about "me" anymore, it's about winning in this league. Because when you win, all those accolades and dreams and goals you have will come. But when you're on a losing team even with big numbers, it's never any fun. So he's gotten to that point now where being a good teammate and winning has become more important than the personal goals.

 

Q Obviously that episode in Seattle where he was animated on the sideline and barking in your ear was well-publicized. I'm sure behind the scenes, you discussed with him the manner in which that was handled, right?

A No question. He and I did talk about it. Percy's a competitive guy like so many of our guys. And he's not the only guy who wants to vent and speak out about a situation. But other guys find the right forum. So that's what we talked about. ... And he understands that. Which is another sign of his growing up. He said, "Ya know what? You're right. I need to handle that differently going forward." ... When you've been through this as a player and a coach, I've been blessed to be around some very competitive people. And you know it's well-intentioned. I know it's not going to look good publicly. I know people will look at it and judge it. But what's most important is I know the person, I know his heart, I know what he stands for. That's all that really matters to me. And whatever way people judge it, we have to deal with it.

Q You talk a lot about seeing the big picture of a season but then also being able to have that micro-focus on the next game. How do you retain a balance?

A That's where I come into play as the head coach. To bring everything back into focus. Even though I'll talk to the guys on Monday about where we are at this juncture of the season, I'll have to bring it back to the focus on the Chicago Bears. And get our guys to concentrate on that and that alone. That's a part of sitting in this seat where you have to be able to bring that big picture focus back to that moment. That's exactly what we had to do going into our game against Detroit. Same thing here.

To read the entire transcript, go to startribune.com/vikings.

  • VIKINGS BYE WEEK

    Next Sunday: Noon at Chicago • TV: Ch. 9

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 42 2nd Qtr 2:45
Cleveland 48
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 39 2nd Half 12:10
Butler 48
NJIT 55 2nd Half 7:43
South Alabama 50
Northern Iowa 12 1st Half 7:49
Illinois State 10
Louisville 26 1st Half 7:40
Pittsburgh 22
UMBC 3:40 PM
Albany
Niagara 4:00 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 60 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 59 2nd Half 12:06
Marquette 46
Providence 18 2nd Half
DePaul 49
Northeastern 46 2nd Half 11:20
Elon 57
(2) Connecticut 84 2nd Half 5:47
Cincinnati 23
Oregon 54 2nd Half 4:58
Arizona 62
Bradley 19 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 23
NC State 32 2nd Half 13:06
(23) Syracuse 39
(7) Maryland 47 2nd Half 20:00
Indiana 29
Illinois State 27 2nd Half 11:55
Missouri State 34
Colorado 19 1st Half 10:05
Washington St 12
Tulane 9 1st Half 9:20
South Florida 19
(14) Kentucky 23 1st Half 9:15
Missouri 20
(9) Oregon State 16 1st Half 9:45
(13) Arizona State 17
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close