Wiederer: Frazier's message of pride gets through under Packer-heavy backdrop

  • Updated: January 7, 2013 - 7:07 AM

Leslie Frazier's postgame remarks in Green Bay were heavy with appreciation for a Vikings team that embraced his style and message.

GREEN BAY, WIS. - The volume on the two TVs had been muted, but the pictures, strangely, had not yet been shut off. So as Leslie Frazier came to deliver his postgame news conference in a small Lambeau Field interview room late Saturday, he literally had Green Bay's 24-10 playoff victory hanging over his head.

A local Green Bay news broadcast had an all-caps banner across the bottom of its screen -- "PACKERS WIN!" -- plus images of coach Mike McCarthy laughing with reporters and reveling in his team's dominance.

It presented a surreal backdrop for Frazier as he spent eight minutes attempting to recap his previous five hours -- from the Vikings' surprise pregame deactivation of quarterback Christian Ponder to the woes of backup Joe Webb to a flurry of costly mental mistakes that resulted in uncharacteristic penalties and turnovers.

Frazier seemed somber, maybe a bit dejected. These are the inevitable emotions attached to most season-ending losses, especially one as lopsided as Saturday's.

But even with the disappointment, the Vikings coach made sure not to lose sight of the contagious ambition that had given his underdog team its playoff opportunity.

"These guys never let anyone put limitations on what they could achieve," Frazier said. "They played as hard as they could and tried to do the very best they could to give us a chance to win."

Just a few minutes earlier, in a hushed locker room, Frazier filled his final postgame address with pride. He thanked his players for their class, sacrifice and intelligence, a few of the top qualities he wants all his teams to embody.

He reminded them they had all been privileged to work with one another. And he hoped their 2012 resurgence had left them fulfilled.

"You guys are special, man," Frazier told the team. "You never worried about what anybody else had to say. And you never let anybody put a ceiling on what you could or couldn't do. And I'm telling you now, that's unique. That is unique. But it says something about every one of you."

For the Vikings, it also says the future seems bright.

Taking it all in

To wrap up a splendid season, one that delivered a seven-win jump over 2011 and a return to the postseason, Frazier offered sincere acknowledgment of the investment, unity and enthusiasm that fueled the run.

This joy ride is over now. And Saturday's final sequences delivered so many twists that didn't fit with the rest of the story.

There was Ponder, with his deeply bruised throwing arm, unable to endure a leisurely pregame soft-toss session, thus turning him into a sideline observer for his first playoff game.

There was Webb displaying worse inaccuracy than a reckless political blogger.

There was Kevin Williams lining up in the neutral zone, which extended a Green Bay scoring drive; Chris Cook whiffing on a key third-down tackle, and Marcus Sherels fumbling away a punt.

Heck, even Adrian Peterson delivered only a double-digit rushing total, a yard short of 100 without scoring a touchdown.

All the while, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his merry band of receivers made the Vikings defense look like the 8-year-old stuck in the middle of an adults' game of keep-away.

Yep, the Vikings' first appearance of 2013 looked so much more like 2011 than 2012. But even with all the mistakes, perspective was needed to process the season as a whole.

Jared Allen made it known that simply reaching the playoffs wouldn't be digested as "good enough." But Allen also recognized the tremendous improvements made to the defense, especially in a young secondary that has some pretty impressive pieces to build around.

Antoine Winfield appreciated the enjoyment this team derived week after week in its quest for improvement.

"The guys we had on this team always fought hard," receiver Michael Jenkins added. "I loved that. That always gives you a chance."

Pieces in place

Now that a turnaround has occurred -- and much faster than outsiders predicted -- the Vikings must avoid the shredder that sucks in success stories like this and spits them back out as sobering setbacks the following season. Just ask the Lions or Steelers, the Jets or Giants about the difficulties of sustaining success. In a blink, key injuries and side drama can send everything south.

Certainly the Vikings have plenty of concerns to address. They're still left to wonder whether Ponder will absolutely be the long-term answer as the franchise quarterback. And if he's not, they'll need a better Plan B than the one displayed Saturday night.

More quality depth will be needed at receiver and linebacker and defensive tackle.

The Vikings must also be firm in their decision on Percy Harvin's future -- one way or the other.

But even with all that, Frazier is convinced a sturdy foundation has been built.

The Vikings are very secure in their identity -- all-in on Frazier's push to have a "smart, tough, disciplined team" that wins with a tough running game and a stingy defense.

There's also an unwavering belief in building around players who are unselfish and self-motivated, two qualities that provide steadiness through skids.

And so the sting of Saturday's loss comes with an easy remedy: reflection back on all that was accomplished with such sharp focus and strong unity.

Linebacker Chad Greenway's lasting message to teammates in the Green Bay locker room Saturday night: "That was a fun run, fellas. A fun run. Every day was a blast with you guys."

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

NEW E-BOOK:

ADRIAN PETERSON

FOLLOW HIS COMEBACK FROM A MAJOR KNEE INJURY IN THE STAR TRIBUNE'S NEW E-BOOK, "THE ROAD BACK," AVAILABLE FOR APPLE, KINDLE AND NOOK DEVICES AT startribune.com/ ebooks.

WILD-CARD WEEKEND

SEATTLE STILL STANDING

Wilson and Seahawks play on; RG III's wobbly knee gives out. C7

ONE MORE FOR RAY

Ravens oust Andrew Luck & Co., extending Ray Lewis' career. C7

  • NFL PLAYOFFS

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - R. Hernandez 12:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront
Detroit - M. Scherzer 12:05 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Philadelphia - J. Williams 3:05 PM
Oakland - D. Pomeranz
Toronto - M. Stroman 3:05 PM
NY Yankees - C. Capuano
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
Colorado - E. Butler
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close