Jim Souhan: OK, Coach Frazier, they're all yours

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2011 - 12:42 AM

Leslie Frazier does not take lightly the relationships he forges with each and every one of his Vikings players.

hide

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier watched quarterback Donovan McNabb line up under center during a training camp practice in Mankato last month.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Restricted by the salary cap, waylaid by the lockout, saddled with an aging roster, Leslie Frazier today will lead the Vikings as a full-fledged NFL head coach for the first time.

Little has changed since the end of last season, other than his title. As interim coach, he finished 2010 in charge of a 6-10 team featuring an older, imported quarterback and a number of key players whose performances had lagged behind their reputations.

Since then, his best receiver has departed in free agency, his massive left tackle has gorged his way off the roster, and the team's first-round draft pick procured a quarterback who will play this season only if injury or ineptitude force him into the lineup.

For the Vikings to improve, much less contend, Frazier must extract more from his veterans than they offered last year and more from his young players than they would seem capable of offering. In a business known for ruthlessness, Frazier believes he can reach professional football players the way his mentors reached him in Columbus, Miss., at Alcorn State and with the Chicago Bears.

"I think, to reach different guys, it's really important that you be yourself," Frazier said. "You have to be mindful that you're trying to reach people from all different socio-economic groups and demographics from all over the country. You've got different ethnic groups, and there's so much in their background that you don't know about.

"You have to speak to them with that in mind. The most important thing is to be honest and truthful with them. If you take that approach, you have a chance. If you do anything other than that, it creates problems in your locker room."

Frazier requires a redemptive season from his new old quarterback, Donovan McNabb. He needs to spur a resurgence from his star defensive end, Jared Allen, and receiver Bernard Berrian, all while finding enough caulk to fill his offensive line and secondary.

If he's worried, Frazier isn't showing it. He has publicly predicted he will eventually bring a Super Bowl title to Minnesota.

"I think it's important that the leaders on this team buy in to what we're doing," Frazier said. "I grabbed a group of guys on Monday that is going to be our leadership group, about 11 guys, from every position. I talked to them about what I'm talking about now. In the locker room and in the huddle, they've got to be an extension of me.

"If that's the case, then the message I'm trying to get across will have an impact. If the veterans don't buy in, then the young players are getting off the boat, too."

Once, in 2009, Frazier and Allen had to be separated during a game. Allen thinks Frazier is capable of not only monitoring the pulse of a team but quickening it.

"When you have a relationship with a guy, and there's something there, when you like him and care about him, you'll sell out for that guy," Allen said. "Coach Frazier, to me, is a friend. Developing that relationship with him as a man, he's the kind of man I aspire to be ...

"He's never lied to me about anything. If we have to have tough conversations, we have the tough conversations. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and I'll be friends with him until I'm old and gray."

McNabb cited a popular yet strange reason for believing in his new coach: That Frazier, a former Bears cornerback, was an outstanding NFL player. This seems important to players even though many of the most successful coaches in the game, including Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Mike McCarthy and Mike Tomlin, did not play in the NFL.

"It's always important when you have a guy that has played the game," McNabb said. " Leslie has played the game at a high level. He has seen success in the game, he has seen tough times in the game.

"Being a secondary coach to being a coordinator, to now being a head coach, he understands the way to bring the best out of guys."

For the Vikings to contend, Frazier will have to do just that, starting today.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2:40 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@ startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 12:05 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:05 PM
Atlanta
Miami 12:05 PM
Boston
Minnesota 12:05 PM
Tampa Bay
NY Yankees 12:05 PM
Philadelphia
Baltimore 12:07 PM
Toronto
Detroit 12:10 PM
NY Mets
Cincinnati 2:05 PM
Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles 2:05 PM
Milwaukee
San Francisco 2:05 PM
Texas
Chicago WSox 2:05 PM
San Diego
Kansas City 2:05 PM
Cleveland
Seattle 2:05 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 2:10 PM
LA Angels
Oakland 2:10 PM
Arizona
Pittsburgh 6:05 PM
NY Yankees
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Orlando
Utah 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Miami 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 6:30 PM
Detroit
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 11:00 AM
Char Southern
Ark-Pine Bluff 11:00 AM
Miss Valley St
Southern Ill 12:05 PM
Wichita State
Winthrop 1:00 PM
Radford
Evansville 2:35 PM
Illinois State
Towson 5:00 PM
Elon
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
High Point
Samford 5:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Ball State
Bowling Green 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Brown 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
Toledo 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Akron 6:00 PM
Kent State
Ill-Chicago 6:00 PM
Oakland
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Ohio
Columbia 6:00 PM
Penn
Cornell 6:00 PM
Princeton
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bradley 6:05 PM
Northern Iowa
Morehead State 6:30 PM
Murray State
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 10:00 AM
(21) George Washington
Wake Forest 10:00 AM
(16) Duke
Furman 10:00 AM
(17) Chattanooga
Monmouth 11:00 AM
Quinnipiac
Michigan State 11:30 AM
(4) Maryland
Belmont 12:00 PM
UT Martin
Arkansas 12:00 PM
(3) South Carolina
Mercer 12:30 PM
East Tenn St
Richmond 1:00 PM
Fordham
Miami-Florida 1:00 PM
(2) Notre Dame
Siena 1:30 PM
Iona
Washington St 1:30 PM
(9) Arizona State
Ark-Pine Bluff 1:30 PM
Miss Valley St
(23) Rutgers 1:55 PM
(24) Northwestern
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Loyola Marymount 2:00 PM
Gonzaga
(18) Texas A&M 2:25 PM
LSU
Cincinnati 3:00 PM
UCF
Saint Josephs 3:30 PM
Dayton
UCLA 4:00 PM
(19) Stanford
Santa Clara 4:30 PM
San Diego
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
(7) Florida State
SMU 5:00 PM
Memphis
Lehigh 5:05 PM
Holy Cross
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
(20) Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Stetson
Nebraska 6:00 PM
(14) Iowa
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Marist
Navy 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Lafayette 6:00 PM
American Univ
Colgate 6:00 PM
Army
Georgia 6:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
Brown
Penn 6:00 PM
Columbia
(13) Princeton 6:00 PM
Cornell
Kansas 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Harvard 6:00 PM
Yale
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Nevada
Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close