Standing on stage with the bright lights on and the cameras rolling, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier expressed his unwavering support of the team's decision to promote Rick Spielman into the role of general manager.
"We've had a good working relationship over the last year and a half," Frazier said. "And this should really help us going forward to do the things that are necessary this offseason."
Of course Frazier would express that viewpoint with all his bosses watching. What was he supposed to do? Walk up to the lectern and blast the front office for daring to make a structural change after a 3-13 season?
But don't think Frazier's verbal backing of Spielman is disingenuous lip service, either. Sure, his job will be altered and, in the big picture, he has ceded control in how his roster will be constructed going forward. Yet in many ways, after a sobering season that revealed so many flaws within the team, Frazier is optimistic the new setup will be to his advantage.
Team ownership believes this latest move will streamline Frazier's workload, allowing him, in co-owner Mark Wilf's words, "to focus 100 percent on coaching, teaching, developing the players and getting his staff to that point as well."
In recent weeks, Frazier had expressed noticeable eagerness to relinquish control on certain matters and hadn't changed that tune Tuesday, labeling Spielman's promotion as a major positive.
"For me it just creates clarity in some of the things we do from a decision standpoint," Frazier said. "And that's extremely important when you're in the role that I'm in. ... The biggest thing is you just want to know what the lines of demarcation are. For me, I know exactly where I need to go when I have to talk about certain matters and get those things handled, and that's good."
Frazier continues to be noncommittal on how seriously he will consider major schematic changes on defense, asserting only that everything will be considered. So just how seriously will the Vikings entertain the idea of switching to a 3-4 defense? For starters, Frazier will need to first determine who his defensive coordinator will be in 2012. Until further notice, Fred Pagac holds that post.
Beyond that, Spielman will now be in command of deciding which defensive players the Vikings keep around, which will be let go and who the team will ultimately target in free agency and the draft.
So, about that 3-4 ...
Said Frazier: "I don't want to eliminate any possibilities at this point. But my background is 4-3. I want to do what's best for our team. You do take a look at your personnel and you determine what you do based on your personnel. You don't want to jump on the bandwagon purely because it's popular in some other city and they've had success. If it doesn't fit what you do, you better do what fits you."
Support from the top
Quarterback Christian Ponder received a vote of confidence from team ownership.
"He's a committed young man who's dedicated to making sure he learns everything he can," co-owner Zygi Wilf said. "He's in here all the time. That's what you want to see in a leader and a quarterback. I think, given the first year is always a really tough year, he's disappointed, of course. But I know that he's committed to making himself that much better in the offseason."
Who's No. 2?
For a year now, it's been a foregone conclusion that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the top pick in the 2012 draft, now likely destined for Indianapolis. But with the Vikings slotted to pick third in April, the real suspense over the next three months will revolve around what the St. Louis Rams attempt to do at No. 2.
The Rams could be interested in Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil or Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, two offensive difference-makers the Vikings certainly have their eye on as well. But there's also a chance the Rams could use the No. 2 pick as trade bait for teams with great interest in Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. In many ways, the Vikings' first-round strategies might hinge on the ripple effect of what St. Louis does.