Souhan: Looks like Frazier's right to keep faith

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 13, 2012 - 7:45 PM

His glee after a devastating December victory now makes sense.

hide

Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The man kept smiling.

Why did the man keep smiling?

He had just lost his franchise running back, his prospective franchise quarterback and a chance at one of the first two picks in the draft. He had just engineered what felt like the most devastating victory in Vikings history.

"Now,'' coach Leslie Frazier said, "I can enjoy Christmas.''

On Dec. 24, 2011, Frazier beamed after the Vikings beat the Redskins at FedEx Field, beamed while Adrian Peterson limped, Christian Ponder wobbled and fans back home wondered if one victory could set a franchise back a decade.

During the time it took to play a seemingly meaningless game between nonplayoff teams, Ponder had renewed questions about his fragility while his backup, Joe Webb, played well enough to eliminate the team's chance of drafting Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III and create a brief quarterback competition.

If you had asked the Green Bay Packers to orchestrate the worst possible result for a Vikings game, they couldn't have set in motion a more devious sequence of events.

So why was Frazier smiling? "It was all about the victory on that day,'' Frazier said last week. "With all the things that happened on that day and all the things that had happened in that season. We had had a tough loss the week before, a hurtful loss to New Orleans. But the way our guys played in that game in Washington, you would have never known it. They played their tails off. I was so proud of them that day.''

Logic dictated losing that game. Frazier's ambitions, and his nature as a hypercompetitive athlete and coach, would not allow him to think of it.

The Vikings still had a chance to finish with the second-worst record in the NFL, which would have enabled them to draft Griffin, either to keep him as the second-most celebrated young quarterback in the league or to trade him to fill what seemed to be many holes on the team's roster. Instead, the Vikings celebrated even while Peterson and Ponder were being tended to.

"It's the nature of the league,'' said running back Toby Gerhart, who starred in Peterson's absence that day. "It's a brutal game we play. That's why careers are so short.

"Injuries are so common. If you're a backup -- heck, if you're a third- or fourth-stringer, you always have to be ready. You're one play away from being in the game, and you're one play away from being done with the game.''

Someday, the Vikings may regret missing a chance to draft Griffin, but not this week. They're 4-1. Griffin is recovering from a concussion. Ponder has improved dramatically since he was helped off the turf at FedEx Field.

With no reason to consider a quarterback with the fourth pick, the Vikings took USC left tackle Matt Kalil, who has dramatically helped to improve the offensive line. And while observers can question the wisdom of playing to win late in a lost season, Frazier and his players don't.

"There were a lot of mixed emotions,'' tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "It was a Saturday game, so it was one of those weird weeks. We played on Christmas Eve. We had two big injuries.

"But when it was all said and done, it was our third win of the season. We were really pushing toward the end of the year to get things right and gain momentum moving into this season.''

Frazier is a man of great faith, and his stewardship of the Vikings has sometimes seemed faith-based. He had faith that his style of play could win the NFL, even when passing teams were the rage. He had faith that he could create a culture of accountability within a franchise with a long history of off-the-field embarrassments.

On Dec. 24, 2011, Frazier had faith that winning a game nobody outside his locker room thought he should win would turn out to be the right approach for one Christmas, or more.

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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
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 will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close