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

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 76 4th Qtr
San Antonio 77
Cleveland 4:00 PM
Miami
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 13 1st Half 11:14
Nebraska 20
Colorado 5:30 PM
Hawaii
George Washington 7:30 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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 Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close