PHOENIX – In what turned out to be a heartening 2012 run, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier continually encouraged his players to buy into one philosophy: “Don’t ever let outsiders put limitations on what you can achieve.”
With a full buy-in to that, the Vikings used a potent combination of unity and belief to propel a 10-win season and a surprising push into the playoffs.
Now, the team heads into 2013 with heightened expectations and an understanding that the climb to the next level only gets steeper.
With roster changes still ongoing and five weeks until the team enters the draft with 11 picks, Frazier took time Monday from the league’s annual meetings at the Arizona Biltmore to discuss the Vikings’ evolution.
The key story lines …
The pitch to land Greg Jennings had as much to do with Adrian Peterson as it did with Christian Ponder.
What’s the story? Look, when you have the league MVP, you sell that. And the Vikings did so, reminding Jennings of just how dangerous Peterson is and what his presence alone does to loosen up defenses. Not that the veteran receiver wasn’t already aware. Jennings, after all, saw Peterson rack up 508 yards in three games against Green Bay last season.
As a shrewd veteran seeking an ideal fit, Jennings took inventory of the situation in Minnesota, making certain to first gain a belief in Ponder. It didn’t hurt that Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and receivers coach George Stewart then spent significant time expressing their plans to use Jennings in a variety of ways — outside, from the slot, over the middle, over the top, etc.
They expressed admiration for Jennings’ sharp route running and run-after-the-catch ability.
And then came the demonstrations from last season on how much field there’d be to use with Peterson constantly magnetizing defenders toward the line.
What Frazier said: “We had a ton of tape to show that. A ton. A ton of tape. Greg’s a bright guy. He understands offense and he understands defenses, too. So once we showed him specific things, he realized there were some golden opportunities here. … Plus, Bill and George did a great job explaining that we would use him in a fashion where he could move around and not have coverages constantly rolled toward him. I think he liked what he heard.”
Percy Harvin’s tense exit from Minnesota is no longer Frazier’s concern.
What’s the story? For four seasons, Frazier was a huge Harvin supporter, a believer in his toughness and competitive fire and a mentor who remained ultra-patient through so many of the receiver’s frustration boil-overs. But whatever happened in the edgy fallout that ultimately led to last week’s trade to Seattle has Frazier seemingly detached from the emotion he invested in Harvin.
Yes, Frazier acknowledged that he still remains fond of Harvin as a player.
He wished Harvin the best in Seattle and said he’s bummed things didn’t play out differently here. But the page has turned. It’s time to move on.