Thursday, September 3, 2015

leslie frazier

It was only a matter of time, with no NFL team really wanting to have their head coach become a lame duck, before word would emerge that Leslie Frazier received an extension from the Vikings.

Frazier took a 3-13 football team and helped transform them into a 10-6 playoff team in the span of just one year.  He received votes for the Coach of the Year Award and has been praised for his calm demeanor when facing some very tough issues.

Tuesday, word of his extension did indeed hit the internet, and some that doubt Frazier’s ability to lead a team to a Super Bowl will be relieved to hear that his contract only runs through 2014.  However, Frazier’s advocates amongst the fan base might feel like the team didn’t give him a big enough vote of confidence.

The Associated Press erroneously reported that Frazier received a multi-year extension, but the truth is that the team simply picked up an option contained within his current deal that tacks on one more year.

The Vikings announced the move Tuesday evening.

“Coach Frazier has done a remarkable job in building a strong foundation for the Minnesota Vikings and creating a very positive future,” Vikings president Mark Wilf said in the statement.  “We value his leadership and look forward to working with him for many years to come.”

Financial terms are not known, but since there is no impact on the salary cap in regards to coaching salaries, most fans will not care at all what the Vikings are paying Frazier.

Unless another deal is reached between Frazier and the Vikings, we can plan on being right back in this same position at this time next year, with Frazier once again approaching a lame duck season.

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What a great day Saturday turned out to be for Vikings fans.

Cris Carter getting elected into the Hall of Fame was just the beginning.

The NFL hosted their second annual awards show on Saturday night, and oddly chose to air it after everyone knew who won what, but it was still well worth watching for those of us wanting to see Adrian Peterson get what he deserved.

Peterson took home the NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year Award, the Fed Ex Ground Player of the Year Award, and the Offensive Player of the Year Award.

The big question, however, was whether or not Peterson would win the Most Valuable Player Award with considerable competition coming out of Denver in the form of Peyton Manning.  By a tally of 30.5 to 19.5 votes, Peterson indeed won the prestigious award for the first time in his decorated career.

Peterson put doubters in the corner by rehabbing his knee and then rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns.  As we all know, he fell only nine yards shy of having the greatest season of any running back in history.

Peterson did lose out to Manning in the voting for the much debated Comeback Player of the Year Award.

This may not be the last time Peterson wins this award, however, as he has recently stated that his goal for next season is to rush for 2,500 yards.  At this point, it is hard to doubt the man.

Leslie Frazier also managed to get three votes in the Coach of the Year category, which ended up going to Bruce Arians for his work as an interim coach in Indianapolis.

Congratulations to Peterson on his final achievement of the 2012 season!

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Today, Leslie Frazier did exactly what every head coach begins a season hoping he doesn’t have to do, he gave his end of the season press conference without being able to boast an NFL Championship.

That doesn’t mean, however, that this three-win team from a year ago doesn’t have plenty of positives to hang their hat on as they leave Winter Park and Frazier made sure to point out each of those.

As anyone could predict, Frazier said all of the right things that one would expect him to say at the presser, which you can watch by clicking here.  Because of these expectations, I hardly feel that things he said are really newsworthy because we all knew exactly what would be said.

Christian Ponder is the starter next year.  Frazier would like to see everybody back to training camp no matter how old they are getting, how much they are getting paid, or how little they produced this season.  Joe Webb will compete for a backup spot again.  Percy Harvin has no attitude problems and has no reason to not come back next season.

All positive… but all predictable.

I’m not suggesting he is not genuine when touching on the positives, I simply mean to point out that not much stock should be put into his words when it comes to the touchier subjects.

I will say this, however, I cannot remember a Vikings head coach in my lifetime that presents himself as well as Leslie Frazier.  The guy is pure class, and I am excited about him getting his contract extension, which both he and Zygi Wilf indicated would be worked out at some point this offseason.

Leslie Frazier improved greatly in his second season as Head Coach and he represents the Minnesota Vikings organization about as well as, if not better than, any coach in the NFL represents their respective teams.

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11

It’s game day, gentleman (and ladies). We’re about eight hours away from the start of one of biggest game the Vikings have played in quite some time. Just rolled out of bed. Got some coffee in hand. Let’s get to those questions, shall we?

Q: Everybody knows it, but why is Adrian Peterson this year’s MVP? (Malte)

Obviously, I can’t look at the debate between Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson objectively. That being said, I do not understand the argument for Peyton Manning as MVP over Peterson. If Manning wins, it should be renamed to Most Valuable Quarterback because he is not more valuable to the Broncos than AD is to the Vikings. For one, Manning isn’t even the best quarterback in the league this year. Last time I looked over the stats for quarterbacks, I don’t remember Manning leading in a single one of them. Here’s what it comes down to: Adrian Peterson willed this team to 10 victories. He threw this team over his shoulder and carried them to seven more wins than last season running through [usually] nine defenders in the box on any given play. Especially once Percy Harvin left, Peterson was the Vikings only offensive weapon. Peyton Manning stepped onto a playoff caliber team with a great defense, great receivers and an already pretty solid foundation. Yes, he gave the team five more wins than they had last year, but I believe you put any other ‘elite’ QB in that role and Denver ends the season with the same (if not better) record. What Adrian Peterson did this season could not be done had any other running back been in his shoes. It’s that simple. That is value. Peterson deserves this award. (Alas, if I had to wager today, I would say that Manning ends up winning the dang thing.)

What can I say, this is awesome!  A year removed from a three win season, the Minnesota Vikings are in the playoffs, while Detroit and Chicago are seeing heads roll.  Like I said, this is awesome!

I have been unable to think of a specific “format” to follow this week when it comes to writing on this site, so to kick things off I want to just offer up a few observations pertaining to last week’s victory over Green Bay and this week’s trip to Green Bay.

Here we go:

Was That Progress We Saw?

I am certain that any evaluators with complicated analysis and formulas for grading players will be giving Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder his highest marks of his career for his latest performance.  Ponder was 16 of 28 for 234 yards and three touchdowns, posting a career high passer rating of 120.2.  Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over at all and completed some crucial third down passes that kept Adrian Peterson on the field, and Aaron Rodgers off of it.

Some Negative Nellies out there (i.e. Me) might be quick to point out that Ponder had some luck aid his efforts and also made a number of questionable throws, but there is no denying that what we saw on Sunday was progress, or at the very least something that looked like progress.

For the sake of starting the new year on positive notes I will not point out the negatives and instead focus on what I thought was Ponder’s best throw of the season.  The fourth quarter bomb to Jarius Wright, that went for 45 yards and set up a touchdown, was a work of art.  So far this season, I have not seen Ponder confidently stand in the pocket and step into a throw the way he did on that one.

As most of you reading this know, I am not a 100% sold on this kid, but at the same time it is obvious he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  So, it only stands to reason, us fans should be thrilled to witness the progress we did at the most opportune time possible.

Now we get to include post season play in Ponder’s evaluation, which can only be viewed as a bonus when this team is forced to move on with self-evaluation.

Imagine The Possibilities

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here, but I want to say this anyways:  If there is one team in these playoffs I feel the Vikings matchup great against it is the Atlanta Falcons.

Why do I bring that up?

Well, if the Vikings manage to come out of Saturday’s game as victors; their reward will be a trip to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.  In that case, I would strongly predict a win because I feel that strongly about the matchup.

I’m not saying it would be easy, but what I am trying to say here is that it is not inconceivable to me that this team could indeed end up playing in the NFC Championship Game.

A Matter Of Exploitation

Green Bay may not employ all of the same strategies in the upcoming game that they did on Sunday, but if it was pretty obvious what they tried to do to the Vikings… exploit their weaknesses.

The Packers picked on A.J. Jefferson as the weakest link in the secondary.  Once Antoine Winfield had to leave due to pain in his broken hand, it was reserve cornerback Marcus Sherels that was viciously targeted.  As a result, Aaron Rodgers completed 70% of his passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.  It worked, but just not well enough.

On defense, the Packers schemed to have monster nose tackle B.J. Raji bull rush on obvious running downs and ensured he was lined up against Brandon Fusco, the Vikings weakest link along the offensive line.  Raji was consistently getting penetration and made a number of big stops as a result.  It worked, but just not well enough.

The health of certain players, particularly Winfield, will be of great importance as the Wild Card weekend draws nearer.

Special Teams Worries

Jeremy Ross has been unable to beat out Randall Cobb as the primary return man in Green Bay, but Cobb’s injury that forced him out of the week 17 lineup gave Ross an opportunity and he took full advantage of it.

Ross averaged 28 yards on three kick returns, including a 44 yarder that he nearly took to the house.  He also averaged a whopping 20 yards on two punt returns.  Ross is essentially the only return man to shred yardage out of the otherwise stout coverage unit of the Vikings this season.

While the rest of the team is getting hot, however, it was worrisome to see the coverage unit struggle so much heading into the playoffs.  The importance of special teams cannot be underestimated, especially for a team that really needs all three phases of the game to be in synch in order to continue their winning streak.

Leslie Frazier Deserves No Small Amount Of Credit

Before the Vikings pay anyone on this roster, Zygi Wilf and Rick Spielman really need to get Leslie Frazier’s contract extended well into the future.

He has handled so many situations with grace, grace that kept things from becoming a media circus, that I just think he is a huge breath of fresh air after the Childress era.

If Frazier has really been able to successfully mentor Everson Griffen, Chris Cook, and Jerome Felton into men of character, after they each made serious off field transgressions, then their success this season (of which there has been plenty) should be directly attributed to his abilities as a head coach.

If Christian Ponder is really going to become the franchise quarterback that flashed last Sunday, then his devotion during the trying times of November should be reciprocated from above.

If Adrian Peterson’s incredible season can ever possibly be duplicated or improved upon in the future, then why not stick with the guy that oversaw the action this season?

If so many rookies can be coached up and produce in such a big way, like they have this season, then why would you want to leave that coaching staff in any sort of limbo state?

It is time for Frazier to be rewarded.  Actually, scratch that, it was time for him to be rewarded four wins ago.

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