Leslie Frazier: What Can Vikings Interim Coach Do To Salvage This Season?
Leslie Frazier has been named the interim head coach of the Minnesota Vikings following the firing of Brad Childress.
It's up to the fourth-year defensive coordinator to change the attitude in Minnesota while finding a way to win some games.
The laid-back Frazier should provide a stark contrast to Childress' bullying style, but that doesn't mean the results on the field will be any different.
Minnesota's veterans are playing poorly and there are no young players ready to step in.
And then there is Brett Favre.
Favre has created a season-long soap opera while playing some of the worst football of his entire career.
The winds of change are blowing, and Frazier might have the courage to keep his lame-duck quarterback on the sideline.
Here's a look at 10 ways Leslie Frazier can fix the mess in Minnesota.
No. 10: Fix The Defense
Thanks to a dominant defensive line, the Vikings were sitting at 9-1 at this time a season ago.
What a difference a year makes.
Jared Allen has gone from performing like a defensive player of the year to playing like a disinterested veteran.
With Kevin Williams' production also on the decline, the Vikings front four has suddenly gone from feared to fragile.
Frazier needs to fix the problems up front in order to mask the shortcomings of Minnesota's secondary.
No. 9: Establish An Identity
Will the real Minnesota Vikings please stand up?
It's late November and the Vikings are still searching for an identity.
Before Frazier wins a game, he needs to determine what his philosophy will be during the final six games of the season.
Does he want his Vikings' team to rely on Adrian Peterson or keep letting Brett Favre throw the ball all over the field?
The answer to that question could determine Frazier's fate when Zygi Wilf looks to name a head coach after the season.
No. 8: Change The Attitude
The lack of an identity has been reflected in the Vikings' attitude this season.
During Sunday's loss to the Packers, it was evident Minnesota wasn't playing with maximum physical effort.
There was little mental focus.
There was absolutely no accountability.
Frazier must find a way to get every player to focus on doing his job.
Instead of waiting to be punched in the mouth, Minnesota needs to strike first.
It all starts by handing the ball to Adrian Peterson.
No. 7: Become a Players Coach
If Leslie Frazier wants his players to develop an attitude, he will need to earn their trust.
That's something Brad Childress was never able to do.
Frazier is known for being much more relaxed than his predecessor.
After operating under a regime filled with lies for the last four-plus years, the Vikings' players will be eager for a personality change at the top.
No. 6: Finish The Season With At Least Three Wins
Minnesota has played a difficult schedule, and it doesn't get much easier down the stretch.
After traveling to Washington in Week 12, Minnesota returns home for three straight games.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that two of those contests are against likely playoff teams New York and Chicago.
Games against Buffalo and Detroit should provide opportunities for wins, meaning the Vikings will have to pull off another win as the underdog.
Don't be surprised if the upset win comes against the Redskins Sunday.
Finishing the season 3-3 would be a decent accomplishment for Frazier's Vikings.
No. 5: Get More Out Of The Veterans
Veteran players don't usually respond to tyrannical coaches.
Brad Childress had a difficult time retaining the support of his veteran players, most notably Brett Favre.
Frazier must find a way to motivate his underachieving veterans, including Jared Allen, Bernard Berrian and Kevin Williams.
If Favre doesn't begin to produce, Frazier could have a difficult yet obvious decision to make.
No. 4: No More Drama
Brad Childress was a big part of the drama in Minnesota, but we all know who is behind all of the internal strife.
Few athletes have the ability to captivate an audience like Brett Favre.
Frazier will need to put an end to Favre's musing press conferences, those personal chats with ESPN's Ed Werder and his general notion of self-importance.
Good luck with that.
Favre should really have his own reality show on VH1.
No. 3: Run The Ball
This point goes back to identity and attitude.
It also touches on something that seems to be lacking in Minnesota: Common sense.
Adrian Peterson has looked good this season despite getting little help from his offensive line.
Favre might be the most polarizing player on the field, but he is far from the best.
There's absolutely no excuse for not pounding the ball with Peterson at least 20 times.
At some point, logic must prevail.
No. 2: Turn To Tarvaris
At 3-7, the season is basically over for the Vikings.
It's time to look towards the future.
If Frazier wants to be part of the future, he will need to play the few young players on the roster in hopes of seeing what they can do.
Tarvaris Jackson isn't young, but he is still a fairly unproven commodity.
There's no better way to see if he has shed his bad habits than by putting him on the field.
No. 1: Don't Let Brett Favre Run The Show
You just can't let a Hall of Fame player with declining skills determine the direction of the franchise.
From top to bottom, that's exactly what the Vikings' franchise has done both this season and last.
It worked in 2009, but it clearly wasn't going to work forever.
Part of Brad Childress' prickly behavior likely was as a result of Favre's stubborn tendencies.
With a remarkable sense of entitlement, he hasn't been afraid to put his own style on running the offense.
And if that style meant changing plays on a whim or altering primary receivers, so be it.
As he looks to begin his head coaching career, Frazier needs to remind Favre his career is coming to an end.
What better way to show your mettle than by making a decision most coaches would be afraid to make?
As much as he disliked Favre's antics, Childress never would have had the courage to yank his quarterback.
It's time for Leslie Frazier to show why he deserves to be a head coach in the NFL.
It's time to do something that helps him stand out.