The new-look Vikings made one thing clear Monday after the firing of head coach Brad Childress: They are looking forward, and only in the short-term.
Owner Zygi Wilf and interim head coach Leslie Frazier didn't get into specifics about what led to the firing of Brad Childress, although a 3-7 record and tension in the locker room certainly played a part.
"There wasn't one component that factored into this decision, just that we felt we made the best decision for the organization moving forward," Wilf said. "We have high expectations for this team and wanted to capitalize on what is left for this season."
What's left after a 3-7 start is six games that, even if the Vikings win them all, would likely still leave them out of the playoffs.
Frazier's message to the team in a meeting, and then to fans in a press conference, was to not look at the past and the problems that the team had this season. Frazier preached that the players keep focused on their next opponent.
"There will be a lot of things written about the past, but the one thing I'm hoping that all of our players recognize is that we can only do what we can do going forward, and that means our focus and our attention has to be on the Washington Redskins, period," Frazier said. "Anything else is really inconsequential to what we have to achieve as a group."
Frazier said he hasn't yet named anyone to take over his role as defensive coordinator, but the likely candidate is linebackers coach Fred Pagac. That's just one of several decisions Frazier has to make in the coming days, but the rest of the coaching staff is expected to remain intact for the rest of the season.
Frazier said he is keeping Brett Favre as the starting quarterback and admitted that every area of the team has to improve, including the units he was responsible for on the defensive side of the football. They all contributed to the 3-7 record where the Vikings currently sit.
"We're going through an adverse time. But this is a day, in some ways, a day of celebration for our team, because it's a chance for us to really embrace this opportunity that we have as a group to focus our energy on the Washington Redskins and not get caught up in anything other than that, and that's where we're headed," Frazier said.
Defensive end Brian Robison said the stress of the season had taken a toll on the players.
"I think it's just tension in general. You go 12-4 one year and then you go 3-7, where we're sitting at right now. As you know, once you go 12-4 you expect things to just get better from there," Robison said. "Things didn't happen that way. We started off the season 3-7 and frustrations were high because we were so close in so many games. We just couldn't make the plays to pull them out. Frustrations were just high all around the board."
Childress was informed of the decision early Monday morning by Wilf and his brother Mark.
"Brad was professional. We had a very good relationship with him over the last five years, and we wanted the best for him moving forward," Zygi Wilf said.
While the playoffs are still a distant possibility, players are trying to move ahead with a hopeful outlook. For the next six games at least, that will include Frazier directing the on-field decisions. Beyond that, Wilf wasn't willing to speculate.
"I know that he is focused on making this team respond for the rest of this season and we re-evaluate everything at the end of the season," Wilf said.
Frazier has more of a low-key presence, although he came across more authoritative in his initial press conference as interim head coach, and is respected by the players.
"We're excited to go into the rest of the season with Leslie," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said in a statement. "We're ready to roll from here and get back on the field. I wish Brad the best in the future. He and his family were always great to me and my family. As players, we've got to move forward from here with a new focus."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Frazier focused on moving forward
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