How big of a difference can the promotion of Leslie Frazier to interim head coach really make?
The answer to that question probably won't be known for sure for at least a few weeks, but players gave their anticipatory opinions on the possibilities Tuesday after having a day to digest the fact that Brad Childress was fired as head coach and replaced by Frazier.
"Obviously, to think that things will be 100 percent the same would be a dangerous assumption," said center John Sullivan. "You have to think that there could be some changes coming your way. But I don't think things will change too much."
That might be largely true on offense. Frazier is a defensive coach who played cornerback in the NFL, but he spent time in offensive meetings Tuesday to get a feel for things on that side of the ball. However, while Brett Favre might get a little more freedom, Frazier admitted on Monday that the scheme will remain the same for the last six games.
Overall there is likely to be a different attitude between players and their head coach. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian admitted during an interview with Sirius NFL Radio that Childress was confrontational with players.
"I think people got to a point where it was just, it was too overbearing," Berrian said of Childress' personality.
"He was just confrontational. I think that was the biggest thing. Instead of, you know, going to players like men and just talking and conversating about it, it was kind of brought to their attention in a confrontational way and just people just didn't really conform to that way of, I guess, him talking and speaking to the team, or players individually."
Linebacker Ben Leber has played for Frazier for three-plus seasons with the coach as his defensive coordinator. He knows as well as anyone that Frazier brings a different demeanor.
"I can't sit here and draw exactly what the differences are going to be. Everybody's got different personalities," Leber said. "Everyone understands Coach Frazier's personality – a little more low-key – and so again, I can't sit here and comment on what the exact similarities and differences are going to be. But I just know that the team is ready to move on and we're excited."
Great coaches don't have to be former players, but it can help the credibility of new coaches with their players when the coach has played at the NFL level. Frazier not only played in the NFL, he was part of a Super Bowl team as a player and a coach. It adds pull with players.
"Absolutely. (The Super Bowl is) the ultimate goal for everybody. I won't speculate on our position with that this year, but the only thing that matters now is going out and trying to win games," Sullivan said.
Besides Berrian's assessment on Sirius, players have generally steered clear of comments critical of Childress, but for some the uncertainty surrounding Childress' status the last month took a toll. Having a resolution – if only for six more weeks – offers a bit more peace.
"I can't say that it was too stressful because you have to be focused on the task at hand and what's important. Uncertainty is never a good thing for any organization, let alone a football team," Sullivan said. "I think it's definitely a good thing that there's some closure here and there's some finality to the situation and we know what the situation is going to be now for these last six games. We can get down to focus on just going out there and getting better each week, preparing well and winning."
Whether firing Childress changes the results on the field is yet to be determined. Whether making that move a few weeks would have made the playoffs more realistic will never be known for sure. What is certain to most people is that something needed to happen to change the dynamic and direction of a 3-7 team that still believes it has elite talent.
"I think when you look at our situation – we're kind of stagnant right now and things aren't working out – I think any change right now, you have to look at as a positive," Leber said. "So, we're going to try to take this situation how some guys view it and other guys view it. Everybody's got to be on the same page, and I think we are, and we're going to turn this into a positive situation. We have to."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Players: Frazier brings different demeanor
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