Notebook: Vikings guarded on offensive change

Interim head coach Leslie Frazier said observers should be able to see some of his offensive emphases on Sunday, but he wouldn't get into specifics just yet. The process of the game-planning has changed, however. Plus, get notes and quotes on other differences around Winter Park, injuries and more.

Leslie Frazier isn't an offensive coach, but now that he holds the title of interim head coach for the Minnesota Vikings, he says observers will see the changes he wants implemented on offense.

"We're going to look at some different things in different ways," Frazier said. "We're going to hopefully get off to a good start in this Redskins game and we're going to tinker with some different things and just try to get it done."

Frazier wasn't giving out specifics, and neither was offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

"I think (Frazier) said you'll be able to see it on Sunday. I think that's what he's expecting, is that you'll be able to see his philosophy play out on the field on Sunday," Bevell said.

There has been a different process at Winter Park this week after former head coach Brad Childress was fired. Childress brought the offense to the Vikings from Philadelphia, where he was the offensive coordinator. Now Bevell will have more power with it.

"Every play went through Coach Childress. Everything was finalized through him. This week it was a little bit different," Bevell said. "I still kept Coach Frazier informed, told him what we were doing, how we felt like we should attack them. It wasn't like (Frazier said), ‘I don't like that, throw that out.' Or, ‘I like this, put that in.' There wasn't any of that."

Bevell doesn't expect that Frazier will be making suggestions on specific plays. Frazier was involved some in the offensive game plan, but it was basically Bevell and the offensive staff putting it together and presenting it to Frazier.

"As long it's sound and I can present it to Coach Frazier and he likes the logic behind it, I don't believe he's going to veto anything at this point," Bevell said. "He has confidence in what our offensive staff is able to put together."

Bevell will remain on the field level and receive input from offensive assistants in the coaches booth, especially quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers, who tells him what he is seeing from the defense's tendencies and adjustments.

Beyond the opportunity that the coaching change presents for Frazier in his first go-round as an NFL head coach, Bevell will have a chance to put his stamp on the offense as the clear-cut man putting together the game plan. He been the chief play-caller for the last three years, but the offense will essentially be his show from here on out.

"I'm not really worried about that. I'm just worried about winning games and whatever it's going to take," Bevell said. "I'm not worried about if they're saying, ‘Hey, this is Bevell's offense now. Let's see what it's going to look like.' All those things that are the questions, I just want to be able to win. I don't care if we run it 50 times in a row, pass it 50 times in a row. I just want to be able to get a win."

Although the offense is ranked 18th in yards gained, it is tied for 29th in points scored with the Miami Dolphins at 172. The Vikings are 28th in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on only 40 percent of their 30 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line this year, and 25th in third-down efficiency.

Just how much freedom will Brett Favre be given in the offense now that Childress is no longer involved? That's a question that might not have an answer until game time.

"Freedom is kind of a delicate thing. He has an enormous amount of freedom. Even under Coach Childress, there was things that he was allowed to do," Bevell said. "We listen to his suggestions. … I think he's always felt he had a voice with me and (quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers) and I can't speak to the rest."

Frazier said the team will change some things it does with the scripted plays at the beginning of the game, but he still wants to see some things in the first 15 plays.


The Vikings issued their final injury report of the week, and three starters – wide receivers Sidney Rice (hip) and Bernard Berrian (groin) and cornerback Chris Cook (knee) – were all listed as questionable. Cook was added to the injury report on Friday after being limited with a knee injury.

Judging by new interim head coach Leslie Frazier's comments Friday, Rice should be able to play.

"I think Sidney is going to be fine. He did some things today and we'll evaluate it again tomorrow. See how he feels when he wakes up," Frazier said. "Bernard is making improvements. We'll find out more about him tomorrow as well. He's kind of been up and down the last two games as far as being in and out, so we'll have to make a decision sometime tomorrow as to whether he'll make it or not."

In addition to those three, safety Eric Frampton (hamstring) is questionable. Safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) was ruled out.

DE Jared Allen (neck), S Husain Abdullah (ankle), QB Brett Favre (foot/ankle/shoulder), LB Chad Greenway (eye) and center John Sullivan (calf) are all probable.

For the Redskins, safety LaRon Landry and RB Ryan Torain were already ruled out, and RB Clinton Portis was placed on season-ending injured reserve. But the Redskins have 10 players listed as questionable: LB Lorenzo Alexander (hamstring), WR Brandon Banks (knee), G Derrick Dockery (knee), DE Kedric Golston (elbow/groin), OL Artis Hicks (thigh), DE Jeremy Jarmon (hamstring), LB Rocky McIntosh (thigh), WR Santana Moss (knee), C Casey Rabach (knee) and CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring). Jarmon is the only one of the questionable players that didn't participate in practice at all this week. After sitting out Wednesday and Thursday, Moss rejoined practice in a limited fashion Friday.

QB Donovan McNabb is probable with a hamstring injury and didn't miss any practice time during the week.


Players were loose at the start of Friday's practice, and Frazier said it was a good week of practice.

"It's been a good week because of our guys. Based on everything I have observed, they have really responded in a positive way," Frazier said. "We had one of our best days of practices today. Every day has been a little bit better. Friday sometimes is a tough day because guys are, especially after Thanksgiving, they kind of check out sometimes mentally, but that wasn't the case today."


The Vikings haven't won on the road since their Nov. 1, 2009 win over the Packers in the Green Bay. But even with that background, Frazier said the team won't change anything significant about his pregame routine on the road.

"Some people think, well, if you change the time of departure or you change the time of meetings or just a bunch of different things you could do, but I've emphasized to them that we've got to do a better job on the road of protecting the football and taking the ball away," he said. "If we can do those two things and handle field position with our special teams, we'll get this thing turned as a group. That, as much as anything, has been an issue for us. … We're just going to try to execute better and play better."

Frazier said ending the team's road steak ranks "numero uno" on his list of goals this week.


The Vikings worked out at least two players this week – RB Lorenzo Booker on Wednesday and, according to the Pioneer Press, defensive lineman Maurice Fountain on Friday.

"We're going to always be bringing guys in to work them out and try to have a gauge of where they are, so if something happens you'll always have a rolodex of players you can take a look at. That will be ongoing," Frazier said.

He didn't think the Vikings would make an immediate move on Booker, who reportedly would bring with him a $150,000 transfer fee that would have to be paid to the United Football League.


Favre said Wednesday that he sent a message to Childress but didn't get a reply. Bevell had better luck Thursday night.

"I was able to talk to him the day that he got out of here and then I was able to send him some texts last night and he replied to me last night. Just try to stay in touch, tell him I was thinking about him," Bevell said.

"I think he's being strong. He's got to be strong for his family. It hurts. Anytime you're in a situation that he was, it hurts your pride a little bit, I'm sure. All you can do is move forward."

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.

Want more in-depth coverage on your favorite NFL team? Click here and get started today.

Viking Update Top Stories