Wilfs stress communication in personnel

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, along with head coach Leslie Frazier, believe the right formula for the Vikings is a collaborative effort when it comes to making personnel decisions. The Wilfs stressed time and again that open communication is key.

The Vikings entered the 2010 season will all 22 of their starters from their 2009 NFC Championship-contending roster in place. That didn't work out so well, so it was a logical question: With Brett Favre gone and new coach Leslie Frazier in place, is 2011 a rebuilding year?

Not if you ask owner Zygi Wilf.

"I don't look at this as a rebuilding situation," he said. "… In the last two years, we've been the division champions with a great roster, great personnel, great leaders, and we're very fortunate to be able to make a coaching change."

While Wilf made a change with his head coach, firing Brad Childress on Nov. 22 and promoting Leslie Frazier to head coach, the owner has no such plans for drastic changes in his player personnel department. The structure will remain the same and so will the titles. That means Rob Brzezinski will remain the vice president of football operations, managing contract negotiations and the salary cap (assuming there is one in 2011), and Rick Spielman will remain the vice president of player personnel, overseeing the evaluation of pro and college prospects.

"We're going to have to make certain (roster) changes, of course, because of what's been happening with free agency and all of that, but I know that with Rick and the coach and Rob and ourselves that we'll have a better football club going into next year," Wilf said.

Zygi and his brother and co-owner Mark Wilf stressed communication throughout a roundtable session with reporters after the hiring of Frazier full time. The inference seemed to be that, although former coach Brad Childress' name was never spoken nor the past dwelled on, communication wasn't a strong suit between Childress and the personnel department in the recent past. Clearly, Childress asserted his authority increasingly throughout his tenure, culminating with his decision to release Randy Moss without first informing Spielman or the Wilfs before he told his players that Moss was being released.

Frazier said he will work side-by-side with Spielman in shaping the roster and that process was already in the works during Frazier's last six weeks in the interim head-coaching role. Frazier said he has "a ton of respect" for Spielman's personnel acumen and the two of them and their staffs will have plenty of decisions to make. By the time the 2011 season rolls around, Frazier admits the roster will look "dramatically different."

"I'll get with our personnel people, along with our coaches, and we'll begin to go through some of the things that need to happen in order for us to get back to NFC North champs and become NFC champs, along with winning a Super Bowl," he said. "We're going to get together and talk about that internally, but there are definitely some things that we'll have to move forward on to get back to where we were."

Despite more than a dozen veterans being up for free agency, Frazier, like Wilf, wasn't willing to call the upcoming month a roster rebuilding

"One of the things that gets me excited about my job here in Minnesota is the fact that I don't think we're that far away. I really believe – there are some things that we'll address this offseason – we're right back in the hunt for the NFC North Championship and the NFC Championship as well. I really believe that in my heart. Just knowing our rosters, knowing our division, understanding what you have to do to win in our division, I don't think we're depleted. And obviously there's some people that we want to be able to retain, but our roster's going to turn over, there's no question about it. But we're not that far away."
Despite rumors that the Wilfs might look to hire a general manager, they were preaching a cooperative spirit among their top personnel decision-makers and left the impression that was never a serious consideration.

"We believe in what we have right now as an organization has worked. We've been very fortunate to have Rick work on the personnel side and bring the players along as he has," Zygi Wilf said. "We're very fortunate to have Leslie now as our coach, being in a system and having worked with Rick and Rob to make right decisions at the right moments. I think that the most important thing that we're looking forward to is that communication, an open communication on a regular basis."

Frazier sure seems to think that formula can work.

"You couldn't ask for a better situation, which makes me believe that it's only a matter of time before we deliver what our fans and this organization deserve – a world championship," he said. "I believe that's going to happen. I believe that in my heart."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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