Pagac likes aggression in his defense

New Vikings defensive coordinator Fred Pagac likes calling blitzes, as he proved against Philadelphia, but he plans to let his personnel dictate his game plans going forward.

Leslie Frazier became a headline story when his long and winding road to becoming an NFL head coach came true with his hiring by the Vikings earlier this month. For defensive coordinator Fred Pagac, the trip has been longer and more winding.

He waited 34 years of coaching to get his big chance – he was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator when Frazier vacated the position to become head coach after Brad Childress was fired Nov. 22. Pagac had perhaps the finest hour of his coaching career when he dialed up a ton of blitzes on the Eagles, playing the Jim Johnson card against the Eagles and exposing the flaws in the Michael Vick-led offense that was mimicked by Dallas and Green Bay to eliminate the Eagles in three losses to end their season.

Pagac wasn't shy about his intentions with the defensive scheme going forward, but he said much of what the Vikings do will depend on who is still on the roster and who isn't.

"As far as calling blitzes, I like to be aggressive," Pagac said. "But everything is dependent upon your personnel and what they can do – putting guys in position to make play. Whether you're a Cover-2 team, a three-deep team, a man-blitz team, a zone-blitz team, that all depends on the people you end up having."

Pagac said he was hopeful that Frazier would get the head coaching position because of the mutual respect they have for one another. At the same time, he got a taste of being a defensive coordinator … and he liked it.

"Once you've done it, you enjoy doing that," Pagac said. "After 34 years of coaching, that's something that's enjoyable to me."

Pagac said he welcomes the addition of Mike Singletary, who is taking over Pagac's linebacker-coaching duties.

"Most certainly," Pagac said when asked if he was looking forward to working with Singletary. "I don't know Mike very well. I've met him a couple times. But, obviously, we're excited about him joining the staff and bringing his expertise with us and I'm looking forward to getting to know him and work with him."

Frazier said that he and Pagac are on the same page in terms of defensive philosophy and doesn't think that there will be any significant change in the basic mindset of the Vikings defense with Pagac at the helm.

"I don't think there will be anything dramatic – not at all," Frazier said. "There are going to be some things that schematically we'll take a look at, but it's going to be important that we improve in certain areas. Without question. (But) there won't be a dramatic overhaul by any means."

While there are plenty of questions on the defensive side, especially at linebacker – where Chad Greenway and Ben Leber are both scheduled to become free agents – Pagac is confident the Vikings have the framework for the next generation of their defense.

"I think we have a great nucleus defensively in all areas," Pagac said. "Linebacker-wise, we have some good, young ' backers. (In the) secondary, you've got Chris Cook coming back from his injury at the end of the year. Asher Allen is coming back as a young corner. (On the) defensive line, you've got guys like Everson Griffen and Brian Robison as young players that are a coming through. There's a good nucleus to work with now."

One point both Pagac and Frazier made was that, as it currently stands, they don't know who the personnel will be that they are in charge of. Whoever it turns out to be, the defensive coaches are ready, willing and able to bring the Vikings back to prominence – which will be needed to compete with the Packers, Bears and Lions, both in the short-term and long-term.

SATURDAY NOTES

  • Cam Newton, the controversial Auburn quarterback being linked to the Vikings on draft day, has signed on with agent Bus Cook – best known as Brett Favre's agent. As cagey as Cook was in giving insight into Favre's standing, it can only be imagined that getting comments from Cook on Newton will be vague at best.

  • The buzz in Tampa Bay is that the Bucs have designs on former Vikings offensive line coach Pat Morris. The team fired their own OL coach, Pete Mangurian, and the word is that they want to fill the position quickly and that Morris is at the top of their short list of replacements.

  • Brad Childress met with Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis Friday, according to reports out of Cincinnati. While the talks were said to be informal in nature, given his name being mentioned briefly in connection with a job opening in Miami, it would seem that Chilly has the coaching itch.

  • The individual team use of the injury report is about as varied as it can get. In a classic regular-season game between the Colts and Patriots a few years ago, Tony Dungy and Bill Belichick combined to list 47 players on their respective injury reports. Of the 47 players, only five were inactive for game day. For Sunday's NFC Championship, the Bears list just one player on their injury report – safety Chris Harris, who is questionable with a hip injury. The Packers list 12 players on their injury report, although 10 of them are listed as probable. The other two? Linebacker Frank Zombo is out with a knee injury and offensive lineman Jason Spitz is questionable with a calf injury. Don't be stunned if Zombo is the only player of the 13 that misses the game.

  • When the Packers lost to New England 31-27 in Week 15, it looked as though their season was over. Had they lost to the Giants in Week 16, they would have been eliminated. Had they lost to the Bears in Week 17, they would have been eliminated. Obviously, if they lost the last two playoff games at Philadelphia and Atlanta, they would have been eliminated. That may explain why they are a 3½-point favorite at Chicago in the NFC Championship Game. But, the gambler in many people has to ask the question – they've won four elimination games in a row, so is their luck bound to run out?


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.

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