Frazier learning to scout offensive talent

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier comes from a defensive background, so he is relying on others to help him scout offensive positions where he lacks detailed knowledge. He talked about the challenges associated with that and the offense in general.

Leslie Frazier didn't have to switch employers to find his first NFL head-coaching job, but there is plenty new in Frazier's world these days.

He oversaw the final six games of the Vikings' 2010 season, dealing with the aftermath of the Brad Childress firing, finding the Vikings' first road win in over a year, managing an unstable quarterback situation that saw the end of Brett Favre record streak of consecutive games started (297), the injury of Tarvaris Jackson, the insertion of rookie Joe Webb, the replacement of Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson by rookie Chris DeGeare, the collapse of the Metrodome roof, the move to have one "home" game in Detroit, another at frozen TCF Bank Stadium, and the two-delay of the Philadelphia Eagles game. Did we miss anything from the final six weeks?

Through it all, Frazier remained calm and collected publicly while wondering privately if it would ever end. But once he completed a 3-3 record to end the season, he had to target new coaches for vacated positions – offensive and special-teams coordinators, and position coaches at offensive line, quarterbacks, linebackers and running backs.

With the coaching staff filled out, Frazier is now turning his attention to the scouting season, which is bringing new challenges. For the past decade he has been used to scouting defensive players, but as head coach he will have some important decisions to make on offense, and not just with the quarterback position.

As a former cornerback in the league, Frazier has a good idea what to look for in receivers, too, but there is one position where he working to getting better at scouting.

"Probably the lineman, that's the one for me. Just trying to figure out guards and tackles and even centers," Frazier said last week at Senior Bowl practices. "I just talked to our offensive line coach, Jeff Davidson, about some of the things that you look for in trying to determine whether or not a guy will fit. Other positions, it's not as hard for me. But O-line, that's the one."

After only a few weeks, not even a month, of working with Davidson, it's clear Frazier has confidence in his new offensive line coach. With the defensive players, Frazier can be a little more hands-on, but he is relying on Davidson and other offensive coaches to help him with scouting those positions.

"I've had to evaluate defensive linemen for the longest time. Of course, I can evaluate receivers with what they do against defensive backs," Frazier said. "The O-line, that was a little different."

The Senior Bowl was full of possible prospects along the offensive line. While many of the top defensive linemen are juniors, the highly ranked offensive lineman are mostly seniors.

The Vikings also have a new offense that will be installed under new coordinator Bill Musgrave. It wasn't so much any particular scheme that enticed Frazier to hire Musgrave. Instead, it was Musgrave's philosophy of building an offense flexible enough to play to individual players' strengths.

"What we're trying to do is make sure that we utilize all our weapons. We've got a lot of weapons, as you know, on offense," Frazier said. "Just having the ability to be able to spread the ball around and being able to put guys in the best position to be successful will be a big deal in the way that we approach first down, second down, third down, red zone. The approach with new eyes seeing it and new guys with different ideas should help our offense – at least that's what I believe."


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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