Denny Green viewed the preseason as a test of wills. He wanted to go 4-0 in the preseason and, if that meant playing starters an extra series or two, so be it. Then again, he also had John Randle on the field in the final minutes of a 1998 blowout playoff win against Arizona and he got injured and was a shell of himself against the Falcons. It's how the "New Sheriff" bounced.
Mike Tice, who may have had a head coaching job too soon after being a player himself, didn't believe in gassing out his starters. He took it easy on "the guys" in the preseason, but never understood players claiming they couldn't go. He was old school. New York old school. He coached for the moment. He was an ideal position coach, but not a great head coach. His view of the preseason was one of a player – it means nothing unless my job is on the line; if my job is safe, sit me down until it counts.
Brad Childress was the only metamorphosis coach of the Vikings in the modern era of the NFL. His first training camp had the gray-haired veterans of training camp waxing that Chilly was the demon spawn of Les Steckel. His first training camp was as close to an NFL Bataan Death March as any Vikings team had endured since Camp Steckel, where Gage Hall was Stalag 13. He went twice a day every day in pads. After a near-rebellion from veteran players (some would argue hometown boy Matt Birk never got over it), Chilly started a veteran player's council to voice grievances. Not exactly the hands-on approach, but an improvement.
Leslie Frazier proved one thing as the latest head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, which is a refreshing happy medium of the other polar opposite head coaches. He told Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams they wouldn't see the field in the preseason opener and had Adrian Peterson join them after one carry. Frazier kept Steve Hutchinson on the field because Donovan McNabb needed him. He picked his shots. He was a player removed enough from the game to make the decisions that are for the betterment of the team – keeping guys like Peterson, Allen and Winfield with that "new car smell" when the regular season starts.
Of the millions of Minnesotans that watched (a fraction) of Saturday night's 14-3 loss to Tennessee, few Vikings fans saw the game as a positive.
There weren't a lot of great Vikings moments to be taken from Saturday's game other than Frazier has a plan in place that didn't include exposing his star players to anything more than necessary to get them ready for the regular season. That rationale may hold up well for Frazier when the regular season starts wearing out teams that put too much emphasis on putting their stars at risk.
Seeing as the Vikings lost their opener, the game is meaningless. In Tennessee, it's a building block. So goes Week 1 of the preseason.
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.