Very little about Fred Smoot is quiet. He talks on the field and he talks off the field.
About the only time Fred Smoot wasn't talking was when media requested interviews during the second half of last season following allegations of his involvement in the Vikings' boat party. Smoot is scheduled for trial on charges stemming from the incident on May 30.
But back at minicamp earlier this month, Smoot returned to his talkative ways with the media and came on strong regarding the differences between the current and past Vikings coaching staffs.
Not surprisingly, Smoot said he likes the way things have shaped up so far under new head coach Brad Childress and pointed out the differences he sees in Childress and former coach Mike Tice.
"I'm loving it right now. It differs for the players in winning (points to Childress) and losing (indicating Tice). The proof will be in the pudding," Smoot said. "(Childress) is like a no-nonsense guy, but still level-headed and still cool.
"He's still a player's coach. He's not military-minded the way everybody's saying, but he wants stuff done a certain way in a Joe Gibbs-type manner. That's what I'm basically used to."
Last year, after acclimating himself to the Vikings as a free agent signing, Smoot also compared Tice to Gibbs, saying both of them were players' coaches, but after a full season with Tice in 2005, Smoot's view has apparently changed.
"Tice was kind of loose trying to play both sides of the fence – be a coach and be a player. You can't do that. A lot of double talk. (Now) it's straightforward – this how it is and this is how it's going to be," Smoot said.
Actually, Smoot wasn't the only player talking about that aspect of Tice's coaching career in Minnesota, but he was the freest with his on-the-record thoughts.
He also wasn't the only player to indicate that schemes or coaching on defense last year might have hurt the players' performances.
"I think it all starts with the defensive coordinator. There never was a doubt with the talent we had. Everybody in the NFL knows we always had the talent. I went through the same thing in Washington, where we always had lots of talent, but you've got to have coaches. That's why I say coaches are a big part of who wins and who doesn't," Smoot said. "If you look at the last couple of Super Bowl winners with Bill Cowher and I don't have to saying anything about New England – coaches separate these teams sometimes and I think now we have an edge."
The Vikings not only added quality in the coaching staff, according to Smoot's comments, but they added numbers as well. Last year, the relatively under-budgeted coaching staff was forced to reconcile Steve Loney's time between being the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach – and he had no assistants to help with the offensive line at the end of the season after former player/intern Corbin Lacina quit.
This year, the Vikings have 21 assistant coaches under Brad Childress – including two offensive line coaches – and a bigger coaching budget from owner Zygi Wilf, who is celebrating his first year of ownership this month.
"I see what the owners are doing to get us to a first-class organization and get us to a higher level. I'm actually loving it right now," Smoot said.
Smoot ‘Loving' Coaching Changes
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