Frazier Ready to Put His Stamp on Defense

The Vikings will have their first full minicamp workout with all of their players since the departure of Mike Tomlin as defensive coordinator. While Leslie Frazier is the latest in a growing list of D.C.'s for the Vikings, he has a chance to put his own stamp on the defense early on -- starting this weekend.

In theory, there isn't supposed to be too much of a difference in the coaching styles of former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin and new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. After all, both learned at the feet of Tony Dungy and both embraced his Tampa-2 defensive philosophy that helped make the Buccaneers the most feared defense in the NFL.

But is it that simple? While much of the terminology and defensive philosophy will remain the same under Frazier, questions remain as to how the players – especially veterans who have seen more than their fair share of D-coordinators come and go – will react to yet another coaching style.

It was clear that Tomlin was loved and admired by just about everyone in the organization. He was able to accomplish something so many other venerable defensive coordinators couldn't do – take the Vikings defense from being (statistically) one of the worst defenses in the league for an extended period of time to one of the better overall units. Teams couldn't run on the Vikings and many abandoned the run completely – opting to pass for whatever yardage they could gain.

"I was well aware of how good the defense played a year ago, and they've kind of carried that over," Frazier said last week after a few days of organized team activities. "Hopefully we can just improve on some of the things that they were a little bit short on a year ago, but I've been very, very impressed with the overall condition of the players and just the attitude in general. It's been good."

While Frazier has many of the same qualities that make the Cover-2 defense succeed, the Colts defense didn't exactly set the world on fire the last few years. With an offense like the Colts have had in recent years, it's no surprise that opponents put up yards and points against Indy. They needed to in order to avoid being blown out.

It was clear almost from the day the Vikings hired Tomlin – a move Brad Childress made so quickly once he became available that Ted Cottrell was fired over the phone instead of in person – that he wouldn't be around for long. He was one of the rising stars in the assistant coaching ranks and it seemed clear that, whether it would be one year or two or three, it wasn't going to be long before Tomlin would be one of the hot head coaching prospects. As it turned out, it was only one year before he was tabbed by the Steelers to be their third coach in almost 40 years.

As minicamp opens Friday, Frazier is going have his first real chance to put his stamp on the team and complete the transition that began when Tomlin left to begin his own head coaching journey. Frazier will get the chance to leave his own imprint on the franchise. Childress gave Frazier his chance to move up to the top rung of the ladder for defensive coaches. Now it's his chance to run with it. Will he succeed? The Vikings are a year closer to having the personnel to go with the new defensive scheme, so there will be little room for making excuses if the defense doesn't continue to improve – even if its initial architect is gone.

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