From Leslie Frazier's first day on the job in Minnesota, he had a feeling that this job would entail more than the "standard" duties of defensive coordinator. Thirteen months later, it became official as Frazier had the title of assistant head coach added to his resume.
"It just kind of makes things official," Frazier said Wednesday of the announcement that he his new job title would be assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. "From the day I got here, I can remember the first press conference, Brad (Childress) and I sitting down afterwards and just talking about details about the entire team, not just the defense. I could sense that my role would be different than just the standard defensive coordinator. Some of that had to do with our history together, but also I could sense there was a need to have someone to talk to about everything, not just one side of the ball."
Frazier, who joined the Vikings as defensive coordinator in February 2007 after being an assistant coach for Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, becomes the first coach to hold the assistant head coach title since Childress became head coach in 2006.
"I value speaking and sharing and the ideas that he has, the perspective that he lends and the leadership he gives our defensive staff and players," Childress said. "There are different kinds of leadership. I just thought he was very strong, (had) very good resolve."
Childress originally mentioned the possibility to Frazier after the 2007 season, but Frazier was quickly cast into two head-coaching searches, with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. After missing out on those opportunities, the subject resurfaced in the middle of February and Childress told Frazier he would talk to the ownership about it.
While the title changes and his contract has been extended through 2009, Frazier's input still will be sought on more than just defensive topics.
"We talk about everything right now, from top to bottom with our roster. We do that right now and it's been a great experience for me," Frazier said. "I've learned so much about the whole of our organization and how things operate because of Brad's willingness to involve me in some major, major decisions."
Since joining the Vikings, Frazier's defense has maintained the No. 1 ranking in the league against the run, allowing only 3.1 yards per carry. And his aggressive style of blitzing when the defensive line isn't applying enough pressure helped lead to six interception returns for touchdowns, tying a team record, and also added a pair of scores on fumble recoveries. The six touchdowns on interception returns ranks tied for fifth in league history.
While the pass defense remained an Achilles heel for the team, Frazier's steady influence on the defense was considered a positive and led to him being considered for head coaching vacancies with the Dolphins and Falcons. Eventually, those jobs went to other candidates, but Frazier feels good about how those interviews went and the feedback he received after them.
"I got the sense that when the right situation arrives, I think I'll be ready for it," he said. "I really felt pretty good about both situations I was in. Just talking with Coach Parcells and just hearing some of his comments afterwards really encouraged me greatly – just great feedback from him and Jeff Ireland as well. But the big thing for me is to really do a great job here in Minnesota as defensive coordinator and help our football team to win a championship. If that's the case, the opportunity to become a head coach will come."
His additional title won't prevent him from interviewing for head coaching jobs next offseason. In fact, it might help raise his profile in league circles, and Childress understands that is part of the business.
"Obviously, you don't want to hold him back from interviewing," Childress said. "I view him as a future head coach in this league."
Indeed, Frazier ran a training camp practice last year when Childress was attending the funeral of a Vikings security guard.
"If there was ever a case in my absence, we wouldn't miss a beat and that's something that we have discussed and kind of outlined with him," Childress said.
Of course, Frazier's role as a sounding board for Childress probably shouldn't be a surprise, given their prior working relationship in Philadelphia. When Childress was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Eagles, Frazier was making his NFL coaching debut as a secondary coach.
"I kind of knew Leslie's values and his work ethic and you obviously get to watch his product every day in the office and practice with him every day. I kind of knew what I was getting into when we hired him," Childress said.
Frazier said the promotion means more coming from a person he knows well.
"It means a lot coming from a person you have a history with and had a chance to watch you work in different capacities and to affirm what you've done in this manner," he said. "When you make a decision like this, you're saying that you really value that guy, that guy's input, and you trust the relationship. It means a lot in that regard."
Frazier Appreciates Promotion
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