Improved 'D' Would Elevate Frazier's Stock

The Vikings can lock up star players to long-term contracts to keep them from going to other teams, but an improved defense with the addition of some talented players could help Leslie Frazier's coaching stock. If the Vikings defense improves as much as some believe it will, 2008 could be the final year of Frazier coordinating the Purple's defense.

Could this be Leslie Frazier's last year with the Vikings?

Vikings fans didn't think that Mike Tomlin was going to get the Pittsburgh head coaching job when it opened following the retirement of Bill Cowher. After all, they had two in-house candidates that many viewed as co-favorites, and others speculated the Steelers were just following league-mandated policies for interviewing minority candidates for the job.

But Tomlin sold the Steelers on his philosophy of the game and, with his knowledge of defense, had a steady hand on the reins of that side of the ball as a head coach. He had a resume to prove it in 2006, including a run defense that was the best in the league and for most of the season and was within reach of setting a NFL record for fewest rushing yards allowed in the modern era of football.

We know how that story ended. Tomlin got the job and, if the history of Steelers head coaches means anything, he'll have it until somewhere around 2035. He had a tremendous first season as the Vikings' defensive coordinator and was gone.

There seems to be a growing undercurrent that, with the additions of Jared Allen and Madieu Williams to the Vikings defense, this team is going to have a new look that has been missing from Frazier's Tampa-2 defense. The Tampa-2 has always been predicated on getting pressure on the quarterback to force passes that result in turnovers. For all their attempts to try to create a pass rush, it seemed to rarely come from the defensive end position without an accompanying blitz. To achieve that goal, the Vikings had to send linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties on blitzes. It is believed that with Allen and Ray Edwards, the Vikings won't have to bring blitzers from other positions as often as they did in the past and, when they do, those players will likely have free shots at the quarterback since offenses are going to have to do more double-teaming of the ends and the Williams Wall in the middle.

The result could be dramatic. It likely will allow Frazier to add some new schemes to the defense and, if executed properly, the Vikings could have one of the more exciting defenses that can create big plays by bringing the heat to the opponent from angles that haven't been seen in the Brad Childress era.

If that happens, the Vikings defense will be much less of a liability than it has been in recent years. If the pass defense can show any significant improvement, the Vikings should be a much better team and, in the process, Frazier's star will be on the rise.

If the Vikings make the kind of defensive improvement that many believe is possible, it may wind up coming at the expense of Frazier, whose coaching career could soon take him elsewhere as a head coaching candidate who lands a job instead of just being interviewed.


  • Five Vikings players – Adrian Peterson, Tarvaris Jackson, Chester Taylor, Matt Birk and Ben Leber – missed the OTA practice session Wednesday. Peterson and Jackson were out of tending to excused personal business, Leber was with his wife Abby, who was set to give birth to their first child, Taylor has not been at OTA practices as per his offseason regimen and Birk is skipping the OTAs as part of an ongoing contract dispute.

  • With Jackson missing practice Wednesday, veteran QB Gus Frerotte ran the first-team offense. Taylor is expected to report to the team Monday.

  • LB Rufus Alexander left practice Wednesday with a leg injury.

  • The Erasmus James trade was completed Tuesday, but word out of Washington was that there was interest expressed by both Miami and Oakland – two teams that would have been able to make a waiver claim before Washington. That, according to the D.C. media, helped force the hand of the Redskins to give up a conditional draft pick to get the Vikings to rescind James' release and help get the trade done.

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