It did not take long for interim Minnesota Vikings' head coach Leslie Frazier to ingratiate himself with Vikings' fans. In the days preceding the Vikings' 17-13 road victory over Washington, Frazier immediately established himself as a more personable public face of the team than former head coach Brad Childress ever seemed capable of managing, despite much effort and expense by the Vikings' front office. Frazier not only spoke openly about his plans for the Washington game--careful not to venture into the Mike Tice territory of giving away the team's game plan--he also did so unscripted. That, in and of itself, was a refreshing change from the Childress era.
Frazier also elected to be interviewed by KFAN drive-time host, Dan Barreiro, rather than reprising Childress' interview schedule with the 9 to noon station host, Paul Allen. The move, almost certainly encouraged by the Vikings' front office, nevertheless was Frazier's to approve. By moving out of the softball, love fest that is the Paul Allen world, Frazier opted, instead, to weather the typically more blunt questions from Barreiro--the type of questions that often flustered Tice and the answers to which, in part, probably facilitated Tice's departure.
Not only did Frazier accept the challenge of moving from the warm cocoon to the real world of sports interviews, he did so with aplomb, answering questions directly so as not to agitate the host and being thoughtful enough in his responses not leave the type of negative impression which Childress all too often left with fans and talk show hosts alike.
Frazier took his image to Washington where he led the Vikings to the team's first road victory since November of 2009 and its first opening drive touchdown this year. And even with Adrian Peterson sidelined from the second quarter on with a sprained ankle, Frazier managed a victory where a Childress-led team almost certainly would have fallen to ignominious defeat.
More striking of Frazier than either his initial public impression or his in-game performance was his response to the victory. Never has an individual looked more genuinely happy than did Frazier on Sunday. And never have members of a team seemed more genuinely pleased for their head coach than did the Vikings' players. Frazier beamed from ear to ear, his players cheered, and the Vikings' left an opponent's field finally victorious. It was reminiscent of the closing scene from Rudy, only Frazier is no Rudy and his run is far from over.
As his in-game coaching of E.J. Henderson, caught by FOX cameras during Sunday's game, suggests, Frazier is no wilting lily. But neither, as his players will attest, is he clinically obsessive compulsive about his design. In short, while he is not a 180 degree change from Childress, Frazier appears to be a 90 degree shift in the right direction. And that might be just what the Vikings need to ensure that at least some of their many soon-to-be free agents have a desire to return next season, whenever that might be, and that the State legislature and Governor see greater value in gifting the team public money for a stadium, even if the team has no other place to play.
Up Next: Vikings' Being Dishonest and Disingenuous About Their Lack of Interest in a Retractable Roof on a New Stadium.