Monday, December 09, 2013

Leslie Frazier's Dilemma: You Can Never Put Too Much Water in the Reactor

When Brad Childress was dismissed as head coach by the Minnesota Vikings, he took with him an abrupt public disposition, limited offense, and robotic mantra that he required players and those covering him to repeat:  "You can never get too high or too low."

Brad Childress' replacement, former Vikings' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, had shown a slightly different public disposition than his predecessor, being affable.  He, too, however, has put together a limited offense, paired that with an awful defense, and offered the same monotone mantra:  "You can never get too high or too low."

Childress' players repeated his mantra.  Frazier's players repeat the same.  Local media, when interviewing Childress and Frazier, repeat the mantra as if it is a badge of courage or even a truism.  It is neither.  Instead, it is debilitating and it could cost Frazier his job, regardless of how hard the team plays  in garbage time.

While it is true that it is not good for players to get too high or too low based on a single play, series of plays, or even the outcome of games, what is critically undefined in this mantra is what it means to be "too high" or "too low."

Is it too high for a player or coach to mandate a defensive stand early in a game or commit to striking offensive fear in an opponent other than in desperation time?  It seems to be for this Vikings' team, whether under Childress or Frazier.  And because Frazier has been unable to define an appropriate standard for how emotional a player ought to be in the normal course of a game, the Vikings regularly appear wanting for any meaningful sense of urgency.  In the NFL, that sense of urgency is not something that needs to be present only at the twelfth hour.  Rather, it needs to be present the entire game.

That seems to be lost on Frazier, however, not only with respect to game management, but also with respect to management of players.  During his Monday press conference, he was asked whether the Vikings had taken too conservative of an approach with Cordarrelle Patterson.  As expected, Frazier replied in the negative.  "I don't think we would have seen big plays out of Cordarrelle in September and October if we did not handle him the way that we did."

Nobody bothered to remind Frazier that we did not see big plays out of Cordarrelle in September and October or that we could not have because the Vikings did not use Patterson in September or October.  That, unfortunately, seemed like a lost cause to attempt to explain to Leslie.  Even more disconcerting, however, was that Frazier's approach with Patterson, like his approach with Sharif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes, has been to not do "too much too early."  Again, a mantra with key terms left undefined.

A similar "not too much too early" approach is identifiable in Frazier's grossly late decisions to move on from Ponder (if he has done so) and to move from a predominantly zone defense to a predominantly man-cover defense.  In Frazier's world, the transitions were appropriately measured.  In the NFL world,  as with the Vikings' game day sense of urgency and Frazier's personnel decisions, Frazier moves too slow in attempting not to be too high, too low, or overreactive.

After watching the Vikings under Frazier for three plus seasons, it does not appear the Frazier has a feel for timing or that his measure of timing is improving.  Affability aside, that makes him little better than his predecessor.

Up Next:  Why The Vikings Should Not Draft a Quarterback in the First Round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

1 comment:

St.Alphonzo said...

I couldn't agree with you more.