Leslie Frazier Avoids Word 'Rebuilding' at NFL Combine
While many observers see the Minnesota Vikings very much in a rebuilding mode and needing upgrades around the roster, Frazier -- entering his first full season as the Vikings' coach -- might agree with the first part, but not the second.
Sure, Frazier said, there are improvements needed. But rebuilding? Frazier stopped short of saying the Vikings were in such a mode.
"We're not that far removed from playing in the NFC Championship Game," Frazier said Friday at a press conference during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, being held through Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
"We just need to be right this offseason in certain areas. If we're able to get it done, we can close that gap a lot sooner than most would expect."
The Vikings lost the NFC Championship Game to the New Orleans Saints following the 2009 regular season, and followed that with a disappointing 2010 that featured a 3-7 start and seemingly weekly drama surrounding quarterback Brett Favre.
Frazier replaced Brad Childress as coach with six games remaining in the 2010 season, and his interim tag was removed shortly after the season.
The Vikings finished 6-10, but were 3-3 under Frazier.
"Without question, we have a better feel for our football team after going back and looking at the 2010 season," Frazier said. "We tried to ascertain what pieces we need to fit in order for us to close the gap in the NFC North that are ahead of us."
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said recent weeks have been spent trying to get personnel and scouts acclimated to Frazier's approach.
"Just working with Leslie over the past four or five weeks, as we've kind of game planned and getting ready to head into our offseason," Spielman said. "Working through our team, working through the UFA meetings, working through our draft process, working with (offensive coordinator) Bill Musgrave and getting to know him and Craig Johnson, our new quarterbacks coach, just identifying what they're looking for and what the characteristics they are looking for in a quarterback -- I have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for.
"Now, we'll start the process of identifying some of the players down here, some of the players that could potentially be in the trade market, some of the players that could potentially be in the UFA market and start honing in on those players."
Frazier said the Vikings will focus in the offseason on upgrading a defensive line that was once a strength. The Vikings finished ninth in the NFL in run defense this past season, allowing 102.2 yards per game. Longtime defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams are in their 15th and ninth seasons, respectively.
"We want to do some things to help our defensive line," Frazier said. "We're aging at one of the spots. We need to do some things to improve. One of our mantras has been, 'Be good against the run.' We've been able to stop the run.
"We slipped a little bit. We have to look at some things to see what we have to do to improve that area."
Frazier also addressed the ongoing issue involving third-year wide receiver Percy Harvin's migraines. The 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, he has missed multiple practices and a game because of the issue.
"We think we have a better feel for where Percy is today from a medical standpoint," Frazier said. "We made some headway, but it's going to be an ongoing process. It's a debilitating occurrence when it does happen.
"It's complicated at times, but we're doing everything we can to help Percy in any way possible."