Frazier's Tweaks Likely Found in Blitzes

Leslie Frazier

New defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has coached and played in several different defensive systems, and while he'll keep the team's base Tampa-2, his mark likely will be felt in the different ways the defense pressures the quarterback.

Leslie Frazier plans to continue what Mike Tomlin started with a few tweaks here and there to help improve things.

That's how it sounded, at least, when Frazier was introduced as the Vikings' new defensive coordinator recently after Tomlin left to become the Pittsburgh Steelers' coach.

Frazier had been a defensive assistant to coach Tony Dungy with the Indianapolis Colts the past two seasons; he has previous experience as a defensive coordinator, having spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons in that role with Cincinnati before being let go.

With the Super Bowl champion Colts, Frazier coached in a defense that used the same "Tampa 2" scheme the Vikings employed in Tomlin's first and only season as defensive coordinator. That system helped the Vikings jump from the 21st defensive ranking overall in the NFL in 2005 to eighth in 2006.

But while the run defense finished No. 1 in the league, the Vikings' pass defense was tied for last with the Bengals. This was due in part to the fact many teams didn't even attempt to run against Minnesota. But an at-times suspect secondary and pass rush that failed to get to the quarterback consistently (the Vikings' 29 sacks were fewer than all but six teams) also didn't help matters.

This is where Frazier's philosophy likely will play a role.

During his six seasons as a cornerback with the Chicago Bears (1981-86), Frazier learned the ins-and-outs of Buddy Ryan's "46" defense. He plans to use some of the "46" philosophy, as well as some of the blitzing schemes he learned while serving as Philadelphia's defensive backs coach from 1999 to 2002 under Eagles coordinator Jim Johnson. (That is where Vikings coach Brad Childress, the Eagles' former offensive coordinator, and Frazier crossed paths.)

Those pressure-the-quarterback systems, along with Frazier's success coaching defensive backs, should help shore up the pass defense.

"If you take a look wherever I have been and working with a group, our secondary has done pretty good," Frazier said. "So that doesn't frighten me at all. Improving the pass defense, I think we can do enough things to accomplish that goal."

NOTES

Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and linebackers coach Fred Pagac both received strong consideration for the defensive coordinator's job before it went to Frazier.

  • Cornerback Fred Smoot — a candidate to be released by the Vikings — and coach Brad Childress still hadn't talked as of early this month. Smoot lost his starting job during the season to Cedric Griffin and he suffered a fractured jaw in an auto accident near the end of the year. Smoot has said he won't accept a pay cut.

  • One bit of quarterback speculation that has been floating around is that the Vikings might be interested in dealing for Houston quarterback David Carr. Carr might cost a team as little as a fourth- or fifth-round draft choice.

  • Three players who could be released in salary cap moves are cornerback Fred Smoot and tight ends Jim Kleinsasser and Jermaine Wiggins.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think you screw it up as a head coach that has been involved offensively, to think you are going to jump in and say, ‘You know, I've done offense my whole life, but in this job I'm going to jump in and I'm going to get real involved with the defense. You hire guys to be experts ... and let them do their job." — Vikings coach Brad Childress on the fact that he will remain largely hands-off with the defense under new coordinator Leslie Frazier just as he was this past season with Mike Tomlin.
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