Monday, September 16, 2013
Leslie Frazier still blaming himself for loss
By Ben Goessling
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A day after the Minnesota Vikings' 31-30 loss to the Chicago Bears, head coach Leslie Frazier said he needed to do more on the Bears' final touchdown drive, suggesting he might have missed an opportunity to alter a defensive play call and give the Vikings a better chance to stop Chicago.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler hit tight end Martellus Bennett on a 16-yard scoring pass with 10 seconds left, giving the Bears a victory against a defense that seemed confused about what to do. Cornerback Chris Cook was motioning for help on his side of the field before the play, and middle linebacker Erin Henderson admitted after the game that the play call was a surprise, adding it was "not really something we prepared for or practiced for, for that to come in that way."
Frazier didn't directly say he should have changed defensive coordinator Alan Williams' call on the play, but admitted he "could have helped with some strategy there.
"We're hitting those situations during OTAs, during camps, during practice during the week," Frazier said. "(We) kinda got away from some things that we would ordinarily do in that situation. That's nothing to do with our coaches, that's more to do with me because that's something if it's our offense, our special teams, I'm on the headset saying, 'Let's do this, let's do that, whatever.'"
The coach said he has overridden play calls in the past on offense, defense and special teams, but was mindful of the need to balance his authority and his relationships with his coordinators.
"Both (Alan) and (offensive coordinator) Bill (Musgrave) along with Prief (special teams coordinator Mike Priefer), we have a great relationship so they understand that when I step in and say, 'Let's do this versus that,' but there is a balance,'" Frazier said. "We talk about so many things prior to the game. You don't want to wait until game situations for the first time you ever have to go through some of those things. We have a plan. But to answer your question, it's a fine line but we're able to get it done, we've been able to get it done."
Frazier admitted it was hard to talk about the play publicly, because the Vikings will likely find themselves in that situation again, but it seemed from here like he saw the end of Sunday's game as a moment where he needed to be less worried about stepping on toes. He also pointed out Bennett's 23-yard reception on a first-and-20 from the Vikings' 39 -- where the tight end was alone in the flat -- as a play where he needed to speak up. On that play, it appeared Henderson shoved Bennett and passed off coverage of him, thinking he'd have zone help outside, but there was no one there to pick Bennett up.
As a former defensive coordinator, Frazier is mindful of giving Williams space, and he intimated on Monday he is more assertive with Musgrave and Priefer than he is with Williams.
We won't necessarily see if there's a difference going forward, since most of the communication between Frazier and his coordinators happens away from the public eye, but if the Vikings wind up in this situation again, it might provide a window into whether Sunday's game made Frazier believe he needs to use his authority differently.