Notebook: Fred Pagac, Leslie Frazier don't expect big changes to 'D'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Serving as the Minnesota Vikings' de facto defensive coordinator for the season's final six weeks left no doubt in Fred Pagac's mind he wanted the job on a full-time basis.
"That's the most fun I've had in 10 years since I've been in the NFL," Pagac said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "Being able to call defenses -- that was something that I enjoyed doing and had a lot of fun doing that."
Officially promoted on Wednesday after five seasons as linebackers coach, Pagac said he knew he had the job "maybe three or four weeks ago" -- around the same time Leslie Frazier, the Vikings' defensive coordinator since 2007, was in negotiations to become head coach.
Pagac, 58, has been an assistant at the college and NFL level for 33 years. But the only time he has held a title other than linebackers coach was from 1996 to '99, when he coordinated the defense at his alma mater, Ohio State.
"I really enjoyed watching his maturation over that six-week span while I was interim coach and some of the things he was able to get done and just the energy he brought to our defensive side of the room," Frazier said. "So, I look forward to just watching him continue to help our defense evolve and get us to the point where we are a championship group throughout our football team, particularly on the defensive side."
Known for his fiery demeanor and old-school coaching style, Pagac coordinated the Vikings' best defensive game of the season -- sending 18 zone pressures and blitzing on 51.9% of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick's dropbacks in an upset win on Dec. 28 at Philadelphia.
However, Frazier and Pagac both were careful on Thursday to downplay the possibility of taking significant steps away from Frazier's preferred Cover-2 scheme, which relies largely on four-man rushes and extra bodies in coverage.
"I like being aggressive," Pagac said. "But everything is dependent upon your personnel and what they can do. Putting guys in position to make plays. Whether you're a Cover-2 team, a 3-deep team, a man-blitz team, a zone-blitz team -- that all depends on the people you end up having."
The Vikings were far too inconsistent in every phase last season, but the defense was decent statistically, finishing eighth in total defense (312.6 yards allowed per game), ninth against the run (102.2) and 10th against the pass (210.4).
Frazier specifically ruled out the long-shot chances of switching to a 3-4 base front.
"I don't think there will be anything dramatic. Not at all," Frazier said. "But there are going to be some things that we'll schematically take a look at. But it's going to be important that we improve in certain areas, without question."
Mike Priefer laid out a simple message he'll deliver to players whenever he holds his first meeting as the Vikings' special-teams coordinator.
"Toughness, discipline, effort, enthusiasm are my four buzzwords that I like to use a lot," Priefer said.
The message makes perfect sense, given Priefer's background. He's the son of longtime NFL special-teams coach Chuck Priefer and, before following in his father's footsteps, spent six years flying helicopters in the U.S. military.
"People thought I was crazy flying helicopters, and I think people think I'm crazy coaching special teams," Priefer said. "It's all in a good way. I think any time you deal with young people -- and I was fortunate enough to be a young division officer, I had 40 to 50 guys under my command and I really learned how to deal with different personality types from different parts of the country and different-type kids with different problems people had.
"It was just a great experience for a young guy. At the time I was only 25, 26 years old, those experiences have really carried over into the coaching realm."
No 'Dome in August?
Bad weather has delayed evaluation of the Metrodome's damaged roof, pushing back the timeline for repairing or replacing it -- and casting further doubt on whether the Vikings can play their preseason games there.
Ted Mondale, the head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, told the Star Tribune it would take five to six months to complete the process if the entire roof must be replaced.
The Vikings have another year remaining on their Metrodome lease. But team officials have hinted they may push to play 2011 home games outdoors at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, depending on the condition of their usual facility.
• Asked whether any players have undergone unexpected offseason surgeries, Frazier mentioned only NT Pat Williams, who "had to have something done on his elbow. I can't even recall some of the guys who had to have something done. But nothing major -- nothing where we don't expect a guy to be ready for our first game of the season."
• OC Bill Musgrave said he has called games from the sideline and the coaches' booth, but he's not sure where he'll be with the Vikings. "I know we'll have those discussions as a staff when we start to convene here this winter and spring and be where Coach Frazier prefers me to be and roll with it."
• Pagac said he doesn't know former San Francisco coach Mike Singletary well but "most certainly" looks forward to working with his new linebackers coach. "I've met him a couple times," Pagac said. "But obviously, we're excited about him joining the staff and bringing his expertise with us and looking forward to getting to know him and work with him."
• Priefer joked he's already having nightmares about facing Chicago return man Devin Hester twice a year. "I really want to present that to the players," Priefer said. "I hope we're kicking the ball well enough and punting the ball well enough and covering well enough that we can go down and cover a great player like him. ... I just think if you're fortunate to have good kicks and punts and the guys are playing hard and squeezing with leverage and all the other coaching points I use, I hope we can go down and cover a guy like that."