Notebook: Leslie Frazier continues to evaluate assistant coaches
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday that he is continuing to have discussions with members of his coaching staff and that the evaluation period would continue for the rest of the week.
With the Vikings finishing 3-13 and ranked 21st in the NFL in defense this year, Fred Pagac is expected to depart after one season as the team's coordinator. NFL sources also have said that defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has told people at Winter Park he has decided not to return.
"I don't have a timetable where those decisions will be made," Frazier said, "but there will be ongoing discussions throughout."
It took Frazier several weeks last winter before he made changes to his coaching staff, so it's not a surprise no immediate moves have been made.
Rick Spielman, who was promoted to general manager of the Vikings on Tuesday, said Frazier will continue to have final say on decisions made about his coaching staff.
A dose of clarity
Owner Zygi Wilf put a plan into place last offseason that called for Frazier and Spielman to have equal say in decisions involving the team.
That changed Tuesday when Spielman was given final authority over the majority of football matters.
If Frazier was upset by this he certainly didn't show it Tuesday during a press conference at Winter Park. The press conference was used in part to announce Spielman as the new GM and also served as the season wrap-up for Frazier.
"I think for me it just creates clarity in some of the things we do from a decision standpoint and that's extremely important when you're in the role that I'm in," Frazier said. "It just levels the playing field in so many ways, so it's a plus in that regard."
Frazier, who was the driving force behind the Vikings' decision to trade for quarterback Donovan McNabb after the lockout, said he did not find confusion in a structure that enabled many voices to be heard.
"The biggest thing is you just want to know what the lines of demarcation are," Frazier said. "For me, I know exactly where I need to go when I have to talk about certain matters and get those things handled, and that's good. It's really good for me."
Leaving the door open
There has been plenty of speculation that the Vikings could switch to a 3-4 defense next season, although Jared Allen and Kevin Williams have both voiced their opinion that such a change shouldn't happen.
"I don't want to eliminate any possibilities at this point, but my background is (a) 4-3 (defense)," Frazier said. "I want to do what's best for our team. You do take a look at your personnel and you determine what you do based on your personnel.
"You don't want to jump on the bandwagon purely because it's popular in some other city and they've had success. If it doesn't fit what you do, you better do what fits you."
Frazier acknowledged he talks to his players to get their feedback on these types of matters.
"I listen to what they have to say, but at the end of the day I have to do what I think is best for our team," Frazier said. "I listen to their input and it's important to me. They know that. But when it's all said and done, I've got to try to make a decision based on what I think is best."
So does the Vikings' current personnel potentially fit a 3-4 look?
"Maybe," Frazier said.
Not on the radar
Frazier said he has talked to Chris Cook a few times, but the two haven't sat down and it remains uncertain what will happen with the cornerback.
Cook is scheduled to go to trial in March in connection with an Oct. 22 incident in which he has been charged with domestic assault by strangulation and third-degree assault. The latter charge was added after the alleged victim, Cook's girlfriend, said she suffered hearing loss after being choked.
Cook was put on paid leave by the Vikings in early November and ended the season on the 53-man roster.
The Vikings clearly are waiting to see what happens in Cook's trial before making any decisions on his future. Frazier admitted it's tough at this point to factor Cook into how the cornerback position will look in 2012.
"There's so many unknowns with Chris," Frazier said. "So, here we are on Jan. 3 I think it is, at this point Chris is not on my radar. As we are going forward and having to sit down and discuss our personnel and what we have to get done, until I know conclusively what's going to happen with Chris Cook, I can't really factor him into what we're trying to get accomplished."
The issue for the Vikings is they lack cornerbacks and Cook, a second-round pick in 2010, still could end up being a valuable member of this team depending on what happens with his legal situation.
Frazier said it was "a good question," when asked how the team can trust Cook again if he is able to return.
"That decision still hasn't been made," he said. "We have no idea what's going to happen. Once there's some clarity, a decision will be made."
Optimism on stadium front
Zygi Wilf and Vikings officials met with new Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and Senator Julie Rosen on Tuesday morning to discuss the team's stadium situation.
The Vikings are hoping to gain public funding for a new stadium in the upcoming session.
"The upcoming session that's going to start, our goal is to making sure that we have a viable plan and we're working as we speak on a deal," Wilf said. "We're working with the governor.
"Certainly he's been an advocate of getting this done. ... (Senjem and Rosen are) very encouraged on the progress we're making. And we feel that a deal is going to be in the works shortly."
Vote(s) of confidence
It was hard to find anyone at Winter Park on Tuesday who didn't voice their support for Christian Ponder. The rookie quarterback had a tough season but will have every opportunity to win the starting job next season.
"He's a committed young man who's dedicated to making sure he learns everything he can, he's in here all the time," Zygi Wilf said.
Added Mark Wilf: "He's quickly become one of our leaders in a very short time."
Spielman said he was "100 percent" behind the decision to take Ponder 12th overall in last April's draft.
"Leslie will make the decision on who is going to be a starting quarterback, not a starting quarterback, but I have the utmost faith in Christian Ponder," Spielman said. "I know when you go back and look at the studies of the rookie quarterbacks that have been taken through at the midpoint during the season, I looked at all their statistical analysis and Christian Ponder came out almost identical to a lot of those guys.
"From Jay Cutler to Eli Manning to a lot of those players that took over. I know the quarterback position there's a lot of growing pains that you have to go through, but all our research and everything that we did to make that decision last year in the draft, I have the utmost confidence Christian Ponder's going to be our franchise quarterback."
• Spielman said he realizes having the GM title will mean he will have to be much more visible than he's been since joining the Vikings in 2006. Spielman rarely has made himself available to the media during the season, often only speaking in the offseason. "I think in this role you have to be out front more," he said. "So if there are situations that occur, (then) I have to be out front and I have to address those issues."
• Frazier declined to get into specifics when asked what the biggest priority is for the Vikings roster.
Tom Pelissero contributed.