Pelissero: Victories no longer a part of Leslie Frazier's sales pitch
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PHILADELPHIA -- In his first media conference as the Minnesota Vikings' interim coach on Nov. 22, Leslie Frazier laid out a results-based plan to earn the permanent job.
That plan went down with the Metrodome's roof, Brett Favre's body and the city of brotherly love's manhood.
The backstabbing and bitching about authority have abated, at least publicly. Players roundly have endorsed Frazier's character, knowledge and ability to relate to the locker room.
When it comes to on-field performance, though, the Vikings have done little to suggest they're any more disciplined, detailed or driven than they were in 10 often-uninspired weeks under Brad Childress.
And that probably explains two evident additions this week to the rhetoric of Frazier, who barely a month ago was stating forcefully that "you understand that every game you're being judged on performance, and from a coaching standpoint, it's really no different."
1. Repeatedly pointing out the challenges the Vikings have faced these weird 2½ weeks -- a roof collapse, a stadium switch, two snow delays, injuries to the likes of Favre, Adrian Peterson and Steve Hutchinson, etc.
2. Pushing the notion those circumstances are all that have kept the Vikings from reviving themselves in a season that was mostly over before Frazier got the job anyway.
"When I was asked to take over this role," Frazier said on Monday, "part of it was to kind of settle things down, because there already had been a lot going on over the course of our 10 weeks of the regular season and some things in the offseason. I could not have anticipated the things that we've experienced.
"But I really believe some of what we have experienced, we'll look back on in 2011 at some point and say, 'That's what helped us to become champions we will become.'"
Getting slapped 61-17 over 120 minutes against the New York Giants and Chicago Bears logically changed the one-game-at-a-time message. Frazier surely knows the Vikings may be headed for another embarrassment here on Tuesday night, when they'll end a 72-hour sequestration against the playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles with their quarterback on the sideline.
So, Frazier has turned to a secondary sales pitch: that real progress is being made behind the scenes, and only when games stop getting moved, key players stop getting nicked up and mayors stop declaring panicked snow emergencies will that progress show up in the win column.
"I think what we have experienced here in the five weeks now that I've been in this position -- it should help with some of the things we're trying to get accomplished in the future," Frazier said. "I just know that if we can get a few things settled down and make a few changes in certain areas, we can get some things done in my mind."
Defeats and drama aside, it still appears there's a strong possibility Frazier will get the chance to make those changes. He's respected within the organization and around the league, he has support within the locker room and he'd be an affordable option entering a potential lockout, during which the Vikings still have to pay Childress, too.
In fact, it's worth wondering whether ownership -- silent since Zygi Wilf's awkward address at Frazier's introductory presser -- might have endorsed Frazier already if the Vikings had won one of their past two games, rather than getting run off the field. His success would portend further improvement when not bound to an extent by the confines of Childress' roster, staff and schemes.
At the same time, the Wilfs' silence fuels the notion larger changes are in store, particularly if things continue to unravel on the field. Selling a coach who lost his last four games, at least two of them in lopsided fashion, to cap a miserable season would be an unenviable task as the Vikings simultaneously prepare to ramp up their stadium push.
All that's certain is that Monday marks the beginning of the Vikings' offseason -- the first day Frazier can extend the list of seven interviews he's had for head-coaching jobs in the past three years -- and the interim coach has turned to selling the idea that his original selling point is moot.
Not that Frazier really has much choice, given how everything has gone down.
"I know I'd like to return, and what we've gone through, for sure, you'd like to see what things would be like if we can get our squad together and keep some guys healthy and line up and play," Frazier said. "You wouldn't believe that we're going to experience what we're experiencing right now from an adversity standpoint a year from now. Not as consistently as we have. You wouldn't think that this would happen.
"I saw a number where it said this was the seventh time since 2004 a game had been moved, and we've been in that situation twice in a two or three-week span. What are the odds of that happening? You would think things would settle down and we can just get ready for football. I would love to be a part of the Vikings and see that through, for sure."