Vikings may find their identity Sunday
Six weeks into the season and the Minnesota Vikings are still struggling to find an identity. A perplexing fact, given that this is essentially the same team that narrowly missed the Super Bowl only two seasons ago.
Two-thirds of this year's Viking starters played significant roles on that team. Perhaps fittingly, that dream ended with a too many men on the field penalty pushing them out of field goal range. The Purple have been going backwards ever since.
Last year's team began the season with the same 22 starters as the year before, but the magic was gone and the season spiraled out of control.
Brad Childress was rightfully jettisoned and Brett Favre was finally forced to miss a start because of injury, although both came too late in the year to be effective.
The team is still searching for that magic and they may have found it this week. A team's identity is defined by its leadership and with key changes this week, they might just be able to turn the corner and it has nothing to do with the new quarterback under center.
Coach Frazier is a stoic leader best characterized as former Vikings assistant Tony Dungy. Dungy took a failing team and put them on the road to success. His best trait was his ability to deal with people and make good decisions.
Frazier has made glaring errors in his first stint as a head coach. Bringing in an aging quarterback to patch together an offense is a move seen a thousand times in the North and this one failed about as well as the others.
In his first couple of weeks he also blew a two-minute defense, allowed play calling to get to fancy and forgot to utilize the best player on his team. He is getting better although there were some play-calling questions in Chicago last weekend.
Another area that Frazier improved could be the most important. An accurate analysis of what is happening:
After each game this year Frazier has closed his eyes to the product on the field. He refused to properly acknowledge what was actually happening on the field. After each of the Vikings first four losses he steadfastly supported Donovan McNabb, saying even though his play hasn't proved it he gave the Vikings the best chance to win.
After last week's win over the Arizona Cardinals, McNabb was booed throughout, even while his team held a 28-0 lead. Again Frazier refused to acknowledge what was happening on the field, even saying he never heard the disgruntled crowd.
In Chicago that changed. After the game Frazier did not offer the steady support of McNabb. He told the media afterward that he would evaluate the play further and make another decision on who the starter should be.
With Christian Ponder getting his first start for the Purple it not only provides a new look at the franchise, but a new look at the stoic coach within.
Coach Frazier isn't just trying to find the magic for his team. He is developing some for himself.