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Frazier shows steady hand in coaching hires

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Posted Jan. 20, 2011 @ 6:19 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is essentially a new hire, having gone through only six games of troubled time as the interim replacement for Brad Childress.

You could understand, then, if he put together a coaching staff of Frazier insiders, people who didn't threaten him as he tried to rebuild this team. But credit Frazier for going out and getting some very good coaches, regardless of their affiliation or loyalty.

Sure, Mike Singletary and Frazier go way back as teammates with the Bears in the 1980s. But Singletary was a head coach as of about six weeks ago, and you could see how adding someone like that to the staff could be threatening to a younger, less experienced coach.

Not Frazier — he went after Singletary because the former Niners coach is darned good at teaching linebackers. Many said Singletary would struggle as a head coach, and they were right, but you could not find any of his former students saying anything bad about Singletary's ability to teach linebackers. And there wasn't much Frazier needed to find out about his former teammate before bringing him on.

"I called him up and interviewed him on the phone. I said, 'Hey, man, you want to come out here and help me out, help us win a championship?' Mike Singletary, that was his interview," Frazier said.

Bill Musgrave might not be for everyone, but he once was seen as a future head coach in the NFL. Perhaps that day has passed, although he's still young in terms of coaching years. Yet Frazier clearly liked Musgrave's exposure to a number of different systems, including the West Coast offense and the Steelers offense that Mike Mularkey brought to Atlanta, where Musgrave had been coaching the quarterbacks.

"He's been around some very influential and successful coaches, whether it be Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, going all the way back to Joe Gibbs, as well," Frazier said of Musgrave. "He's been around some very successful coaches, and because of that, I think he gives us a great opportunity to be successful on offense as well and get us to the place that we need to be."

Now whomever the Vikings draft, sign or trade for at QB, he'll have two good coaches working with him: Musgrave and QB coach Craig Johnson, who was well-respected for his work for several years in Tennessee with Steve McNair, Kerry Collins and — yes — Vince Young.

Oh yeah, the Young chimes will sound even louder now that Johnson is on board, as if they weren't there before.

But whoever it might be that comes to town, he'll have a good support staff with the coaches. Frazier is a smart, measured man with an even-keeled approach. Musgrave and Johnson have differing degrees of enthusiasm, different approaches, too, but both have had their levels of success in the NFL.

All of that provides more reasons that Frazier will be a good head coach for the Vikings. It won't happen overnight, and next season might be an awkward transition between the aged team and the future, considering where things now lie. But eventually, Frazier should be able to put together a system that reflects his coaching beliefs and have the players to carry out his directives.

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