MINNEAPOLIS -- In his Sirius XM Radio interview on Tuesday -- during which he said the Minnesota Vikings had been back in touch with his agent about a return to the team -- defensive tackle Kevin Williams offered some pointed opinions on what went wrong for the Vikings during their 5-10-1 season a year ago.
We're well past that now, so we won't dwell on the topic long, but I thought Williams' comments on former coach Leslie Frazier were particularly interesting in light of what happened with the defense in the middle of last season.
Williams and defensive end Brian Robison, you might recall, were critical of former defensive coordinator Alan Williams' play-calling at the end of the Vikings' Nov. 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, which dropped the team to 1-7 and was one of five games where Minnesota blew a last-minute lead, effectively sealing Frazier's fate. Players seemed to chafe at the scheme at several points last year, and even though the Vikings had a leadership council that met with Frazier every week, Kevin Williams said the coach wasn't as receptive to players' input as he was as a defensive coordinator.
"You've got to kind of take into account your players," Williams said. "A lot of the leaders there, when Coach Frazier was the head coach, tried to lend a helping hand to kind of steer the ship right. I think he could have done better with listening to his players, letting them contribute and have some input about some things, and things might have went a lot better. As a (defensive) coordinator, I mean, he was very receptive of his players. he did an awesome job with listening and helping us tell him what we saw on the defense and make things better. I think once he became a head coach, it's a lot of pressure, once again, to win games, and it takes its toll."
If there was one thing that got Frazier in trouble last year, it might have been that he was too deferential to his coordinators, and it seems that might have come at the cost of some trust from his players, based on Kevin Williams' comments on Tuesday.
It's an interesting point from Williams, partially because new coach Mike Zimmer is making the same transition that Frazier once did, from defensive coordinator to head coach, which means he'll also have to strike the right balance of communication with his players and authority in his decisions. It's a tough line to walk, and Williams' comments on Tuesday illustrated how quickly relationships can fray when losses and pressure start mounting.