EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Since the end of the Minnesota Vikings' 31-30 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has been saying he could have done more to help players and assistant coaches with strategy on the Bears' final drive, even hinting that he might have needed to alter the defensive call on Jay Cutler's touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said on Thursday that Frazier was on his headset before the Bears' final drive, pointing out what the Vikings would need to watch out for, but Williams said communication issues didn't contribute to the Bears' touchdown as much as players not executing what was called.
Whether Sunday's breakdown was more the fault of players or coaches, the episode has provided an interesting window into how Frazier interacts with his coordinators during games. Whereas many coaches with offensive backgrounds might handle play-calling duties, Frazier is not directly responsible for calling plays on offense or defense. With Williams -- who occupies Frazier's former job -- the head coach has been mindful of giving the defensive coordinator room to do his job, while adding input where Frazier feels it is necessary.
"Last year, (he was) suggesting (plays), and sometimes, it's strongly suggesting, like you put it," Williams said. "And that's fine: Leslie has the wealth of knowledge, the wealth of experience, playing and coaching. The neat thing is, Leslie has given me the flexibility that when he suggests, it's a suggestion, and when he strongly suggests, it's maybe not a suggestion, and go with it. We've worked together before, so I know, when he wants to make a call, hey, we make it. He does that with the offense and special teams, as well, and I think every coach in the NFL does it the same way."
Both Frazier and Williams were defensive backs coaches on the Indianapolis Colts' Super Bowl championship team in 2006, and Frazier brought Williams in to be the defensive coordinator after moving Fred Pagac to linebackers coach following the 2011 season. By all accounts, the two have worked well together, but Frazier was questioning himself after the way Sunday's game ended.
"In that sense, he just wants to make sure he improves as a coach and helping me as a coordinator," Williams said. "He does that every week -- he comes back and says, 'What can we do better? How can we improve?' That was him just saying, 'Hey, I have to improve this week,' and we will."