No 'changes for sake of changes' with Vikings
SEP 24, 2013 9:35a ET
Players were in and out of the locker room, packing and preparing for their long flight to London later in the evening. Coach Leslie Frazier was trying to discover ways to get the season turned for his 0-3 team while having to deal with the trip oversees.
A move of the entire team to London this week -- where Minnesota is hosting the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL's International Series on Sunday -- is an adjustment. Frazier isn't planning any other drastic changes though, other than what the schedule forces on the Vikings.
"You only want to make changes if there's a problem in an area where you feel like you have a better solution," Frazier said when asked when he feels it will be time to make major changes. "I don't know if change for the sake of change is the right thing to do, from my perspective. You got to be able to stand in front of the guys in the locker room and talk to them about why you're making the change. Then it's got to be something you feel like is going to help your football team be successful. So change for change sake, I don't totally buy into that."
As far as their work week, the Vikings are trying to stay as close to their regular schedule as possible. Minnesota flew to London on Monday night as part of their duties as the home team. Pittsburgh is traveling later in the week.
An early departure, with some local engagements scheduled for Tuesday, and being in another country make it difficult for the Vikings to implement any big changes to the personnel or schemes. Frazier didn't feel the trip deserved any changes to the team's preparation for Pittsburgh.
"I hadn't really thought about any changes," Frazier said. "Just thinking about what we've got to do to get our team going in the right direction. We can do whatever we need to do that's going to help us to win. United States, across the country, wherever that is, we'll do what we've got to do to help our team win."
Frazier said watching tape from Sunday's game, in which Minnesota suffered breakdowns in every facet, was difficult. But he was encouraged by some of the things he saw when he watched the game again.
The Vikings are tied for second in the league with 10 takeaways, but have suffered 10 turnovers of their own, which is second worst in the league. The offense is seventh in the NFL in points, averaging 27.0 per game. But the defense ranks 30th, giving up 32 points per game.
"I do believe that we will get it corrected," Frazier said. "I trust the people that make up our football team and I kind of feel like we have an idea of what needs to happen. Easier said than done, but truly believe it can be done."
Frazier later added: "You can only get it done if guys believe mentally as well as physically that we can get it done, and I sense that that's the case. I don't sense that guys are going to be walking around when we're in London as if the season is done. I don't sense that. I don't sense that at all. I sense that we have real good leadership and we'll handle this in the right way."
There wasn't panic in the locker room Monday following the 31-27 loss to Cleveland, a second straight game where Minnesota was leading in the final minute. The players expressed belief in the ability to turn around their season, but watching tape Monday was instructional.
"As painful as it is, I think you always got to dig into it," safety Harrison Smith said. "Don't hold on to it, but you need to dig into it, see what happened, try to fix it and then move on from it. Have a 24-hour rule and then move to next week."
Smith was one of several players to make summer visits to London to promote the game and he doesn't believe the trip will affect much of the in-week preparation. Frazier sought input from other coaches who have had teams play in the international series and the best piece of advice Frazier said he received was about keeping a normal routine.
"There's a lot to it when you're the home team," Frazier said. "That's probably been the biggest challenge, all the things that go into it when you're the home team."
Of course, being the home team in London means the team has one less home game at the Metrodome.
"I'm frustrated for our fans," Greenway said. "We love home games as players, obviously. We've traditionally and historically played very well in the Metrodome in front of our home fans. We don't love the fact we're missing a home game here in Minneapolis, but this is the schedule we've been given, just have to go and do the best we can."
A move to London this week is a big change and the only one Frazier seems ready to make. Frazier isn't opposed to change, but he isn't ready to declare any major changes to the team necessary yet.
"There's a lot of different things you can do, other than personnel, to change things up a little bit," Frazier said. "And I've taken that approach at times. But when you make those changes, you want to have a reason why you're doing it."
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