Former '85 Bear Leslie Frazier is in the playoff hunt as the defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings a year after being an assistant for the Colts and topping the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Here is what Frazier had to say about preparing for Monday night's rematch with the Bears:
Q: Brad Childress has talked about the buy-in factor is always better when you are winning. Some of the defensive players like Darren Sharper had lobbied for certain things; do feel like you guys are hearing less of that when you are winning?
A: To be honest with you when Sharp made those comments you've just got to consider the source. We didn't change anything over the last four weeks or the last five weeks. You've just got to know who your players are and what their personalities are. You want guys to buy in; you are trying to get that done from OTAs all the way to the end of the season, so it's important that everybody buys in.
Q: Over the course of your first year as coordinator here do you feel that the guys know and trust you more now than before?
A: Oh yeah, no question, and it takes time to develop that relationship where guys trust you and vice versa. They were learning me and I was learning them as well and what their strengths and weaknesses were. Although you watch tape, you get a feel that's quite different to actually experience it with each guy and for them to see how I call a game and what I am expecting and so on and so forth. Over time that trust has developed and has increased.
Q: What in your mind happened after that Packer game that set you guys in this direction?
A: I think you can go back even to the San Diego game. When you go in at the half with a play like (the one) that occurred right before the half, the 109-yard return, I can't remember what the score was at the time but you could have folded against what was perceived as a very good team and going to be a playoff team it seems but our guys, they didn't wilt at all. They came back that second half and played lights out. I think as a staff and as a team we kind of knew that we could handle adversity and we could battle back. Now, did that prepare us for what happened in Green Bay? Probably not; we didn't think it would turn out the way it did, but I think as a staff we knew the type of team that we had. That we had a very resilient group of guys, proven by what had happened in that San Diego game and we knew we could fight back. I think that had a lot to do with the confidence that Coach Childress had and I know it bodes well for me. I just felt like we had the right type of guys in the locker room after what had happened against San Diego.
Q: What kind of book do you have on Kyle Orton? Do you go back to when he played all those games his rookie year?
A: You have to. You have to go back and look at when he did play and see how he did and just try to get a gauge from the preseason and try to get a feel for what his strengths are and his weaknesses as well. Not a lot of regular-season game tape over the last couple years so preseason and what he did in '05.
Q: What does the Vikings/Bears rivalry mean to you having been on both sidelines?
A: I can remember some tough games coming up to the Metrodome and how loud that place was when we played. It was always tough. The NFC Central back then, the Vikings were the team when I came into the league. If you were going to win the Central you had to go through the Minnesota Vikings. We started getting going a little bit in the 80s and had some success and had a few of those banners in Chicago. It's just a great rivalry. Probably the most memorable game was probably the year we won it all when Jim (McMahon) comes off the bench and throws that touchdown pass that kind of turns our game around and helps to turn our season in the right direction. But a great rivalry and I am happy to be on this side of it and looking forward to the challenge on Monday night.
Q: Has Devin Hester come a long way as a receiver since the last time you saw him?
A: He is really improved and he is much more involved in their offense. They are doing some things to make him more of a focal point and he is making a lot of plays for them, which is no surprise. All you've got to do is watch him on punt and kickoff returns and you know he is capable, but he has become a major part of their offense.