Edit: NMVike also posted a story that I saw after writing this in the same regards, and also includes an additional quote from Jared Allen in regards to starting Christian Ponder over Donovan McNabb. Check it out here.
OK, maybe I’m about to blow something a bit out of proportion here, so I apologize if that’s the case. But the way I’m reading the news that DT Kevin Williams and DE Jared Allen aren’t taking too kindly to Leslie Frazier’s comments regarding the D-line’s play in the loss to Chicago isn’t good.
In a nutshell, after the atrocious loss to the Bears, Frazier commented on the lackluster play for the lines- both offensive and defensive- as being one of the main problems, going so far as to use the word "unexplainable".
Both Williams and Allen had something to say about that. Said Williams: "If you want to call somebody out, call who you're talking about out. Don't say the whole group got out-physicaled. I don't believe that at all. I saw that on the news and I was like, 'You show a play where two guys are double-teaming me, of course, you're going to get out-physicaled if you're getting double-teamed on a run block. One guy's trying to hold me up, and the other guy's trying to take a run at my side. ... If you want to call somebody out, you can do that. A couple of guys might have gotten pushed off the ball, but the whole group, no." And Allen had this to say: "I take some offense to it. But it's his job to motivate us, and I guess that's his way of doing it."
OK, there are a few ways to take all of this, and a few more quotes of note. Join me after the leap of faith.
Now, before we even get into the other things said by the Pro Bowl duo, let’s break this down in the two potential ways I’m seeing this, in regards to Leslie Frazier.
1.)- They are frustrated, but still have his back. Clearly, neither are too pleased with Frazier’s comments. Allen even used the word "offense". However, both could simply be feeling a mix of due frustration after largely being shut down by a sub-par O-line that they were expected to feast upon. Yes, Allen did get his sack/ fumble recovery, but that aside, it was a very quiet night- something nobody really expected in that department going into this game, the D-line themselves likely included. However, if you look at what they’re saying, it doesn’t sound like an out-and-out revolt against Frazier. Williams’ quote in particular could be construed as him trying to urge Frazier to call him out in particular, as opposed to his entire unit- and that would be commendable. (Although he did make the comments in regards to being double-teamed.) And while Allen did say he was offended some, he also ended the quote by suggesting that it should still be taken as motivation, his head coach lighting a fire under his arse. So, it’s possible that both have biting comments based in frustration, but are still coming from a position of respect.
2.) They are genuinely unhappy with Frazier’s comments, period. The converse way of seeing these comments as a whole is from the ‘political’ standpoint. Williams and Allen are both seasoned, team-leading vets. They know better than to outright call out their head coach. Heck, both were quiet as choir boys in the whole unpleasant end to the Chilly era. Their comments might be the, in William’s case, carefully crafted ‘dude, don’t say that’ words crafted in a way to ease the sting. Allen’s, on the other hand, might be the ‘honesty… then quickly putting a good spin on it’ kind. They might both genuinely take offense to Frazier calling the D-line out for a team-effort loss, but know it’s a terrible idea- and not for them individually, but for the team as a whole- to outright slam the head coach back. And yet, they are so stung they feel the need to respond regardless.
Either way, there is one outright negative thing I’m taking from all this here- it seems both players heard about these comments from the media, instead of from Frazier himself. Now, Frazier may have simply said something to the media he fully intended to tell the D-line personally, and, as a rookie head coach, failed to realize that would have the unintended effect of having them hear it through other means first. Would that be a dumb mistake? Yes, but again, it’s the kind of simple oversight a guy who’s brand new to his job could make. We’ve all done stuff like that.
There is more, however, to this story, and it also does not bode well. The story, as written by Jeremy Fowler in the Pioneer Press, then goes on to point out the secondary’s collapse against a Jay Cutler-led offense, and then runs another quote from Williams- "We've got to be able to stop three guys going out on a route if they are going to block us with seven guys."
OK- let’s stop here for a second. There’s nothing to take a quote out of its original context quite like publishing a single sentence within your own context. I bet if I tried hard enough, I could do the same thing and make every single writer on this blog out to be hardcore Packer fans. That said, it does make one wonder if perhaps the D-line’s frustration- borne out of either a combination of, or just one of, the loss against the Bears/ Frazier’s comments- isn’t starting to seep into the backfield’s production, or lack thereof. Our LB corps has a solid team leader in EJ Henderson, and an emerging one in Chad Greenway, but the backfield sans Winfield (as it has been for the last two games, as well as potentially this upcoming one) really doesn’t have any. And I mean that in the sense of play making abilities as well as team leadership. If guys like Williams and Allen start to turn on them a little out of frustration, like we saw last year against the Pack from Ray Edwards towards Chris Cook and Asher Allen, that unit might melt.
Now, will that happen? Probably not. I don’t see Williams or Allen going that route. Again, these are seasoned, team-leading vets, and they’re not likely to find that the best route to go, and they probably also know enough to control emotions and tempers as they flare. However, with Frazier’s comments as the catalyst, could we start to see some locker room division? Again, William’s first quote could be construed as him seeking to take blame away from others, rather than to divert it towards teammates, so again- that second quote’s probably a bit out of context. But both of these guys are clearly frustrated. And if that frustration spreads, this could develop into a real problem.
Before I wrap this up, let’s put a little of my own things into proper context here lest people misread things and post such below. Are Kevin Williams and Jared Allen turning into locker room cancers, or are they likely to do so? Not likely- not likely at all. Has Leslie Frazier completely lost control of the locker room, a la Chilly’s end in Minnesota? Also probably not. And are there multiple ways to read into all this, beyond the two scenarios listed above? Absolutely. And I’d love to hear your theories below.
What say you, Viking faithful? Are we to be concerned about what’s going on in the Vikings locker room between players and Leslie Frazier, or have I gone all Chicken Little on us here?