Minnesota Vikings  

 

Vikings had QB development in mind when hiring assistants

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Coach Leslie Frazier has his staff pretty much assembled, and the decisions he made hint at the direction the Minnesota Vikings want to go as they look to replace quarterback Brett Favre.

Frazier tabbed Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave to run his offense. Musgrave's work in developing Matt Ryan into one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the NFL played a role in that decision.

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Both Frazier and Musgrave say the best situation would be to find a young quarterback the Vikings can turn the offense over to right away.

"Ideally, you'd like to find the Matt Ryans of the world, the Joe Flaccos of the world and ride with one of those guys," Frazier said Thursday. "But it doesn't always happen that way. We just kind of have to see where things fall. If we find someone like that, you'd like to build around him. That really gives you a chance for the long term."

The Vikings have a history of bringing in veterans in the twilight of their careers -- Warren Moon, Jim McMahon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Gus Frerotte and Favre, all since 1993 -- and trying to squeeze a few more good years out of them.

They drafted and developed Daunte Culpepper into a six-year starter, but that has been the exception and not the rule in Minnesota. The Vikings draft 12th overall in April, and they could be leaning toward taking a quarterback in the first round again.

"Ideally, you would like to find a young guy that has a bunch of promise and potential and you would hand him the keys and let him make his mistakes and learn and but also know that he would be there for you in the long term," Musgrave said. "I believe that will be one of our goals to identify any candidates that can fit that role, but at the same time be ready to find some other fellows that may have some experience, that can come in and be effective and also have some upside to them as well."

The Vikings do have Joe Webb, a rookie who started two games this season, already on the roster. And Frazier picked former Tennessee Titans assistant Craig Johnson to be the quarterbacks coach in Minnesota, which could make Vince Young an intriguing possibility since he's on the trading block.

Johnson was on the Titans' staff for 11 seasons. He was the team's running backs coach this past season after nine years as the quarterbacks coach.

If the Vikings decide to draft a quarterback in the first round, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Auburn's Cam Newton, Washington's Jake Locker and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett are considered the top prospects.

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That's where Musgrave comes in, and Frazier said the Vikings' offense is "Bill's baby."

"He's done a great job of developing a young quarterback in Matt Ryan, and we're in a position where we're going to have to do something similar, at least we expect to," Frazier said.

With running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on the roster, a quarterback's transition from college to the pros could be smoother in Minnesota than other places. And Musgrave said he would bring with him an offense that is easy to learn.

"We'll make it very streamlined," Musgrave said. "We'll make the formations easy to learn for the guys, because I believe in players playing fast. We don't want them out there thinking what word was used for this or that."

Top backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who went on season-ending injured reserve with turf toe late in the year, has an expiring contract.

Frazier also announced that Jeff Davidson was joining the staff as offensive line coach. Davidson was the Carolina Panthers' offensive coordinator the past three seasons after spending 10 years as an assistant with the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns.

Frazier will have much more familiarity with the defensive staff, where most of the group from last season remains intact, including Fred Pagac as defensive coordinator. Frazier, who was the Vikings' defensive coordinator before his promotion to interim -- and then full-time -- head coach, said Pagac's work late in the season impressed him.

"I really enjoyed watching his maturation while I was interim coach and just the energy he brought to the defensive side of the room," Frazier said. "We won't do anything dramatically different on defense."


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The one notable addition to the defensive staff is Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, who will coach linebackers and serve as a special assistant to Frazier.

Singletary and Frazier have been close friends for more than two decades, dating to their playing days with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s. Singletary was fired as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, but he said he never considered taking a year off before jumping back into the coaching ranks.

"I couldn't sit back or take a step back if I wanted to," Singletary said. "Coaching is something that I love to do. I don't know how guys could sit out for a year. I guess everybody is different. But for me a couple of weeks was enough. I'm ready to go."

Frazier said the Vikings are "real close" to hiring a running backs coach, the lone remaining opening on his staff. A report Wednesday linked former Indianapolis Colts assistant Gene Huey with the Vikings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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