Complete Frazier interview, Part 2: Working with Christian Ponder

  • Article
  • Updated: November 18, 2012 - 10:01 AM

Coming into this season, you turn the huddle over to a 24-year-old quarterback [Christian Ponder] with 10 NFL starts to his name. Nobody of sane mind thinks he’s going to be Joe Montana for 16 games. We know the dips and slumps are coming. How as a head coach do you prepare yourself for the reality that, ‘OK, there are going to be some rough weeks and patience is going to be key to make sure don’t panic when the quarterback hits some of those valleys’?   Frazier: I think experience helps me a lot. Being around it for such a long time and seeing the peaks and valleys that young quarterbacks go through. Both coaching against young quarterbacks and being around young quarterbacks and then veteran quarterbacks who have succeeded. Going in knowing there were going to be moments where Christian would struggle, I always believed that we had to do some extra things around him to help him. Because there are going to be days where he’s not going to be on point. He’s not going to have his A-game. So the greatest challenge I’ve had is with our staff and with our players to make them realize that this is a team game. It’s not about one player. Even though they may hear people criticizing the quarterback, we can do some things around him to help him and support him. And if they understand that component of it, then they’ll never just point the finger at him and say this is all about him. It’s about us. We’ve got to do some things to help every position. And I think our guys understand that and have bought into that.   How do you get Christian to buy into that, that patience? He admits he can be wired like a perfectionist and when he starts struggling, he gets to striving harder. And sometimes you can strive too hard and think you’re the reason for all the struggle? How do you convey to him that he needs to take a deep breath here and there?   Frazier: I’ve brought him in my office. We talked after the Tampa game. We talked again after the Seattle game on the field. And I always remind him – I reminded him after the Seattle game – that he’s our quarterback. You’re going to have some tough days sometimes. I’ve seen Peyton [Manning] have some tough days. I’ve seen Joe Montana have tough days. Stuff happens, man. You have to be able to block it out and get ready for the next game and have a good practice and things will get better. So I try to encourage him and let him know up front that even though you may hear different people saying things, until you hear me come over and say, ‘Christian, you’re not the guy or whatever, block that stuff out.’ I reminded him that when we drafted him in April of 2011, I told him this. I said, ‘Remember, you sat here in my office after we brought you in town and did our press conference, I told you you were going to be the guy who leads us to a championship in Minnesota? That hasn’t changed. Your mind can’t ever get off of that. You have to keep working towards that. Don’t let anybody outside ever tell you anything different. You’re going to be the guy to do it. To his credit, I think he listens to that. I think he believes that. At the same time, we all have to support him and realize that he’s a young quarterback in the National Football League and there are going to be some tough days at times. But you just have to be able to see the bigger picture. As a head coach, if I’m panicking, if I’m worried, that’s going to seep through to him and the rest of our team. That’s not going to happen with me. Because I know he’s capable of leading us to big things.     With some of these rough days, you said you could see things within the offense that needed tweaking and changing? As you went back and did some of the film review and self-scouting, how did you diagnose that things had become a little too predictable?   Frazier: You look at those games, the Tampa game and the Seattle game. I knew Arizona would give us a bit of a tough time. They have a very good defense and some of the things they do schematically I thought might give us some trouble. And it did. But in the Tampa and Seattle games, there were definitely some things there that I thought we should have been able to exploit in their defenses. When we weren’t doing it and they way they played us, the more I looked at it and said, ‘Ya know, people have a pretty good bead on the way we’re doing some things.’ I knew there were some things we should have been able to exploit. So we sat down as an offensive staff and went through some things about how we had to adjust for Detroit and what we needed to do to help our young quarterback, help our receivers, help our protection. We examined a bunch of different things to make sure we came up with a good game plan to help us have success. Especially knowing we weren’t going to have Percy. So it’s a credit to our coaching staff looking internally and saying, ‘Yeah, we’ve had success early in the season doing it a certain way. But we kind of need to reinvent ourselves here as we get ready for Detroit.’ Because they had won three out of four, were playing with a lot of confidence, coming off a big win against Jacksonville. So our coaches did a good job putting together a plan that was a little bit out of the box. For example, the way we opened the game with an empty formation and ran that play. Things like that. So rather than being stubborn and saying, ‘Well, against San Francisco we did this and won. Or the first time we played Detroit, we did this and were successful. Why can’t we do it now?’ They realized we needed to adjust and we did.     What specifically wasn’t being exploited against Tampa Bay and Seattle? Frazier: The passing game. They played us with so much single-high [coverage] for us not to be more successful. You say, ‘Wait a minute now. As an offense, this is what you dream for. Defenses are bringing all these guys into the box to stop Adrian. We’ve got to be able to take advantage of this.’ So we had to look at exactly what were doing and why weren’t having more success. And I think we have to continue that going forward. Because I doubt defenses are going to completely change the ways they try to defend us with the season Adrian is having. So we have to be constantly evolving without setting ourselves back by trying to be too creative and making our guys slow down. I just saw those things that we should have been able to exploit but weren’t.       And there was a recognition on your part that there were a lot of moving parts to that – quarterback play, routes, protection.   Frazier: All of the above. It was a combination of a lot of things. So we went back and did some things formation wise, personnel-wise. And with personnel, it was who we were putting on the field – whether that was three wide receivers, two receivers and two backs. Whatever. Just looking at things we could do to help our players be successful. Moving our receivers around, moving the ball to different guys, simplifying protections. Those were things we needed to do to help our passing game.    

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT