Coltsâ€™ Williams hired to coach Vikingsâ€™ defense
Making the final changes to his defensive coaching staff Thursday, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier hired two assistants he was very familiar with, having worked with each in the past.
Familiarity will be a key as Frazier imposes his philosophies on Minnesota's defensive schemes. Indianapolis Colts defensive backs coach Alan Williams was named the Vikings' defensive coordinator Thursday, replacing the demoted Fred Pagac. Brendan Daly was hired as the defensive line coach, taking the place of Karl Dunbar, who was fired.
Hiring a coordinator who knows the Cover 2, or Tampa 2, system, Frazier has someone in place to carry out his specific defensive principles. Frazier also made it clear he will have more input on the defense in 2012 than he did in 2011, specifically as Williams adapts to being an NFL coordinator for the first time.
“Early on, I really want to be involved in what we are doing," Frazier said when asked if Williams will do all the defensive play-calling. “As we get through OTAs and minicamps, we'll make a determination on which way we want to go. But I have a good feel for initially how I want to do it. Having Alan here is someone I know, that I know, that thinks the same way that I think and really has an idea what I'm looking for. So that's going to be a big plus."
Williams, 42, has spent the past 10 years with Indianapolis and worked with Frazier in 2005 and 2006 when the two coached defensive backs together and Frazier was a special assistant to then-head coach Tony Dungy. Williams and Frazier won a Super Bowl together in 2006 before Frazier came to Minnesota as the defensive coordinator.
Frazier confirmed that Pagac will remain on the staff, returning to his former position as linebackers coach. Mike Singletary, who coached the linebackers in 2011, will stay on and assist Pagac with the linebackers and continue his role as special assistant to Frazier.
“After sitting down with the guys and talking about and hearing their feedback, they assured me it could work," Frazier said. “If you don't have the right kind of people it can be a dicey situation, but the fact that we have good people, I've seen it work before."
Daly returns to Minnesota after spending the past three seasons as the St. Louis Rams' defensive line coach. Daly was a defensive line assistant with the Vikings from 2006-08. Joe Woods will remain as the defensive backs coach.
Frazier said no changes are planned with the offensive staff, but he is focused on getting the defense turned around after it slipped to 21st in the NFL this season in terms of yards allowed and gave up 28.1 points per game, 31st in the league.
Frazier knows his prior relationship with Williams will help in the communication between the two. The coach made it clear he wants to be more involved with the defense, while not missing out on other aspects of the team.
“I don't want to say I'm going to take it over now," Frazier said of the defense. “We've really got to do some serious things with our roster to get back in the mix in our division and our conference. I don't want to get immersed to the point where I'm the defensive coordinator/head coach. Some people can do that, but I don't think I can.
“I don't want to go in that direction. But I do want to take a lead early on and set the tone for how I want to get things done, and I think that's important after what we experienced this past season."
Williams is credited with helping safeties Antoine Bethea — a sixth-round draft choice — and Bob Sanders earn multiple Pro Bowl trips. Sanders won the AP Defensive Player of the Year award in 2007. Williams' experience with defensive backs likely helped his chances to get the job. Minnesota's secondary was decimated by injuries and ineptitude this season, and the defensive backs clashed with Pagac.
“As a secondary coach with Indianapolis, we drafted a lot of young DBs, so I would think what I do best is to be able to develop a young player and have him at a winning level early in his career," Williams said. “I developed the young players that when a veteran was out, the young player was able to hold down the fort and play winning football until that veteran or the starter came back. That would be where I think I bring to the table and I do best."
Williams, who signed a two-year deal with the Vikings, accepted the chance to move to Minnesota with the Colts going through a major shakeup. Head coach Jim Caldwell was fired on Tuesday after a 2-14 season, and several assistants have been let go this week.The Colts ranked 25th in total defense but 15th against the pass. The Vikings and Indianapolis tied for the league low with eight interceptions.
With Daly leading the defensive line, St. Louis has notched 82 sacks the past two seasons, the sixth-best total in the NFL during that time. The Rams were eighth this season in sacks per pass play.
Daly replaces Dunbar, the only coach fired after this season's 3-13 mark. Dunbar's defensive line appeared to be the strength of the defense, and Daly will take over a group that includes Pro Bowler Jared Allen, who had 22 sacks last season. Defensive end Brian Robison had eight sacks and three forced fumbles in his first season as a starter, and six-time Pro Bowl tackle Kevin Williams still anchors the middle of the defensive line.