Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/21/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. For the Minnesota Vikings, the more things change, the more the stay the same. When Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier searched for a new defensive coordinator in January, there were several names rumored for the position. Among the bigger names were Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach Mel Tucker and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris. Frazier said he had also been in contact with good friend and former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, though the topic of the Vikings coordinator job was never discussed, according to Frazier. It seemed Frazier had an idea all along of the type of person he had in mind for the coordinator's job someone like himself. Frazier eventually found that person in former Indianapolis Colts' defensive backs coach Alan Williams. Williams once was an assistant under head coach Tony Dungy, as Frazier had once been. Williams was a defensive backs coach before becoming a coordinator, just like Frazier. And, perhaps most importantly, Williams' philosophy was rooted in the Cover-2 system, the same system Frazier has employed since coming to Minnesota in 2007. The players also see the similarities. "To me, (Williams) just reminds me a lot of having met Coach Dungy and being able to speak with him quite a bit, reminds me a lot of his sort of demeanor, along the lines with Coach Frazier, just real steady, real consistent," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "You know what you're going to get every week and as a player you like that. You're not going to be too up and down with ebbs and flows of a game or a season. He's been very impressive to talk to, very impressive as far as the knowledge of what he wants to get done around here and I think he's just asking for leaders to step up and try to portray that to the young guys of what he wants to get done." Which is how things have been done around Minnesota for the past five seasons. All signs during this offseason of change have pointed to sticking with the same philosophies. The biggest transition is in the secondary where it's possible there will be two new starters at safety and at the nickel and dime defensive back spots. And the individual moves were rooted in sticking with the Cover-2. Big money wasn't spent on bringing in elite one-on-one cover cornerbacks, one sign of sticking with the mainly zone system. Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook return and are the expected starters, but the new faces fit the system. Zack Bowman started 16 games the past three seasons in a similar system in Chicago. Third-round draft pick Josh Robinson has the speed to keep up with any receiver, but he also mainly played zone while at the University of Central Florida. Even free-agent signee Chris Carr, who played in Baltimore's 3-4, aggressive style defense, has the characteristics to fit as a Cover-2 corner. At safety, the Vikings drafted Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton, two players who likely have the speed and ball skills to play deep safety in the Cover-2. There will be very little changes to the front seven with only Jasper Brinkley stepping into the middle linebacker spot of E.J. Henderson, who wasn't re-signed. Even there, Brinkley and Henderson are similar players. "I'm pretty sure it won't be too much of a difference because both of them were pretty familiar with this scheme," Brinkley said. "Coach Williams pretty much let us know that we're going to do what we do best and that's go out and play football, play smart and play fundamental." Williams' main focus has not been about changing what the Vikings do on defense. The emphasis has been placed on execution. "Sometimes the perception is, that when a team does not perform as well as the media should think, they tend to think that it should be blown up, that it should be wholesale changes," Williams said when he was hired. "But I don't believe that. I think that a lot of times it's a tackle here, an assignment there that allows you to be more successful. "It's a fine, fine line between being in the lower half and the top half of the NFL in terms of rankings, so with that I think we will pay attention to detail. I think we will start from the ground up, like it was a few years ago. With that I think you will see some dramatic changes in how we play and also how fast that we play." Minnesota finished as the 21st ranked defense in terms of yards allowed this season and was 26th against the pass. The Vikings surrendered a league-high 34 passing touchdowns and had tied a league-low with eight interceptions. Unable to stop the pass, Minnesota was 31st in the NFL in points allowed, giving up 28.1 per game. "We just had so many fundamental errors in what we do within our scheme," Greenway said. "Little things here or there, guys getting out of their gap, guys playing something different, miscommunication. There are more issues than just that, but you start with that and you work into the bigger issues; guys just trying to force it and make big plays and make something happen." Even during the collapse last season, Greenway was outspoken in his support of the Cover-2. He's glad to know not much is changing with Williams in charge. "I'm sure there'll be some tweaks within it, but for the most part, I think it's going to remain relatively the same," Greenway said. "We've proven that it works. You can talk at length about what wins and what doesn't. But we've been to the brink with the defense that we're still playing. It's more about how we play it than maybe the scheme itself." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
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