Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Quick turn around this week and getting ready to head down to Houston.
Q: How do you size up the three back up running backs?
A: They all work tremendously hard and we’re going to give all three of them another opportunity on Thursday night. They did some good things, we put the ball on the ground the other night, which we don’t want to see, but other than that their effort has been good and they’ve been working really hard.
Q: Besides turnovers, what bothers you about Friday night, was it execution?
A: I think all of the above. We didn’t put our best foot forward in a number of categories, we did some things better than we’ve ever done them before but we want to do more of those things in a better regard.
Q: Correctable things?
A: Most definitely.
Q: How much does John Carlson have to catch up?
A: We’re going to find that out this week and next. Yesterday was his first day so he was feeling his way a little bit yesterday, understandably so, and get him out there again today and hope it’s better.
Q: What does John Carlson offer this offense that you may have missed in preseason?
A: He’s a veteran guy, he knows how to get open versus NFL coverages. Has some quickness and suddenness to win versus man coverage also so those are all good traits.
Q: What did you see with Matt Kalil in the protection aspect on Friday?
A: Good effort. We didn’t start the game very well, our first six plays resulted in a total of two yards. After that I thought we kicked it into gear and did some Viking-type offensive plays. We didn’t end up where we wanted to but at least we did some more characteristic things, other than what we did the first six plays. I thought Matt was part of that too, he didn’t play his best those first six plays but then he played better as the first half progressed.
Q: He gave up pressure on an outside speed rush, does he need to move his feet a little better or is that more of a recognition thing?
A: Probably both. Get a better result, a better technique, better anticipation which will come with experience.
Q: How do you view that second quarterback spot, is that Joe Webb’s or does Sage have a chance?
A: Well everybody has got to be ready to play. Right now Joe goes in second and he did a good job the other night so he’s going to have another valuable chance to gain some experience on Thursday night and continue to grow into that role.
Q: Will you go with Joe Webb for a half and the other two for a quarter?
A: Yet to be determined. We have scheduled for all three quarterbacks to play though, that’s for sure.
Q: Are you worried about Christian Ponder’s confidence?
A: Not necessarily. Confidence only comes from one thing, that’s demonstrated performance. Can’t build anybody up, can’t give them anything false or fabricated. When they do it they gain confidence so we’ll look forward to this season, our young quarteback, our young players, our old players gaining confidence from demonstrated performance.
Q: What are some things that give the offense confidence?
A: I think moving the ball down the field, doing well with our shots down the field. We had a couple passes where we hit Percy Harvin on a 40-yarder and missed a 54-yard touchdown one. We’re doing a better job of achieving those chunks down the field. We did against Buffalo as well so we want to be able to do that which will compliment our strong running game.
Q: Your offense relies on efficiency but with those big chunk yardage plays does it really take some pressure off to execute and sustain long drives?
A: Yeah, most teams want those big chunks, I think it makes sense. We don’t want to take as many sacks as we did the other night but I know we’ve acknowledged them, we’ve addressed the mistakes and I’m sure the whole offense shares the confidence that we can play better and we will play better.
Q: Those sacks we pretty uncharacteristic, Christian has only had a few of those games, correct?
A: I think so. There are quarterbacks throughout this league that are learning every game. Tom Brady has mentioned that he’s taking too many sacks this preseason too, and that’s what the preseason is for. It’s essential for young and old players, it’s essential for coaches. I know I’ve never walked off a game field or even a practice field without learning something and I think our players are the same way. We learned a lot from each of these three previous outings.
Q: Were some of those sacks a product of Christian waiting for something further down field to open up?
A: There are a number of things that happen on a football field. Sometimes you’re waiting for a guy to get open, sometimes you’re waiting for a sight line. At times you’re a little bit indecisive, at times you’re trying to give the chance for the play to actually evolve and develop. We know there’s a limited shelf life back there in the pocket, especially against a good pass rushing team like San Diego, it bit us in the rear end.
Q: Devin Aromashodu caught a few balls in the second half, how do you feel about your options for the split end position throughout Jerome Simpson’s suspension?
A: I think we feel confident there. We have a good corps of wide receivers so we’re going to be okay until Jerome returns. We’ll be excited for his return but we’re going to do our best in his absence to remain effective through the air.
Q: Will you give Manny Arceneaux more chances?
A: Manny does a good job, you can count on Manny every day at practice and also every game that he’s going to put his best foot forward.
Q: What do you want to see out of Jarius Wright?
A: We want to see Jarius out there too, he did a fantastic job on special teams the other night. We have a lot of confidence in Jarius too. He’s had a good camp and really has made a good first impression on all of us so just a matter of time before he gets involved with the offense also.
Q: How do you assess productivity of match ups between preseason and regular season?
A: We’re always assessing ourselves to get better. The preseason is an opportunity for us to proceed and progress and develop. Our whole sight is really based on that first game against Jacksonville. We’re gearing up for that, we want to be playing our best when the games start to count.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
Good afternoon. Look forward to preparation for another week, another preseason ball game against the Houston Texans and another chance to evaluate our guys. Looking forward to who may step up for this weekend and play well and evaluation for the roster. With that, I’ll open it up for any questions.
Q: With the amount of time Robert Blanton is supposed to get Thursday, what do you hope to see out of him?
A: Just that he can get lined up to see if he looks like he belongs in terms of when he has a chance to make a play, see how he functions in terms of tackling, back peddling, making a play on the ball. Just the same things I would look for out of anyone that would come out and I do recognize that it will be his first live action so we just want to see if he looks like he belongs out there.
Q: Before he got hurt, what signs were you seeing out of him in the offseason that encouraged you?
A: He was aggressive, he ran to the ball, it looked like he had good instincts and he had good coverage ability. He played corner in high school and at Notre Dame in college. Those skills carried over, especially in the nickel spot so we matched him up with some wide receivers in one-on-ones and he looked pretty good.
Q: How difficult is this game for you just to coordinate things with all of the different players in and out?
A: Not overly difficult in terms of that part. We just have a lot of people banged up and that’s probably the toughest part, with guys being banged up, trying to figure out who will play and who won’t and we won’t know that until we get to Houston so that’s probably the toughest part, figuring out who will play and who will not.
Q: Do you even have enough safeties to make it through this game?
A: The ones that are in there, just like I said before, the next man up mentality, whoever is in there, we expect the guys to play well. We’re not sure just yet. Some guys are licking their wounds and getting healed up and we’ll see what happens when Wednesday rolls around and we head down to Houston and then there’s one more day for guys to get better so we’ll see.
Q: As you look at the first regular season game, how do you view the third cornerback spot?
A: Chris (Carr) has a ton of experience. He goes inside and outside. Josh (Robinson) has just played outside but both played well. This is another week that is important to the evaluation process to see how guys do. We haven’t made any hard and firm rules in terms of who will make the team, who will start, who will be where. We’re still waiting to see after this ball game how guys play and we’ll firm it up at that time.
Q: How are Chris Carr and Josh Robinson different?
A: One has a ton of experience, one plays inside like I said, plays in the nickel spot. Josh, so far, is primarily on the outside. It’s hard to evaluate the differences because Josh hadn’t had a ton of reps and a ton of plays. Josh is unbelievably fast, he runs as well as anyone in the NFL. Josh has shown that he tackles well. Chris is an effective tackler. He gets guys on the ground. Really, Chris just has experience on him at this point.
Q: Leslie Frazier has talked about needing the rookies to contribute this year. How have you seen those guys develop in the past few weeks?
A: I’m pleased. I’m pleased from the back end to the front end. I’m pleased with how, I just mentioned, Josh has come along. He looks like he belongs out there. We see some burst from him getting to the ball. He showed he will be physical. Harrison (Smith), the same way, he showed he would hit last week. I wish he would lower the target a little bit, be a little bit lower but he’s a physical player. He’s smart. Linebacker wise, Audie (Cole) has made a lot of plays. I feel good about our rookies and how they’ve come along and hopefully we’re looking that they continue to progress and the plays that they make continue to be consistent, that they’re making those plays.
Q: Does Mistral Raymond look like a starter to you?
A: He does. I wish he would have played last ball game to see if he would have been able to carry over what he did from the Bills game because he did play well that ball game. He looked like a starter to me that ball game. Again, we wish he would have played last ball game but it is what it is and we’ll see how the rest of them come along.
Q: How important is that physicality that Harrison Smith brings to that secondary?
A: I think it’s very important. That’s what we want to be known for, is a physical, fast defense. When the other team looks at the tape, if they see that when they come across the middle they’ll be hit or if a running back breaks into the open field for some reason or even at the line of scrimmage, that it’s going to be an all day physical ball game. It wears on an offense and they’re not so likely to go across the middle and be aggressive if we’re aggressive on defense.
Q: How many defensive backs would you like to have on the 53-man roster?
A: 20. You know what, I don’t have a number. We just want to keep as many guys as we can to fill out the roster but also not jeopardize any other positions at the linebacker spot, at the d-line spot or with the whole team in general. 10, 11, somewhere around there. I never think you can keep too many DBs with the way the NFL is structured with the multiple sets on third down and now teams on first down are coming four-wide. It’s an important position, just like any other but with this being a passing league, you can never have too many.
Q: What did Jasper Brinkley do for himself the other night?
A: He played well. When he had a chance to make a play, he made it. I told the guys in the meeting the other day, ‘When you have a chance to make a layup, don’t lay it up, dunk it and dunk it with two hands.’ The plays that he had, he had two plays where he came free on blitzes, one was by his design, by what he did, and the other one was by the scope of the defense and he had chances and he sacked the quarterback. He had a couple of good plays where he went lateral and made plays outside of the numbers in Cover 2 and another one where he hit the quarterback. Every time he had a chance to make a play, he made it and really, that’s what you want out of all your guys. He had a chance and he made the best of his opportunities.
Q: With the time Letroy Guion has missed, does Fred Evans have a chance to win that starting job?
A: They all have a chance, not just Fred but everyone on the team. We want to make sure we evaluate everyone based on their performance. No one is set in stone. If the next guy performs well, we’ll find a spot for him on the defense and if we can’t find the other guys performing well, we’ll make some substitutions and we’ll get guys in there. I don’t know if you can ever have too many starter-caliber players so if Fred performs well, we’ll find a rotation for him, we’ll find a spot for him to get him reps in there and that’s a good problem to have. No one is locked in stone.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: What did you think of Jarius Wright and what he was able to do in the return game?
A: He made a great decision on the bluff and got us an extra 15 yards. We weren’t trying to get him hit there but it was a good decision on his part. He did a good job on the peter call getting those guys out of bounds. He did a nice job on his return, I think he should have broke that tackle. I don’t think he ran with enough conviction there and when he saw that on tape I think he believed what I was telling him that he has to run hard. He’s not a small man, he’s not a real big guy, but he’s strong enough to break through those arm tackles and I would like to see him do that because if he does, I think we are going to score because we had two more blocks coming down field. He’ll get better. He did a nice job and I was pleased with him.
Q: Is he one of those guys who might just lock in better in a game than at practice?
A: As you know, it’s a lot easier indoors and he’s gotten better. When it gets outside and gets a little windy, he gets a little squirly. Today will be different because we play a left footer this week on Thursday so we’ll have our jugs machine set up so it spins like it’s a left footer, so we’re going to try that with him today for the first time before and after practice. We’ll see how that goes.
Q: Has Jarius given you enough confidence that he can be the return guy on a regular basis?
A: Let’s talk after Thursday. We’re not quite there yet. He’s improved every week and I am pleased by that and I’m not ready to throw Marcus [Sherels] away either. I think Marcus is going to be a good punt returner as well, but the competition is a good thing at all these spots. I’m interested in seeing him on Thursday.
Q: The snap and hold looked good on the field goal Blair Walsh missed.
A: Yeah they were. He should have made that and he knows it. He just pulled it a little bit left and indoors, 45 yards, he has plenty of leg. He’s got to make those for us.
Q: Is there any concern there for you?
Q: Kickoff wise, Walsh looked a little more consistent than he was last game.
A: Yeah. He’ll still wrap his foot a little bit but we call that the power alley, between the left numbers and right hash for a right footer, and when he strokes it good, he may not hit it perfect, but with a good follow through, he’s going to get a good seven, eight, nine yards deep and that’s what he did for us. Even when they brought it out we tackled them at the 17 and that’s what we’re looking for, either a touchback or a tackle inside the 20 and that’s what we keep preaching.
Q: Is the fourth preseason game a little different for you because you still have players vying for spots?
A: Absolutely. The thing they’re going to run into and I think they’re starting to get wind of it from the veterans, but they’re going to be real tired because I’m not taking them off. I got to sub a lot of guys off in the first three games and this game we won’t have as many guys playing so we don’t have quite as many subs, so they’re going to play a lot of football. I hope they’re in as good of shape as they think they’re in. It should be fun.