WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. Pretty good walkthrough for us. Guys are pretty excited about this opportunity, going up to Indianapolis. We should have just about everybody practicing today. I can’t think of anybody that’s available that wouldn’t be participating in practice, which is a good thing. It’s a season opener for the Colts. We had a chance to watch them on tape. They are doing some good things. I know last week was a tough loss for them but from what we’ve seen on tape, we have a lot of respect for the direction they are headed and the talent they have on their football team. Any time you go on the road and try to win in the NFL, it’s tough, extremely tough. We’ll have our hands full in a lot of ways.
Q: Do you anticipate Andrew Sendejo, Jarius Wright and Marvin Mitchell all being available on Sunday?
A: I have to see how they do in today’s practice and then we’ll make a judgment as the week goes on but the fact that they can participate today is a good thing.
Q: You had good balance on offense but not much out of John Carlson. Do you attribute that to his knee?
A: It contributes. The fact we wanted to see where he was health-wise and make sure he could finish the game, that mattered, but we do want to get him more action this week and try to get him involved a little bit more. That’ll be a part of our goal but we got that one game behind us which is good, good for him and good for all of our confidence.
Q: What did you think of Devin Aromashodu filling that role for Jerome Simpson?
A: I thought those catches he made at the end were clutch catches, that was big for our team. We needed that from him. It was great that he showed some of those same attributes from when we played the Texans that last preseason game and for him to come up the way he did with those catches, that was big for our team. Really encouraged by his play and we’re going to need that obviously with the attention that Percy (Harvin) draws. It was good, and Michael (Jenkins) came up with some nice catches as well.
Q: What was your overall assessment of the defensive line rotation?
A: I thought it was good for us and it’s something we have to continue to grow and develop and make the sure the guys we do put in for our starters are really living up to the things that we expect but it was a good start for us, to be able to get that rotation going in a fashion we think will help us over the long haul.
Q: Even though the defensive line didn’t get any sacks, are you okay with the pressure they applied?
A: Oh yeah, and the more I looked at the tape and saw the hits that we put on the quarterback, that was very, very encouraging because over time, generally, that makes a big difference. You’d like to get sacks but you definitely want to get some hits on the quarterback and we got a number of good hits on the quarterback.
Q: During those long drives, would you like to give Jared Allen and Kevin Williams some plays off to give them rest?
A: Maybe, there are times. You don’t anticipate 17-play drives. If you see it become inept, maybe you do things a little bit different but as you mentioned, you don’t anticipate that. In that case, there was a lot of football to be played but we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully, we won’t get too many more of those.
Q: Were you asking for a different role for Kevin Williams?
A: No, we didn’t really change what we were asking of him. He had some good hurries on the quarterback, a couple of real good ones. We really didn’t ask anything different than what we always do.
Q: What do you see from Andrew Luck after studying the tape?
A: I think he has a bright future. Just seeing him control their offense the way he did, he went against a pretty good defensive line in Chicago but I think overall, he handled himself pretty good. He showed the poise and composure we had seen in the preseason and going back to his collegiate days as well, his accuracy, the way he can manage the game. There were some qualities that you look at and say, ‘This guy has a chance to be a really good quarterback in this League.’
Q: Is Adrian Peterson lobbying for more carries?
A: He hasn’t talked about that part of it. I think he’s just happy he was able to play as well as he played and came out of it with no harm done and excited about being able to play and getting back to reaching some of his goals. He hasn’t really talked about more carries but of course, I’m sure that conversation will come up as the week goes on but not yet.
Q: Could he handle more carries?
A: I don’t know. Every game is different. We’ll have to see how Indianapolis decides to defend us and that will probably determine what type of carries he gets and how many carries he gets.
Q: How close is he to his 2011 form?
A: I think he’s pretty close but we’ve got so much football to be played and he needs to get a little more work under his belt to really gauge that. But man, where he is right now coming off of surgery, I don’t think there’s any team that would turn down having him as their running back, their feature back. He may not be quite where he was prior to the injury but he’s pretty close.
Q: How does the running game help you win?
A: It’s big for our team. In a League where passing the football has become first for so many teams, we’ve taken a little bit different approach and featuring a guy who we think is the best running back in pro football in Adrian Peterson and because of that, it takes a lot of pressure off our young quarterback as well as our passing game and we want to feature our running back along Toby (Gerhart), both Adrian and Toby, because we think it helps our defense, we think it obviously helps our passing game and helps our quarterback as well. Having a guy like the guy that we do have makes us very unique from an offensive standpoint but it helps us to achieve our goals as a football team, having a good running game and establishing the run for us to run our offense and really win the way we want to win.
Q: Does it help you control and shorten the game?
A: For us, that’s exactly the approach we take but we also believe that we can also get explosive plays through the running game because of who we have at the halfback position so it is different in that regard. It’s not just ground and pound. We have a guy who can break the 20-yard run, the 60 yard run. Most people have to get that throwing the football down the field and we want to be able to do the same, that’s one of the reasons we made the offseason acquisition of Jerome (Simpson) and try to feature Percy the way we do. But being able to have a balanced attack and still feature our run game is who we are.
Q: Jerome Felton played 32 snaps. Do you want to see the fullback become bigger than it was last season?
A: I think sometimes it depends on how teams are playing us but Jerome had a heck of a game. He played extremely well and that was a lot of snaps for him. There wasn’t one time a season ago we had that many snaps with our fullback on the field and a lot of it had to do with the way he played and what’s happening when he is on the field. It was really encouraging for all of us to see him dominate the way he did. There may be more opportunities for him as we go forward.
Q: How far are you seeing the Colts go toward a base 3-4 defense and when they play a hybrid, how much does it challenge what you do schematically blocking up front?
A: It makes a difference because as you are trying to put together your game plan, you have to have an idea of how you’re going to block some of the things they do out of the 3-4 but there are times they are not necessarily a 4-3. There are some things they are doing with moving people that create some problems which we have to try to simulate in practice because it’s not always going to be a standard 3-4 that you see in a game plan book. We’ll have to figure out a way to give our players a look at some of the things they do schematically.
Q: With all of the changes they have made, how much can lean on Alan Williams?
A: You’re right, there were a lot of personnel changes. The scheme is completely different. There are a few guys, from a personnel standpoint, that we can ask him about but schematically, not even close. We don’t even really talk about the current scheme versus what he was familiar with there.
Q: Is it possible that experienced coaches intimidate the replacement officials?
A: I know for us, the most important thing for myself and our staff, is to get our guys ready to play every single week and not even get caught up in what’s going on with the officials but just get our guys ready to play every single week and that’s what we’re going to do this week, that’s what we tried to do last week and we’re going to do this throughout the season, just get our guys ready to play and play at a high level.
Q: With the Colts’ offensive line as disjointed as it is, are there ways you can attack that?
A: There are some things with their offensive line, you don’t want to misjudge what happened in the preseason or even in the first regular season game. Most teams in our League, and I hope we’re one of them, will improve that second week and we anticipate their offense and their offensive line being much improved this second week after they go back and look at some tape and really begin to gel a little bit. We don’t want to be misled by anything that happened in that first game or what happened in the preseason. Their offensive line will continue to improve as the season goes on.
Q: Do you know what it was that Michael Jenkins was flagged for in Sunday’s game?
A: The officials called it, we can’t allow it to happen and we have to find a way to overcome those penalties when they do happen and that’s what I talked to our team about. We make no excuses about anything. We can’t allow that to happen in that situation.
Q: The initial block he set was legal though right? It must have been something that happened after?
A: We’ll see but we’ve moved on. We hope we’re in another four minute situation where we have a chance to close the game out and we can do a little bit better than we did in that ball game.
Q: How much were Michael Jenkins’ and Devin Aromashodu’s performances in line with your goals on Sunday?
A: It changes from series to series sometimes and game to game what those guys’ roles will be and how people are playing us coverage-wise. Based on that, when their number is called, we need them to make plays for us. Some weeks it may call for more and some weeks less based on how a defense is playing us but they’re both very capable, both Michael and Devin. They’ve proven that and Sunday was a great example of that so we have confidence in them, we know they can make plays when their numbers are called and we’re going to need that. To what extent? It varies from week-to-week.
Q: It looked like you didn’t play as much Cover 2 as you have in the past. What do you attribute that to?
A: In reality, even when people have described us as a ‘2’ team, when we have had personnel that will allow us to be a little bit more than ‘2.’ When we were playing our best defense, we were not a heavy Cover 2 team and our personnel is getting back to where we need it to be. The last couple of years, we’ve struggled on the back end from a personnel standpoint but we’re getting to where we need to be so we can mix up a little bit more and not be as predictable as we had become. It’s more about our personnel than anything and yeah, Alan has some qualities from a defensive coordinator’s standpoint that really will help our secondary, especially with his background coaching secondaries but it’s more about our personnel. We’re able to do a few more things with some of the personnel we have now.
Q: What was the coverage on Jacksonville’s last touchdown and what were your hopes there?
A: We were in a 3-Deep coverage and what you want to be able to do is in 3-Deep, you never want to let anyone get behind you, that’s what you’re always preaching in 3-Deep and we probably could have done some things to help Chris (Cook) in that situation that we could have done a little bit better but the goal in 3-Deep is to never let anyone get behind you. That’s the premise of the coverage.
Q: What could you have done to help him there?
A: You’d like to figure out a way to help him not be in a position where a guy can make that play. There are some things we’re going to continue to talk about that’ll help him and help us to not allow him to be in that position again.
Q: What did you think of the safeties on Sunday?
A: I thought they really played well. I thought Harrison (Smith), for his first start, to move around the way he did and be in position the number of times that he was, played with a lot poise. He had a couple of errors there that he’ll get better at as time goes on but I thought overall he really played well and that play he made in overtime on that deflected pass, that was a big-time play. Really liked some of the things that Mistral (Raymond) did as well. The breakup that he had in the middle of the field on that long pass, he was actually going for the interception as opposed to trying to get a knock-out hit and you like to see that. You like to see your safeties making plays on deep balls and trying to pick the ball off. They both did a lot of good things that I think will help us as time goes on.
Q: Mistral seems to be more aggressive when he is playing with confidence?
A: With the two safeties we have playing, you have a lot of youth and very few, and in Harrison’s case with one start as an NFL player. There are going to be some moments where they may not be as aggressive as you would like for them to be because so many things they are doing are for the very first time. You have to understand that and let them continue to grow and mature at their positions but they both have shown that they are going to be very, very good players for us at safety.
Q: Dwight Freeney has an ankle injury. How big would it be if he’s not able to play?
A: I have a lot of respect for Dwight, just going back to my days in Indy as well and I can remember teams completely changing how they approached us because of Dwight, so it wouldn’t be any different. He’s a major factor. He’s in his 11th season in the League but he still is a guy you have to pay attention to and you better know where he is at all times. It would definitely make a different if he is not on the field.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
Good to see ya’ll. I’ll go back just to reiterate what an important win it was for us this past week and how good it feels to be 1-0; we’ve savored it and we’ve enjoyed it. Looking back, the circumstances we had to overcome were unbelievable. For us to come out on top after that game, looking back at last year we never won any games like that, we did have an overtime game and we lost that one. It’s pretty exciting to see with how young this team is, how mature everyone handled that situation. It shows the level of focus and the level of maturity that we can have on this team. For guys like Adrian Peterson and Antoine Winfield, for them to overcome what they had to overcome to play in that game and play well, it seemed like that 20 seconds left to get three points, it made that seem a little easier than what they had to overcome; it sets the tone for the rest of the year. We’ve now moved on to a great opponent, Indianapolis. I don’t think we’ve ever won at Indianapolis and we know that they have a defensive minded head coach who comes from Baltimore. They have a great pass rush, they have aggressive linebackers, they have experience in the secondary that could pose a challenge for us as an offense and they do some different things schematically that we have to be ready for. We have to put in a lot of time and effort this week to prepare for them and keep on trucking.
Q: You had to reset yourself and get the tempo going after a few plays on Sunday; how do you go about getting that at drive one this week?
A: It’s just an attitude; mentally just tell myself that I need to go out and play aggressive and play almost mad, go out there and play with a sense of urgency. I think it starts with the tempo that you call a play and break the huddle immediately and get everyone to get up there and run the play. I think you can control a lot of that in the huddle.
Q: What do you mean by almost mad?
A: Play with relentlessness. After those first couple drives I was mad that I missed a couple throws and just kind of said, ‘I’m going to go out here and throw this ball and make plays.’ It was almost like playing mad I guess.
Q: The second drive you made a few checks on the line on first and second down; were they doing something that you hadn’t seen?
A: We jumped into our no-huddle offense so we were just doing some of the things that we do in that no-huddle. We were making different checks and trying to get different snap counts going.
Q: It seemed like the tempo slowed down at that point?
A: With our no-huddle, it can be a very fast paced offense but we can also slow it down and make sure we get the right play. That’s something that we’re still trying to implement in this offense. We have it and I think slowly we’re trying to get it more involved in what we do.
Q: Do you prefer the no-huddle?
A: I don’t know, I like them both. I think in different situations they both work. With the no-huddle we still haven’t shown it that much, it’s a good weapon we can have in the arsenal when we need it. I’m comfortable with both.
Q: The long one you hit to Kyle Rudolph up the side, what did you see there?
A: We called a play before that, we called the same exact play, and a DB had jumped a route and everyone booed thinking it should have been defensive pass interference. We ran the same play except we put him on a pump; we faked that route and ran up the sidelines. We knew that they were being aggressive so he jumped the route and fortunately it worked out just like it was supposed to.
Q: Overall, what gives you the biggest comfort in Kyle Rudolph?
A: We just have so much chemistry. His hands are unbelievable, he finds ways to get open, he’s trustworthy, he’s reliable, you know what he’s going to do and where he’s going to be. He doesn’t have to be fully open for you to complete a pass to him. I just trust that he’s going to make plays and I trust that he is big enough that if I don’t throw a ball where it’s supposed to be either he’ll knock it down and not let it be intercepted or he’ll make a play and catch a ball.
Q: How encouraged were you by the way you moved the ball without Jerome Simpson and without John Carlson to some extent?
A: It’s very promising and we had a lot of guys step up like Devin [Aromashodu]. Devin made some big plays out there at the wide receiver position. We have guys that can step up and make plays and we can move the ball when we have to. We are excited to get Jerome back after a couple games and John Carlson will slowly be implemented and working through what he has to work through. We have so many weapons on this team and so much depth that it really helps me as a quarterback to trust those guys are going to make plays.
Q: How are you different from last year to this year?
A: I just feel so confident in what I’m doing and so much more comfortable and calm out there. The game has slowed down and I’m seeing things better; I know where to go with the ball. There is just a whole different feel to it.
Q: The scene for Percy Harvin where you hit the safety in the chest, was that a matter of their playing cover two all day and you just not expecting that play?
A: What we did was, we had a dummy cadence and I was keying the back side safety and he looked like he was staying cover two in the dummy cadence. After the snap of the ball I rotated a single high and I just made a bad assumption that they were staying cover two and I immediately looked at the linebackers to make my read. My lesson learned is always keep the eyes on the safeties because those are the guys that tell the truth and everyone else lies. I have to do a better job of that.
Q: It seemed like they were really keying on Percy Harvin down in the redzone; is that something you expect to see more of?
A: Definitely; I think guys realize the kind of player and caliber player that Percy is and how important he is to this offense. We expect that they’re not going to let Percy run all over the place and get open so that’s why the depth on this team is so important so that other guys can step up and make plays when they have to.
Q: What happened on that play in the 4th where Devin Aromashodu and Percy Harvin ended up in the same area in the endzone?
A: On that particular play, it was a miscommunication and usually on those plays, if a guy has a burst route with press coverage, it usually converts into a fade but on that particular play we talked about maybe keeping it off and trying to keep the burst on and run fade with the inside guy. It was just a little confusion and that’s going to happen. There are so many moving parts to this offense that guys are still learning and it will be fixed.
Q: Can you talk about Devin’s savvy on that 26-yard reception towards the end of regulation?
A: His intelligence and his instincts are crazy good. For him to feel that linebacker that’s inside of him and settle in that hole, it’s great we’re on the same page. We trusted each other that we were going to be in the right spots and ended up winning the game for us.
Q: What were the issues you were having offensively against the 3-4?
A: The 3-4 is just so different than a 4-3 in how we treat things pass protection-wise and run game-wise. A lot of it just goes back to execution and it goes back to preparing yourself that week to get comfortable in what you’re doing and going out and executing it. You’re used to seeing it, especially since we face a 4-3 team every day in practice against our defense, it’s just something that you have to prepare for and get used to.
Q: Is it difficult for a quarterback to figure what the linebackers are doing in a 3-4?
A: In a way, I guess. The linebackers can move around a lot and obviously there’s four linebackers compared to three and they’re in different spots and they can bring different blitzes in a lot more locations than a 4-3 and they can hide different things. You get more different looks from a 3-4 than you do from a 4-3.
Q: What sort of things were spinning through your head after your first career start?
A: Especially against Green Bay, I had so much fun with it, but I did make some mistakes, just like Andrew [Luck] did, but we bounced back that next week against Carolina and knew that those mistakes were learning experiences and that I’d learn from it and I knew the caliber of player that I have the ability to play to and I know the caliber of player Andrew Luck can become. I know that he knows himself well, as well, and we expect for him to come back and have great game against us. He’s a very smart player. Three interceptions, although he’s a rookie, is probably out of character for him and he’s probably going to prepare hard and play with a chip on his shoulder this week to prove he can play better.
Q: Do you feel like a completely different player than you were when you first started?
A: Definitely. I just feel so much more comfortable and confident in what I’ve been doing. I just feel like I’ve progressed a lot in my maturity as a quarterback. I still know there’s a lot of the way still to go but I’m enjoying it and I feel like I have progressed a lot.
Q: Do you know Andrew Luck?
A: Yeah, I met him three years ago. I did the Peyton Manning camp as a counselor, everyone does it, and Andrew was there so I got to hang out with him a little bit there. We hit off pretty good. He was a really good guy and a fun guy to talk to and hang out with. That was kind of it. It was our only experience together.
Q: Have you had the chance to watch Andrew Luck?
A: I haven’t really watched him.