Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. I think for our guys being back on the field this morning, they seem to be engaged and right where they need to be. We had a good, focused walkthrough, we’ll need to have a focused afternoon and good preparation by our team in order to go out and have success against what we think is a very good football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’re doing a lot of good things across the board and we’re going to have to play our best football to be successful at Mall of America Field on Thursday night.
Q: How will you handle Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin; will they be able to go fully?
A: We probably won’t do a lot with Adrian today. We’ll probably hold back a little bit and let him get some work tomorrow when we go through our mock game-type situations. So we won’t do a whole lot with him. We’ll monitor Percy’s reps as well. We won’t over-tax him knowing that we’re in a short week and we have a couple other guys that we’ll do the same thing with. For sure those two, we’ll cut back some things.
Q: What stands out about the Buccaneers?
A: Probably what you just said, they’re in so many games, every week battling right to the very end. I think Greg Schiano and his staff, they have those guys fighting and they seem to be prepared every week. They play with a lot of energy across the board, on special teams, offense and defense, and that’s been very impressive to see. We’ll have to really rise up and match their intensity on Thursday night.
Q: How is John Carlson?
A: He hasn’t been cleared yet for any participation, so with the amount of time we have, as I mentioned yesterday, it would be very difficult to expect him to play this week.
Q: With the success you have, has fear been a motivator in getting these guys mentally focused?
A: We don’t go down that fear road. I want our guys to be confident in every situation and that’s what I talk to them about, being extremely confident in what they’re doing. The only way you can be confident is if you put in the work at practice and in the meeting rooms. If you do that, if you prepare properly, you can get out on the football field on a Sunday, or in this case a Thursday, and play with great confidence. That’s what we challenge them with every week; preparation, the hard work that’s required and being able to preserve through difficult times. No reason to play with any, any fear at all.
Q: What does it mean to be on the National stage?
A: I guess for some it would mean a lot but from my perspective, it’s the next game on our schedule. I feel like every week we’re on the National stage, I really do. It’s so important that we always play well for a lot of reasons. We’re playing at home this week in front of our home fans, who I think are the best fans in the League, at Mall of America Field. The only significance is, from my standpoint and from our team’s standpoint, there might be some young guys who haven’t gone through this and may see it a little bit different, but it’s the next game on our schedule and that makes it extremely important.
Q: Is the groin still giving Jared Allen an issue and how much do you expect him to practice this week?
A: He’ll do some things today but he is a little sore, like most of our guys are. We’ll monitor his reps as well at today’s practice.
Q: Was it the groin that he tweaked again or something new?
A: No same injury, but he’s made it through. We just have to be smart about how we use him in practice.
Q: Defensively, you guys have limited stars, whether it’s Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, what has been the key to guys honing in on the game plan and understanding what the priorities are?
A: I think Alan [Williams] and the rest of the defensive staff have done a great job of communicating to our players what the objective is in every ball game, our players really paying attention in the meetings and then carrying what they learned in the meetings to the practice field and then executing their assignments. This past weekend was evidence of that again and we’ll need to do it again this Thursday night because you watch Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson do what they did on Sunday, that was an incredible performance by those two. They have a real good running back in (LeGarrette) Blount along with Doug Martin who seems to be coming along. We’ll target some things in this game plan that we feel like we have to take away in order to be successful. But our players, they’re really doing a good job in the meetings, good job of coming to practice and working and doing the things that are necessary to execute the game plan. A combination of the coaches preparation along with the players doing the things they have to do.
Q: How often is it centered around one specific player?
A: It depends on the team and what their strengths are. You’re always trying to get a team to play left-handed, make them go somewhere they don’t want to go. You’re right, we’ve done some good things when we’ve had to do that but you always want to take a look at what their strengths are.
Q: How far has Chris Cook come in his confidence to handle some of the bigger receivers?
A: I think his confidence is just growing. Early in the season, I thought he was coming along but he has really taken a leap over the last two or three weeks. I’ve just been very, very impressed with the progress he’s made. There was a transition for him getting back and playing and getting up to the level that we thought he was at about this time a year ago. His confidence has grown and a lot of it has to do with the success he’s having in practice, but also, of course, what he’s doing in games. We feel like he can match up against some of the best receivers in this League and it’s helped our defense.
Q: How did he respond to the physical challenge against Larry Fitzgerald and following the game plan?
A: We really challenged him, and Joe Woods did a good job and has been doing a good job of challenging him to play up to his potential. We drafted him because of his size, because of his length and of his speed and his football IQ. For him, it’s been a matter of time of getting the reps. He’s still a guy who doesn’t have a long resume when it comes to starts. The more task on hand he gets, the better it seems he’s performing. It’s good for us, he’s accepting that challenge of being able to match up with big receivers because we need that from him and it’s helped our defense.
Q: Have you put yourself through watching the second half against Tampa last year?
A: I have not put myself through that yet, but I am going to go back and look at that tape, I have to. One of our players this morning who was on the team last year came to me this morning and said, ‘I can’t believe we lost that game last year.’ But, they’re a different team, we’re a different team. You only look at personnel if you go back and look at that game. We’re two totally different teams.
Q: Is there a teaching tool there, whether it’s playing within the scheme of the defense or just playing all four quarters, something you take out of that?
A: Yeah, but I wouldn’t target that game in particular. As you recall, there were a number of games we had that were similar to that one. It’s been a refrain of ours throughout the year, going back to the spring about executing and finishing games, so wouldn’t just be this game.
Q: When you look at defensive game plans, are you seeing a big progression with Alan Williams?
A: It really is. He’s become much more comfortable with our players and what their abilities are. I mentioned to him, just prior to our Tennessee game how much growth I had seen in him from back in the spring up until that time when we played the Titians. Just the way he was conducting himself with our players and in the meetings, he’s really, really grown in the short time we’ve been together and he’s going to get better and better and in turn, our defense will benefit from him.
Q: Talk about that offensive line and how they’ve come together?
A: I’ve been so impressed with Matt Kalil coming in and playing at such a high level this early in his career. We rarely have to bring a tight end over there or a back to help him out, he’s done a good job against some good players. To see the whole group coming together as well as they have, it’s been encouraging and that’s one of the reasons that Adrian [Peterson] has been able to run the ball as effectively as he has and one of the reasons we’ve been able to protect the quarterback as effectively as we have. It’s encouraging in a lot of ways, we know we have a lot that we have to work on to continue to improve, but we have the foundation to really have an outstanding offensive line. They’re still growing and we have a lot of football to be played.
Q: Are you comfortable yet with where Adrian is physically?
A: Actually, I mentioned this on Sunday after our game. I come up to him I think Thursday or Friday at practice and he didn’t practice Thursday, he practiced on Friday, and I talked to him about the fact that this was a game I thought that we would really need him to carry us because of some of the things they did on defense and I asked if he would be up to it, knowing that he missed Wednesday’s practice, missed Thursday’s practice, and I wanted to hear him talk and get a feel for his mindset because I really believed that we were going to need him to have a big game for us and he said, ‘Coach, I’m ready. If you feel like that’s what we need to do, give me more carries, whatever. I’m ready. I’ll be ready.’ And then he had a great practice on Friday. The way he moved, I knew that what he said was not just telling me something that I wanted to hear and then he went out and played that way and we needed him to have that type of game. I do feel like we’re at that point now, we don’t have to be overly concerned about the number of snaps but we do have to always be conscious of fatigue and looking ahead, but for the moment, I don’t think we have to feel like we have to pull the reigns back for any reason. He’s come a long way.
Q: Was that the first game that he’s shown that burst?
A: To the point where you didn’t feel like there was more that could be given. I mean everything I saw on Sunday reminded me of the Adrian we’re all so familiar in seeing over the course of his career, the burst, the explosiveness, the quickness, running through tackles, and I know it’s just a matter of time before that 60-yard run comes. He’s very close for that to happen. He’s doing everything you would hope he could do and the way he’s catching the ball, he’s catching the ball so much better than he has in the past. He’s working, I think he’s improving as the season goes on, he’s getting strong. This will be a challenge, short week for him. This is uncharted territory, so we’ll have to get through this and hopefully he’ll be able to manage whatever needs to be managed and have a great game on Thursday night.
Q: What stands out to you about Vincent Jackson and the skill set that he brings?
A: How deceptive he is as a route runner. Seeing where I think guys have pretty good coverage on him and next thing you know, he’s behind them. Great hands, great route runner, knows how to uncover. You can see his experience when he’s running routes and it seems like he and (Josh) Freeman have really found a rhythm of late. They’ve got a good situation going, but his ability to run great routes and to make some unbelievable catches, even when guys have him covered, is very impressive.
Q: Can you remember any games when you were a coordinator where you didn’t dial up any blitzes in a game?
A: Not very many, not very many. What our guys did over the weekend without pressure was extremely impressive, very impressive. I can’t remember a time where we had multiple sacks like that without pressure being a part of it, so very impressive by our d-line.
Q: This is the fourth concussion John Carlson has suffered in his career. Are there any concerns about whether or not he’ll be able to come back?
A: Not at this point. None of the doctors have indicated to me that it’s something we have to be concerned about long-term. There will be a lot more discussions because he hasn’t been cleared yet. But at this point, no, not a concern about his long-term future.
Q: He’s been a through a lot recently. Have you talked to him?
A: We talked this morning. John’s a very level-headed guy. He understands where he is in respect to his history with concussions and our major concern is his health. He knows that and we’re going to do all we can to help him and help our team as well and assist him in recovering from this concussion. He’s not down, he has a good frame of mind. He’s been through this before.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2012
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
We’re excited for a big Thursday night game, prime time, hopefully not our only prime time game of the season. Thursday night, hometown, obviously a quick turnaround. Long day today that we kind of combine everything into one day and try to prepare for a very good defense, very aggressive defense, that’s what we’ve seen on film so far. Very aggressive, 4-3, it’s not that complicated. You kind of see what you get, but very aggressive. We’ll make plays and we’re going to have to try to take advantage of their aggressiveness and we’re going to have to do a good job of figuring out our game plan today and working on it. We’re moving on to our first Thursday home game since 2000. What a good opportunity for us to play in front of our home crowd and we’re excited about it.
Q: Are there any benefits to a short week?
A: I guess a benefit is that you get to play another game sooner. There’s not really a disadvantage, obviously we have to get our bodies right and we don’t have as much time to practice but neither does Tampa so there’s not really a disadvantage. It’s nice to just get to the game and play.
Q: For you personally, what would you do in a normal week that you won’t this week?
A: Obviously, we’re not going to have the Thursday and Friday practices. It’s all going to be one. Obviously, won’t have enough time to, or as much time, as I usually do to prepare, but I spend a lot of time outside of this facility watching my own film. I’ll still get the right amount of preparation, just may not be as much as I did before, but I’m going to be prepared and everyone’s going to be prepared. Everyone is going to do a good job knowing they have to do stuff on their own to get ready for this game.
Q: Does the short week help you put Sunday’s game out of your mind?
A: Definitely. I’ve already moved on. We’re not thinking about Arizona anymore at all. We’re focused on – It’s such a quick turnaround. We play in 48 hours, a little over 48 hours. We’ve moved on as a team.
Q: So it’s not a confidence thing then?
A: No, not at all.
Q: After having a few bad games, is there a part of you that’s guarding against letting that slide continue like what happened last year and stopping it here this week?
A: Yeah, definitely. Obviously, you don’t want it to get worse. Our object is to progress every week and I know I need to make a big progression from Sunday to Thursday, and that’s what we try to do every week. That’s something that I need to do this week.
Q: What’s the biggest learning lesson you took away from Sunday’s game?
A: I don’t know. I guess the biggest thing is moving on quickly and, especially this week, we have to move on quickly and just keep getting better at what we do. I don’t know if there really was a certain learning lesson, but I think kind of this whole week in general is learning to put that behind us and move on to the next game.
Q: Do you spend more time or less time watching film of a game where you struggled?
A: This is a unique week. Definitely kind of buzzed through it pretty quickly, obviously we watched it, but we buzzed through it pretty quickly yesterday and moved right on to Tampa film. It’s something by the end of the year, once this year’s over, it’ll be something that I go back and spend more time on, this week is unique.
Q: Will you guys go through a corrections period like you would normally go through?
Q: When you watched the Cardinals film, what was some of the things that stood out to you?
A: I think in general I just have to play better but we played against a good defense and it’s something that I already moved on from. I learned from it and now I’m going to use that to get better for Tampa.
Q: How would it be to be 6-2 going into a long weekend?
A: 6-2 would be huge. Our object is to win every quarter of the season. We’re 2-1 in this quarter right now, we’d be 3-1 in this quarter and to be 6-2 in this half of the season would be big, especially looking at the schedule the second half. But, we’re focused on now and to be 6-2. A year ago we were 2-6 and to have that flip around would be good for us.
Q: To what degree do you monitor what else is going on in your division right now?
A: Not much, at least night right now. We’re only controlling what we can control and it’s early on so it doesn’t really matter.
Q: You know you have all those division games towards so it’s good to stack wins now?
A: For sure. Obviously, no matter what you want to win as many games as you can as soon as possible, but knowing the schedule down at the end of the road will be big, we want to win and take advantage of the opportunities that we have now.
Q: What stood out to you about Adrian Peterson’s performance on Sunday?
A: He played exceptionally well and he’s done that all year. I think everyone has seen him progress week-to-week and he’s running hard. He had a couple that he almost broke for long touchdowns. We’re going to look for him to do that again on Thursday.
Q: Did he look like the Adrian before the injuries?
A: I think so. I think everyone saw him running exceptionally well. He looked really good.
Q: What stands out to you about Tampa Bay’s defense?
A: They have a good front seven, good front four. They can get back to the quarterback, very athletic, very quick. I think their defensive backs like to take chances on things and I think something we’ll have to see with their aggressiveness, maybe take some opportunities to take advantage of it. But it’s a good defense, a very solid defense. That’s why we really have to spend time preparing for them.
Q: After a couple tough performances are you eager for the next time out to try to change it around?
A: Yeah, I think so. I’m always eager to get out and play and keep improving, but yeah, especially this week with such a quick turnaround, I want to get out there and play well.
Q: What have you seen from Jerome Simpson in terms of incorporating him into the offense and is he healthy?
A: He looks healthy. He’s jumping around like he’s 10 years old. He’s healthy, we just have to keep giving him the ball and obviously, he’s a heck of a player, heck of a receiver and we’re going to keep finding ways to get him the ball and utilizing him.
Q: Did they do anything specific to limit Percy Harvin beyond that one drive?
A: No. Not really, no.
Q: A win would make you 5-0 at home, how would that feel?
A: That’s something we talked about, is being undefeated at home and we’ve done that so far and we want to continue that, obviously. Playing at home is such an advantage for us. Our crowd really gets into it and makes it really hard on their offense and we want to continue that.
Q: Is it particularly valuable not having to travel this week?
A: For sure. I think that’s definitely an advantage for us to have back-to-back home games and have them traveling, I think that’s tough.