Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. We had a good walk through, a good start I think to our game plan. I think our guys were into it in our meetings this morning and looking forward to getting to practice this afternoon and moving forward. This is a good football team that we are playing on Sunday. They’ve done a very good job, they’re 3-0 at home, a tough environment to play in, so we’re going to have to do a real good job of approaching this in the right way from the very beginning and all the way through, knowing it’s a very important game for both teams. The fact that we are the road team, there are lot of things we have to do right in order to have a chance to be successful on Sunday. That’s what we’ll work as hard as we can throughout this week on getting that done but excited about this opportunity. John Carlson will not practice this afternoon, still has not been cleared. The only other guy that won’t be here is Tyrone McKenzie. He and his wife are in the process of having their first child so he won’t be here either. Everybody else should be participating and preparing for the game today in practice.
Q: Do you have Michael Jenkins back?
A: Michael is back with the walk through this morning and he’s fine.
Q: Was that related to the hurricane?
A: No, no.
Q: As you look to sort out the corner back situation, what are you looking for this week in A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson?
A: The consistency in practice and who grasps the game plan the best. Who gives us the best chance at this stage of the season to go out and be effective at the corner position, opposite of Antoine [Winfield].
Q: Is that open competition this week between those guys?
A: We have an idea what direction we want to go but we have to see how it goes in practice for the next couple days.
Q: Is it a different challenge for the receiver group with the size of Seattle’s corners?
A: They do have a big, physical group back there. The safeties are big, the corners are big, you don’t usually see four across with the size that they have. They play very, very well. They do a good job of getting their hands on you and playing press coverage. They’re a little bit different although we see press coverage, I don’t know if we see it as consistently with the size that we’ll see on Sunday.
Q: In some ways is that better for a guy like Percy Harvin who is so quick off the snap that maybe he can avoid it as a smaller receiver?
A: Could be, but sometimes when those big guys get their hands on you, sometimes tough to get away from them. If they can throw the timing off between the quarterback and the receiver, advantage to the defense. We’ll have to do some things to try to take away a little bit of their strength.
Q: Why is this one of the biggest challenges in the League to play at Seattle?
A: Their fans do a good job of getting in the game early and making it hard on offenses and teams in general to function, much like our fans here. When we have it going it’s a tough, tough place to play at Mall of America Field and their environment is similar in that way. You don’t want to fall too far behind in that environment, it can be tough.
Q: Are you going to be pumping noise in this week?
A: Yes we will be pumping in noise in practice for sure. Yes.
Q: With the three 3 and outs to start the Tampa game, were you able to pick up anything specifically you want to clean up this week?
A: There are some things we definitely want to do better. Get some first downs, we talked about that and we’re going to do our very best to improve in that area. We don’t want to have a lot of 3 and outs, especially on the road this week. We want to put some first downs together in order to help our team.
Q: What do you sense has caused some of those these last few games?
A: Some of it you credit to the defense and then we have to do a better job of executing. We have to be able to put some things together. We think we’re capable of doing that and we’re going to work towards getting that done for this game.
Q: What are some keys to stopping the blitz and teams piling on?
A: If teams get a beat, that can be a problem for you as you know, you’ll see more of it. But if you hit a few plays, whether it be in the run game or the pass game then that backs them up a little bit and makes those coordinators think twice about living on pressure. We’ll have to be able to make some plays if that’s the way people want to approach us.
Q: They’re also doing it to stop the run; how unusual is that and what is the difference between attacking something like that?
A: It’s really not that unique, we do it quite a bit. Even when I was playing we used to do the same thing against good backs. Try to get as many people to the line of scrimmage and try to penetrate the gaps, more so with pressure than you would if you were in your base defense. So it’s not that unusual, we just have to do a better job of handling it because we’re going to get more of it as we go forward. If you handle it the right way there are going to be some creases that end up being explosive plays like the 64-yarder that we had with Adrian [Peterson]. We can do some things to make people back up, we just have to be able to execute when it happens.
Q: Is the number one thing just to hit a deep ball?
A: That will help, that will definitely help. Every now and then to hit a play down the field or break a long run against some of those looks. Either one of those two will make people think twice about continually making that a game plan deal.
Q: When you look at Seattle’s front four or front seven what do you see from how they approach teams as far as blitzing?
A: They’re not a big, at least they haven’t been a big blitz team but they’re so active with their front. They do a very good job of creating some problems with the athleticism of [Chris] Clemons along with their first round pick, Bruce [Irvin]. They do a good job of doing some things on the edges, the tackles, the tough, physical guys inside, and their linebackers run very well. So they do some things with their front seven that create some problems for the offensive line. They’re one of the best teams in the League right now of stopping the run so we’ll have our hands full of being able to get done some of the things we want to get done.
Q: Do they move Chris Clemons more than most teams and their defensive end?
A: I don’t know if it’s more than most without starting across the League, but they move him quite a bit. They move him different places along the line in certain situations and we have to be aware of where he is. He’s one of those guys who can disrupt your flow on offense.
Q: How much of the offense’s struggle in the passing game has been off timing with Christian Ponder and the receivers?
A: That’s been a little bit of the problem but we just have to be able to find ways to get open depending on what the coverage is, be able to protect a little bit better and when we have some opportunities to be able to connect when it happens. Sometimes it’s timing but it’s been a combination of things for us, it hasn’t been any one thing. The time that we had over the last few days to go back and look at some things, I think will be able to help us. We’ll find out if that’s true when we line up on Sunday.
Q: What are the advantages of a big corner in which they have, in the scheme of things of defense?
A: Just going back to what I was saying earlier, you like to believe when you have bigger corners that have some athleticism that if they get their hands on the receivers and you’re playing press coverage, you have a chance to draw off the timing between the quarterback and the receiver, which is a big deal if you can buy your defensive line another second, just to make him have to hitch a little bit. If you can get a couple big corners who can be physical at the line of scrimmage and slow down the timing between the quarterback and the receiver, you’d think you’d have an advantage. Those little quick guys they can be though, but those long arm defensive backs like Chris Cook and others, they kind of offset sometimes that quickness.
Q: Have you made a move with the 53rd spot?
A: We have not, we have not yet.
Q: Is it still too late to trade for one of those Seahawks guys?
A: We’re approaching that trade deadline but I like our guys, I like the guys we have. They have some good corners.
Q: Is that one of the reasons you’ve waited to make the move, are you waiting for the trade deadline?
A: It’s different factors, without giving too much away. The trade deadline is Thursday so you want to do everything you can. I know Rick [Spielman] and our player personnel department is doing this, everything we can to try to improve our team and help our team to be better. You want to exhaust all avenues in doing that.
Q: What stands out to you about Marshawn Lynch?
A: He’s an excellent back. Yards after contact, that’s what stands out. He’s had some runs where you think a guy has hit him so hard he’s going to fall back, the next thing you know he’s breaking a tackle and it takes two or three people to bring him down. He is a tough, tough back. Runs with a lot of power, great balance and he’s an explosive runner, evidence by the run he had on Sunday against Detroit. He has speed to go with his power. He’s an exceptional back.
Q: What have you seen with Sidney Rice, is it a matter of him being healthy?
A: It looks that way. He’s looking like the Sidney we remember. He’s making a lot of plays down the field, contested plays. He’s staying healthy and his production is up and that’s the key for him, staying healthy and he’s doing that.
Q: Did you work out punter Brian Stahovich and if so why?
A: We worked out some different guys. Yesterday worked out some linemen, some punters, worked out a defensive back over the weekend. Worked out different positions and it’s something we’ll do throughout the season. We’ll probably bring in some guys next week as well. Rick [Spielman] and the personnel department do a great job of just helping us to have a rolodex of players who could potentially be available if we have an injury or if something else occurs. It’s something that will be ongoing for us, bringing in guys and we’ve always done that.
Q: What’s your level of confidence in Chris Kluwe to pull out of this rut?
A: Chris is a pro, he’ll figure this out. Between Mike Priefer and our staff, he’ll come through it. He’s been in this League a while now. He knows how to look at himself, look at tape and figure things out. Mike always does a great job with him, so he’ll get through this.
Q: How much of Thursday’s game was psychological?
A: I don’t know, the other team we played played better than us. They just did a better job than we did. I don’t know how much of it is psychological, they were better than us on that night.
Q: Do you think Chris Kluwe’s political activism and media profile has had any effect on his production?
A: Chris is a pro. He’s been able to deal with so many things in his career. He’s able to focus in these situations and focus on the task at hand and has been a very good punter, which he is. I don’t think anything off the field is distracting him. He knows how to focus on his job and fully expect him to have a big game for us on Sunday.
Q: Are defenses taking Kyle Rudolph away or are you guys not doing a good enough job of finding him?
A: They are trying to take him away at times, but we are trying to get the ball to him as well. There were some times in the last couple of weeks we wanted to be able to do some things with him and it just wasn’t there. We’ll continue to try to find opportunities and create situations to get him the ball because he is a big threat for our offense. When he does catch the ball and make plays for us we are a better offense. We’ll keep trying to get the ball to him but there are some times we haven’t been successful because of what they’re doing on defense.
Q: What’s your theory of emphasis with Christian Ponder and what you want to see him do this week?
A: Against a team that’s playing so good on defense, we’ve got to do a good job of managing opportunities and then when we have an opportunity, taking advantage of it. He’ll be the emphasis of getting that done at the quarterback position. When we have opportunities on the road this Sunday, his being able to lead us and helping us to capitalize on those opportunities.
Q: What has been his level of poise against the blitz?
A: I think he’s much improved when it comes to other people being in his face and having to make him move in the pocket. He did some things even in the game on Thursday where there was pressure on him, he got rid of the ball, didn’t take sacks in some key situations. I think he’s much improved and our staff always has to remind one another that it’s still early in the process for him, but the growth has been exponential in a lot of ways. He’s grown so much when it comes to dealing with pressure, whether it be from a guy coming off the edge or somebody in his face, and he’ll get better as time goes on. But to answer his question much improved.
Q: When did you notice that teams were coming after him more and more?
A: I don’t know if it’s coming at him more and more, I think the production of Adrian [Peterson] has a lot to do with it. Some of the things we’re getting pressure wise, it is to defeat our run game. One of the ways to offset that is to make some plays in the passing game, if they’re having success. I don’t know if some of those pressures were dialed up particularly for our quarterback, but we’ll see as we go forward. We’ll see how Seattle tries to approach us and how they’re going to defend what we do in the run game as well.
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
Had a good weekend off. I think everybody got away from here a little bit and refocused. I think that was good for us after last week, obviously. Moving forward to Seattle and we’re excited to play. It’s a going to be an exciting place to play. It’s going to be really loud. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s going to be tough, especially for us as an offense. We’re going to have to communicate really well. Obviously, they’re a really good defense. I think they’re 3-0 at home so they play really well at home. Obviously, they’re exceptional on defense. They don’t bring a whole lot of pressure. They play a lot of single-high and they’re going to have an eight-man front trying to stop the run, obviously, so we’re going to have to win in the passing game. Obviously, we have a lot of stuff to work on this week. I thought Monday we came out and kind of focused on us before focusing on Seattle. We had a great practice and did a lot of things to improve and we’re going to keep doing that this week and we’re looking at having a big jump from last Thursday to this Sunday and we’re excited about it. It’s a good opportunity to start the second half of this season. It’s crazy that we’ve already played eight games, but we’re in a good place right now and we’re going to keep looking forward.
Q: When you looked back at the first three series against Tampa Bay, were you able to pick up any trends and diagnose why it was a slow start?
A: It goes back to execution. I think, in the passing game, obviously have to win on our stuff. It really wasn’t anything they did, it goes back to what we did, which is a good sign. Everything is fixable, so we just have to fix it. For us to go into a place like Seattle, it’s going to be important to start early and start fast. To go a couple three and outs at the beginning of the game isn’t going to be good and I think every game that Seattle’s played in they’ve been the first offense to score so it’s going to be important for us to go out and get off to a good start.
Q: Can you pinpoint what has been the trouble in the passing offense the past few weeks?
A: It hasn’t been one thing. Again, it goes back to execution. We have to do a better job. We’ve been seeing a lot of pressure. I’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands. I think teams have realized that. My biggest thing is I can’t take a negative play. We would rather throw the ball away and get it out of my hands than take a sack on first down or throw an interception. We’re always looking to have positive plays and limit the negative plays. We’re going to get things clicking. We faced two great defenses the past two weeks and obviously we’re going to face another on this week, but we’re going to keep improving.
Q: Percy Harvin talked about getting back to the fundamentals route running and maybe some of your timing is off, too?
A: Yeah, maybe. That’s probably something we need to work on and it’s something we’re going to focus on this week, is focusing on certain routes we’re really going to utilize in the game and work on that timing. That’s the biggest thing we’ve talked about is working on those fundamentals and our technique and getting back to that. That’s something Peyton Manning has always talked about when he’s not playing well. He goes back to his fundamentals and watches himself and fixes himself, so that’s something we’re definitely looking at.
Q: What’s the challenge of syncing up timing against a group of defensive backs that are physical and try to disrupt that?
A: It’s going to be tough. Obviously, they’re a big physical secondary so they’re going to try to reroute us and jam us at the line. Our receivers will have to do a good job of getting off of that and finding ways to get open and the good thing about that is we have guys like Jerome [Simpson] and Percy who are fast. If they do get past the press, they’re gone and that’s where we’re going to look for big plays and take advantage of that.
Q: You mentioned Peyton Manning, when you’re going through a tough time, do you research stuff like that or reach out and talk to other guys?
A: No, I haven’t. It’s kind of a crazy time right now. I don’t really have a relationship with Peyton or anybody in the League. I haven’t done that, but it’s always good to hear about what certain guys, who are obviously successful, what they do. Coach [Craig] Johnson is the one that brought up that’s what Peyton does, so it’s always good to pick up hints like that and hear what other people are doing.
Q: There was a throw you made with 25 seconds left in the first half against the Bucs where you had Percy open on the sideline but you tried to go to Jerome on a crossing route. Are you pressing to try to make things happen in the intermediate to deep passing game?
A: I don’t think I’m pressing. That was just a dumb throw. I think I had Jerome a little earlier than I anticipated and then waited too long to throw the ball. That was probably the worst throw I had all game. I should have been patient and, obviously, with 25 seconds left we want to get points on the board. I should have just dumped it down to Percy and not taken that risk. I don’t think I’m trying to press things. Again, when we were clicking we were throwing the shorter routes and letting our offense and our receivers pick up yards after the catch so I think that works and we need to keep doing it.
Q: When teams blitz to stop Adrian Peterson and the run game, how does that affect you in the passing game?
A: Ultimately, it comes back to me with getting the ball out of my hands. I think teams have had success bringing pressure so I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle does it or if we see it the rest of the year. We just have to take advantage of when they do bring pressure that we do make them pay for it. When they bring pressure, that opens up more holes in the passing game and I just have to do a better job of recognizing it and getting the ball out of my hands and finding that spot where they’re most vulnerable.
Q: The way this team is structured and the success you’ve had in the underneath passing game, are you better off having that be the mindset of the team?
A: I think so. Obviously, that’s been working for us and we’re going to keep utilizing that and we’re not going to try to fix what’s been working. I think I have to do a better job of keep taking those things and being patient and, obviously, when we get the ball in Percy’s hands or Jerome’s hands or whoever, they’re doing a good job of creating big plays even if it is a three-yard pass.
Q: Personally, what’s your biggest area of emphasis this week?
A: I think, for me as well as everybody right now, it’s going back to technique, working on my footwork and working on my reads and everything. I just have to refocus and refine and let everything take care of itself.
Q: With the extra time to review, did you see some specifics in your technique that got sloppy?
A: Yeah, one thing I need to continue is to keep stepping up in the pocket and not flushing left or right, but keep moving forward and that’s one of the biggest things I need to work on.
Q: Where’s your timing and connection with Jerome Simpson right now?
A: It’s good. I think we’ve had that chemistry ever since he got here and we need to keep working on it, but it’s good. I fully trust him. Obviously, he’s a heck of a receiver.
Q: Any value to you this weekend being able to get away?
A: Yeah, I think somewhat. It’s been eight games, plus the four preseason games, plus the five weeks in Mankato. I think it was good for everybody to take a step back, especially after a loss like that, and refocus and have a new energy coming into this week.
Q: Do you sense Jerome Simpson pressing trying to make a play? The one play that he fumbled, he’s just trying to fight for more yards.
A: Yeah, that’s just how he plays. He’s a competitor and he’s always trying to make big plays and we all need to a better job protecting the ball, that’s no fault to him, but I don’t think he’s pressing. I definitely think he wants the ball in his hands like everyone else does.
Q: Did you go to that Halloween party the other night?
Q: What was your costume?
A: We’re not going to go into that (laughs). Hopefully there are no pictures. It was fun. We had a good time.
Q: What was the best costume you saw?
A: There was a couple. There was a Shrek outfit. I’m not going to name names, but there were a couple ballerinas out there, which was very interesting. We had a fun time.
Q: Adrian painted himself green?
A: Yeah. I didn’t know how ripped he is until I saw him as the Hulk. That was unbelievable.
Q: You know there’s going to be pictures up, right?
A: I know, at some point, probably. Hopefully not for awhile.