Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Injury wise, John Carlson, we do expect to have him back on Wednesday. He’s going to see a doctor today but we’re expecting positive news regarding John, so it will be good to have him back. Percy [Harvin] did an MRI, found out that he does have an ankle sprain, no fracture or anything like that. He’ll probably be day-to-day throughout the week. We’re hoping to have him on Sunday but it’s too early to tell. Letroy Guion has turf toe, so we’ll have to keep an eye on how he does as the week goes on as well. Letroy and Percy are probably the two guys that are most in jeopardy of playing this weekend. As I mentioned, we do expect to get John back. Other than that, we came out pretty good health-wise. The game itself, after watching the tape and going through it, disappointed in a lot of ways. Thought we played much better in a lot of areas. Really pleased with the production of Adrian [Peterson] and the offensive line, opening up holes, along with our tight ends, did a great job of blocking. That was a good run defense that we faced yesterday and to see Adrian have the type of day that he had, very, very impressive. The down side of it, we weren’t able to balance out a great rushing day with a more potent passing attack. We struggled in the passing game, we struggled a couple games here now and we know in order for us to achieve our goals as a team, we have to create some balance on offense and take advantage of our ability to run the football as well as we can. That’s what we’ll be striving for this week in practice, we know that it’s imperative to get that corrected and get it going. Defensively, our run defense doesn’t resemble the type of run defense we’re capable of playing. We have to go back to the drawing board and come up with some ways to defend the run better than what we’re doing. We’ve got to look at some things and try to get things corrected and really almost start from square one when it comes to our rush defense. It’s not up to par by any means and fortunately for us our special teams did a good job in a lot of areas. They had a good returner and our special teams held up well. Blair [Walsh] did a great job as well and Chris [Kluwe] has improved also. But, our play obviously wasn’t good enough to win on the road. When you turn the ball over and you play the type of run defense we played and you don’t create any balance on offense throwing the football on the road, you’re in for a tough day. It turned out to be that way for us.
Q: Last week you talked about guys getting out of their gaps as a problem with the run defense, didn’t it look like it was more of missed tackles and physically getting beat?
A: We had some missed tackles for sure and we had some occasions where we still were not where we needed to be sometimes in some of our fronts. Don’t want to keep coming back on Mondays and talking about our run defense, so we have to figure it out. We had a combination of things that created some problems for us.
Q: Did you feel like your defensive tackles were getting pushed back?
A: There were some times, particularly in that four-minute situation, when they had the ball with maybe five minutes and something to go and we couldn’t get the push that we needed on defense to get off the field when we knew they were going to run the ball. That’s a demoralizing time when that happens. We have to do better.
Q: There will be a lot of negativity surrounding the team this week, how do you think they’ll handle that and how will you address that with the team?
A: I’ll talk with them this afternoon and just remind them of where we are in the season. There is nothing declared at this point of the season, there’s a lot of football to be played. There are teams that will go through bumps in the road along the way, some have already experienced some of that and been able to bounce back. We hit a little bit of adversity here but it’s nothing that we can’t overcome. We just have to do a good job of internally looking at ourselves, both as a coaching staff and as players and get things figured out. We are really still in control of our own destiny. We have an opportunity playing at home this weekend where we can right the ship if we approach this week the right way in practice and in our preparation. The sky isn’t falling. There are some things that we have to get fixed for sure to get things going back in the right direction. When we were playing tough, smart, aggressive football early on, we have to get back to that, playing physical ball and playing smart, but there’s time.
Q: As you’re evaluating the passing attack today, what factors are you weighing, in terms of protection, Christian Ponder’s performance, receivers getting open?
A: That’s kind of the way we approached it this morning when we were talking about it. We’ll go into more detail today and tomorrow with our coaches and with our players, as well. But we were looking at both protection, as well as what we’re doing route-wise, and also what we’re doing schematically, when people are lining up and playing press coverage outside and single-high safeties, just some of the things we’re doing schematically and what we have to do to uncover our wide receivers. Also, what we’re asking our quarterback to do when we are getting that type of coverage from teams that are so bent on stopping the run. So we have to peel it back a little bit and figure out what we need to do to take advantage of what we’re going to see probably for a while until we show we can consistently complete passes.
Q: Are there problems with the route running at this point?
A: There are some things we have to look at. Some of the things we’re asking our guys to do route-wise, as well as are we putting them in the best position to be successful? Are we doing a good enough job protecting with some of the things we’re asking them to do?
Q: Is there a point with Christian, confidence-wise, it might help to take him out for a period so he can take a step back and take a breath?
A: I really haven’t thought about pulling him from a game, or taking him out for a series or anything like that. We do some things preparation-wise during the course of the week to prepare him for just about every situation that he sees and it comes back to us being able to execute when we’re put in certain situations. But no, no thought has gone into pulling him to be able to stand back and look at things.
Q: Does he seem like the same guy confidence-wise as he was early in the season?
A: Yeah, in our verbal communications, yes. He seems confident in what he’s being asked to do and what he’s capable of getting done. It’s just a matter of getting it done on the field now. In our conversations, he does seem confident.
Q: You mentioned looking at schemes, how much of a factor do you think that is, because it seems like that bubble screen is getting covered up quite often?
A: That’s part of it, just being able to see how people have adjusted to some of the things we had success with early in the season. Now we have to offset some of the things we’re seeing beginning to pop up. It’s not complicated, we just have to do a better job of figuring out ways to offset what people are doing to take some of our strengths away. We need to get it done.
Q: Why is it so hard to get the ball to Kyle Rudolph?
A: We had some things called yesterday that we thought would get the ball to him and they didn’t materialize. The good thing about Kyle’s game yesterday, he did a great job in blocking which really helped set up some of those nice runs that Adrian had. We do want him included in our pass game, we had some things set up for him, it didn’t happen. Partially because of coverage, partially sometimes because of the rush and sometimes we just didn’t find him. We want him involved. We have to figure out a way to get him involved.
Q: Did you get a grade severity with Percy Harvin’s ankle? Was it a high ankle or your typical ankle sprain?
A: It’s not high ankle. They didn’t give me a grade on it, but they told me he would be day-to-day, but no grade. It’s not high ankle, which is good.
Q: When Percy was clearly mad about things on the sideline, how much do you like to see that and how much do you have to talk with him privately about his demeanor?
A: We have a lot of competitive guys on our team that want to win and want to see things happen for our team and he’s one of them. I appreciate his competitiveness. There’s a way to communicate and he and I have talked about some of that. We’ll continue to work on that.
Q: Is he upset with Ponder or is he upset with the play calling or what was going through his mind?
A: He just wants to win. We were struggling with some things and he had frustration along with a lot of us. We felt like we could do more than what we did yesterday. Just frustration with our not being successful.
Q: Have you seen specific problems when it comes to protection and picking up blitzes?
A: They had, I think, maybe one pressure that came, that they were able to get a sack on yesterday, one, maybe two. We had good enough protection on one of them, Christian stepped up and I think a defensive back fell off and ended up getting the tackle. For the most part, we did a good job against the pressures that they brought yesterday. I don’t think it was a major issue for us. We just didn’t find a way to complete balls on a consistent basis and converting third downs to keep the chains moving, especially in the second half, so the pressures weren’t a major factor yesterday.
Q: Are some of the issues Christian is having the same issues that he was having four or five weeks ago when things first started to go downhill?
A: I don’t know if going back four or five weeks ago, I think the last couple of weeks, there have been some things, two or three weeks, that have come up that we need to keep working on, not only with him, but our entire offense, to get better production out of our pass game. He knows there are some things he needs to improve on but there are also some things throughout our passing game that we have to get corrected in order to help him be successful. That will be the challenge for all of us as we prepare for this Detroit game, because like everybody we’re seeing of late, they’re going to load the box and dare us to complete balls down the field, so we’ll have to do some things to offset that. It’s not just what Christian is doing or not doing, but some of the things that we’re doing as a whole.
Q: Is the knee an issue with Christian’s accuracy?
A: The (Devin) Aromashodu, I think that ball was slightly deflected and ended up getting behind the receiver. On the bubble screen, that’s one that he completes, you’d like to say 10 out of 10 times, but he didn’t that time. He’s completed that with high accuracy throughout the season. For whatever reason, that ball sailed on him. Got to get his feet set, got to make that throw. He’s made that throw.
Q: Is his knee an issue though?
A: He hasn’t complained about his knee. I don’t think it’s an issue. Our doctors haven’t told me that it is a problem for him and he hasn’t complained about it.
Q: Did he get nicked up? He got up hobbling a couple of times.
A: He did get nicked up a little bit yesterday.
Q: Did you ever tell Joe Webb to get ready?
A: There was a moment where he (Ponder) got up a little slow where we did alert Joe, you know, ‘Be ready,’ but he got through it and went back out there and continued to play.
Q: Even when the protection is there, are there times where he doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket?
A: There are times where he needs to stay in the pocket a little bit longer. He needs to be patient and there are other times where he does exactly what we’ve asked him to do, but there are times where, for whatever reason, he’ll pull it down maybe a second too soon and we’ve got to work through that, just give those routes a chance to uncover.
Q: What is that usually indicative of?
A: If you’re getting a lot of pressure, usually that will create that. You’ll start seeing things when they’re not true, but we haven’t had consistent pressure. We have had some moments where there has been pressure but we have to help him. We have to figure out what is creating that when it does happen and help him to get past it.
Q: How much of that is his confidence in his accuracy?
A: At our level, it’s not going to be very often where guys are going to be completely wide open on a consistent basis, so part of being a good quarterback at our level is throwing into tight windows and he’s capable of doing that. We’ve all seen him do it and we just have to consistently do it because there are going to be opportunities in this game on Sunday that we’ll have to take advantage of.