Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
I’m going to give you an injury update. Jasper Brinkley had a little AC sprain. He ended up finishing the game but he’ll be a little sore when we get back on Wednesday. Phil Loadholt had a little knee inflammation, should be fine for the game. Adrian [Peterson] had a shoulder strain during the course of the game so we’ll have to monitor his progress over the course of the week. Shouldn’t be a problem as far as getting ready for the ball game. Both Kyle [Rudolph] and Harrison [Smith] are still being evaluated for concussion syndromes. They have to go through the procedure regarding that. No real update regarding Percy [Harvin]. We’ll learn more as he goes through some of the things that (Head Athletic Trainer) Eric Sugarman and the rest of our training staff take him through, but no updates regarding Percy. Other than that, came out pretty healthy. We didn’t play good football. To go on the road, there are certain things you have to be able to do. One of the things that we talked about emphasizing during the week was not turning the ball over. They ended up getting 15 points off of turnovers in the first half, which was a problem for us. We really struggled with third downs, being able to convert third downs and maintain possession of the ball and stay on the field. In turn, on defense, we struggled as well, in particularly in the first half, with being able to get off the field on third down. You combine that with what we did in the red zone on offense when we had a couple opportunities in the red zone. One time we come up with a field goal after a turnover, the next time we come back we’re in the red zone again, we get a field goal blocked, which could have been big for us. They get turnovers and they end up scoring. We really didn’t do a lot of things we talked about that we had to do in order to win against a good team on the road and the result of it is we walk off the field really disappointed in our performance and the way we played. We know we have to play better all the way across the board. We have to do a better job from a game plan standpoint in putting our players in a better position to make plays. When you have an opportunity to make plays, you still have to make plays. The number of dropped passes we had yesterday is really unacceptable in our League. It’s hard to continue drives when you don’t catch the football. That’s part of what you have to be able to do as a wide receiver in our League. The drops were not good, they hurt our continuity and our ability to be able to move the football. We have a lot of work to do, a lot to get done. I have a lot to get done to get our team back refocused on the task at hand, this next ball game. We have some work to do.
Q: What can you learn from the turnovers?
A: You take a look at the ones that we had and it really wasn’t anything they did. They’re just an opportunistic football team. The two that Adrian [Peterson] had, one was a non-contact fumble. The other one, I think a guy was tackling him and the ball came out. The interception, we got a guy that’s there, we overthrow the ball. So credit to them, but also the fact that we didn’t execute when we had chances to execute in those situations. We didn’t do what we needed to do to protect the football.
Q: What happened on Adrian Peterson’s first fumble?
A: I don’t think he was too deep, it’s just that his elbow or arm got hit and the ball came out. It was similar to what happened with their running back on the first play, arm got hit and the ball came out. We have to find a way to, especially there on the road, protect the football.
Q: Is your defense playing as physical as they did earlier on this season?
A: You look at the success some teams have had running the ball and usually if people can run the ball on you, maybe you’re not as physical as you were before. I think we’re still a physical defense, we’re just not making some of the plays we were making earlier in the season. We have to get back to making some of those game-changing plays. I think we’re still a physical group, we’re just not making some of the plays you need to make.
Q: Is there something you can account for on the dropped passes?
A: I can’t recall us having that many drops in a ball game at so many different positions. We’re going to go back and look at some things fundamentally we’ll work on this week. It’s hard to put together some drives when you’re killing yourself with drops. It’s hard to overcome for us as a team. We’ll go back and do some drills and do some different things to try to help our guys hold on to the football.
Q: How much do those deflate you emotionally?
A: When your teammates see those opportunities disappear, it affects the entire team. It affects the guys on the field, affects the guys on the sideline. They see the opportunities and then they
disappear. It has an effect.
Q: With all the third downs that the Bears converted, what kind of toll does that take when it’s not a major gashing, just little things here and there?
A: You hate for a team to be able to possess the ball as long as they did in that drive with third-and-2, third-and-1, so many short-yardage situations for an offense. You have to find a way to make a play along the way to get off the field and we didn’t and it hurt us, obviously, in that second quarter when they put together that drive. But still, there were other opportunities during the course of the game where you have an opportunity to get off the field and we just were not very successful in doing that, particularly in the first half. It wears on you, but as a professional, you have to be able to overcome it. You have to get ready for the next series. If it results in a touchdown, you want to limit it to a field goal, but it resulted in a touchdown yesterday.
Q: Did their blocked field goal lift them up? It seemed like they dominated from that point.
A: It was a big point in the ball game. That was a big play. It was a chance for us to get it to 10-6 or tie it up at 10 all and we came away with nothing. It was an equivalent to a turnover for the emotion that it creates for the opposing team. It was a big part of the game and you hate to see it happen.
Q: The team seemed to embrace the importance of this game last week. Why didn’t that translate on Sunday?
A: We had had some chances. You don’t want to start the game off with a sack, for sure. Then our defense goes out and forces a turnover right away, first play of the game. That lifts your spirits. Now, you want to finish with a touchdown. You’re on the road, it’s a chance for us to do what we talked about, quiet the crowd down early and we didn’t do that. From a defensive standpoint, that’s a victory if they hold you to a field goal when they’re starting at plus-28 or plus-27. Then we come right back after our defense stops them again, and then we turn the ball over, which is what they feed off of. That’s where there energy derives from. We did the opposite of what we should have done to start that game. Our energy level and our focus was where it needed to be, but you can’t turn the ball over and you have to capitalize on red zone opportunities with touchdowns on the road. We’ve seen this happen early in the season and it happened against yesterday and it’s hurt us, it’s hurt us on the road. We’re going on the road again this week so we have to do something different.
Q: You have a similar situation with a division opponent on the road. What do you see that didn’t go right against the Bears that you would like to fix going into Green Bay?
A: They’re two different teams. Although they are both in our division, their style of play is completely different than the other. It’s really more about our team than the Green Bay Packers. We have to get some things fixed within our team and what we have to get done in order to play better and this is a very good opponent, a different opponent. There are some things that we have to look at to get fixed internally so we can go out and play better in this next ball game.
Q: Outside of the interception, how did you evaluate Christian Ponder’s play?
A: I thought he did some good things at times. You know you want to be consistently good all the way through the ball game. He had some good moments. He had some moments, I’m sure when you get a chance to talk with him he’ll tell you he wishes he could have done differently. For us, it’s important that we get consistent good play from the quarterback position. Yesterday, we were a little bit inconsistent and it hurt us at times.
Q: Christian’s first throw to Kyle Rudolph over the middle got tipped. Was he overcompensating when he was throwing high later on?
A: He had a couple different reads there. He chose Kyle as an option and elevated the throw a little bit and we weren’t able to connect. It wasn’t a bad read. We did have a couple of options on that play, but that was the choice that he made and then it was a matter of ‘Can we connect?’
Q: When Brandon Fusco struggles, what do you notice is wrong with him?
A: More the footwork and sometimes getting top-heavy, leaning a little bit too much one way or another and just losing some of his fundamentals as an offensive guard, some things that, technically, he’ll get off on at times and then it creates problems for our offense, whether it’s the run game or the pass game. When he’s on, he’s a very good player but there are moments where he is just a little off from a fundamental standpoint.
Q: Have you talked to Adrian about when he arrived at the stadium yesterday and is that an isolated thing or has that been a repeated issue?
A: We talked and it has not been something that has come up in the past, but we definitely have talked.
Q: How big or small of a deal is that?
A: Any time one of your leaders is not where he is supposed to be, it’s not good. I talk to our team all the time about being where you’re supposed to be and being where you’re supposed to be on time. It’s a big deal.
Q: Did he have an explanation?
A: The conversation itself we’ll keep between he and I but we have talked about it and hopefully it will never happen again. Can’t see why it would. Hopefully it never happens again.
Q: When did you get in touch with him and know where he was and how he was getting there?
A: I knew when we left. He’s Adrian Peterson, so I know if he’s on or not on.
Q: Did you talk to him on the phone at all when you were on the bus?
Q: What was your assessment of the defensive line and the pass rush yesterday?
A: We could have done better but some of the way the game went, we couldn’t get them into the pure drop-back situations. Lot of bootlegs, short passing game, I think their longest pass, they had one long pass, I think it was like 17 yards, maybe 20 yards, lot of five and six-yard passes and trying to run after the catch. We didn’t get them into the type of game we needed to take advantage of what we thought was an opportunity for our defensive line. A lot of factors involved in that over the course of the game but they did a good job. They had a good plan and we weren’t able to take advantage of something we thought we could.
Q: It looked like they had a lot of five-man protections early in the game. Did they send more guys out on patterns than you were expecting?
A: No, they started the game off chipping with the tight end and with the back, doing what we thought they would do early on but the style of passing game was different than what they had used the week before or the week before that. They really shortened some things down, which was smart. They did the right things to do and there is a way to combat that and you need to maintain possession of the ball, you need to put some points on the board and make them throw the ball down the field and then we have to be very, very good against the run, but we got into too many third-and-shorts. That’s to the offense’s advantage. We have to do better on first and second down and if we do get into third-and-short, we have to win our share of them. We didn’t win our share of them yesterday.
Q: Was Adrian missing the bus a distraction to the team?
A: I don’t know. I think everybody is pretty focused on their job and what they had to do. I’m not even sure how many guys really knew that he wasn’t on the bus. I’m not sure. I think our guys were focused on their jobs and what they had to do.
Q: Is there anything you can point to with breakdowns on third-down defense?
A: No one particular thing. I know one thing, we have to get people in more third-and-longs. The third-and-shorts, you feel like if you can win 50 percent of those, you’re doing pretty good, so you have to get into more third-and-seven to 10s, third-and-10-plus. We’re not doing that right now. When we have been able to do that, our percentage is very good, but the third-and-two to sixes, we’re not very good right now.
Q: Are Jerome Simpson’s drops due to lack of concentration or does he let one drop lead to another?
A: Drops are a little bit of a concentration issue and if you’re concentration is not on the next play, if you’re thinking about the previous play, it can affect the next play, so you really want to concentrate on this particular play. What to attribute the drops to? I don’t know. I don’t know if I could say it’s him thinking about what happened before or what, but I know that he can catch the football. He’s shown he can catch the football on a consistent basis and he’s got to do that. We really wanted him to make some plays for us yesterday and the drops really, really affected us.
Q: Based on what the official said, it sounds like he got buzzed twice on the Mistral Raymond fumble return for a touchdown. There were two and a half minutes that went by between those. Are you going to look for clarification from the League on that?
A: I’m sure the League will talk to us about it and explain the whole process and the procedure. They always do.