Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon guys. It’s good to come back here on a Monday after a win, it’s a good feeling. We only had one injury in that ball game of any substance. I mentioned that yesterday and that was the concussion to A.J. [Jefferson]. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with him as he goes through the NFL protocol regarding concussions. Looking back at the tape and watching it with our coaches, terrific job by our football team. Really playing our style of football, Viking ball, all the way through. Tough, smart, disciplined football. It was a good team win. It’s so good to be able to see our team just come together and really unify to get a win against a very good opponent in front of our fans. Our fans did a terrific job throughout the game, keeping up some noise and making it tough for the opposing offense. For Adrian [Peterson] to do what he did, for Harrison [Smith] and Josh [Robinson] to come up with big plays on defense. Our special teams bottling up one of the best returners in pro football, just a good win for our team. A good way to come back home in front of our fans. So very, very proud of our staff and our players for the execution and effort in yesterdays ball game.
Q: Is Chris Cook in any position to slide in quickly if A.J. Jefferson can’t play?
A: No, we have about another week. I think we’ll be able to get him back for the Houston game. He’ll be able to practice more extensively this week and then he’s eligible to play when we get to Houston.
Q: Who is the next man up in that CB position if A.J. were out?
A: It would be Marcus [Sherels]. He would be the next guy on the field, and of course we have Brandon Burton as well. Between those two, they would get the bulk of the reps and we’ll define that as the week goes on.
Q: Is winning at home part of the progression of winning on the road?
A: You definitely have to find a way to win your home games. That’s important as you’re developing your team. We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on being able to be successful at home and we’ve gotten some good results. But the ultimate, to get to where we want to get as a team, we have to find ways to win on the road. You’ve got to win at home. It’s paramount to having success in our League and we’re doing that right now. We have to find ways to get some wins on the road.
Q: What is the common denominator to winning on the road?
A: If we can put together a clean football game where we are, for a change, plus when it comes to turnovers. When I look at our season and the games we’ve lost on the road, I think in every one of them we’ve been minus in the turnover battle. That’s created some problems for our team. Finding a way to be plus in the turnover ratio would be a big deal to us if we can execute the way we have. Even in some of our games on the road, we’ve executed well at times but we haven’t done a good job when it comes to winning that turnover battle and it’s cost us. Our margin for error is not very big so when that happens, it becomes problematic for our football team. I’d love for us to go on the road, play some clean football and see what the results would be. That’s kind of what happened in Detroit, I don’t think we had, if I can recall, any turnovers in that game. That’s the one win we’ve had on the road, and just see where things go from there.
Q: Do you sense anything between being indoors versus outdoors?
A: I don’t know, we haven’t won outdoors. The game we’re having this week is indoors so I don’t know.
Q: What are the biggest factors in getting turned around from last year’s 3-13 season?
A: You still go back to what we talked about coming into training camp, I think the offseason. Anything that we’ve achieved this season can be directly related to what we achieved going back to April 23rd when our guys came in the building, really focused on trying to improve our football team. To have the type of participation, you’ve heard me say this before, that we had from our team, was a big part of shaping our team and shaping our identity. That is what we kind of have laid the foundation with and we’re building off of that foundation. Now obviously we haven’t been perfect, but we are much improved because of what we did this offseason.
Q: Winning the way you are, do you think you’ll need to get more yardage through the air at some point?
A: We really take a lot of pride in playing the style of ball that we played yesterday and that we’ve had to play in some games where we’ve had some success. You look at the Arizona game, which was similar to yesterday’s, where we didn’t do a lot of things when it comes to throwing the ball, but we found a way to win. We’ve had two or three games like that and you can do it, but there are going to be some games where you could get in a situation where you have to do more in the passing game, but ideally for us, this is how we want to win games. We want to be able to run the ball effectively, throw the ball with play-action, with bootlegs. Every now and then, if someone is in an eight-man front, take a shot over the top like we did with (Devin) Aromashodu yesterday, we were just off a little bit. Then play solid defense and do very, very well on special teams, dominate on special teams. That formula, you can win championships with that formula. Now, what you can’t do is turn the ball over, because it creates some problems for you. I don’t feel comfortable at this point to say that we’re going to be a team that’s going to throw it 30 to 40 times and throw for close to 400 yards and win games. I just don’t see us being that type of team and that’s not the team we went to training camp saying that we wanted to be. We said we wanted to be able to run the ball effectively, stop the run, create turnovers, play tough, hard-nosed defense, win on every phase on special teams, don’t turn the ball over. That’s how we talked about it and yesterday, we saw kind of what we talked about.
Q: Are Christian’s struggles on throwing the deep pass due to mechanical problems? If so, how much of that can you work on during the season with him?
A: There are still some things that he does get a little off-kilter with his mechanics. We’ll keep working with him on his mechanics. That’s a major part of a quarterback’s success, whether it be moving around in the pocket, to the left, or stepping up or moving to the left or the right. All of those things are part of his being successful and we’re always working on his technique. We’re always working on his fundamentals at the position and we’ll continue to do that and we’ve seen some improvement, but we’ll continue to work to see more improvement, but he has to be comfortable in the pocket, he has to be sure of himself and he has to make certain throws in order for us to be successful. What he did in that fourth quarter on those third downs when we had some conversions between he and Michael (Jenkins), that was big for our football team because it allowed us to possess the football. We were in a backed up situation. I think we got the ball out to maybe the 50 or minus 45 and we ended up punting, but it was a major part of our being able to win that game yesterday, taking time off the clock, converting some key third downs at the quarterback position, and then getting them backed up to make them drive the length of the field and get back in the game. That efficient football, you can win with it if you don’t turn the ball over and what he did in that fourth quarter was a major part of our success yesterday.
Q: Is the pocket there for him consistently enough or is he feeling pressure that isn’t always there?
A: I think we’ve done a pretty good job in protection, for the most part. We’ve had some breakdowns on occasion but for the most part, we’ve done a pretty good job, and he’s stood in there. We just need to get him to be more consistent with staying in the pocket and going through his progressions and when he does that, he’s very good at what he does. We just have to continuously stay on him to do that and watch him grow at doing it.
Q: How much of a team goal is it to get Adrian to 2,000 yards?
A: I think when you get a chance to talk to Adrian this week, I’m sure he’ll say this. I’m sure he would love to achieve that personal goal but the most important goal for him is to see this team succeed. Adrian is the type of individual that, if he achieves a singular award but the team fails, that’s hard on him. He wants the team to be successful. That’s the kind of individual he is. He’s a rare superstar in that regard. He really wants the team to be successful and if that meant his not achieving a 2,000-yard season but we made the playoffs, I don’t think anybody on our team would be happier than Adrian Peterson. That’s who he is.
Q: It seems like he may need to reach 2,000 yards in order for you to make the playoffs?
A: I don’t know, we’ll see. We got the Rams coming up this week and you may have to win a different way this week. I don’t know. Every week is a little bit different but I know in order for us to be successful, we need to hand the ball off to number 28 and we’re going to continuously do that whether that means a 100-yard game or a 50-yard game, I don’t know, but we’re going to continue to hand it off to him.
Q: In the wake of the news that has come out of Kansas City and Dallas, as a coach, how do you react to that and do you talk to the players about situations like those?
A: That’s a good question. My heart goes out to the staffs and the families in Kansas City and now in Dallas, as well. We do talk to our players about some of the things that have occurred over the last couple of weekends. It’s a hard thing for everyone in our League and all the families across the country that are aware of what has happened, but we do talk to our players through our player development program, through our security. The NFL security comes in and talks to our players about a number of different factors off the football field and yes, personally, I do talk to our players about their behavior in the building, out of the building, what our standards are. We have a Code Of Conduct here with the Minnesota Vikings that we take our players through. During the season, in light of what has most recently happened, I have talked to our guys and we’re going to talk to them again this week about taking care of themselves away from the building. Those were tragic situations and your heart goes out to the people that were involved, but yes, we do constantly talk to our players about their behavior.
Q: With so much of Adrian Peterson’s success coming against eight- and nine-man fronts, are there times where you don’t even bother worrying about that because he’s been able to run through that?
A: We really don’t worry about that. When we put our game plan together tomorrow for the Rams, we’re going to draw it up against eight- and nine-man fronts. We’re anticipating it, but we also try to do some things to take advantage of that in the passing game and even in the run game because we know if we can crease them just a little bit, there’s a chance for a big play because they have so many people committed at the line of scrimmage and we’ve seen the results of that because of what teams are doing. The other side of that, we need those explosive plays because that can create a gap between us and the opposing team from a point standpoint if we can convert. That’s why the play to Jarius [Wright] down the field or the play to Devin [Aromashodu] down the field would have been so big for us yesterday to create that gap that we want. We’ll continue to do that, but we anticipate eight- and nine-man fronts each and every week.
Q: Did Christian Ponder check out of that much to go to that pass? Does he have the flexibility to do that?
A: He does. He does have the flexibility to check out of some of those runs if we get a certain look from a defense and we’ve been able to take advantage of some situations because of that.
Q: With all of the moving parts in the run game, what do Jerome Felton’s contributions mean this year?
A: Jerome has done a terrific job. Our offensive line, obviously, has done a great job in opening up some holes for Adrian. Kudos to those guys, but Jerome at the fullback position is an unsung hero. We’re playing a lot more two-back than we played a season ago and it’s really helped us. We went into this offseason saying that we wanted to be able to find a fullback to really be a lead blocker for Adrian because we felt like some of his best runs have come when he had a lead blocker. Now he might differ from that, but you put the tape on and you see that’s true. Jerome has done a terrific job of doing everything we’ve asked him to do as a lead blocker and he’s had a lot to do with the success we’ve had running the football.
Q: What are the adjustments Adrian has had to make because he’s said he prefers to be in the backfield by himself?
A: I don’t know if there are any adjustments. He’s doing the things that need to be done and he’s become a much more patient runner with a guy in front of him than he had been in the past. That’s probably been the biggest difference and the fact that Jerome is so good at what he does, I’m sure when you talk to Adrian he’ll say he appreciates that because he’s had a lot of success running behind him this season.
Q: You were in the League when Eric Dickerson set the single season rushing record. Would you compare their styles at all?
A: I know Coach [John] Robinson gave it to him a lot and we’re doing the same thing with Adrian. Both guys were extremely fast and very motivated to run the ball and run it well. I think the styles are somewhat similar, but the power that Adrian runs with combined with the speed is rare. When I think of Eric I think of a guy who was more graceful and getting on the edge and outrunning people, but when you see Adrian running through tackles, stiff-arming guys, running around guys, juking guys. He’s so rare. Eric was a great runner, a Hall of Famer, and Adrian is on his way to being in the Hall of Fame as well.