THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2013
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Good morning. Week Two, going on the road again, of course we’re looking forward to it and looking forward to coming back here 1-1.
Q: When you look at the offensive line play, did you see anything that trickled over from the preseason in terms of a little sluggishness?
A: I don’t know about the exact mistakes, but still too many mistakes. In preseason we were not playing our best and we’re still working to improve some of those corrections and a couple of the uncharacteristic mistakes did show up and, of course, they did hurt us ultimately.
Q: Matt Kalil talked about how he needs to pick it up this week against Julius Peppers. Do you think he’s ready for that?
A: We do. We share his sentiments. All of us need to step it up a little bit. I’m glad to hear that Matt said that. We’re all in this together and Matt certainly has taken responsibility for his shortcomings in the loss on Sunday, so we’re all ready to do exactly as he described.
Q: With the problems after Adrian Peterson’s long run, was he rusty on his reads or was it a blocking issue? How do you attribute that?
A: I think the defensive front proved tough to block. We did miss some blocks. We had some negative runs which is uncharacteristic. Usually when we run it with Adrian once, twice, three times in a row we end up in third and manageable or we have ourselves a first down. On Sunday in Detroit when we would run it, we ended up with minus yardage and that’s uncharacteristic for us, so it’s a combination of us not doing as well as we would expect and also Detroit playing very well.
Q: How does Chicago’s defensive line compare to Detroit’s? They seem pretty stout.
A: They do. We’re going to find out. Most NFL D-lines have terrific people up front and everyone is fresh this time of year, we’re going to see their best and we’re going to need to play our best.
Q: If a quarterback has a tough game, are you more likely to adjust things to make him more comfortable or to push him to do more?
A: Depends on the situation, but an easy answer would be to say it’s a combination of both. We have a young guy that has made a bunch of good plays in the short time that he’s been here. He’s also had his mistakes so we’re of the mindset of continuing to push him. We’re on the demanding side, and I know he’s on the demanding side of himself too, so we want to keep pushing and working for development.
Q: How did you analyze his turnovers last week? Was he put in tough positions?
A: He definitely was put in some tough positions and that’s part of the art of quarterbacking, is knowing what to do when it’s not there. Christian is a very prideful young man. He never gives up on anything. He’s what you would term as a battler so when a play transpires in which it’s not going to come off as designed, at times he has a tough time swallowing his pride and giving up on the play and ditching it and saying, ‘I’ll come back the next play.’ He wants to give it every last moment of availability. And that’s what happened the other day instead of ditching it and moving on, trying to make something that really wasn’t there.
Q: On the roll left, is he comfortable with that or is that something you might want to re-examine?
A: Well I can think of a number of times in which he’s made terrific throws going to his left. First play that he every started a game a couple years ago his rookie year would be one. But we’re always working to be better, you’re right.
Q: Is Jerome Simpson one thing to be encouraged about, being able to show that speed?
A: Jerome made some terrific plays for us. We definitely had our moments as an offense, they were just too few and far between, but Jerome was a part of our moments that we want to build upon.
Q: Did you go into the game thinking Jerome could emerge as your top target given the matchups?
A: We were going to put him in position to do so. We didn’t get through a lot of our game plan when you run less than 20 plays in the first half and end up with maybe the low 40s before we got into two-minute mode. We didn’t get through very much of our game plan. We weren’t on the field enough so it’s definitely a feeling of unfullfilment throughout the whole offense. Jerome did have his moments and that was a bright spot.
Q: Was there stuff that you had in the game plan for Cordarrelle Patterson that you didn’t have a chance to get into to?
A: Most definitely, not only for Cordarrelle, but for Greg Jennings, for Kyle, for everybody. Everybody knows their role and they’re all going to be a big time contributor for us. We want to be on the field so we can do it. It’s tough to do it from the sideline.
Q: Is Patterson pretty much only going to be on the field when you have three receivers or is he going to play in two receiver sets?
A: Both, he’ll be in there with two, three, one wide, all of the above.
Q: Is there something he needs to do to earn more playing time?
Q: What were your impressions of Zach Line?
A: Good, I think we threw him one ball and he did a nice job. I’m very comfortable with him and confident in his ability to be in there.
Q: How well did he block?
A: Good, I’m very confident in Zach.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
Good day today. Walk through is short yardage, goal line, red zone in terms of what we are practicing and the big thing is third down, making we get off the field on third down so we don’t let teams have sustained drives. Again, I think the guys are tuned in, wired in, especially with the opponent that we have, a division opponent and close to us so we are looking forward to a sharp practice today, one that’s spirited and the guys are dialed into their assignments.
Q: What do you think happened in the middle of the defensive line against Detroit?
A: I’m not sure if it was necessarily just the middle of the defense. The safeties, the linebackers, everyone is really responsible so you’d have to ask me what call or what play specifically and I’d let you know, but overall I’d say each one of them it would be the entire defense that’s responsible.
Q: Was there anything on Bush’s touchdown that stuck out that maybe you guys could have done better?
A: Really just get it on the ground. They had a decent play dialed up but we had some free bodies that took some poor angles to the football and that’s important. We always talk about hustling to the football but you want to hustle and run smart with good angles and that’s one thing we can improve on is the angles that we take to the football because there are some free hitters on that play.
Q: Do you think facing Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall is a similar challenge to facing Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson?
A: I do. Very similar. Marshall is in his own right a very good wide receiver and does it all for them, certainly Jay Cutler’s go-to guy when he needs a play and Forte is equally as good. He runs the ball effectively, he’s a slasher insider and outside, he’s a tough runner. The one thing that he does well opposite the run game is he’s a good route runner. He has soft hands. They split him out wide and in this case he is not a decoy. They throw the ball to him underneath and up over the top so that’s one that both guys are guys that you have to account for.
Q: Do you think that some of the struggles this team faces at Chicago has to do with the environment of the stadium?
A: We have to tackle better, keep our gaps better. Any time you let a team run and throw the ball effectively usually it’s a long day and that’s what happened against Detroit. We have to try to make this team one dimensional. We can’t let them throw the ball any time they want and run the ball down our throat. So we have to do better in the run game. We’ve always prided ourselves here in playing stout run defense and we didn’t do that last week. So we have to make sure we tie up some loose ends and get back to stopping the run and not giving up big plays in the passing game.
Q: Do you see rushing numbers being as low as they are to continue as a trend?
A: I’m not sure. I know the fans like it a lot but I think when you’re one dimensional and you leave yourself out there to be exposed, and I’m a defensive guy and I still think you need to run the football, but we’ll see how it goes. I still think teams would like to be balanced so that they keep the defenses off track.
Q: How do you change the approach to coaching guys that just don’t have a lot of experience in the league?
A: You try not to change it a whole bunch. You still want to be able to run your defense but you’re always cognizant of not overloading guys with just too many tips, too many things that bog them down. You don’t want paralysis by analysis, you want a guy to be able to go out there and use his athletic ability, use his God-given abilities. So you just have to be careful about how much information you give them, how many tips you give them in terms of alignments and what the offense does and the word we use is “habitized”. You want a guy to build some habits so that when they go out and they’re playing that they know that, “Hey my assignment, my keys will take me to the ball and I don’t have to think about too much”. So really just be careful about how much information you give a guy.
Q: Does that affect your play calling?
A: No, not at all. I would say that like an older guy you can just give him more keys and different things but not in terms of what I call. Our defense is pretty standard in terms of what we do so we don’t have to change that around.
Q: How did Josh Robinson grade out in the Detroit game?
A: Pretty well. I thought he tackled well, he carried out his assignments well. There is room for improvement with those things that we just talked about. Teams have some keys, teams have some tips that will take you to the play a little bit faster and I think the more reps that he gets the faster that he’ll carry out his assignments. He’s getting comfortable in there and every week is a little bit new in terms of what teams do. He has a ways to go in terms of I think just feeling completely comfortable in there and letting his athletic ability shine.
Q: How do you think the Bears offense has changed under the new coaching staff?
A: It’s tough to say how much is going to change because we don’t have a lot of data to say what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. They still have concepts that are in place from last year that were good for them and they have some new concepts that (Marc) Trestman used previously as well as the offensive line coach that’s there now. It’s tough to say what their true identity is going to be and what they’re going to morph into so to speak. So we just have to see what the four games in the preseason and this last ball game as well as kind of try and hunt and peck for some of the things that they did previously when he was a coordinator and just see. The number one thing is that we have to really worry about ourselves and again tackle well, pursue to the ball, play situational football and I think if we do that we’ll be in good shape.
Q: Does Cutler’s quick release negate the pass rush?
A: He gets rid of the ball whether it be the ones that are down the field or the quick rhythm three-step plays. He does an unbelievable job of getting the ball out of his hands and when you’re close and even when you have a hand on him, he’s Houdini. He escapes and gets out of there and runs the ball as well. He’s a formidable opponent.
Q: How much will it help potentially having Kevin Williams back?
A: I think he will be ready. Just having the experience of a guy out there that has seen it before and not only that but Kevin is still a good football player and his leadership and when the guys look at another guy like that in the huddle it gives them confidence that we’re going to get the job done. I can’t measure it, Kevin being back. We’re glad he’s there. I talked to him when we came back from Detroit and he said it was hard on him to be out of that ball game and I think as hard as it was on him it was harder for me not seeing him out there in the middle.
Q: What were your thoughts on Marvin Mitchell in the Detroit game?
A: Did well. I wish there would have been a little bit more base [defense]. I’ve liked what Marvin has done for us at the Will linebacker spot. I know this is not going to be that type of ball game so Marvin will be on the field more with this group. They want to run the ball and they want to make sure they are a balanced attack so Marvin will get more snaps this week.
Vikings Special Team Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: How does Devin Hester compare to other guys you’ve prepared for?
A: Ranks number one. There’s no one even close. He’s in an elite class, he’s in a class by himself because of what he’s done in his past. People have asked me this week, even during the offseason, ‘Has he slowed down a bit?’ I don’t think so. I think he’s just as dangerous as he’s ever been.
Q: What makes him so dangerous?
A: Speed, elusiveness, on punt returns he can always make the first guy miss. He’s got better vision than any returner I’ve ever had to prepare for. He can see things long before they happen and he can set things up and set up the coverage team and he can see what’s going to happen before anyone else can. He’s unique and very rare in that instance.
Q: You have a challenge trying to get a new punter prepared for him. What do you tell Jeff Locke to be aware of?
A: I told Jeff this week, so far he had a great day yesterday. He got some confidence back which is good and that’s what he needed. I think he was a bit nervous on Sunday. Even though we were indoors, I think it was just under the lights in the NFL for the first time. I’m not making excuses for him, nor would I, and he wouldn’t do that himself. When you prepare for a great returner like Devin [Hester], and you have to prepare for an outdoor game, I’m glad it’s not in December or November. I think you just have to go back to what’s made you a good punter. His fundamentals, his leg strength, believing in his drop and believing in his leg swing, and that’s what we emphasized to him this week.
Q: He said he thought his steps were off, is that your analysis?
A: They were, absolutely. I saw it during the game and I think it was too late to fix it at that point. We could try to fix it and we could try to tweak it, but that’s what I noticed and I told him basically to go back to what he was doing in pregame and he struggled a bit obviously.
Q: Do you think that he was rushing a little bit?
A: Probably, trying to rush it a little bit. The protection was okay, could be a little bit better. We have to improve there as well. It’s a whole process for our punt team. The good thing is, and I told him during the game and after the game when we watched the tape together, was that our coverage team covered very, very well. I was excited about that. These guys are going to cover, they’re going to play hard and he needs to help us out so we can help our defensive field position. We did not do that on Sunday.
Q: Has your opinion changed about guys coming out on returns?
A: Has my opinion changed from last year? Not really. It depends who your returner is back there. I think Devin [Hester] is going to bring every one of them he can out and I’d like to think we would too. Depending on the game situation we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to get after folks and hopefully do what we do.
Q: Was Cordarrelle Patterson getting frustrated that he didn’t get to return any last Sunday?
A: No and you know what, that’s a great question because on the sideline after the what, five in a row were touchbacks, I was waiting for him to get frustrated. I had my little ‘don’t be frustrated’ talk ready and I didn’t have to use it because he was locked in and he was ready to roll. He just knew that when he gets his opportunities he needs to be ready for them.
Q: Are you very comfortable with him 8, 9 yards deep just bringing it out?
A: Depending on the hang time, if it’s there. Depending on the situation, we’re not just going to do it just to do it. We’re not about stats, we’re about field position and helping our team win games and that’s what it’s all about. We feel that a guy like him, because he is a game changer in our opinion and that’s one of the reasons why we drafted him, that he’s a pretty special guy so hopefully we get him some more opportunities this week.
Q: In most instances, would you just tell Jeff Locke out of bounds, don’t even let Devin Hester get it?
A: Again, depending on the game situation and depending how he’s hitting the ball, I think, I don’t know what the Detroit punter was told but he struggled a bit probably trying to put it in the corner type thing. The ball went out of bounds at 22 yards and 29 yards and I think that’s what can happen with a lot of young punters. If you tell them, ‘I want it out of bounds, it’s Devin Hester’, next thing you know it goes 22 yards and you don’t want that either. So there’s a fine line between how much coaching you do in terms of how much direction you want to use. To me if it’s high and it’s good hang time and decent distance, we should be okay.
Q: How is Jeff Locke with direction?
A: You know what, that’s one of the things we really liked about him coming out of UCLA. He was a very good directional punter and I think it’s a work in progress right now. It’s a little bit easier to directional kick in college because the hashes are so far over towards the sideline compared to the NFL. He’s going to continue to work on it and I think we need to make that a weapon for us when we’re at home.
Q: All the touchbacks that you’re seeing, does it put more of a premium on when you do get that one opportunity that just hangs in there to try to make the most of it?
A: Yeah, you try not to think of it that way but I think it boils down to it. We may not get many opportunities, Robbie Gould had five touchbacks a week ago, he’s five for five. We’re going to prepare and plan like we always do, that we’re going to get some opportunities and if they arise, if they come up then great. If not, then you can’t be frustrated, that’s the NFL, that’s the way the League has changed limiting the amount of kickoff returns. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.