Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning. Definitely a different venue from where we usually are but it’s a place I’m very familiar with. Tough loss for us yesterday and watching the tape doesn’t change that. Difficult for us in some ways but I saw some things in our players after the ball game and even with our coaches that give me some hope about how to improve our situation. From the injury standpoint, nothing really changed at this point from yesterday. A.J. Jefferson, Chris Cook, and Jamarca Sanford are all going to get their MRI’s and we’ll get an update as the day goes on. There may be some other guys that have some bumps and bruises that we’ll have to deal with and report it at a later time. You know, looking back at yesterday and looking at some of the things that occurred in the ball game, there are so many moments when you play in a close ball game like we were yesterday, like we have been in the last couple of weeks and even in our first ball game, there’s always a play here or there that has a chance to swing the game in your favor or to work against you. There were definitely opportunities yesterday to make some plays but we didn’t and in our league, that’s usually the result. Whether it be a four minute situation on offense or a two minute situation on defense, that we weren’t able to get the job done. With that being said, I think the coaches and the players that we have on our team, they are going to work as hard as they can to get things corrected and I do believe that we will get it corrected. I trust the people that make up our football team and I kind of feel like we have an idea of what needs to happen. Easier said than done, but I truly believe it can be done.
Q: With those injuries, are you worried about them missing Sunday?
A: Not at this point, but it’s kind of early so I’ll have to wait to the end of the day to get some results back.
Q: With an 0-3 start and a strange week going to London, does it make it tougher to make changes if you were going to make changes in the lineup or staff?
A: I hadn’t really thought about it as changes, just thinking about what we have to do to get in our team headed in the right direction. We can do whatever we need to do that is going to help us to win, in the United States or across the country, wherever that is we’ll do what it takes to help our team win.
Q: As a home team, do you have to come in early or is it up to you guys?
A: No, as the home team you have different requirements than the visiting team. It’s required for us to leave when we’re leaving. No. We have to do what we’re doing as the home team.
Q: How much were you consulted, giving up a home game is a big deal?
A: I understand the league and what we’re trying to do as an organization and as players and coaches we’re going to go and play and do the things that are necessary to try to get a win. That’s really what’s on our mind. The venue at this point is relevant, but in some ways it is irrelevant. Our focus is trying to help our team get things going in the right direction.
Q: With the injuries, what was the thinking of putting Marcus Sherels or Jefferson in there instead of Xavier Rhodes?
A: I wanted to leave Xavier where he was at this point because he’s doing some good things out at the left corner spot. He’s playing a lot and we’re a nickel defense so much that we wanted to leave him where he is and keep our nickel package intact and that was the thinking.
Q: Do you feel comfortable with him on the right side then if need be?
A: We’d have to give him a little work there. He’s worked exclusively on the left side and you have to be careful about that with a young guy. Not that we couldn’t do that, not that we may not do that, we’ll explore all avenues depending on what happens with Chris Cook from a health standpoint, but we’ll reevaluate it at some point today.
Q: Do you feel like you have enough depth at cornerback?
A: Depends on what happens with Chris (Cook) and how severe is A.J.’s (Jefferson) ankle, I mean that puts you deep into your depth if those guys can’t go for some reason so we’ll have to see what happens with both of them.
Q: When you watch your offense line on tape, can you put your finger on the what’s going on with that group?
A: We’re not obviously executing as well as we need to in order to be successful down in and down out. We’ve got two guys that are good at this point and then two other guys that aren’t doing it the right way on the same play and we have to find a way to get five guys executing correctly on each and every play. You’re going to have some moments where someone may miss a block or miss an assignment, but we’ve got to get a little more consistent play. There are some things we have to look at in what we’re doing and try to figure out how we can help our players be more consistent in what they’re doing.
Q: Has that been the biggest surprise for you with that unit?
A: We need to play better up front. It’s hard for our team to be successful if our offensive line and defensive line aren’t playing at a high level and our guys know that and our team knows that and we have to help them get to that point.
Q: Do you see any similarities to what happened last week?
A: When we were in that situation yesterday, we had some opportunities to make some plays that would’ve gotten us off the field or at least put them in some tough spots and we didn’t. We would get to the third-and-10 and we like that from the defensive stand point and we don’t make a play, the third-and-7, once again we had a chance but we got to make plays. They did a better job executing than we did and you have to make plays.
Q: What were the things that you saw yesterday in the players and coaches that give you encouragement moving forward?
A: That was a tough loss in so many ways. But just in talking to our guys after the game, and just seeing the resolve that they have shown, and that they showed at that moment; then going back and watching the tape, and seeing some of the things that I saw, and since talked with some of the guys since the ballgame, you want to be able to see the big picture in what we do. If you believe that you can get things fixed and get them turned around at this stage in the season, when we are still in September; now the next step is to get it done, and you can only get it done if guys believe mentally, as well as physically, that we can get it done. I sense that that is the case. I don’t sense that guys are going to be walking around when we are in London as if the season is done. I don’t sense that. I don’t sense that at all. I sense that we have real good leadership, and they will handle this in the right way.
Q: What do you see in Christian Ponder that makes you stick with him and believe that he is your best option to win?
A: He made some plays for us yesterday that we needed. There were some other plays that we needed to make that we didn’t always get. But he will have to keep growing and keep developing. We are doing enough things that are not right across the board that are affecting our win-loss record, and it is not just the quarterback position. He has to play better, but so do some other groups on our football team. I don’t think that where we are is necessarily purely because of Christian Ponder.
Q: Do you think have Jerome Felton back will help the running game?
A: I think it will have a positive impact. He is a Pro Bowl player; really helped our run game a year ago quite a bit. So we look forward to having him back.
Q: You basically split snaps between Desmond Bishop and Marvin Mitchell yesterday. Are you moving in that direction with those two players?
A: We will see. You want to take a real good look at Desmond on tape, and get a better feel for where he is physically, as well as his grasp of what we are trying to do on defense. He did some good things yesterday, so we will continue that evaluation process.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in making this trip to London, other than the Pittsburgh Steelers?
A: The preparation that is involved behind the scenes. There is a lot to it when you are the home team. That probably has been the biggest challenge, all of the things that go into it when you are on the home team.
Q: Do you ever seek advice from other coaches who have played games overseas?
A: I did. I talked with other coaches around the league who have traveled and have been the home team. I tried to get some advice, and how did they do things when they were there. I talked with coaches a few different times over the summer as we were trying to plan for this trip.
Q: What was the best piece of advice that you got?
A: There were a number of things. Probably trying to make it as close to what you do at your facility as possible. That is going to be a challenge in that way because you are in a different environment; staying in a hotel instead of being at home for the players. But trying to as best as you can, when you are the home team, to simulate what you do schedule wise there, compared to here, which it will have some challenges. But we are going to try and keep some normalcy to what we do.
Q: With the late lapses on defense, do you give any thought to changing your involvement with the defense late in games since it has happened two weeks in a row?
A: We didn’t have any lapses yesterday in that ballgame. We didn’t execute as well. We were where we are supposed to be, but we didn’t make the plays when opportunities came. So as a coach you can only do so much. You have to make the call, and you guys have to be able to execute it, and vice versa. Give your guys the best chance to be successful. Then they have to be able to go out and execute it. So we just have to execute better across the board.
Q: You guys are doing a great job of creating turnovers, but is it for not since you are also giving the ball up a lot as well?
A: That is a great point. That will be one of the points I mention to our team this afternoon when we meet. For us to come away four takeaways back to back weeks and not win the game; that doesn’t happen very often. But it happens when you are giving the ball back and not playing as well on special teams and it is part of why we are where we are. It is part of why our games are coming down to one series. That is something that has to be corrected; otherwise we will be right back at this spot again. You can’t turn the ball over at the rate we are turning it over and expect to win, unless, and I have said this before, you are so superior than your opponent, and we are not.
Q: Are your cornerbacks being addressed for not going after the ball and allowing the receivers to catch it and then trying to make the tackle?
A: No. We don’t get those turnovers yesterday by laying back. Harrison Smith wasn’t laying back when he got his interception. No, they are not being tentative in their approach. I think our defense had seven series in a row where we got off the field with no points. We have some things that we can do better. We have to hone in on those right now and I think we will.
Q: How discouraging is it to see Chris Cook get hurt after three plays with all of the talk about keeping him healthy this offseason?
A: He is a guy that we need on the field. He knows it. But if you are injured, you’re injured. You just have to get someone else ready to go.
Q: How is Kevin Williams doing with his knee injury that he suffered against San Francisco?
A: He has been playing and has not complained about it at all. He has been practicing and played two games, and hasn’t showed any ill effects from it.
Q: At what point do you have to consider making changes or is it too early in the season to do anything drastic?
A: You only want to make changes if there is a problem in an area where you feel that you have a better solution. I don’t know if change for the sake of change is the right thing to do from my perspective. You have to be able to stand in front of those guys in the locker room and talk to them about why you are making a change, and that it has to be something that you feel is going to help your football team be successful. So change for changes sake; I don’t totally buy into that.
Q: You ever use change to rally the troops and give them something fresh to work with?
A: Yes. There are a lot of different things that you can do other than personnel to change things up a little bit. You take that approach at times. But when you make those changes, you want to have a reason why you are doing it.