WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2013
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. Exciting time for us getting a chance to get back on the field following our bye week, playing a very good opponent, the Carolina Panthers. The fact that it’s an NFC game puts a little bit of extra meaning on it for us. We’re going to be in front of our fans at Mall of America Field, so we are excited about that. It feels good to be home so we are looking forward to this ball game. Injury-wise I think we are in pretty good shape. I think everybody will be practicing today which is good. Not much changed with our quarterback situation. We’ll talk more about it as the week goes on but not at a point without watching the guys practice where we can make a determination about who our starter is going to be. So we’ll monitor that throughout the week and take a look at where the guys are. We do have some good news regarding one of our players who decided to sign a new contract with us. Brian Robison, a defensive end for us who is having a very good season, has signed a new contract, he’s excited about it. I’m sure you’ll get a chance to talk to him before the day is over. As an organization, we are very pleased with the way Brian has performed from the day that we drafted him and the way that he’s conducted himself both on and off the field. He’s been a tremendous asset to what we are trying to get accomplished so it’s an exciting time for us, exciting time for he and his family as well and congratulations to Brian. It’s good for our football team to get him locked up and get him under contract. We’re looking forward to this day. It’s our first day back at practice and we need to have a good day of practice.
Q: What are you looking for in the quarterbacks at practice? Christian’s health?
A: A few different things, just want to see the guys move around, see what they’re doing, how they’re doing things and then just make a determination as time goes on.
Q: In the first few days of being around Josh Freeman what has it been like getting to know him on a more personal level?
A: I’ve been very impressed in my short time being around him. With his knowledge of the game, the way he conducts himself, has some real strong qualities that you look for in a quarterback. I’m anxious to continue to get to know him a little bit and watch him in our environment but he’s been impressive in the short time I’ve been around him.
Q: How hard is it for a guy to learn an offense in a week or 10 days?
A: There are definitely some challenges for a guy who has not been around you throughout OTAs or preseason and then you talk about the quarterback position where you’ve got to know everybody’s responsibilities. There are some challenges but there are some things that you can do to condense things and try help a guy get on the field but you don’t want to do it to the point where you affect the rest of your team in a negative way, in our case our offense. We’ll work as hard as we can, he wants to work and get it and then we’ll put something together where hopefully real soon he’ll have a chance to be able to get on the field.
Q: How hard is for all three of these guys now where it is difficult to project where things may land for them?
A: I’m sure when you talk with them they’re going to have different ways to answer that question. I would imagine with each one of them at one time being the guy that it has its own challenges but I think they could answer it probably better than I could.
Q: In a typical week the starter gets most of the reps. How do you manage it with three guys getting reps?
A: We do it every week. We’ve had three quarterbacks on our roster throughout the season so we have a way to get it done and the guy who you think is going to start usually gets a majority of those snaps unless there is an injury and you try and work a guy back. But we have a way to try to ascertain what’s best for the guy that you think is going to start. Sometimes there is a bit of a hiccup when you have a guy coming back from an injury.
Q: As you go forward with the quarterbacks, how many people end up in the decision process of who plays?
A: That’s me and the coaching staff that makes that determination, who is number one, who is number two, who is number three, who is starting, who is not starting? That’s up to the coaching staff.
Q: Is this more about keeping your options open leading up to Sunday as opposed to still waiting to make the decision?
A: That might be a good way to put it. I don’t know if it’s – from our standpoint – a necessity to say on Wednesday what direction we want to go. There’s just no urgency in getting that done.
Q: What did Matt Cassel do best against the Steelers?
A: Probably number one thing, we finished that game without any turnovers, that was big for our football team. The command that he showed in the huddle, the way he interacted with our players throughout the week and then the way he played. He performed well in the ballgame, he did some good things. The command and the interaction with our players, he did a good job fo getting all of the guys engaged in practice and in the game as well.
Q: What do you want to see more of out of him?
A: You just want to see him be consistently good at the position, operate and do the things that you expect the quarterback to do, be accurate with the football, protect the football, get us in and out of bad plays, get us into good plays, have command at the position and then be a good leader for the entire offense. In the quarterbacks case, sometimes for the entire team.
Q: When a guy gives you that, how hard would it be sit him down?
A: Well, you’ve always got to do what you think is best for the team and whatever that is, that’s what you need to do in the seat that I sit in. You’re making every decision based on that, what’s best for the team.
Q: Are you going to make any changes in the secondary?
A: Having Chris Cook and Jamarca (Sanford) back, that’ll be the biggest change is having those guys back, which would help us.
Q: Would you still stick with Josh as the starter on the opposite side?
A: Yes, we’re still sticking with Josh.
Q: What have you seen from Robison to make him one of the guys you want to go forward with?
A: The consistent play throughout his time here. He’s continually gotten better. We can utilize him as an inside rusher, we can utilize him as an outside rusher, he’s improved as a run defender as well and his work ethic and his character as well. All of those things are important to us and he’s been a solid performer for our team. We’re fortunate that he wanted to come back to our team rather than get on the market at the end of the season. His consistent play, having an idea as a coach what you’re going to get every single week, that’s a big deal. He stays on the field, he’s not often injured, and that’s important as well.
Q: Have you played a defensive front as good as this Carolina one?
They’re doing a good job. They’re playing some good football up front. They’re doing a very good job against the run, they’re rushing the quarterback very well. They’re a formidable foe in a lot of ways so we’ll have our work cut out for us against their defensive line.
Q: You’re pretty close with Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera and he’s mentioned the advice you give him. Can you give us an insight on what you’ve provided him and is there any awkwardness heading into Sundayknowing that one of you will finish the game 1-4?
A: Well, during this early stretch of the season we’ve tried to pick each other up at times. We usually talk at least once a week during the season and in the offseason as well. We probably won’t talk this week but I just try and encourage him as best I can and share some insight from my perspective and he does the same thing with me. He’ll share some things about how he’s doing things or how things are done where he is and whatever he thinks might be able to help me. It’s a mutual communication where we are both trying to encourage one another and help one another in any way we can.
Q: Having so many guys along the defensive line that are pending free agents, how important is it to get some stability there getting Robison signed long term?
A: Very, very important. A number of our guys are going to be out of contract at the end of the season so to have Brian under contract, that’s very, very important going forward and we’re pleased that it’s happened and hopefully we’ll get some of the other guys taken care of as well, but it’s good to get Brian done. That kind of helps, maybe, hopefully, with getting some of the other guys done as well.
Q: When you look at the way Jerome Simpson is playing, is that strictly him being healthy now or is there more to it than that?
A: I think it’s about his health. We saw a little bit of what we’re seeing now in the preseason a year ago and even in the offseason program but once he got healthy again this offseason we could see a different Jerome. And the fact that he’s been in the offense for a year, that helps as well. He has a better understanding of what’s being required of him, being around the system, being around the coaches, and the coach that coaches him, George Stewart. All of those factors have gone into it, but the biggest difference is the fact that he’s healthy.
Q: What’s changed in Cam Newton from when you played him two years ago?
A: He’s really improved. You can see the growth as a player. He’s become better at throwing the football down the field from the pocket and he’s still very athletic. He can still run the ball and make plays with his feet, but I think he’s grown as a passer being able to recognize coverages a lot better so he’s matured as a player.
Q: What’s the next step for Cam Newton?
A: I think he’s on his way. The more football he plays the better he’s going to get, the more situations he’s put in the better he’s going to get. I think he’s doing all the right things and they’re going to surround him with the pieces that are necessary for him to continue to grow as a player but he’s on track to be an outstanding pro in our business.
Q: How much read option do you expect them to run and how much strain does that put on your defense?
A: We expect to see quite a bit. I think they ran 14 snaps a week ago against Arizona so it’ll be by far the most that we’ve seen this season so we’ll spend quite a bit of time working on it and trying to prepare for it. It can be difficult to defend but we have to put the work and hopefully do a good job.
Q: With your quarterback situation, how do you divide your coaching resources?
A: That’s a good question. We’ll do some different things. Part of it will be Bill (Musgrave) spending time with whoever ends up being our starting quarterback, Craig (Johnson) will divvy up his time and spend time with both Josh and whoever ends up being our starter and we have Kevin Stefanski who’s our assistant quarterback coach. So we have a number of people to put their hands on our quarterback and between those three they’re going to spend time getting Josh ready and along with whoever ends up starting for us. So we do have to divvy up our resources, but at the same time stay focused on our game plan and our entire offense when you are, in Bill’s case, the coordinator so you have to be careful. You can’t get dominated by one guy, but with Craig and Kevin they’ll spend time with the other guys.
Q: Does Josh get any reps this week?
A: Probably not. We’ll end up teaching him the offense and doing things on the side with him. Right now he’s trying to get the language down. He has to get the protections, there’s so much involved in what he has to get done so we’ll do more things on the side and he may do some stuff off the cards with the scout team but not with our first team offense.
Q: Is it hard to balance talking about the future with one guy while having to play a game on Sunday?
A: It presents some challenges but like I talked to our players about this morning, we have to be focused on the Carolina Panthers. This is a huge football game for our team playing at home and looking at the NFC and where things are. I, like our players, have to be able to bring it back to the task at hand. We do have some things going on at a critical position, but the focus has to be on the Panthers and getting ready for this game.
Q: How much of an adjustment would it be for the rest of the team adjusting to Josh’s style?
A: I don’t think it’ll be as big of an adjustment as you might think. He’s truly a pocket passer although he can run with the football and both Christian and Matt are guys who have good scramble capability, but I don’t think it will be a dramatic adjustment for our players at all.
Q: What is a realistic time frame for him to be able to be in a starting position?
A: I don’t think he’ll be able to digest our entire offense with the time that we have. I think it was Chip (Scoggins) who mentioned it earlier, with all the time you spend in the offseason getting ready for the season, to try to condense that in a short span and get you ready for the season, we’ll have to alter some things to get him on the field. We won’t be able to throw our entire playbook at him, but we can get that done. To put a time table on it, it would be hard to say today with this being his first real action with us, but we’ll see how it goes as he progresses.
Q: Do the Broncos have that ‘macho’, like the 1985 Bears, working for them at least at this point?
A: I don’t know much about them. I saw a little bit of their game, the end of their game Sunday. I just don’t know enough about them. You’re aware of teams that have started off great in our league, and Peyton (Manning) and I were on a team that started off 12-0 and we didn’t win a Super Bowl. It’s a long season. There are a lot of things that can happen of the course of an NFL season and I just don’t know enough about Denver to say where they are and where they’re going to end up at.