THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2013
Vikings Quarterback Josh Freeman
Q: Is your head just swimming with information as you try to get ready for your start?
A: I don’t know if swimming is the word I would use. It’s more just embracing the process and embracing the grind. One of the great things Coach (Bill) Musgrave and coach (Craig) Johnson do, and even Kevin (Stefanski), when they lay it out, it’s all clean-cut. They’re not throwing everything at you saying, ‘You piece it together,’ they have a very distinct plan as far as today we’re working this, today we’re working this and we’re going to get ready for this tomorrow, but we want your main focus to be on the three-step game, or drop-back game, or play action, whatever it may be. Every day the constant underlying theme is protections and I’m blessed and fortunate that early on in my career, up until earlier this season, protection has always been a big point of emphasis in any offense I’ve played in and it’s no different here just a couple of them are called a little differently. As we’ve worked at progressed I’ve gotten more and more comfortable each day. I didn’t know if the progress and day-to-day progression was going to continue at the rate that it did initially, but every day, and it’s different people stepping up, it’s the guys on the O line, Sully (John Sullivan), the wide receivers, talking with Greg (Jennings), talking with Jerome (Simpson). Those guys have a lot of input and insight. Talking to Adrian (Peterson) about different run themes, and you know, talking just with my teammates getting a feel for how they like to do things around here, how different scenarios, guys’ strengths, weaknesses because, to be honest, with only one week of practice with guys, it’s hard to really develop the kind of chemistry you’d like to have midway through a season. To compensate for that, guys have kind of taken it on themselves to really spend time with me. Kyle Rudolph, a guy that’s an unbelievable tight end, talking with him about his route likes and dislikes and finding ways to get him the ball. Last but not least is the quarterback room. Matt (Cassel) and Christian (Ponder) are constantly giving me advice, telling me about nuances within the offense that could pay dividends in the long stretch, but really it’s all-in-all a team effort and just studying. Studying and watching tape and finding time to get the appropriate amount of film study on the Giants.
Q: How is it in the quarterback room?
A: There’s always going to be personally some level of, you can say what you want, but there’s not a quarterback in this league that doesn’t believe he shouldn’t be the starter in some capacity. I was on the other end of this just a few weeks ago. One of the awesome things about these guys, and you always wonder how the guys in the room are going to be, and I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career to have some quality rooms and this one’s no different, both those guys. Decisions made, we’re working, the level of preparation, the attitude, everything continues to stay at a high level. Like I said, I’m blessed and fortunate and that speaks volumes on those two guys and their character.
Q: What do you say to Vikings fans that have very high expectations and think you’re going to be the guy to come in and save the season?
A: We’re looking at this game. We’re looking at one game at a time. I think that you’re obviously going to have goals down the long stretch of the season, but in the present, that’s the only place you can be. If you want to have a chance in this league you have to focus on the next opponent. You can’t be looking down the road, you can’t look anywhere further than this game and what I’m doing right now is I’m not trying to learn every single play that’s ever been installed in the offense, I’m trying to focus on this week’s game plan, maximizing the potential for this week and then come back next week and do it all over again with next week’s game plan. The main focus throughout the entire team is finding a way to go out on Monday night at get a win.
Q: How would you describe your personality?
A: I don’t know. I’m me. I’d say that I like to maintain kind of a cool, calm, collect on the field and that’s kind of reflective me off the field, just relaxed, but at the same time, you play the game to win. There’s also that serious side of trying to figure out, you have to take things seriously when your livelihood is on the line, when your passion is on the line, when things you really care about and the people really care about pushing forward. But I would generally describe myself as pretty calm, pretty relaxed and that kind of translates into my on-field play. It’s being able to, say there’s a negative or a positive play, being able to remove yourself from that previous play and getting back in your zone and focus on the next play.
Q: Is this start sooner than you expected, or hoped for when you signed on with the team?
A: I didn’t really set a goal because I didn’t really know what I was walking into. I didn’t really know anything about the situation and didn’t know anything about the exact offense I’d be running. What I did know, talking to Rick Spielman, is that there wouldn’t be an immediate pressure to, ‘You have to get in, you have to save the season,’ and that’s not how I feel at all. Talking with the Coach Frazier there would be open lines of communication, letting him know where I feel I am in the offense, understanding concepts, verbalizing the plays, we talked a lot about that and I’m telling you between him and me, there’s going to be no way I’d be going out on the field if I didn’t feel I was ready and he didn’t feel I was ready. Obviously, he spends a lot of time talking with the other offensive coaches. I didn’t really set any parameters, didn’t really say, ‘I got to be doing this by this,’ I just came in and said, ‘I’m going to work as hard as I can, focus on me every day and try to learn this team, learn this offense.’ With conversations with Coach (Frazier), when I feel like I can give us a chance to win from my knowledge of the offense and just being a football player, that’s what I think we came to consensus.
Q: How exciting is it to have this chance on Monday Night Football?
A: It’s going to be a blast, but like I said, the main focus has to be on finding a way to win and that starts today and going over the stuff we’re going over today. Like I said, on such a short preparation with this offense, you just have to focus on the concepts now, stuff going into the game plan now and try to take advantage of every minute.
Q: In terms of timing with your receivers, does that come pretty quickly or is that process gradual?
A: With different receiving corps it’s different, it really is. The great thing about this receiving corps is you have a lot of talented guys. Anytime there’s maybe a little off on some timing, it’s made up for by the talent level in that receiver’s room. As I was coming out, it was kind of a shocker, and Greg was like, ‘Yeah, that got me too,’ in walk-through guys are flying around and I’m used to, ‘Alright, go through the progression check it down,’ and you have guys 50 yards down field, I’m like, ‘OK, I got to get ready for this,’ but it’s coming along. Are things going to perfect this soon? Are they ever going to be perfect? No, they’re not, but just find ways on routes you’re maybe off on in practice, maybe you didn’t quite understand how or why he’s coming out of the break that way, talking those instances out and coming out and throwing them in practice and after practice. I stayed after with Jerome (Simpson) and worked a couple routes yesterday. We have a bunch of willing young guys. Joe Webb’s been tremendous. He’s seen it from the quarterback’s standpoint and seen it from the receiver’s standpoint and I’ve spent a lot of time talking with him just talking about offensive principles. He’s got great insight on guys’ strengths and weaknesses, ‘Alright, if you got this and all looks are even, Jerome is great at this,’ or ‘Greg is going to win on this every time.’ Stuff like that you wouldn’t get from just being thrown out there and getting limited reps.
Q: Are you aware there’s not a great history of quarterbacks becoming starters when they were acquired in the middle of the season? What makes you think you could be one of the rare guys who has success?
A: I wasn’t really aware of any of that, but at the same time none of those situations were this situation. None of those quarterbacks were me and none of those teams were this team. I’m living, like I said, in the now and the present and maximizing everything that I can right now. It’s been good. It really has been. This offense is similar to the offense I was running with different terminology, but then it’s very similar in terminology and concepts to what I ran all during college so I’m fired up about the opportunity and I think that this could be something really great.
Q: What’s most difficult thing for a quarterback to learn on the fly like you are?
A: It’s just some of the verbage. Some of these plays get somewhat lengthy and there’s stuff within the play and you understand exactly where everyone is going whether it’s a motion, whether it’s a route tagged in there, whether it’s a concept, you understand what everybody is doing, but being able to spit that out when you’re on the clock, when it’s loud, when stuff is going on, when you’re out of breath, whatever is going on, being able to spit that out and knowing exactly what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to and saying it with confidence in the huddle so you break the huddle in rhythm, we get up to line with a little momentum. But really it’s just verbalization. I said it before, in football you only have 11 guys and there’s only so much you can do, but just being able to go into the huddle with confidence and call the play, look over the line of scrimmage with confidence, know what I’m keying off of, understanding the fronts, protections, just kind of bringing it all in for one play. That’s something that I’m lucky I’ve been in situations where I got a new coordinator my rookie year and it was kind of like, ‘Alright, now we’re learning new stuff. We want you to go out and play.’ I think that this coaching staff obviously had a plan, a plan as far as, ‘Alright, this is what we’re going to do. We want you to just forget all the other stuff and focus on this exact thing,’ and it’s been really, really good.
Q: How many plays do you think you’ll have in this game plan?
A: Really the game plan is going to be about what it’s been length-wise, from my understanding. Seeing the stuff we’ve put in so far it’s going to be similar size of last week’s, so I don’t think they’re scaling down in that regard. Like I said, I’ve had experience with all these pass concepts and it’s just a matter of, like I said, verbalizing it, knowing what you’re keying off of, different nuances in the protection game, knowing when you’re protected, when you’re hot, when you need to side adjust, things like that. Just seeing the defense, that’s where it all starts, approaching the line, looking at the defense, seeing what they’re in and moving forward.