TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2013
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
I had a chance to go back and look at that tape and watch that ballgame. Tough game for our team; we really went into it believing that we were going to get a win on Monday Night Football, and had some opportunities, multiple opportunities during the course of that game to get it going in the direction that we wanted to and that didn’t happen. Whether that be coming up with turnovers, or not turning the ball over, or making a play here and there. Sometimes one play in a ballgame like the one we had last night can be the turning point. I was hoping that that fumbled punt on their part would be the turning point for our team. We got first and ten at the 40, and we come out of it with zero points; we were (inside) the 40 twice and came away with zero points. Tough, and in they in turn get two possessions inside our 20, and come away with ten points. One on the three yard line, and the other we held them to a field goal after Sharrif’s play. So those moments sometimes in a closely contested game like ours was for the most part are sometimes the difference in the ballgame. I was really encouraged by how hard our players played, the way they prepared last week. They did a great job all week long of focusing on the New York Giants and trying to be prepared to get a win. It showed in the effort that they gave. We just could not come up with that play we needed to get the turning tide. Josh Freeman; a lot of questions last night when we talked about the game in our post game. Josh had a good week of practice for us. We felt we had a good plan going into the game that he would be able to execute. He did not play as well as he would like. I am sure that he will tell you that. He had some up and down moments. The ball kind of sailed on him a few different times. But I don’t think it was a lack of preparation. Anytime you make a decision that the decision that myself and our staff made, if it doesn’t work out you open yourself to second-guessing. If I had to do it over again I don’t think I would do it any differently. Under the circumstances I knew exactly why we made the decision; felt very confident going into the ballgame with the decision. It didn’t work out for us this time, but our guys are going to continue to battle and work as hard as they can to get things turned around and I am just so appreciative of how hard the guys played last night, and because of that effort, and the way they prepare, we will keep working and get better. I thought our defense stepped up and really improved. I think they improved in a lot of areas. If they can continue to play like that, and continue to make improvements, we will have our chances, and we will get things turned. We have to get our run game on track. I’m disappointed that we weren’t more effective running the football. There were some things that we definitely have to be able to do better. We put too much pressure on our passing game. When we don’t run the football better, our offensive line will have to play better, our tight ends will have to block better, our backs will have to block better, and we will have to do a better job of coming up with ways to create situations for our run game from a coaches standpoint to make us more effective. Part of that will be what we do in the passing game to help us be more effective. But encouraged by what our defense did, of what are special teams did as well. Encouraged by Marcus’s long return, with the disappointment being the two turnovers on special teams. But there were some positives. The long kick off return by Cordarelle, the blocking that took place in front of him, and great effort on his part. So there were some positives, just disappointed that it doesn’t result in a win for our team. But we have seen enough things and know that we have a chance to get things turned.
Q: With starting Josh, what would you have done anything different from a game plan or preparation to have him play better?
A: We really felt like we put together a good plan, as I have said repeatedly. Watching him execute that plan in practice, we felt confident going into it that we would have success doing some of the things that we had in place. It didn’t happen, but there was nothing that I look back in that week of preparation that would have indicated that we would have came out with zero points from an offensive standpoint.
Q: Did you see any physical things with the ball sailing on Josh or is it mental mistakes where he wasn’t ready to conduct the offense?
A: That was one of our concerns with how well he would be able to get information in the huddle, and relay plays at the line of scrimmage. We did not have any mental errors in that area. It was more mechanical things. One of the reasons the ball sailed at times was his footwork wasn’t ideal, and his shoulders weren’t square all the times. It was more technical stuff, but with the mental part, he was sharp. He did a great job of running our offense throughout the night. Just some things from a technical standpoint that we will have to work on to get him better.
Q: Is Josh your starter for Sunday Night?
A: Yeah he is ready to go. We will get him back out there if he is ready to go.
Q: When you saw the game as close as it was, and Josh struggling, was there any temptation to go to Christian to see if he could provide a spark?
A: There really wasn’t. It never really sparked my mind because of what you just said; we are right there, just one play. I think that in the early part of the fourth quarter the score was 17-7? I can’t remember the exact time, but we were in striking distance throughout until maybe four or five minutes left when they got the field goal to get a two touchdown or three score game. No, I felt like either our defense, our special teams would make a play, or our offense would make a play because we were so close and it just didn’t happen.
Q: Did you keep Freeman in there just to see what he had to offer or do you feel obligated to keep him in after acquiring him?
A: No obligation. The only reason that the decision was made to start him was that we believed that he would give us the best chance to be successful in that ballgame with the Giants and the only reason that he will start on Sunday is for that reason. No obligation, other than that.
Q: For a quarterback who maybe doesn’t have a total grasp of the playbook, and is a team that is like you guys who runs the ball, how do reconcile the amount of carries Adrian had verse the amount of throws Josh made?
A: Tight ballgame. We can be more balanced. Some of it had to do with how well they were playing run defense, and creating situations that we thought we could take advantage of in the passing game. We went into it thinking that they were pretty stout against the run. But we knew that they were going to put a lot of people in the box like everybody does at the line of scrimmage, and we thought we could take advantage of some things down the field with their secondary and we weren’t able to. We had some opportunities. There were some moments where we were close to getting something done, and it didn’t happen. We probably can be more balanced from a numbers standpoint. That is on us to be more balanced.
Q: Do you worry about a divided locker room with three quarterbacks that have played and all of them can kind of make their own case that they should be playing?
A: One of the good things about our guys up to this point, they have been so supportive of every decision, evidence by the way they played last night. As hard as they played, and competed throughout, you can tell that those guys are on board. We just have to get a win to maintain the confidence and get some momentum going, and we had our opportunities last night and there is no divisiveness in the locker room. If there were, it would have showed in our play, and it didn’t. We didn’t make plays when we had chances to make plays.
Q: When you see Freeman throw 53 passes in the game and missing, is there any point where you just say that we need to run the ball?
A: We wanted to run it. We were trying to run it, and as I mentioned we probably could have been more balanced than we were. A lot of those passes came in two minutes at the end of the half, and two minutes at the end of the ballgame which the last five or six minutes were really in essence two minutes for us. We were no huddle, and we threw the ball a lot during that time. We did not go into it thinking we would throw the ball 53 times. We never go into a ballgame thinking we would throw 53 times and it turned out to be that way. But we do want to be an offense that relies on Adrian Peterson.
Q: Did Adrian’s hamstring bother him in the game?
A: Didn’t really come up. It just, we couldn’t get our run game on track. That is the bottom line we couldn’t get it on track. When we did try and run, we were zero gains, two yards, minus yards, and I think our longest was an 8-yard run. We just couldn’t get it going. We ended up throwing the ball probably more than we would like; for sure more than we would like.
Q: Did Josh’s mechanical issues surface in practice the last few weeks and has there been any opportunity to work on that with him while he was trying to learn the playbook?
A: Yeah we did some with him, and that is the balance. When you are trying to get him ready for a ballgame with the install, as well as working on the mechanical things. You are trying to get both done, and that is something we worked on, but maybe a little more time probably would have helped with that as well.
Q: When you look at the run game, during the last year a lot of the personnel were the same. What is the difference this year with him not getting the running game going?
A: Yeah you’re right. It is pretty much the same people. We are running a lot of the same plays; we are not as effective as we were a year ago, up until this point. We got to do something’s to help ourselves, maybe in the passing game, which will help a little bit and back some people off some. But that to me is probably the biggest difference. We are not able to do things on the second level that would help to a degree. People are going to still approach us the same way when it comes to our offense. They are going to put a lot of people in the box to take away the run game. We got to do some thing’s to loosen them up a little bit. We haven’t been able to do that on a consistent basis.
Q: Is it offensive line struggles, or Adrian not hitting the right holes?
A: We definitely have to get our offensive line to get more push up front, and we always talk to Adrian about being true to his reads and being able to hit the holes where they are, and not feeling as if he has to hit a homerun on every play. We always talk about that, and there were moments, not necessarily yesterday, but over the course of the season where he has felt that he needed to break every run. I think that we are cleaner in that area now. But we need to get our offensive line, our tight ends, and other backs to get people knocked off the ball and pushed back some.
Q: You guys have faced defenses stacking the box with eight or nine men in the box for years now. Are you just not handling it physically?
A: I think that is what I said a moment ago. I think we need to get a little bit better with some of the things we are doing with play action pass, some of our bootlegs, some of the one on one situations that we are getting. I think that is going to help our run game. As good as we were running the ball a year ago, when we really hit our stride in that month of December, late November, we were hitting some of those boots, some of those one-on-one comebacks outside, that made people have to respect our passing game to a degree. It didn’t really change what they did completely, but it made them respect our passing game a little bit. And right now, you look at that Giants game, and other people who are playing us, and they are just coming and coming. We have to do something to alter that, and we went into it thinking we had a plan to get that done, and we couldn’t connect. It hurt us.
Q: Are you patient with your offensive line or do you think you may need a change?
A: I think we can get it fixed. We are beginning to run out of games here, so we need to get it fixed in a hurry, but we can get fixed what the problems are. The guys are playing hard, but we have to get some things fixed for sure. I think that we have the right people to get that done. Just some things that we need to get taken care in a hurry.
Q: Are there any scenarios the rest of the season where you could envision making a quarterback change if Josh is healthy?
A: I don’t know if I have thought that far ahead. I really haven’t.
Q: How much do you listen to veterans on the team when making decisions on players such as who starts at quarterback and supportive about what your doing?
A: I talk to our guys often about what we are doing, and how we are doing it, with the leaders of our team. At the end of the day, those guys know that I am going to make decisions that I think are best for our team. Thus far they have been supportive. You get to a point where you need to win some games to keep things going but they have been very supportive. But I am always conscious of where they are. But they also know that every decision can’t be made by committee. Some have to be made by myself and the coaches as well.
Q: How do you make sure that with being 1-5, and peoples jobs on the line, it doesn’t cloud the decisions and schemes that decide the outcomes of games and focus on the game at hand?
A: We do what we do. We have a big game coming up this weekend, and we talk to our players all the time about concentrating about what you can control and what they can control is their preparation for ballgames, what they do in meetings, what they do in practice, and from a coaches standpoint our focus has to be on the Green Bay Packers and nothing else. If it goes in any other direction, then you end up cheating yourself and your preparation for this next opponent. Our guys have done a real good job of being focused of the task at hand and won’t take a whole lot for our guys to be focused on this ball game coming up this Sunday.
Q: Is there any staff changes or duties this week?
Q: Can you develop a secondary, a quarterback, and receivers and win at the same time?
A: You have to be able to do it. That’s what we are. We are developing a young secondary, and they are getting better. It was good to see Xavier get his hand on some balls, to see Josh get his hands on some balls, and Marcus had a chance for a pick. You have to be able to do it. I think we can. It doesn’t seem that way, standing where we are, but I do have confidence that we can improve and get better, and we can play better when we line up on Sunday night at home. So to answer the question, you don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can stay focused on what you have to get done, and develop guys and win at the same time.
Q: Seeing the record for what it is, and the tough schedule come up, what’s the rallying cry to get everyone on the same page moving forward?
A: Focus on one game at a time. You don’t look beyond this game on Sunday. You work as hard as you can every day you come to practice and everyday you come to work to get better, and that is what are guys are doing. They are going to work as hard as they can when they show up tomorrow, to get ready for Thursday, Friday, and then line up on Sunday and play their best ballgame of the season on Sunday. That is the only thing you can control is that you can’t look beyond what we have to get done this Sunday. You really can’t even look back. I know a lot of things will be written and said about where we are, but for us, our focus has to be on getting better, and getting a win against Green Bay on Sunday. That is where our energy and our focus will be. Regardless of what is written or said about what has happened prior to this ballgame, or what will happen post this ballgame. It will be Green Bay, Green Bay, and Green Bay throughout this week.
Q: Injury updates; Ellison?
A: We will have more on those guys that are coming in a little bit later because of the time we got in. So we will have more tomorrow when we get together regarding on those guys that are injured.
Q: How did Kalil’s back hold up?
A: He did pretty good. It was great to see him finish the game. He played fairly well. He obviously could have done some things a little bit better but he finished the game, which is great. We were really concerned prior to the game whether or not he would make it.
Q: Have you talked over scenarios where if Josh played poorly like he did last night for a half or a quarter that you would go to Christian?
A: Well you always are aware of every position and what their backup status is. We will always do that with every position. Whether it is a wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, running back, defensive back, we will always have a contingency if something is not right at a position, so we will always have those discussions.