Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon guys. It really feels good to come up here after a win and talk to you about the game in retrospect. Good win for our football team, good team win. I just liked the way our guys battled throughout that ball game in particular the way we bounced back in the second half and really put some things together to close out the game. To outscore our opponent 20-3 in the second, that’s pretty impressive. It just shows you the resiliency of our players. All the things we talk about, being a smart, tough, disciplined football team, I think showed up during the course of the football game. I really like the way they came out, our players did, with so much energy and were so focused despite the fact we were on a short week against an opponent that presented some different problems on offense and defense with their schemes. Our coaches and players did a great job of just honing in on what we needed to do to be successful. Just extremely proud of the way they worked. Injury-wise the only guy that’s a concern is Christian (Ponder) and we’ll learn more about his status in the days to come. It’s no different than what I mentioned last night, dislocation so we’ll see how things go forward with his shoulder. The good news is that it’s his non-throwing shoulder so that’s a plus for us. Other than that, good win. I’m extremely impressed with the work Kevin Williams did in that ball game, played outstanding football for us in a position he hasn’t played in quite a while. We talked about playing him at the nose tackle position at different times and for him to come in and play as well as he did and provide the inside pass rush that we had was terrific. The way Christian played, did a great job prior to his injury leading our team, the plays he made with his feet, the completions that he was able to get done, his quarterback rating was outstanding so it was great to see that. Great to see John Carlson step up in the absence of Kyle (Rudolph). That gives us some hope about that tight end position and also some flexibility when Kyle comes back. But a lot of guys played well for us. You don’t win a game like that last night without a lot of people chipping in and making and we had that across the board.
Q: Would Matt Cassel be the guy at Seattle if Ponder can’t go?
A: Haven’t decided that yet. We’ll talk about it, but haven’t decided yet.
Q: Is there a certain day next week Christian would have to practice to have enough time to get ready for Seattle?
A: Probably by Thursday or Friday for sure. You’d like for him to get some work with a new game plan, new style of who we’ll be playing against so you’d like for him to get some work during next week.
Q: With his injury are there more tests coming or is just seeing how he heals up?
A: It’s more now about how he heals up. They ran the tests this morning and they know exactly what’s going on so now it’s a matter of how fast he heals and how much strength he gains back in the next few days.
Q: Is there a degree of separation for his shoulder that you learned from these tests?
A: No, it’s a pretty standard separation. There were no surprises when they did the MRI so now it’s just a matter of how fast he heals.
Q: You said Ponder is the concern injury-wise, are you including the guys who didn’t play Thursday?
A: Some of them we expect to be back. There’s still some others we’ll have to wait and see once we get into next week, but the majority we expect to get back.
Q: Could Kevin Williams stay at nose tackle? Is that something you’ll keep in there going forward?
A: I’ll tell you the way he played in that ball game that’s something we have to consider. We count on Letroy (Guion) and Fred (Evans) to do a good job for us there, but Kevin did some really good things. We just have to determine if that’s the best thing because it will put some stress on Sharrif. We got him more snaps last night because the three of those guys were rotating with Chase Baker.
Q: How big of a difference is it from one position to the next?
A: You’re facing a different blocking scheme at the two position and what we ask of the positions are completely different even though they’re both defensive tackles. The responsibilities are different so you’re a defensive tackle but you have different responsibilities because of the blocks that you’re getting and also what we ask you do in the defense, but the fact that he’s a veteran player and he has done it before, I think we did a little bit with him in 2011, so there’s familiarity with the position and he’s been playing defensive tackle forever in our league.
Q: With drafting Sharrif Floyd, why not start the season with having both of them on the field at the time?
A: We felt good about, and we still do, about Letroy and Fred at those positions and there was no need to do that early in the season and of course the injuries occurred and all of the sudden you’re forced to do it. In Sharrif’s case we wanted him to be able to come along, Kevin was still playing solid at the three-technique so there wasn’t a need to force him to be a starter at day one with what we had at the nose tackle position and what we had coming back in Kevin.
Q: Have you approached Kevin about playing nose tackle before? Has he resisted that before?
A: He’s not a big fan of playing the nose tackle position. We haven’t talked about it of late, it came up by necessity this time around.
Q: If you had to do that on a regular basis, what would that mean for your rotation at the three-technique? Would you move Letroy or Fred over there?
A: It would change some things which is one of the reasons you have to take pause before you make a decision like that. It does put more on Sharrif. Fred and Letroy, they have been practicing and playing this position now for the last couple of years for us and Fred throughout his time here, so there is a lot that goes into it but you always want to do what you think is best for the team and we’ll make that decision.
Q: Do you feel that your game plan allowed Christian to get in a rhythm?
A: That was the intent when we went into it and we felt the same when we into the Dallas ballgame. If you noticed, we came out an went no-huddle in that ballgame and tried to get him in a rhythm throwing the football around and we did this a little bit a season ago to get him off to a good start and it seemed it worked for us when we did that and in these last couple of weeks it’s been a plus for us when we’ve done that. That was the intent to get him some completions early
Q: How do you think that Floyd did with his increase in snaps?
A: He played well. He was very active, made some tackles for us, got in the backfield some. He’s improving. He had a good game a few days ago when we were in Dallas as well, so he’s put together two back-to-back good games and like the way he’s improving.
Q: If Christian isn’t able to get back out there how much do you factor in that the game is at Seattle when deciding who the starter will be?
A: We’d have to weigh those factors, where we are, where we are playing at and the type of defense that we are playing against as well, so you’ve got to factor all of those things in when you make a decision.
Q: Out of the guys who didn’t play yesterday who has the most difficult chance of playing at Seattle?
A: I probably could better answer that when we come back on Monday. Monday I’ll probably be able to give you a better indication. [Eric] Sugarman, our trainer, is working with those guys today so he’ll give me a report this afternoon and I’ll have a better idea.
Q: Can you remember an instance as a coach where you’ve only dressed 42 guys?
A: That’s rare, so rare, to have so many front line guys not playing. The short week definitely had something to do that. There were some guys that we thought we’d have available if it were a Sunday game. That puts a lot of strain on your roster when you’re down to 42 guys, very, very difficult. But we got through it. Our guys, they made it, they did a good job. They didn’t make any excuses, their attitudes were terrific but it puts some pressure on your special teams as well as your offense and defense when you are that thin.
Q: Was there anybody that stood out that had to switch positions outside of Kevin Williams or John Carlson?
A: I liked the way Andrew Sendejo played as well. He’s been a special teams guy for us. We re-signed him to come in and help us on special teams, not so much as a safety, but some of the things he did yesterday at safety along with his work on special teams, that was impressive. Robert Blanton, same way. He’s been a guy that’s been primarily a special teams player for us and he did a good job playing the safety position along with his duties on special teams, which puts more pressure on our special teams when those core special teams players all of a sudden are starters for you it creates some strain. Michael Mauti and some of the other guys that are backups stepping up and taking on more of a role throughout the game in the special teams area. Those players really stepped up and did well.
Q: How do you think J’Marcus Webb did at right tackle?
A: I thought he did a really good job. His first start with us, he did well in run blocking. When he had the chances to be one-on-one with their ends, primarily Ryan Kerrigan, he did a terrific job throughout the game. Really pleased with his performance. He did a really good job.
Q: Has Phil Loadholt made it through any of the concussion test levels?
A: He’s still going through the test. He has another observation this afternoon, but he has not completed the protocol yet.
Q: Were you able to see the progress with Cordarrelle Patterson on his scoring drive that you want to see?
A: We do. We’ve been adding a few things here and there as the season goes on and you saw some wrinkles yesterday and we are going to add some things for this next ballgame after we go through what Seattle’s defense is doing. He has that playmaking ability that you’re always looking for and we just have to keep bringing him along, just keep devising way to utilize his talents. I think Bill [Musgrave] is doing a good of doing that and we are doing it at Cordarrelle’s pace. We don’t want to put so much on his plate that would bog him down but yet we want to utilize his gifts and some of the things we did yesterday and the weeks prior are just a part of that but we’ll keep bringing him along, keep progressing him. But we want the ball in his hands.
Q: Was there or is there any way to expedite that process? Could it have been done earlier?
A: I don’t know if we could have. The pace that we are at is, I think, about what we could have done. I don’t know if we could have accelerated it, especially with the way Jerome [Simpson] has played. Jerome had a terrific game yesterday as well, did a great job. I don’t know if we could have done it a whole lot differently. You’d like to have him on the field doing things but I think the way we’ve done it is about the best way you could have done it.
Q: Were your multiple receiver sets specific to this game or is that something that could be seen in the future?
A: We think that we can do this a little bit more. We introduced some of our 5-wide package a week ago and it’s something we want to do a little bit more as the season goes on and we think it’ll help our offense, it has helped our offense. With all of the 8-man boxes that we get and we haven’t been as good blocking them or getting movement as we have in the past. It’s kind of opened some things in the passing game for us so if it’s working, you continue on.
Q: Does it seem like it’s been a long time since you had a scoreless quarter? And what was different about the performance in the fourth quarter yesterday?
A: I haven’t thought much about how long it’s been since we’ve held a team scoreless but it’s good that it happened last night. We need it to happen, perfect time. But the things that happened were guys were getting in position to make plays and then making plays. Our tackling improved in the 2nd half and then there we were once again, we find ourselves on defense in a position where we’ve got to come up with a stop to win the game and our guys found a way to make it happen. It happens in the National Football League and fortunately for us we found a way. But it was more of being in a position and then making a play when you have a chance to make a play.
Q: How do you assess Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson’s performance against the read-option? And what can you learn from that going into the game against Seattle who uses it as well?
A: We had some good moments against their read-option last night and there were some other moments where we weren’t as sound as we needed to be and that can happen with that style of offense on a short week. You think you’ve got all of your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted and then you have a very good athlete like Robert Griffin III and everything you drew up is kind of out the window. You’ve got to find a way. Can you matchup with their athlete at times? But we learned some things from last night’s game and I think Erin and Chad, they did a good job, but there were some moments where we could do some things better as well.