Good afternoon guys. Always like these Monday press conferences after a win, it’s definitely a positive. Nice win for our football team, a lot of positives from that game after going back and looking at the tape. Contributions by our offense, defense and special teams and the resiliency that we talked about yesterday showed up throughout that ballgame. Just overcoming adversity, making plays in all phases, tremendous individual efforts by different guys. Just one of those games where if you’re a Viking fan you’re very proud of the way our team fought and the way those guys laid it on the line every single snap, just never giving into the circumstances. So great effort by our entire team all the way across the board. Injury wise the only guy that we’re concerned about for the most part would be Christian and we’ll have to see how things go with him over the next few days with the NFL protocol regarding concussions. We have some other guys that are nicked up a little bit, but not to the point where we are overly considered at this point about their playing on Sunday. So we came out of it relatively healthy. We talked about Chad [Greenway] yesterday with the fractures in his wrist that he’s been playing with, got that banged up a little bit but he should be find after a couple of days. Everybody else will be out there practicing and hopefully ready to go on Sunday.
Q: When you got home last night did you play in your mind the range of emotions that took place throughout yesterday’s game?
A: No, I replayed the real game-winning kick in my mind. That other one, not so much. Just glad it worked out. Like I said earlier, we’ve been in so many close games and to not end up on the positive side, to finally get a positive result was a good feeling.
Q: Have you had a chance to look at the facemask call on Rhett Ellison and what is your reaction?
A: That was a good call. He held onto the facemask. Maybe if he lets it go they might not call it, but he held that facemask too long. It’s a good call, the right call.
Q: With Christian being iffy and Cassel’s performance do you plan on making Matt your starter earlier in the week or will you wait this out?
A: Just see where Christian is as we get into the week a little bit and see how things go as we go forward.
Q: Is the lost time different for a quarterback than maybe it would be for any other position? Will that factor into how much time Christian might miss?
A: It would be at that position. But even tomorrow we would ordinarily sit down with the quarterbacks and start talking to them about what we’re thinking gameplan wise and Christian, even tomorrow, has not begun some of the tests that they require, then yes it would factor in.
Q: Would Matt be the starter if Christian can’t play or would Josh factor in there?
A: Probably sit down this afternoon with our staff and just talk it through a little bit. We’re getting through the tape from this morning but we’ll talk about it in detail this afternoon.
Q: Why not go with Matt after his performance?
A: You could easily do that but I think for us it would be wise just to talk things through. There is no reason at this point –Monday at 12:40 – that we have to make a decision. We can talk it through and do what’s best, but Matt did a terrific job in relief yesterday afternoon leading our team to victory. That throw he made on that 4th-and-11, that was a big time play for us. There was a free blitzer on that play and there was a guy barreling down on him and he does a terrific job throwing the ball on time and taking us down and tying the game and eventually get the game-winning field goal. He did a great job.
Q: Why do you think specifically Greg Jennings and Matt Cassel have clicked?
A: There’s definitely a trust factor there and Greg is an excellent route runner, but I would think maybe the veteran experience. Those guys hit it off early on back in the spring and he really trusts Greg to be where he’s supposed to be, not that the other guys aren’t, but the fact that they are both veterans, they kind of talk a little bit off the field as well as on the field. They have a connection. That sometimes happens between certain quarterbacks and certain receivers.
Q: Are any of these quarterback decisions being made based on the future? Or is it totally based on the best chance to win on Sunday?
A: Up until this point it’s been purely on who gives you the best chance to win on this Sunday, every decision that has been made regarding our quarterback position. As we go forward, we’ll see what happens, but up to this point that’s what it’s been based on.
Q: Are you saying that Josh Freeman is in the conversation to start next Sunday?
A: Well you have to consider the guys that are on our roster that play the position. We’ll determine what’s best as we get ready for this next ballgame and take a look at what we’re going to do gameplan wise and we’ll see where it goes.
Q: You’ve said that you feel Christian gives you the best chance to win. How do you reconcile that with the way that Matt played when he came in?
A: You can’t – from my vantage point – just look at that first half of yesterday’s ballgame. You take a look at his body of work from the Green Bay game, he played a pretty good football game. Going into this game on Sunday against Chicago, I really felt good about the way he practiced, the way he had played previously, and even for three quarters against Seattle he played pretty good football there as well, and the way he had against the Redskins the prior week. So he had done some good things. He struggled a little bit yesterday, then he gets the concussion. Matt comes in in relief and does a very good job. So I don’t think you can totally eliminate some of the good things he had done up until that point.
Q: You had said how nice it was last week to not have to question that position. Have you ever had a situation throughout your coaching career where injuries or performance has played in so much as to who is starting and it varying every week?
A: Well it seems like the secondary here we’ve had a lot of injuries over the years. But it’s different when it’s the quarterback because that’s like the rudder that steers the ship. That’s so important, the guy who is under center that you can have some familiarity from week to week. It just creates a lot of other issues for your football team when you are trying to determine from week to week who is your starter based on injury or performance. We’ve kind of run into that a little bit this year, but just got to try to make the best decision that gives you a chance to have success on Sundays. Hopefully that’ll be the case this Sunday.
Q: Have you sent anything in to the league office about the hit that gave the Christian a concussion and it possibly being a helmet-to-helmet situation?
A: I’ve got to look at it again. I wasn’t sure when I looked at it the first time that it was helmet-to-helmet. We’ll go back and look at it again. My initial reaction, it wasn’t, but I need to see the TV copy and that’ll maybe show me something different.
Q: How much of a concern is it with the number of sacks that you’ve given up over the past two weeks?
A: It’s a concern any time your quarterback is getting hit. It causes problems for him. If he’s not careful, he’s going to start getting happy feet and not going through his progressions, so it’s important that we protect the quarterback and keep those hits off him. So we’ve got to do some things to clean that up and every sack is not necessarily the offensive lines responsibility. Sometimes our tight ends our involved, sometimes our running backs, sometimes the quarterback holding the ball too long and not stepping into the right direction. So there are some things that we’ve got to get corrected because 11 sacks in two ballgames is a lot.
Q: What about the first three times Christian was sacked in the first quarter. Was he just hanging on to the ball too long?
A: No, not in those cases. We missed some assignments, some things that we’ve got to get corrected.
Q: Was that Jerome Felton’s best game? How did he grade out?
A: I’m glad you asked that because he played an outstanding game. We were talking about it in our staff meeting this morning and (running backs coach) James Saxon kept emphasizing how good he played. We went into this game saying we needed to run the ball, we need to run it effectively, which is what we say every week, but we were very intentional about certain runs being effective and Jerome was partially key to those runs being effective. Even before the game I was talking to the team and I had asked Jerome in pregame, “Do you feel like you’re ready? A lot’s going to be on your shoulders today,” and he said, “Coach, I’m bringing all of my tools to the game today. I’m not leaving anything in the tool shed,” and I shared that with our team before the game. Everybody needed to have that same attitude and that same approach. He played a heck of a game, had a lot to do with Adrian rushing for over 200 yards along with what our offensive line, what our receivers did down the field, but Jerome, he was instrumental in that success on Sunday.
Q: Why didn’t Erin Henderson play in the game even though he dressed?
A: Just liked the way Audie [Cole] was playing and the way our defense as a whole was playing. Even though we gave up some yards, did a great job of keeping the points down, did a great job on 3rd down. Just liked the way he was leading out there. Erin was ready to go, but I liked the way Audie was playing.
Q: Will you stick with Audie as the starter for the rest of the season?
A: I can’t say today if this is for the rest of the season but we’ll talk about it some more. But he’s playing well.
Q: What about this week?
A: I’m going to talk about it some more with our guys and determine on Wednesday who will probably start for us.
Q: Have you considered the possibility of having both of them out there at the same time?
A: Didn’t think about it for this last ballgame. But it’s definitely something to consider going forward, but not for the Chicago game.
Q: Have you gotten a chance to talk to Chris Cook?
A: I have not spoken to him today. I’m sure we’ll talk at some point today but I have not.
Q: What will be your message to him?
A: We’ll talk about a lot of things but I’d prefer to talk to him first and then be able to share the next time we get together but just the primary message – poise, composure. You have to be able to do that. As I mentioned yesterday when we were talking in the press conference, you’re going to get beat sometimes in the NFL as a corner, the best do, so you’ve got to be able to handle it the right way and there is a way to handle it and he knows that, ordinarily he does handle things a lot better, but just got to get that point across.
Q: You’ve played well as of late. How much do you think back to earlier in the season and how one or two of those games would put you in a different position?
A: I don’t want to be depressed at this press conference today so let’s not go there. You know we’ve had a pretty good quarter here this 3rd quarter of the season. We need to finish strong in this 4th quarter of the season and take it game-by-game. You can’t undo the past. We’ve got to make hay here in this 4th quarter of the season as best as we can.
Q: What happened on the 67-yard field goal and getting Cordarrelle Patterson back there? It looked like there may have some confusion there?
A: We were talking about what we wanted to get done in that situation whether or not we were going to consider the fact they might try a fake because it’s a 67-yarder. We were trying to go through what the possibilities. They were real in doing this and once we made the decision that we were going to get our field goal block team out there and not necessarily try and block it and try and return it and anticipate it being short then we made that decision. But that was more it, just making sure that there wasn’t something awry here.
Q: It looked like players were saying you needed to get someone back to return the field goal. Were you still going through that decision as they were saying that on the field?
A: Well we knew what we wanted to do. We’ve practiced that situation before, but we just wanted to make sure there wasn’t something else going on. We’ve been in a situation before this year where we had something negative happen when we thought they were going to kick the football, so we wanted to cross our T’s and dot our I’s in that situation.
Q: How much of a factor were Rhett Ellison and John Carlson in the blocking game? It seemed like you used them a lot in the jumbo package?
A: We did and Rhett was outstanding throughout the day with the exception of that one pass that he had. He played outstanding in the run game. He has a lot to do with our run game all of a sudden picking up, having him healthy now and playing. John was good as well. He had some nice catches for us. He’s a much improved blocker, but Rhett was very, very, very good.
Q: Has Matt Cassel ever come to you and expressed any frustration with not starting?
A: He’s been a pro. We’ve definitely had some discussions about where he is and his role, but he’s been a pro throughout.
Q: Week by week Cordarrelle Patterson’s role has been growing. Is it nice to be able to do that now that he’s been able to get a grasp of the offense and up to speed on things?
A: It is. The fact that we built the foundation a while back in OTA’s and training camp, early in the season getting him up to speed on the NFL game and the coverages and what we try to do from week to week gameplan-wise and now to see the fruits our labor beginning to show up, it’s great. The fact we were able to put him in the backfield and do something different with him as opposed to just line him up outside, that shows how much he’s grown and also how much confidence we have that he’ll be able to handle more as we go forward. But that has been the plan all along and it’s due to his hard work away from what he do on the field. He’s spending a lot of time with George Stewart, our wide receivers coach, in the classroom, a lot of time with Bill Musgrave talking through how we’re going to use him from week to week so he’s putting in the time and he obviously has the talent.
Q: Why do you think lining Patterson up in the backfield behind a fullback worked better than the end arounds?
A: Probably a little bit of the element of surprise. We’ve run some end arounds with him throughout the season at different points. From an adjustment standpoint defensively, that’s a little bit different when you haven’t seen it with this individual depending on what coverage they were in. I don’t want to say it caught them off guard but it was a different look for them.