MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon. Tough ballgame, tough loss for us yesterday in a tough environment. Guys played hard. We came up short for a lot of different reasons but it wasn’t for a lack of guys fighting as hard as they could to get a win. We just weren’t able to close it out to finish the ballgame. The guys went into it with the belief that they were going to win the football game and find a way to get it done and work towards that goal throughout the day. Couldn’t get it done at the end, but I really liked the way our team fought and played as hard as they could to get a win on the road. I liked the way our defense came up with turnover after turnover. Great job in some clutch situations. The 4th-and-1 stopping them, trying to get some momentum. The way our offense came together at the end and put some points on the board. Our special teams did a great job right up until that kick that we had towards the end of the game. A lot of good things that happened but in our business the bottom line is getting the win and we didn’t get that done yesterday. Very frustrated, very disappointed. We have another ballgame coming up. We’ll have to find a way to be able to turn the page and pick our heads up and get ready for this next ballgame. That’s what will become most important as the week progresses. We did get banged up a little bit. Most of you are familiar with Adrian [Petersons]’s situation. We are still waiting for further information regarding his foot sprain. We’ll get some more information later on today as they are going through other exams, so we’ll learn a little bit more. John Carlson suffered a concussion, so he has to go through the NFL protocol, so he’ll be day-to-day. Brandon Fusco left the game with a knee strain. He’ll be day-to-day as well, so we’ll learn a little bit more about him. You saw at the end on Cordarrelle [Patterson]’s long touchdown play that Toby [Gerhart] wasn’t in the ballgame and he strained his hamstring, so we’ll have to see how he progresses as the week goes on. Xavier [Rhodes] left the field as well, sprained his ankle, so we’ll learn a little bit more about him. He’ll be day-to-day as well. Kyle Rudolph, we were hoping that we’d be able to get him up and practicing this week. That’s not going to be the case. We made the decision that we are going to put him on Injured Reserve so he’ll be down for the rest of the year. With Greg Childs, we’re going to put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He did a good job in his return, did some things that we were glad to see, but at this point made the decision that he’s going to be on the PUP list. Little nicked up in some areas. Some other guys will have to step up and help us but we’ll see how the week goes as we go forward.
Q: What’s your concern with Adrian?
A: Until I get more information this afternoon it’s hard to say. I’m hoping – and we all are – that he’ll be able to get back on the field soon. But we’ll learn more this afternoon later today.
Q: Is there something beyond an MRI or just more tests that are going to happen?
A: More x-rays, more MRI, an evaluation and making sure that he sees a foot specialist as well.
Q: Did the early x-rays show anything?
A: They didn’t, so they want to get everything to a foot specialist, let him examine it also.
Q: Are you going to activate Harrison Smith?
A: We’re going to make a decision on Harrison at the end of the week. Probably Friday or Saturday make a decision.
Q: Clarification on Childs. Does he go to season-ending injured reserve?
A: Physically Unable to Perform (PUP).
Q: In hindsight when you look at Cordarrelle’s past few weeks do you think that you guys were too conservative with him early? Or do you think you played it right?
A: I really think we did the right thing. Looking at where he was when he arrived and the things that we’re trying to get done with him in training camp and throughout the early part of the season. We had a plan for him from the very beginning, from the day we drafted him we wanted to bring him along and it’s worked out beautifully. You see the things he’s done now but I don’t know if those things would have occurred in Spetember or October if we didn’t take the approach that we took. I think we did it the right way to get the results we wanted to be able to get this time of the year.
Q: Where can he go from here? We’ve seen flashes from him when he could be an elite player in the league.
A: There’s no question about it. We saw in college some of the things that he did and when we drafted him we had that idea that he could be a special guy in our league. And he’s showing that with some of the things he’s done when the ball is in his hands. He has a chance to be very special for a long time.
Q: Has Christian Ponder passed the concussion protocol and do you know what you might do there?
A: I did find out this morning that he did pass everything so he’s cleared now. We’ll sit down today as a staff and talk about how we want to go forward at the quarterback position.
Q: You indicated that looking at younger guys may come to fruition. Is that the case now that you are officially eliminated from the playoffs? And does that mean potentially Josh Freeman?
A: We’re playing a lot of young guys now. We’re into our depth at almost every position where we have young guys so we’re not really holding anybody back. If they can help us we’re putting them on the field where needed. In regards to Josh, we’ll talk about him as we’re figuring out what we want to do as we approach Philadelphia. We’ll see where things are when we get through talking today.
Q: How do you assess Matt Cassel’s performance yesterday?
A: I thought he did some good things – protected the ball, avoided some sacks, got us in good plays, really got us going there in the 4th quarter. We were struggling to stay on the field on 3rd downs throughout most of the game and then in the 4thquarter we started hitting our stride a little bit. So I thought he played a pretty solid game.
Q: Do you see any possibility of Josh Robinson playing on Sunday?
A: The word I got today, he’s making some progress but not to the point where he’s going to be ready for this ballgame. We’ll have to make a decision on how we want to go forward with him as I learn a little bit more about the likelihood of his playing in maybe the following game that’ll determine what we do with him going forward.
Q: I assume John Carlson suffered his concussion on the one with the catch and tackle. Do you have any issue with the way he was tackled?
A: No. I mean you don’t like people going to a player’s head for player safety reasons. That’s one of the things that’s being emphasized. I know that the league will take a look at that hit amongst some others in that ballgame and they’ll give some clarification on what needs to be done and how it should be approached. But they’ll give us some clarification.
Q: How much of a factor is it with Adrian that you are out of contention with 3 games left?
A: Depending on what we find out, it’ll factor in. We’ll find out more this afternoon and make a decision from there, but you can’t ignore that fact.
Q: Do you feel that Toby can get back for next Sunday?
A: Depends on to what degree the hamstring injury is and we’ll know a little bit more Wednesday when we get out and start moving around a little bit. Probably after that day or maybe Thursday we’ll have a better idea.
Q: Adrian always wants to play and even talked about coming back yesterday. Do you take a bigger picture look with him and the approach and say for the good of him and his future I’ve got to look at that part too?
A: Well you want to know exactly how severe the injury is and that helps you make that kind of a decision. As we learn more about the severity of it, or the lack of severity, then you can make a clear decision about this ballgame and future ballgames in the season.
Q: How do you deal with the composure and frustrations with some of the inconsistencies in the officiating yesterday?
A: It was difficult but every team deals with it and just got to try to find a way to overcome some of the things that happen during the course of a ballgame, the adversity that occurs.
Q: Did they ever offer an explanation of the Toby Gerhart fumble?
A: They did. Said it wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn is what I was told on the field.
Q: Have you had that conversation with the league regarding that call?
A: I actually got a call from the league unsolicited this morning. It was a good conversation and when we got off the phone I said if I were asked a question you just asked I would reference any comments to the league office. But the fact that they called should give you an indication of how they felt about things on that day without any provocation from me. So that was encouraging that they wanted to talk about that game from yesterday.
Q: Was it specifically the Gerhart fumble? Or broadly?
A: Broadly. We did talk about the Gerhart play.
Q: Are you saying that it was basically an apology?
A: I’ll have to go back to what we agreed when we got through talking that you guys are welcome to call and they will answer questions.
Q: Have you ever had that happen where they call you first?
A: It’s happened twice this season.
Q: What was the first time?
A: There was another game earlier in this season that they called about. I don’t want to be too specific on that one.
Q: Given all of that with the crazy finish you had yesterday did that sting any more than any of the other losses?
A: When the guys are playing as hard as they’re playing and practicing and preparing the way they are and you don’t get a win, it’s hard. It’s really hard. You don’t put in all of the work that they’re putting in to come up short in a game that goes back and forth like it did at the end and when it seems like we had gotten what we wanted. So it’s tough. Games like that are tough.
Q: When you look at everything that has transpired this season how hard is it to kind of fight that “what-if” mentality and what could have been for this season?
A: Maybe after the season you look back but like right now myself, the coaches, the players really have to focus on this Eagles game coming up and turn the page. We’re going to be playing in front of our fans on Sunday. It’s a chance for us with one of the few remaining games we have at Mall of America Field to play well. I don’t much about the Eagles at this point but trying to get a win at home. That’s where our focus will have to be.
Q: If Peterson and Gerhart are out or somehow limited, does Matt Asiata get carries?
A: Yeah, even if Toby is limited and Adrian, for whatever reason, is not able to play, definitely Matt would have to fill in for sure.
Q: What went into the decision to use a pop-up kick on the one Jacoby Jones returned for a touchdown?
A: Well we had a similar situation a week ago against one of the great returners of all-time with Devin Hester and we kicked to him throughout the game, we kicked to him at the end of regulation and he took it back to the 50-yard line. I remember when we got into overtime I said, ‘Let’s make sure we mortar-kick this,’ Which is the kick we tried yesterday and we did a good job and got him stopped at the 30. The defense got a three-and-out and did good. So rather than have another very good returner, Jacoby Jones, a guy who’s scored several touchdowns on returns, return the ball for a touchdown, we wanted to make sure we put it in someone else’s hands. Let someone else catch the ball and go down and cover it similar to what we did with Hester. Low and behold, Jacoby comes up, catches it and scores. Tough one. We were trying to keep the ball away from him and let someone else have a chance to field it and take some time off the clock and that didn’t happen.
Q: We’ve seen situations this year where other teams have done that to Cordarrelle and he’s tried to come up and catch the kickoff. Is that going to be a focus to keep that dynamic aspect in the game?
A: Well we do have it set up where he can overrule the guy who they’re trying to kick it to and when he can get to it, he’ll try to do it, but if he can’t get to it, we have guys that we trust in those positions. Toby is one of those guys who we have in that position, Matt Asiata is another guy in that position. The people that we have there we’re trusting that they can field it and get some yards as well.
Q: Your players said the crowd was throwing snowballs at your bench. Is there anything you tried to do on the field or after the game to try to limit that?
A: It’s something that we’ll talk about. I didn’t talk about it after the game, but I did see snowballs coming, but I didn’t address it right away after the game, there were so many other things, obviously, going on in my mind at that time. It’s something definitely I’ll talk with our security about and make our league aware of as well.
Q: Was that a part of the conversation with the league today?
A: It was not.
Q: How long did you end up having to wait before the plane left Baltimore yesterday?
A: I don’t know. We got home about midnight, maybe. A little after midnight, yeah, a little after midnight.
Q: Did you see guys get hit with snowballs on the sideline?
A: I felt a snowball on my back, too. I felt it, too. It was not specific for anyone, just anybody wearing purple. It’s not what the league wants, not anybody. Nobody wants that.
Q: With the cornerback situation, if you don’t have Josh Robinson and you don’t have Xavier Rhodes, would you move Marcus Sherels outside or Robert Blanton even?
A: Yeah if we don’t have Xavier and we don’t have Josh, you still have Chris (Cook), Marcus is still there. We’ll have to sit down and figure out where Robert and figure out what’s the best thing to do. We have Shaun Prater as well, so we’ll have to figure it out if Xavier is not ready to go.
Q: Do you expect a couple signings this week to make up for some of these injuries?
A: Potentially. We would be pretty thin going into a ball game with three corners or maybe four corners. We’ll have to see what happens with the running back position. We’ll definitely end up having to do something somewhere depending on what happens and who we may or may not have.
Q: If you have to focus on the passing game a little bit more with the injuries at running back, will that affect the decision on who starts at quarterback?
A: No matter who’s the running back, we’re still going to emphasize the run game. That’d still be priority number one. That won’t come into the decision.
Q: How do you think Audie Cole played, specifically in coverage?
A: I thought he did a good job for the most part. Throughout the day he was where he needed to be. He helped get our guys lined up. That play in the fourth quarter, tough play with 10 seconds left, it was just a little bit out of his reach. The quarterback made a great throw, the receiver got his feet down. Just a tough play, but I thought Audie, overall, did a great job.