Coach Speak: Hester's Greatness, Simpson's Start and Williams Possible Return

Posted Sep 12, 2013

The Vikings three coordinators had their customary weekly press conference on Thursday following the team’s morning walk-through. In this weekly piece, we’ll choose a comment from each of them and explain or react to what was said.

Question asked: Can you talk about (Devin) Hester and where he ranks in terms of guys that you’ve had to prepare for?

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said: “He ranks number one, and it’s not even close. He’s in an elite class; he’s in a class by himself because of what he’s done in his past. People have asked me this week and even during the offseason, ‘Has he slowed down a bit?’ I don’t think so. He’s just as dangerous as he’s ever been. Speed, elusiveness, on punt returns he can always make the first guy miss. He’s got better vision than any returner I’ve had to prepare for. He can see things long before they happen and he can set things up, and set up the coverage team and he can see what’s going to happen before anyone else does. He’s unique and very rare.”

Reaction: Vikings fans will agree with Priefer’s assessment of Hester. In 13 career games against the Vikings, Hester has four return touchdowns and has a kickoff return average of 27.4 and a punt return average of 14.3. But there’s good news, Vikings fans. Since Priefer has been in command of the special teams in Minnesota, Hester’s numbers have gone down. In the past three seasons (Priefer’s tenure), Hester has no return touchdowns and averages of 11.0 on kickoff returns and 8.5 on punt returns. Those numbers are drastically decreased from his career numbers vs. the Vikings and those numbers will be just fine if they are what the Vikings allow this Sunday.

Question asked: Did you go into that game thinking he (Jerome Simpson) could emerge as your top target, given the matchups?

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said: “Well we were going to put him in position to do so. We didn’t get through a lot of our game plan, as you can imagine, when you run less than 20 plays in the first half and wind up with in the low forties before we got into two-minute mode. We didn’t get through very much of our game plan. We weren’t on the field enough. Definitely a feeling of un-fulfillment throughout the whole offense. Now Jerome, he did have his moments and that was a bright spot.”

Reaction: The Vikings didn’t put together a series of more than four plays until deep into the 3rd quarter vs. the Lions and, as Musgrave stated, they ran an extremely low number of plays for a NFL game. So Musgrave is correct in that he wasn’t able to get into his game plan and that’s why we didn’t see as much of Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and Jarius Wright as we all would have liked. The key is to improve on early downs to put the offense in more manageable 3rd downs. Whether that means better execution of the kinds of plays already being called or it means running different kinds of plays on early down, the plan must be executed better by the players. If it is, the Vikings can get into their game plan and get the ball into the hands of their playmakers in pass-catching positions.

Question asked: What kind of difference can Kevin Williams make if he’s ready to go this week?

Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said: “I think he will be ready. Just having the experience of a guy out there that has seen it before, and not only that, Kevin is still a good football player. His leadership, and when the guys look at another guy like that in the huddle, it gives them confidence that ‘Hey, we’re going to get the job done.’ So I can’t measure it, Kevin being back. We’re glad he’s there.”

Reaction: Some viewed Williams’ absence vs. the Lions as a potential blessing in disguise for the Vikings defense because it would allow younger players, such as Sharrif Floyd, an opportunity to play so we could see what they might be able to add to this defense. Floyd flashed, Fred Evans made plays and a few others got some good work in, but when you add it all up it didn’t equal what Williams can bring to the table. The Vikings missed Williams last Sunday in Detroit, and hopefully he’ll be on the field this Sunday in Chicago.