Coach Speak: Musgrave on Cassel, Williams on McCoy, Priefer on Locke

Posted Dec 12, 2013

The three Vikings coordinators had their customary weekly press conferences 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: You have Matt (Cassel) back (starting). What do you think he’s excelled at?

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said: “He’s been very sharp with where to go with the football. He’s avoided sacks and negative plays, kind of kept us on schedule. He’s done a lot of good things to help the team that may not be reflected in the actual passing numbers, but it’s helped the whole team be successful.”

Reaction: After giving up 11 sacks the past two weeks, the Vikings allowed zero sacks last week in Baltimore. Credit should be given to the protection personnel and scheme, of course, but Musgrave makes a valid point that the quarterback is responsible for avoiding sacks, as well. Cassel has been sacked once every 26.5 drop backs, a rate that is better than all but one of the 10 highest-rated quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Also, Cassel has taken zero or one sack in four of the six games he’s played this season. A lot of bad things can happen to an offense on a play that includes a sack – injury to the quarterback, fumble, lost yardage, longer to-go distance on 3rd down, etc. Cassel has done a good job of avoiding sacks this season.

Question asked: What kind of player is LeSean McCoy?

Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said: “Dynamic, in every phase. Dynamic out of the backfield in the passing game. Dynamic when you have him bottled up. He’s Houdini. You think you have him bottled up and he’s right there, you may look away, the next thing you know he’s 30 yards down the field. We’ll have our hands full. We have to tackle, and we have to tackle, and we have to tackle. He’s a fantastic football player and I don’t know if he gets the recognition really that he should.”

Reaction: McCoy will get plenty of recognition here on He was the subject of one of our five storylines to watch on Wednesday because of his versatility and value to the Eagles offense. Not only is McCoy the NFL’s leading rusher, but he’s also second on the Eagles in receptions with 40. He ranks No. 1 in the NFL in all-purpose yardage, as well. McCoy is as dynamic and dangerous a weapon as there is in the NFL, and he’ll be playing on the fast track of Mall of America Field this Sunday.

Question asked: How is Jeff Locke coming along this season?

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said: “He had nine punts. That’s a lot of punts in those elements. I thought he had only one poor punt. He had one with a little bit high of a snap and got out of it pretty quickly, that wound up being a touchback. He bobbled one snap and didn’t panic – I think we had a 37-yard net out of it. He had the one 3.35 hang time that came back 20 yards against us, and that was really it. Out of nine punts, eight were positive. I was very pleased.”

Reaction: We had Locke as a guest on this week’s Wobcast, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t already because he talked about punting and handling the ball in those elements. Another thing I would add to Priefer’s evaluation of Locke’s game in Baltimore is the fact that he did a good job as Blair Walsh’s holder, a task he’s handled fluidly all season. Locke has come on strong the past three games in particular and it’ll be fun to watch him close the season on a positive note, especially with two of his final three games coming in the friendly kicking confines of Mall of America Field. Kudos to Rick Spielman and his scouting staff for hitting home runs in consecutive drafts on specialists with Walsh (sixth round 2012) and Locke (fifth round 2013).