Frazier, Cassel and Williams Address The Media on Wednesday

Posted Dec 18, 2013

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier



Kevin is well deserving of that award. He is, as you guys know, an example of how you’d want your players to be in all situations – after tough losses, big wins. Very gracious guy. Tremendous player but has the humility that you look for and such a great example for the rest of our players. We had a great walk through this morning. I think our guys are focused on what we have to be focused on – trying to get a win against a very good football team, a team that’s undefeated at home. We’re looking for our first road win of the season, so it’ll be a big challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it. Probably the only the guy that won’t work today we think will be Xavier Rhodes. We’ll probably hold him out and see if we can get him back tomorrow, but everybody else we’re expecting to get out and participate this afternoon. But it should be a good day for us.

Q: How does Adrian Peterson feel?

A: He’s feeling better. He’s feeling better so today he’ll get a chance to test things out a little bit, but he’s feeling better.

Q: How do you balance last week with all of the injuries and the guys that stepped up? How do you want to continue that and them proving they can do it but also having starters getting healthy and finding a balance of playing time for them?  

A: Well in the case of the running back position it’s not a hard decision. If Adrian is ready to go, it’s a pretty easy decision. Some of the others may be a little more challenging depending on how the other guy was playing prior to his injury. But you don’t like to see a guy lose his position because of injury. You’d like for it to happen because he got beat out but sometimes when a guy plays so well that he grabs your eye, it’s hard to ignore that when you’re trying to win games and you’ve still got to do what’s best for the team and what gives you the best chance to win. You make decisions based on that.  

Q: So Adrian will practice today? It seemed to work well when he sat out last week on Wednesday and Thursday and only having him practice on Friday.    

A: You sound just like Adrian saying that. No, if he’s healthy we’d like for him to get some work. We think that helps with the timing and helps with the offensive line as well.

Q: In your opinion is it possible for somebody to beat out a guy at his position in just one game? Or does it need to be a longer period of time?  

A: It depends on what that one game was like. It’s hard to say one game would be enough to beat another guy out who’s been starting all along unless that guy who was starting wasn’t really up to where you wanted the standard to be but you felt like you needed to go in that direction. There’s some variables in making that decision.

Q: With how things ended with you and Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati is that water under the bridge? Have you guys talked things out and gotten over that?    

A: Yeah, we get along fine. I have a lot of respect for Marvin, that entire Bengals organization, [the owners] the Browns. They were terrific to me during my time there and Marvin and I see each other in the offseason. We have a good relationship and I’m always thankful for every place that I’ve been in my career. Everywhere I’ve been has always been a benefit, so I’m thankful for my time in Cincinnati.

Q: Can you build on that diversity you showed on offense without Adrian? Or is it more challenging when you have him on the field because you want him to get his touches?

A: I don’t know if it’s more challenging but we want to be diverse and our offense is growing. You can see some of the things we’re doing with Cordarrelle [Patterson] and even with Jerome [Simpson] and some of the other guys and what we’re doing at the tight end position. We’re growing and evolving as the year has gone on as our players have matured within the offense. We expected to give Adrian the ball a bunch of times on this past Sunday but still throw the football. We felt like there were some things in their pass defense that we could exploit, just so happens that Matt [Asiata] ended up with those 30 carries. We stuck with the gameplan, it was a different guy carrying the football. But we think we can still be creative with Adrian in the backfield. But I think our offense, as long as Adrian is Adrian, will always revolve around Adrian but we still want to be able to throw the ball and have success, especially with the receivers that we have. Now some of that is contingent on your quarterback play and Matt did a terrific job for us on Sunday. You gain more confidence seeing some of the things that he was doing in the ballgame.

Q: How often does Matt Cassel have a run/pass option at the line of scrimmage? And is it easier to check out of the run when Matt Asiata is behind him as opposed to Adrian?

A: Well that option is up quite a bit in our offense. We get so much 8 and 9-man boxes that we have to run against and there are times that we’d rather not do. There are times we say run it no matter what but we have it up quite often where he has the option to maybe throw it outside or hand it off and he has to make that decision based off the look that he gets. Even if Adrian is in there, we still have that same option for the quarterback but I as mentioned there are times where we say hand it off no matter what.

Q: In Cincinnati that was the first time you had a coordinator job. How do you look at that experience as a whole and how it shaped you as a coach?     

A: Learned so much that even helps me now as a head coach. Just working with a staff and some of the things you want from your staff and just being able to communicate some of those thoughts and the things you want to get accomplished. It was a great opportunity for me and as I mentioned early every place that I’ve been I can look back and see the positives in each one of those situations where it’s helped me to where I am today. Thankful for that opportunity, thankful for the things I’ve learned, thankful for the Browns and allowing me to be there along with Marvin.

Q: In your experience what went wrong there?

A: When I was talking with the Cincinnati media today they referenced a quote (Lewis) had yesterday and it was probably one that kind of summarizes where things were at that time. He was a first time head coach, first time coordinator. A lot of things he learned, a lot of things I learned during that time, him being a former defensive guy as well. I think we both learned a lot from that experience. It’s helped me, a guy with a defensive background working with defensive coaches. It was a good experience in a lot of ways.  

Q: Can you talk about the success you’ve had in the month of December over the past 2 seasons?  

A: Well, we worked real hard on trying to position our team to play our best football in the month of December. Our players know that, we talk about it early in the season, we talk about it in training camp that we want to be positioned in December to playing our best football and we had that in mind going into this season, we just didn’t get off to the kind of start that we needed. The way we’ve tried to structure things, the way we do things during practice, after practice, developing the young players for moments like we had on Sunday where you’re down some key guys but you’re developing the young guys for moments like these and there are other teams that get hit with injuries as well but you need to have your players in the mindset that I’m one snap away from being a starter and they need to be thinking about that in Week 7, Week 6 and finally when it happens in Week 12 or Week 13 it’s not a surprise to them. I think the development of our players and just getting that mindset that we’re going to be playing our best football in December, which is usually the time that determines whether or not you’re going to make it or not to the next level. But that mindset, it’s there, but you need to get off to a better start than we have for it to be a little but more meaningful.

Q: Does the list of guys that will return to practice today include John Carlson?  

A: That includes John Carlson. He’s been cleared.

Q: What impression did you have of Andy Dalton before the draft and what do you think of what he’s been able to do there?    

A: I was impressed. Watched him on tape, looked at him a lot, and then when he came to visit and sit down and talk with him I was really, really impressed with his leadership. We had another offensive lineman here at the time from the same school and I talked with him about Andy because I was so impressed. Then watching him on tape, he’s done a lot of things that we thought he’d be able to do. He’s a very good football player, solid player.

Q: Was it close between him and Christian Ponder for your draft selection that season?

A: Christian was our quarterback. We targeted Christian and it worked out fine. He was our guy. We made that decision early on and fortunately for us when we got to I think it was 12, he was there. There were some other guys that went before him but it worked out for us.

Q: Why do you think Dalton has played better than a lot of the 1st-round picks that season?

A: Well, he’s done a good job there in Cincinnati. I think Christian has done a good job for us. The consistency has been the major issue from my perspective with Christian. We’re not displeased with the quarterback that we took and why we took him. Andy has done a good job for their team.   

Q: What was it with Matt Asiata in the spring and summer that kind of helped elevate and catch your eye?

A: Probably what he’s done on special teams. That was a separator when we talked about the 3rd running back on our team is going to be pretty different than maybe te 3rd running back on some other team and how that guys going to be used knowing that Adrian is going to get the bulk of the carries and Toby will get what will be left. The 3rd running back in our system, he’s not going to see that much time on the field if everything is going the way it should. So he needs to be a valuable cog on special teams and Matt has been that. He’s been a very good special teams player for us and that was a separator when it came to trying to identify that 3rd running back. His contribution in that area and then knowing that he’s a great utility guy. He can play fullback, he can play the halfback position and then you add what he gives you on special teams. That’s ideal for us as a 3rd running back.

Q: How do you approach the starters in your secondary this week?

A: Well after Harrison got some time we’re ready to put him back in the starting lineup. Let’s not delay that. We want him in the starting lineup. He did a good job. His presence in that game was huge, his playmaking ability. We’re glad to have him back and his teammates are too. But the other guys, we’ll have to see where Xavier eventually gets to if he can make it this week. We want to watch Chris [Cook] this week in practice, see how he does. We don’t have Josh [Robinson] anymore so we’ll still have to do a little juggling but we’ll see how it goes this week in practice.

Q: If Xavier and/or Chris is able to go this week will they supplant Shaun Prater?  

A: It depends on how they look in practice. If they’re looking like they can go out and match up with some pretty good receivers there in Cincinnati then there is a very good chance that is the case but we’ll have to see how they do.

Q: What do you say to Christian Ponder about the process with Matt Cassel now being the starter?

A: Be ready. Things can change in one snap. Prepare like a pro, keep your head up and just be ready at all times. That position, you’re one play away from having to go in and take over the team and lead the team. He understands that, he knows that.

Q: Is Cassel going to be your guy next week? Or is there any thought of getting a look at Josh Freeman?

A: Like to see Matt play well this week. Personally – and you guys might not believe this – but I don’t like juggling quarterbacks. I like to have a quarterback and not even have to worry about that position at all believing that things will be a lot better, a lot easier. But we’re counting on Matt having success and playing again the next week and leading us to victory over these next couple of weeks. But right now our focus is on this Cincinnati game. That’s the one that’s most important to our team.  

Q: Have you seen enough of Matt Cassel and Adrian together to see how they complement one another? Or do you need to see more of them?

A: You want to see Matt running our offense and see him having success running our offense with Adrian for sure. We expect Adrian to be out there and you want to see that happen but that’s not really part of my thought process or our thought process. We expect him to be able to play well with Adrian. He’s done that. It’s only been that one game last week where he wasn’t out there with Adrian. We’ve seen the two of them on the field together and we’ve seen the success that we’ve had with them on the field together. That Chicago game was a great example in how they function together, and Pittsburgh as well.

Q: Matt seems to be more willing to throw the ball down the field. Is that what you are looking for in a quarterback when trying to complement it with Adrian?

A: I tell you some of those plays he made in that ballgame against Philadelphia was good to see. There are some plays out there that we need to be able to take advantage of because of the way we run the ball and even though we didn’t get the kind of yards we probably would have gotten maybe with Adrian but we did run the ball well enough where they had to respect the run game so it opened up some things down the field and Matt made some big time plays down the field which resulted in a great day from a point standpoint. You like to see quarterbacks standing in the pocket, be strong, be confident, be poised and make those throws that he made. It makes our offense and our team so much better.

Q: How would you measure the quarterback position for your football team? And what kind of effect has it had on your football team?

A: I’m sure it’s had an effect. In our league, the quarterback position, and I can’t speak for the other 31 [teams] but in general it’s hard to win our league without real good play at that position. It’s really, really difficult. You need stability at that position. You need a guy playing well for your team to be successful over the course of 16 weeks, so the fact that we’ve had to move people around at that position, I’m sure it’s had some type of effect on where we are now. There’s no question about it. I would not deny that.

Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel

It doesn’t get any easier for us this week. We have another division leader right now that we’re going up against with the Cincinnati Bengals. Great team, sixth ranked defense in the league, they’re playing for a playoff berth and at the same time, we obviously want to go out and get a win. We’re excited about the opportunity and hopefully we can build off of what we did last week.

Q: How different is it this week that it’s a more comfortable situation? Are you maybe not looking over your shoulder as much than in previous starts?

A: I feel pretty much the same. If coach gives me the nod then I’m ready to go. Again, as I told you guys all along, I think my approach I try to stay as consistent as possible. It’s nice going into a week knowing that you’re the starter and there are no questions being asked in the locker room. I think everybody is prepared, like I said, hopefully to build off of what we did last week and go on there and have a good performance.

Q: How does it differ when you know that Adrian Peterson will be back there as far as preparation for you?

A: I think the coaches put together the game plan and whether or not that they know Adrian is playing, we’re going to go about our business the same way. You could look at the stats even from the game, I think we had 60-something plays and 30 of those were runs so we stayed pretty balanced even though Adrian and Toby (Gerhart) weren’t playing. At the same time, it was a great opportunity to go out there for a guy like Matt Asiata to come in. You can’t be anything but happy form somebody like that. Obviously, I’m sure that you guys know about it, earlier in the year he lost his father and to turn on ESPN and see somebody like that, who works so hard week in and week out and doesn’t always have an opportunity and have success score three touchdowns, we were all so fired up for him. That’s the great part about this league is that there are a lot of talented people that sometimes don’t get that opportunity and I was just happy for him that he did get an opportunity to play.

Q: Is it easier or more challenging to be that balanced when you don’t have Adrian as opposed to when you do have him?

A: Well I think it’s all dictated by the situation of the football game. You know, first and second down, how do we want to go about it, do we want to run the ball on second down and those kind of things. I don’t think our game plan really changed much because like I said, we pretty much stayed balanced and were able to throw the ball and set up our play action and do those kinds of things. From game plan standpoint, I really don’t think much would have changed if Adrian was playing.

Q: Would things be much different for this team had you gone into training camp with a chance to be the starter?

A: I honestly can’t say that. One of our big duties as a player is not to dwell on the past and stay in the now because that’s the only way you’re going to move forward and continue to be successful.

Q: Even without Adrian playing, did you see some of that potential in the offense when you signed here?

A: There’s no doubt. You look across the board from us offensively, we have a lot of weapons on the outside, we have some good tight ends, our offensive line is a veteran offensive line, they have played together for a few years and then you have your great running back situation here, so when I signed here there’s no doubt that came into play.

Q: You have a contract option for next year. Would you say you’re giving more consideration now to coming back than a few weeks ago?

A: I have that question a lot and the fact of the matter is I don’t really think about that because I think it would be unfair to the guys in that locker room, unfair to myself and unfair to our fans because really we have two games to go and when you start worrying about and thinking about that stuff I think it distracts you. For me, there’s going to be a time and a place for me to sit down with my wife, my family and discuss all that stuff, but right now is not that time. I’m really excited about having another opportunity to play for the Minnesota Vikings and be the starter this week and go out and play.

Q: At what point in your career were you able to get comfortable in the pocket and not let the surrounding mayhem around you bother you?

A: I think that’s always a tough question. You have 300-pound men trying to rip your head off every play. I don’t think you ever really get used to it or comfortable, but at the same time I think you just learn that as long as you go through your progressions and make sure you stay steady in the pocket and try to deliver the ball. That’s a part of our job and that’s a part of our duty, is you know you’re going to take hits. That’s why were lucky enough to wear red shirts during the week and on game day that’s just part of the job description. You go out there and you have to take some hits every now and then, but most of the day you stay upright.

Q: Looking back at your years at Kansas City, why didn’t it work out as well as you might have hoped?

A: I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing. I just say that we weren’t able to be consistent enough. Obviously, we had a great year with Coach (Charlie) Weis was the Offensive Coordinator and the following year I got hurt in game nine or something like that and then last year, unfortunately, we never got it going. But that’s sometimes how it goes. You learn from those situations, you learn from those experiences and hopefully from there it makes you a stronger player.

Q: You were under a lot of pressure from the fans, some of them cheered when you got hurt last year and you never lashed out. Is that just not your nature to not say anything publicly?

A: I think we’re all human. You hear that stuff and do all that, but you try to, like I said, as a player, if you get caught up in what people are saying and everyone’s opinion about you, everybody is going to have an opinion of you, whether good or bad, and if you get caught up in that and you don’t truly believe in yourself and what your capabilities are and what you can do, I think that it’s downward spiral from there. So I think you surround yourself with people that support you and you surround yourself with your teammates who care about you and you continue to move forward and just try to take out the positive and believe in yourself

Q: Are you surprised how well the Chiefs have done this year?

A: I’m not. That’s a great team and obviously they’ve had a tremendous amount of talent there on defense and Andy Reid is a heck of a coach and Alex (Smith) has gone in there and done a tremendous job and they’ve done a great job of utilizing their tools there. So I’m not surprised at all and you know what, I’m excited for a lot of those guys that I know that are still there. It’d be a fun time right now at Arrowhead I’m sure because that’s fun place to play when things are going well.

Q: What do you think you need to do to become the long term quarterback for a team? Do you need to take care of the ball better, which you maybe had some problems with in Kansas City, or are there other aspects in your quarterbacking?

A: I think as a quarterback you’re constantly working to get better in each and every phase in your game. I’m learning just as much this year as I’ve learned every other year previous. You try to build on your positives and try to work on those negatives things and the things that maybe you struggle with. Maybe it’s a progression, maybe it’s stepping up in the pocket or seeing a blitz and if you’re able to continue to work I think then you get better each and every day.

Q: Why were you able to have success against Philadelphia, especially in the deep passing game?

A: You know what, guys did a tremendous job of just running to get open and the offensive line gave us some time. I was able to see the field well throughout the game, I was understanding what we were trying to get done and accomplished with those plays, so it just all kind of came together for us.

Q: How often do you go to the line with a run/pass option? And is your call influenced at all by whether it’s Adrian or Asiata behind you?

A: Normally anytime you have a check at the line of scrimmage whether it’s run/pass or run to run, it’s based off a certain look the defense going to give you. It’s not who’s behind you or anything like that. Throughout the course of the week, and I’ve been in a lot of different systems and it’s basically the same throughout every system I’ve been in, it’s just based and dictated off of the defensive look so whether it’s safety rotation or they don’t rotate or anything like that, that’s usually what the checks based off of.

Q: Do you think you got different looks without Adrian on Sunday? What were those looks like compared to games with Adrian?

A: To be completely honest, their scheme is pretty consistent throughout. They don’t change much and why would they? I mean, before this game I think they gave up a total of 24 points was the most all season and they won five straight so I think they came in with the mentality of we’re going to do what we do. I think that we had a great week of practice, great preparation and really understood what we’re trying to get accomplished, like I said, with some of the plays the coaches did a great job putting together.

Vikings DT and 2013 Korey Stringer Good Guy Award Winner Kevin Williams

Chip Scoggins:

I’m Chip Scoggins with the Star Tribune and it’s my pleasure to be able to present the 2013 Korey Stringer Good Guy Award. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to cover Korey or get to know him, but whenever you talked to people who knew him well or whether it’s other media members or Tom West or staff members they always tell you how great a guy he was. I’m proud that our chapter can continue to honor Korey by presenting this award every year. I think as media members we value athletes that are accessible and also give honest and insightful answers and Kevin Williams definitely embodies that. Anyone who covers Kevin knows that he’s not a guy who is going to rant and rave and draw attention to himself, that’s not his style or personality, but I think when you go to Kevin you know you’re going to get good, insightful, thoughtful answers. Knowing his stature inside the NFL and inside his own locker room, you know that his works carry a lot of weight so, Kevin, on behalf of the Vikings media contingent, thank you for your help this season and throughout your career. I present to you the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award.

Kevin Williams:

Wow guys, becoming popular here the last few weeks in my old age. I’d just like to thank you guys for voting and choosing me for the award. I know you guys have a tough job to do and us as players don’t always make it easy for you, so I appreciate you guys voting for me for this award. I never really got to play with Korey or meet Korey. He was already gone before I got here, but I heard he was a great guy and it’s a tremendous honor to receive this award in his name. 

Q: How difficult has it been to put up with all the questions over the years?

A: It’s not been too bad. You guys have a difficult job, like I said, to do and to try to get the information you need you have to ask the tough questions. As bad as we might not want to answer, it’s your job to try to get the info and get your story done.

Q: What’s worse, talking after a loss or talking on the witness stand?

A: Probably talking after a loss because the emotions are always flowing. It’s easy to answer stuff after a big win or you play well, but to answer the tough questions after you’ve lost a game, and especially a game where you’re close to winning, is always difficult.

Q: Who’s the guy who you kind of looked up to both as a player and dealing with the media?

A: Lance Johnstone was a big influence on me when I first got here. I don’t think I could have modeled myself after Randy (Moss) too much with some of the stuff he did with you guys. I had Lance in my group, (Chris) Hovan, all those veteran defensive lineman in my group. They were huge in kind of pointing you in the right direction and saying the right things and trying not to make a monkey out of yourself with the media.

Q: It took you a few seasons to come out of your shell a little bit. Was there a point when you felt more comfortable to you to talk more?

A: I just had to accept it. If you’re going to play well on the field, you’re going to be asked a lot of questions about the game after it’s over, so basically just had to embrace it and roll with the punches.

Q: Coach Frazier talked spoke well of the veterans stepping up last Saturday night and talking to the team about needing to win the game and staying together as a team. How important have the veterans been keeping the team together in the second half of the season?

A: We are just trying to keep encouraging the guys to fight. We’ve had a bad season here before, but if you look at the tape, guys are not lacking in effort and fight and that’s one thing we’ve tried to pride ourselves in. We still have to clean up mistakes and still have to correct all the miscues we had, but playing hard, that’s something all of us have emphasized and even Coach Frazier, so that’s something we really try to hang our hat on.

Q: Now that you’re the veteran in your group, what is one piece of advice you would give the young guys early in their career with dealing with the media?

A: If you don’t know the answer, just say you don’t know. You can’t sit there and make up and answer or try to exaggerate something. Answer it truthfully. You guys are going to keep digging, you’re going push us and try to fish for information, but be respectful and answer the best you can without giving too much away or not telling game plans or whatever the question may be.

Q: You have one more game in the dome. Are you going to grab any souvenirs?

A: I was telling my wife the other day, there was a little bit of emotions running just thinking about that. I was realizing that was my next to last game on this contract in the dome, so in the dome for good. I don’t know what is going to happen next week, we’ll see. Probably a lot of thoughts go running through my head before the game.