Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
It was good to be back out here practicing and starting to prepare for a Monday night ball game. It helps to have a bonus practice in a way, having this day, for us to work. We’ll talk about injuries when we get together tomorrow. Probably the biggest change for us is what we’re going to do at quarterback. We’re going to try to get Josh (Freeman) ready for this Monday night ball game. He’s been spending a lot of time with the coaches from the day he arrived to prepare, to play and eventually start for our team. We’re going to see how the week goes, but our anticipation is that he’ll be ready to go on Monday night and he’ll perform well. We’re going to need our entire team to perform well in order for us to get a win on Monday night in New York. Other than that, we’re just working as hard as we can to come back and get done the things we have to get done as a football team.
Q: What has
A: I like the things that he’s done in his career along with the things he’s done since he arrived here with our football team. The time he’s put in, how well he’s adapting to our system and I like his work ethic. He’s done enough for us to say we want to give him this opportunity, which is something we had in mind when we acquired him. We think now is the time and our coaching staff is going to do a great job in preparing him and making sure we have a game plan that will allow him to be successful and allow our team to be successful.
A: Christian will be our back up on Monday night. We still have quite a few days prior to Monday night, but yes.
Q: Is this your decision, or does Rick Spielman get involved in this?
A: This is Coach Frazier and the coaching staff’s decision.
Q: You mentioned you wanted to see how Josh does this week. What kind of scenario would there be if you got to Sunday and you weren’t sure?
A: I don’t anticipate that coming up, but you always have to be aware of the possibilities, so we’ll have contingencies if something were to happen. You hope nothing negative happens in practice, but you always have to have contingencies.
Q: How much volume will you put in the game plan based on how little time Josh has spent here?
A: We’ll put in just enough for him to be able to execute and execute well and lead our team to victory on Monday night. We’ll have enough in to do what we have to do.
Q: Do you anticipate any other change or is this Josh’s chance to seize the job going forward?
A: Yeah, we’re in hope that he’s going to have a great game on Monday night and that’s how we’re looking at it. We’re not looking at the glass being half empty. We expect him to play well and our team to play well.
Q: Do you plan on keeping Christian on the roster the rest of the season?
A: That’s never crossed my mind that Christian wouldn’t be on our roster, so it’s not crossing my mind now. I don’t see any scenario where he wouldn’t be on our roster.
A: Yeah, personal matter.
Q: Is it related to what is going on in South Dakota?
A: It’s a personal matter for Adrian.
Q: How has he been able to handle everything since he’s come back? It’s obviously a very, very difficult thing for anyone to go through.
A: You said it, it’s a very difficult situation, without question. It has many challenges, many challenges.
Q: Is this the only day he’s going to miss?
A: Yes, as we speak. He and I will talk later today, but I expect him to be back tomorrow ready to go.
Q: With Josh taking over, did
A: Matt did a good job for us, led us to a good win against Pittsburgh and did some good things on Sunday as well. We just evaluated where we were as a football team and what we think Josh can give us at the quarterback position and made the decision based on that.
Q: Do you have to address and potential concerns with the offensive guys about giving Josh the job pretty quickly? Have any of them expressed concern to you?
A: Not directly to me, no.
Q: How much of the playbook will Freeman utilize on Monday?
A: We’ll have enough from our playbook where he can function and have success and allow our offense to have success as well. We’re not going to have the entire playbook, but we don’t do that anyway. We have game plans specifically for that team and that’s what we’ve done here as well, so we’ll have enough in where he won’t get bogged down and he can go out and play well.
Q: How soon in this process did you see that Josh would be able to go?
A: That’s a good question. Actually, last Wednesday we have a post-practice with our guys and he ran that and he had only been with us for 24 hours. The way he functioned that day, it was far different than what I expected and any of our coaches expected, but he had worked hard once he arrived. From the moment he stepped foot in the building he wanted to learn and the way he handled himself in that practice it changed my mindset about the possibilities. We had a time frame in mind originally, but watching what he did from the day he arrived, that cemented it for me that sooner was a possibility.
Q: Was that post-practice with your scout team?
A: Yeah, with our young guys.
Q: Did he take any first team reps at all last week or was today the first time?
A: Today was the first day with first team reps.
Q: Going forward, what is Christian’s role? Is he solely the backup or does he have chance to compete to get his job back?
A: For this season and for this ball game, primarily for this ball game, he’s going to be our backup quarterback in this game. There’s still so much football to be played. There are so many things that can happen over the course of the remaining parts of this season. I don’t want to pigeon hole Christian by any means, but with Josh, we’re hoping he does well. That’s why we’re putting him in the lineup. If something were to happen and Christian had to get in there, we’d expect Christian to play well also. We’ll see how it goes as time goes on.
Q: Why Christian Ponder over Matt Cassel for the backup spot?
A: I just went through some different things in my mind about what we needed to do and why we wanted to do it. I really don’t want to get into a lot of detail as to how I came to that conclusion. I have spoken with each one of them and explained to them how I have, but publically, I don’t really want to get into it.
Q: Are you allowed to make these decisions all by yourself or do you have to consult with Rick?
A: With our ownership, as well as Rick. When you’re talking about the quarterback position, which affects your entire franchise, this is not a decision that you make alone. I informed them what I was thinking and why I thinking this and why I wanted to do it and they signed off on it. But no, you don’t make these kind of decisions on an island. I need their support and I need them to understand why.
Q: Quarterback hasn’t been a problem, defense has been your problem.
A: Our defense has not played well and our defense has to play better. Our entire team has to play better, but our defense for sure has to play better.
Q: What’s the last week been like for Freeman? How much extra time has he put in with Craig Johnson and Kevin Stefanksi?
A: He has put in a lot of hours here, as I said earlier, from the day he arrived. He was here late last night spending time with Craig and going through assignments and what we were going to do here today in practice and I’m sure he’s in there right now watching tape and visiting with the coaches. He has hung around this building. It’s been good to see, the way he has put the time in to prepare. And this is prior to knowing this was going to happen this week. He has put in a lot of time trying to understand our offense and get acclimated to his teammates as well. He has done a good job.
Q: Do you have to tell the owners and Rick, or do you have to ask them to make the decision to make the change?
A: What I did was talk with them on Monday when I had it in my mind what direction I wanted to go. I explained it to them and explained it to them why I wanted to do it, they asked me whatever questions they had and then they signed off it. They agreed.
Q: You have the authority, if they had not agreed with you, to start who you want to start?
A: Yeah, I think that’s always been the case. It’d be hard to be the head coach if you can’t do that. That’s important. That’s a good question, but it’s very important.