Frazier On Red Zone Play Calling, Defense on Bears' Final Drive and More

Posted Sep 16, 2013

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

Good afternoon guys. Injury wise we came out fairly well. The only guy that is in danger of maybe not practicing on Wednesday is Rhett Ellison who hyperextended his knee, so we’ll monitor him throughout the week and see how he progresses. John Sullivan turned out to be just a contusion, a bump on his calf rather than a strain, so that was encouraging. Everybody else, a few bumps and bruises but nothing that will keep them from work so we are relatively healthy in that way. The game itself, tough, tough game, loss. After looking at that tape and going through it a number of different times, when you’re in a close game like we were yesterday, there are a lot of things you’ll look at and say maybe this, maybe that, but at the end of the day our guys fought extremely hard on the road and put us in a position to have a chance to have success. We just came up short. You can’t fault the effort, the perseverance and the resiliency they showed in just battling and battling and overcoming situations. The way our defense continued to come up with turnover after turnover, scoring on defense, the kickoff return by Cordarrelle (Patterson), just a terrific job by him and the guys that were up front blocking for him, the way our offense came on, especially in that second half and our offensive line really began to get some movement against their defensive line. I saw some things that hopefully we can build on. The red zone issues that we had definitely affected our day, down there three different times and to come away with just field goals definitely could have affected the outcome of the ball game. The two-minute situation that I referred to yesterday where we had some chances and just couldn’t get it done and I mentioned to you yesterday that I kind of kicked myself on that. That was an opportunity for me to interject and maybe help in a way like I do with our offense, like I do with our special teams. I’ve just got to do things better from my standpoint in those situations. But the overall effort by our guys and that attitude of not giving in when things don’t go right I think gives us a chance going forward and that’s exactly what we’ll have to be able to do is go forward. Today we’ll rehash this ball game this afternoon with our players and then we have to move on. As much as you’d like to go round and round and round and talk about it and second guess this and second guess that, after today, this will be it for us talking about this ball game.

Q: What was it that you saw on that last defensive series?

A: You know we had a couple of opportunities to maybe make some plays. The one I’m thinking about more is when they had the holding penalty on Jared (Allen) and they ended up coming up with a big completion that gained quite a few yards and put them closer to scoring range. There were some things that we could have done differently, that I could have done differently in that situation helping to prepare our coaches and players in that situation. There are some things, we practiced that situation a number of different times going back to OTAs and training camp. We’ve just got to do a better job and I know what it is that we need to do. It’s hard to talk about that publicly because we’re going to find ourselves in that situation in the future, but just got to handle it a little bit differently.

Q: Is it something you wish you would have done differently during the week or the play calling in the game?

A: Not during the week because it’s a situation we cover quite often as I mentioned. We’re hitting those type of situations throughout OTAs, throughout training camp, during practice during the week we hit those situations. We kind of got away from some things that we would ordinarily do in that situation. But that’s nothing to do with our coaches, that’s more to do with me because that’s something that if it’s our offense, if it’s our special teams, I’m on the headsets and I’m saying, “Let’s do this, let’s do that, whatever,” and I could have helped with some strategy there.

Q: When do you step in to make those types of decisions and override Alan Williams?

A: Well both he and Bill (Musgrave) along with (Mike) Prief(er) we have a great relationship so they understand and when I step in and say, “Let’s do this versus that,” but there is a balance. We talk about so many things prior to the game. You don’t want to wait until game situations to be the first time you ever get a chance to go through some of these things. We have a plan but to answer your question it’s a fine line but we’re able to get it done, we’ve been able to get it done. 

Q: What was going on before the final touchdown of the game? Did some players not know what the call was or were some of them out of position?

A: It was a call we made in the first half when we were on the goal line. We called it back-to-back when they tried those fade balls, so it’s the same call, we just didn’t execute it as well and it cost us. It’s something we worked on, it’s something that we executed well in the first half but we didn’t get it executed there.

Q: On the Bears big first down play on the final drive, was that a busted coverage?

A: Not necessarily a bust, but there are some things that have to happen for that defense to be effective in that situation and part of it is there’s some things I need to talk to them about even before that play occurs and there was time to do that, that was right after penalty. But they handled it the right way, just some things I needed to talk through with them as well as the coaches. It was something we actually worked on during the week but it’s something we’ve got to handle a little bit better when we get in that situation again.

Q: Is that something you see live or when you go back on tape then second guessing yourself?

A: No, when it occurred I knew just from being in those situations before kind of what’s going to unfold and you anticipate it. Sometimes you can get it to the players through the headsets ahead of time or right before the play begins. I could have handled that one a little better.

Q: Would you have called a timeout in that same situation on that last play?

A: Possibly, if I could turn the wheels of time back.

Q: When Erin said he was surprised by the play call and said you hadn’t practiced it. Did he mean on that play or in the two-minute drill?

A: Well we work on it in that area of the field often. We used it a season ago as well and we used it in the first half as well. So it’s a defense that we’ve run before we just didn’t get it executed in that situation. We had a few different things that we will do with 20 seconds left, with 10 seconds left in a game. We have a couple of different calls but we have a go to call that they know that we like.

Q: Do you think when after you scrutinize this one more time that you’ll have to gather Alan Williams and maybe some of the players, if not trust but continuity that you have to rebuild after this?  

A: Not at all. I don’t. I do not. They played some very good football. They played winning football. Our defense, without their effort yesterday it could have been a long, long day. The play by Kevin Williams on the one-yard line to get that batted ball, Harrison Smith, the interception, the sack-fumble by Jared, the recovery by B-Rob (Brian Robison), the play by Letroy Guion. Our defense, wow, they played good football, so no. We’re talking about a sequence that was a very important sequence during the course of the game but you can’t take away all of the good things that our defense did yesterday. There are just some things from my standpoint that I have to manage better, that’s all, they did a terrific job. Alan and our defensive staff, they had our guys prepared. They played well, they played hard. We’re going to win our share of close games as time goes on, I really believe that.

Q: Was the call that you made the go to call or a different one? 

A: That remains to be seen. 

Q: By saying that you need to manage things better, are you saying that you need to take over the play calling? 

A: No, Alan has done a great job, Bill has done a great job for us on offense, and so has Prief(er). No, not at all. As I mentioned, our defense was well prepare, they did a great job to do the things they did to allow us to be where we were in that ball game. They played on short fields a number of different times yesterday. Who knows if you have to make that team drive 80 yards on a consistent basis what difference it might make. So no, I don’t foresee a situation like that. Alan and our defensive staff, they’ve done a very good job and they did a good job a season ago, they’re doing a good job now.   

Q: In a two-minute situation, how much time do you have to override a call? Is there time to override calls if you don’t like them?

A: I do it with our offense, I do it with our special teams, and with our defense at time times. I’ll say, ‘Nope, we’re going to do this,’ or ‘Yes, that’s a good call,’ I have time.

Q: Is there a reason why you’re a little more hands off with the defense?

A: Not hands off, I’m very involved. Much more involved. I’m involved.

Q: Cordarrelle Patterson only played one more snap than last week. What does he have to do to get on the field more?

A: We’re going to get that rectified. He definitely deserves to be on the field more. He’s shown that in the few snaps he’s gotten in the first two ball games. Hopefully, everything being equal, that should not be a part of the conversation next week. We want to get him on the field. He’s one of our explosive players for sure. We see what he does when he gets the ball in his hands so we have to get him on the field.

Q: How does he get lost in game that he starts off with a 105-yard kickoff return?

A: He doesn’t get lost. We’re well aware of his talents, even on the smoke screen when we threw it out and he got 14 yards. We’re well aware of his talents. He doesn’t get lost. We’ll get it rectified.

Q: Are you comfortable with the play calling sequence on the last drive? Or would you like to have seen other things attempted?

A: We tried a pass after a run on second down and came so close to getting it done there but we came up a little bit short so we came back with a run believing that there was an opportunity there for us. With the run that we had called we had success with it earlier thinking we may have had them set up for a potential pass on the third down situation. It didn’t work. It didn’t work. It’s easy to go back and say we should have passed it, but if we passed it and its incomplete or it doesn’t turn out the way we want it to, maybe in hindsight we say. ‘Should have ran it,’ we decided to run it and we didn’t get the touchdown and ended up kicking the field goal.

Q: With giving up so many big plays and big yards, is there a misunderstanding on the defensive side?

A: When you look at numbers, you have to sometimes look behind the numbers and when you look at yesterday’s situation when it comes to points, and you never want to make excuses, but there’s some factors that go into some of those numbers that you have to look at beyond just the raw data. Our defense is doing some good things. I really believe they’re heading in the right direction and from my perspective I have to be able to see the bigger picture sometimes. Numbers can lie.

Q: Was Devin Hester’s returns a product of bad kicks, great returner, some breakdowns? Or a little bit of everything?

A: We did not do a good job of covering kicks, bottom line. I think he set a record for return yardage. We have to do better. We know he’s a great returner. He’s had great returns in our league for a long time. We thought we had a good plan and obviously it didn’t work. At the end of the game we tried a different strategy where we popped up a little bit. It’s fine line, you try not to give them too good of field position and then you kick it to him and they get great field position. Our strategy didn’t work and it’s something that we’ll have to take a look at as we get ready for our next opponent and make sure that we have something that will hopefully do better. It didn’t work. 

Q: Seemed like Blair Walsh had a tough time planting. Was that part of the reason he couldn’t kick them deep?

A: That along with the rain and the surface also affected the kickoffs. The climate wasn’t the greatest. We’ve seen him booming the ball through the end zone, but the conditions yesterday, for both kickers, wasn’t conducive to that.

Q: What happened on the interception Ponder threw? Did the ball come out late or did Simpson not come back or run the wrong route?

A: We had a go route called. He was trying to put the ball on a spot and just didn’t get it where he wanted to get it and Tim Jennings ended up making a nice play on the ball and came up with a pick six. Just a good play by their defensive back and we’ll try to get the location of the ball in a better place.

Q: What are your thoughts on Adrian Peterson throughout the first two weeks?

A: I really like the way he came on yesterday. We kept giving him the ball. Our offensive line, as the game went on, got better and better at opening up holes and getting people moved. I thought Zach Line did a good job at fullback as well, but Adrian really began to come on. Early on, the surface messed with him a little bit. He and I were just talking about that before I came in here. He was a little concerned about the surface, but once he settled in, he began to get some of those runs that we all have grown accustomed to. But part of some of the issues he dealt with yesterday was trying to hit that home run on every single run and that’s not always going to be the case. But overall in these first two games, he’s done well. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We just have to make sure we get him some holes.

Q: What did you see in the offense after that interception? Seemed like that they found some rhythm?

A: Yeah it was good to see. It was really encouraging. We started putting together some first downs. I don’t think we ever had a three-and-out the entire day. The only time we got stopped was when we had the turnovers after earning first downs. We were moving the ball and we really began to move it after the interception. We got a rhythm going and you could see everybody’s confidence grow, Christian began to play even better so we have to build on that. That’s the way we should be. There shouldn’t be a lot of punts and a lot of three-and-outs by our offense. That’s a good defense that Chicago has and we were moving the ball effectively. We just weren’t finishing those drives with touchdowns and in our league if you’re just kicking field goals, that’s a win for the defense so we know we have to finish those drives with touchdowns.

Q: How was it seeing Christian struggle early then bounce back?

A: That was one of the encouraging parts of the game, the fact that he finished as well as he did. I went over to him after the interception just to make sure everything was where it needed to be and when I looked in his eyes and he communicated back to me and I felt good about it. He went on and he took off. That was really encouraging for me and I’m sure for his teammates as well. His play picked up and it kind of rubbed off on the rest of our offense. You saw it, guys really took another step forward so we have to build on that and get better and hopefully it will happen throughout this week in practice and we get to Mall of America Field on Sunday and keep growing as an offense and put the ball in the end zone and score touchdowns.

Q: What did you say to Christian when you went up to him after the interception?

A: I just wanted to make sure we were putting that play behind us and ready to go back out and get going. It was still at a point in the game where there was plenty of time to do the things we needed to do as a team and I was just wanting to make sure he wasn’t letting that one play interfere with what we had to do going forward.

Q: Was it good to see Matt Kalil bounce back yesterday?

A: It really was. We need Matt to play well for us in order for our offense and offensive line to do a good job. It’s good to see him bounce back blocking (Julius) Peppers and some of the guys they have up front aren’t an easy task. He didn’t a good job yesterday and we need that from him.

Q: There are only three teams in the NFC that are 2-0. Does that make it easier to swallow being 0-2?

A: No, you don’t want to be 0-2, but with that being said, we know where we are. Coming home this week at Mall of America Field and it’s a long season. We need to get our first win this weekend, but I’m not looking at what other teams are doing. I’m not looking at what’s happening around the NFL other than what we’re doing. I just know we need to get on track and get it going this week.