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Frazier on Quarterback Decision for Dallas, Injury Updates and More

Posted Oct 28, 2013

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

Good afternoon guys. Tough loss, as I mentioned last night. That ball game was a difficult one for our team. Green Bay did a very good job in a lot of areas. We didn’t play well enough. Didn’t do a good enough job on third downs on defense being able to get off the field in situations where you need to get off the field and a part of that is, after looking at the tape, some of the things we didn’t do on earlier downs. Too many manageable third down situations, third-and-two, third-and-three, just a number of times we found ourselves in that situation and not being able to sustain drives on offense when we had opportunities to stay on the field as well. To gave up the long punt return for a touchdown, you don’t want that to happen. It offset, in some ways, a great play by Cordarrelle (Patterson) and our kickoff team. Tremendous job by him all night long. He’s done a great job all season long on kickoff return for us and you hate to give one back after getting one so it hurt us. There were a number of things that hurt us in that ball game. We have to find a way to get it turned. I think after watching the tape and just going through some things with our coaches, I do believe, and although our record is by no means what we wanted to be at this point, that we can get things fixed and play better than we played last night. I really believe that, without question. A lot of that has to do with the way our guys fought throughout. It was not because of a lack of effort or not taking the right approach to the ball game. That’s not the reason why we came out on the short end from a score standpoint. There are some things we have to do better and I think we can. We have a big ball game coming up, but I think there are some things we can definitely do better and I think we will, primarily because of the attitude and approach of our players and knowing that our coaches are going to work extremely hard on finding ways to put them in good positions to make plays and when they are, they’ll find ways to make those plays. Injury-wise, Chris Cook had a hip muscle strain and he’ll be day-to-day. Jamarca Sanford had a groin strain so he’ll be day-to-day as well. We’re hoping to get Rhett Ellison back this week. We’re going to see how he does with a workout tomorrow. Matt Asiata we’ll still be day-to-day with him and see where he is as the week goes on. Other than that, we came out of the game health-wise in fairly good shape.

Q: You were a playoff team last year and you’re 1-6 this year. In any way, form or fashion did you see this coming at any point?

A: Not this. I couldn’t say I saw us being 1-6. There was no scenario that went through my mind that would have told me that we’d be 1-6 at this juncture. Looking at the way our games have transpired, I do understand why we are where we are. As I said earlier, I do believe we can get some things fixed and get going here. There are definitely some things we have to work on to get done, but I think it’s possible to get done.

Q: What do you see and hear that gives you optimism?

A: I like what I saw when the game was kind of out of reach and we were on defense on that goal line stand. They were still trying to put more points on the board. They still had their starters in there, we had a majority of our starters in there and to see our guys compete and to keep them out of the end zone was a good sign. And for our offense to come back and finish the game with a touchdown in that two-minute drive, just the way they worked through those situations told me a lot about our guys. And their attitudes after the game in the locker room, as disappointed as they were about that ball game and the results of it, the attitude was one like, ‘We’re not giving up.’ With the amount of games we have left, that’s what you want to see. You want guys to come back on Wednesday when we start practicing again, practicing to win. I think that will be the case. I just get that sense watching the way they finished and the way they handled the locker room after the game.

Q: How are you approaching the quarterback situation this week?

A: We’re going to talk about it some more the rest of the day, myself and the coaches, and try to make a decision here in the next couple of days.

Q: When you look at the third down situation, is that more of a good quarterback, a mobile quarterback beating you, or was it more breakdowns on the defensive side?

A: The quarterback had a lot to do with it. I’ve had to be honest with myself in watching some of the things he did on tape. Some of the throws he made, that first touchdown against Josh Robinson, Josh had great coverage. When that ball was thrown and the catch that (Jordy) Nelson made, was pretty impressive. I told Josh, ‘I don’t know if myself or any of the other coaches could tell you to do anything different than what you did with the position he was in.’ His mobility definitely creates some problems for your defense. Even when we were in position to get some sacks, and I think we were able to get a couple, but his escapability creates problems when you’re trying to play man or zone. You have to give him some credit, give their offense some credit, but then we still have to find ways to keep them out of many manageable third downs. He’s too good of a quarterback to get the number of third-and-twos, third-and-threes they had yesterday. That’s what we have to get turned around. I think I know what needs to happen to get that turned around.

Q: Are you going back and really re-evaluating everything you’ve been doing on third down this week?

A: I think we have to do it. We are so bad right now on third down on defense. You have to look at how we’re doing it, what we’re doing schematically and also the people that you’re asking to do certain things, can they get it done? Do we need to be doing something different based on the people that we’re asking to execute the defense? This is a time, without question, to try to go back and look at some things. Any time a team gets 72 percent conversion rate, that’s a time to really do some re-evaluation.

Q: You said last night that you thought that from a personnel standpoint you are what you are at this point, player-wise. After looking at that overnight and this morning, do you still feel that way? Do you think it’s more schematic changes that you have to do or are there going to be some personnel changes that you can make?

A: I don’t know what you can do personnel-wise. Our guys are doing the very best that they can. We have some young guys on the back end that are battling, they’re getting better, they’re making some headway, so I don’t know if there’s very much you can do there. We have to look at what we’re asking them to do and how can we help them to be better at what we’re asking them to do. There are some things that we can try that should help us and that’s the approach we’ll take this week.

Q: After watching the film, how do you feel about the amount of pressure you were able to get from your front four?

A:  We did have some moments were we made him move in the pocket and run around, but I’d like to do a little bit better with our up-the-middle push. That’s something we talked about going into the ball game, getting more push up the middle. We felt like we’d be able to get some pretty good edge pressure and I don’t think we combined the two often enough and as good as that quarterback is, you have to have your four-man rush working. You don’t want to be pressuring him all the time, that creates other problems. We weren’t consistently getting it done. We were able to get some pressure, but he was able to escape as well.

Q: How do you handle this to motivate them?

A: I think you’ve got to balance it. You’ve got to be real about where we are, why we are where we are, but yet there were some positive things that happened. What happened on our kickoff team, that’s a positive. The way the guys battled throughout the ballgame, those are positives. But you can’t deny the fact that we’re not doing certain things well enough to win in our league and they know it as well. So you don’t want to sugarcoat it, you don’t want to lie to them, but there needs to be some balance. There still is a lot of football left to be player.

Q: Does Freeman’s concussion play into your decision on who starts at quarterback next season?

A: They cleared him on Friday but you do have to be conscious of that for sure and that will play into the decision as well. 

Q: What factors go into that evaluation?

A: Just trying to look at the whole picture, who will give us the best chance to win from our standpoint as coaches for this Dallas ballgame. That’s what it will be based on. The other factors will be what the health of the other guys are but primarily who do you think will give you the best chance in this ballgame against Dallas.

Q: Is this strictly a two-man battle between Ponder and Freeman?

A: Thinking more with Christian along with Josh. You are right, Matt did a good job for us but thinking more of those two guys.

Q: Do you see any sign of Christian playing more relaxed yesterday?

A: I thought he was. I thought he played a little more relaxed and less tense than he did in his previous three starts, seemed to be more composed and in command. But yes, to answer your question, I thought so.

Q: Do you think your struggles on 3rd down make it more tempting for teams to go for it on 4th down?

A: I think some of that is the field position. When we have been in some of those similar situations we’ve gone for it as well. When you’re in the plus-territory, if you’re pretty confident in your personnel on offense, one or two yards you may feel like you have a chance to get that. I think it’s more the field position as opposed to what we’re doing or not doing on offense or defense. Field position has a lot to do with it. 

Q: Do you have to look for signs that guys are giving up? Or how do you know when that is happening?

A: You want to have a pulse on that. That’s important especially when your record is where ours is right now and we’re approaching our 8th game of the season. You have to give the players some perspective, in particular the young guys. The veterans, they sometimes feel like they know where things are but you’ve also got to give them perspective as well and remind them there is a lot of football to be played and there are a lot of reasons for us to really work as hard as we can to get a win this coming Sunday. So you do have to have a feel for where guys are and what they’re thinking and their mindset is. It’s important. 

Q: What plays into only looking at Christian and Josh for this week’s game? Is it age and potential?

A: No, I don’t want to discount Matt but Christian did some good things in that ballgame yesterday. There are some things that he could obviously do better but that has something to do with it and he has led us to some wins in the past. Josh, we brought him here to evaluate him and determine if he could be a guy that could be a potential player for us in the future. That’s what goes into evaluating the both of them.

Q: What hasn’t Matt done to put himself into the mix?

A: I don’t know if there is anything that he hasn’t done. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to. He’s practiced well, prepared well. He was ready yesterday if needed be and he’ll continue to work as hard as he can, I mean he’s a pro. I don’t know if there is any one thing that I could point and say and why it’s Christian and Josh in this determination.

Q: Have you told Matt this? If so, what was his response?

A: We haven’t talked about this Dallas ballgame but we have talked about what we’re talking about right now. He’s a competitor. He wants to be out there, he wants to start, he wants to help this football team win. I would expect nothing different from him. He’s been in this league a while now, he’s had some success in our league and he wants to help our team.

Q: Are you starting to sense any frustrations from Adrian?

A: I don’t know about frustration but I know he wants to be on the field more, he wants to get more carries and we want to make sure he gets more carries, want to keep him on the field more. More importantly he wants to win and it bugs him like it bothers all of us when we don’t win. That probably permeates his being as much anything, not so much the yards or the carries, only if they help us to win.

Q: How do you feel with the rumors that can sometimes be brought up in these situations and how those can affect the players?

A: You are right. They are going to hear a lot of different things from different outlets and if they read the internet, different things, they’re going to read that information and they’ll have friends talking to them and giving them information but myself and the coaches, we’re going to continue to try to keep them focused on the task at hand and in this case, trying to prepare as well as we can for this ballgame against Dallas. That’s what’s most important. That’s what I have to be able to do as the head coach of our team, just making sure that they’re focused on that part of it and trying to convey to them the importance of it and not allowing other things to become distractions. We’ve had enough distractions in this short season so this week we really need to focus on Dallas and that’ll be a point of emphasis when we talk with the team.

Q: What do you think the chances are that you make a deal before tomorrow’s trade deadline?

A: I haven’t given that any thought. I have no idea about that one. I really haven’t thought about a trade or changing personnel.

Q: Is there anything that needs to be discussed with Greg Jennings?

A: I don’t know if we really need to say a whole lot to Greg. You kind of know him a little bit, he is an outstanding young man and a true team guy. He came up to me after the ballgame and just a classy, classy guy, his approach and his words of encouragement. I don’t know if we need to do anything to pacify him. He’s the ultimate team guy and wants to do whatever he can to help our team win, period.

Q: How do you evaluate the development of the three 1st-round picks?

A: Obviously with Cordarrelle it’s obvious to everyone the progress he’s made and he’s come along as a receiver and obviously as a kickoff return guy. Xavier (Rhodes), he’s making some strides, had some tough moments yesterday. If you haven’t heard me say it before, playing corner in our league as a rookie – this is his 7th NFL game – is a tough job. He’s going to continue to get better but there are some growing pains for sure at his position. Sharrif (Floyd), he’s coming along, some up and down moments for him yesterday as well. We need him to keep coming. We need to get the most that we can out of him. We need him to play big for us. This will be a big ballgame for him but he’s making progress, he’s making strides, but we need him to keep coming.