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Frazier on Sunday's Letdown, Next Week's Quarterback and More

Posted Oct 14, 2013

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

Good afternoon guys. Had a chance go to back and watch that tape with our staff and we’ll get a chance to review it with our players this afternoon. Tough loss for our football team. So many things we didn’t do right on that Sunday in order to get a win, did not execute well enough as a team, just didn’t perform the way we needed to perform in order to win in the National Football League. So we’ve got some work to do to get to the point to where we can execute better on offense, defense and on special teams, as well. Although, I thought Jeff Locke may have had his best outing up to this point, did a really good job for us both on kickoffs and on punts as well. We did a good job of covering kicks, holding them again to I think 7.3 (yards) on returns, so that was a good thing. But our execution just wasn’t good enough to sustain drives but their offense converting third downs against our defense and our inability to sustain drives on offense really, really hurt us to be able to limit their opportunities on the field and it ended up catching up to us. We’ve got to look at what we’re doing and try to figure out ways to try and improve our team and I think we can get that done. I’m certain of it that we can get that done and we’ve got the right people on our team for it to happen. I know our coaches are going to work extremely hard on getting things corrected that need to be corrected and our players will respond and we look forward to our next outing on Monday night. Injury wise Desmond Bishop, yesterday I mentioned that he had the knee injury and it turns out that he tore his ACL, so he’s going to have to have reconstructive knee surgery. Xavier Rhodes sprained his ankle. It seems as if he should be OK, the MRI came back negative so I think he should be OK. Harrison Smith has a turf toe so he’ll get that MRI later this afternoon, don’t know the full extent of that injury yet and probably have an update the next time we get together. Those were the guys that were banged up and in question about being able to practice as we go forward. Everybody else, some knick knacks here and there but they should be alright.

Q: Are you going to bring in a linebacker to give you depth or potentially compete for a starting spot?

A: We may. We’re going to talk about what we want to do with that roster spot and how we want to handle our actives and inactives around that. So still a possibility, we’re going to talk some more. We’ve got pretty decent depth at linebacker but we’ll talk about whether or not we’re going to bring someone in or not.  

Q: What could you have done differently to prepare these guys better?

A: I can’t catch that interception for them, I can’t throw that ball early where we threw the pick, I can’t do that for them. I’ve just got to get them in the mindset that the importance of execution, it’s just so hard to play our game and especially the way our team is set up where errors for us that are sometimes very difficult for us to overcome and just got to get them in that mindset, the importance of our execution on every single play and continuing to emphasize that and just taking care of the details of their job on every play.

Q: Did you sense that they were ready on Friday and Saturday?

A: I did and I thought we came out firing on all cylinders, moving the football right down the field and the turnover, we weren’t able to overcome it. It would have been nice on the very next play from their standpoint for us to catch the interception that we would have had and that would have barred any momentum that they may have had. But we didn’t. We didn’t make the catch and they got a little confidence. But I felt like our guys were juiced up and ready to go and ready to play. We just didn’t execute. You’ve got to execute your assignments.

Q: Do you think that with everything that happened in the week leading up to this game, including the tragedy, that it might have affected the way they played?

A: It’s so hard to say. It’s hard to determine how guys were affected. I thought that they came out fired up and ready to play at home. We just didn’t execute as well as we needed to.  

Q: Did Desmond earn that job or were you looking to evaluate him at that spot?  

A: I thought as we gave him more opportunities leading up to yesterday’s ball game that he had shown that he was ready to get a starting assignment and I wanted him to solidify it through his play in that ball game yesterday and unfortunately he got injured. He was playing well up to the injury so it was more the work that he had done that impressed upon me and the coaches that he was ready for a start and it was a matter of how he would play would determine if he was going to hold onto that spot.

Q: How is Erin Henderson doing at the middle linebacker spot? Any chance you’d make a change there?

A: No, Erin’s doing a fairly good job for us in the middle. We’ve just got to see if Marvin (Mitchell) is the right guy at the weakside linebacker position and keep bringing him along and bringing the young guys along at that position, Gerald Hodges being the next young guy at the outside linebacker spot.

Q: What can you do to improve on your third-down defense?

A: We’ve got to do a better job between our rush and coverage. That’s always the key in third downs and also what you do in the early downs. What situations are you putting them in? Are you putting them in 3rd-and-2-to-6, which are much more manageable for an offense or are you getting them in longer down and distances and that’s predicated sometimes on what you do in the early downs. So we’ve got to do some things to help our third-down percentage and part of it would be being better on first and second down. Then we’ve got to combine our rush and coverage on third down. When we have a chance to cover, we’ve got to cover. When we’ve got a chance to rush, we’ve got to get to the quarterback.

Q: How do you feel about your coordinators? Are they putting the players in the position to succeed?

A: I think they are. I think our coordinators are doing a good job. Any time your record is where ours is, there are some things that you can improve on and they’re working as hard as they can to improve and we’re going to do the very best we can to give our guys the best game plan for this upcoming game. They’re working as hard as they can to put our players in the best position to succeed and our players, when they’re in those positions, they’ve got to execute their assignments when that happens.

Q: Have you got more involved in that area in the past few weeks?

A: I always talk to our coordinators, on special teams, offense and defense about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and what we have to do to improve. I just got through talking to Bill (Musgrave) before I came down about some things we definitely want to take a look at prior to looking at some tape on the Giants. I’m always talking to those guys about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and ways we can improve on what we’re doing.

Q: Are you embarrassed by the fact that you are giving up 31.6 points per game?

A: Points are a big deal. Third down, red zone, defense, too many four-minute, those are things we talk about and work on all the time. Points are critical to your success so we are definitely giving up too many points at this point and we’ve got to work to get that number down in order for us to have a chance to have a winning football team. It’s something we’ll continue to work on and continue to do the things that are necessary to improve that number

Q: How do you look at it and watch the tape and see how porous the defense has been?

A: We’ve got some work to do. No more evident than yesterday. It’s obvious we have a lot of work to do. But we’ve got some time to get it corrected, we’ve got an extra day this week to work on our defense and our offense and our special teams. We’re going to utilize that time to try to get better with the guys that we have and I think that we will. I think that we will get better.

Q: When would you like to decide who is going to be the starting quarterback? 

A: I’d like to by the time we get back and practice on Wednesday, which is a shorter practice, have an idea which guy is going to be leading our team. We’re going to talk about it today and tomorrow because we’ve got to put the game plan together. We’re going to try to have a conclusion by Wednesday so we can go out and get that guy the reps he needs for the game.  

Q: Do you have any idea how comfortable Freeman is with this system? 

A: I want to talk with him a little bit and just pick his brain some and talk through some things and just see where he is. Our offensive coaches will do the same.  

Q: Are you leaning one way or another with that? 

A: Not at this point. I want to sit down and discuss some things with those guys and make a decision after I get a feel for where they are.

Q: Do you believe in keeping the Giants guessing as to who will be the starting quarterback?  

A: I don’t know if I’d do that this week. I think everybody is pretty healthy. We can come to a conclusion after we meet with them. You guys will know when I know.

Q: Do you need to talk with some of the leaders on this team and see how they are and how they view this season? 

A: After a tough loss like yesterday there are a lot of things that go through your mind and we’ll definitely have to talk about some things when we get together this afternoon. Still a lot of football to be played, we really need to focus on this football game coming up and not look back to the past. We’ve got to be able to put this game from Sunday behind us after today. It’s not a lost season, we’ve just got to do some things a little bit better than what we’re doing and if we do, things will turn around for us. I don’t want those guys to feel as if it’s a lost season because they’re veterans and they kind of could see possibly an opportunity slipping away. There has to be a sense of urgency, there’s no question about it, but we can still get things turned around but we’re going to need everybody to believe in that as well.

Q: Did you overestimate what the secondary could do?

A:  I don’t think so. Each time you guys would ask me back in the summer about our young secondary I was pretty consistent that they were going to be young, there was going to be things that we would have to go through as they were developing and I think they are making some improvements, they really are. They will get better. There are going to be some things that are going to be challenging for them. When you’re a rookie in the National Football League or it’s your first time playing the nickel back position in our defense, there are going to be some challenges. But they’re going to get better, our defense will get better along with them. We’ve just got to keep playing them and keep letting them improve, have confidence that they’re going to make plays for us and win games for us. This week against New York will be prime time for them to jump up.

Q: Was Xavier in a position to take on more of a responsibility before he got hurt? Are you still sticking with Josh Robinson?

A: Josh will still be our nickel back. Josh actually did a pretty good job for us yesterday. Some would think that he didn’t do some things well but he did some good things in that ball game, had one of his better ball games inside, didn’t give up any big plays for us, which was encouraging. Xavier, we’ll determine by his injury what’s going to happen with him but he’s improving, he’s doing good things. There are definitely some things he could do better. He’s got to defend certain routes better than he is but some of that will be the inexperience that he has and as he gains more experience, he gets put in some of those same situations, he should get better and better. He has the tools to be a very, very good corner in our league. That being said, there are some challenges for first-year corners in our league.

Q: Has it been a struggle for the young guys to pick up on the adjustments on the fly?

A: You have to be careful about that. You don’t want to put too much in their head. The game is very fast for them at this stage in their careers, it’s the first half of the season. We can sit down and take them through some things on the sideline but you do have to be smart about that. They have enough on their plate just getting the game plan down from week to week.

Q: How difficult is it for a quarterback to arrive in the middle of a season?

A: I would think it would be very difficult but he’s a bright young man. We saw that last week watching him and working with him and just seeing how he picked things up during the course of the week and then yesterday on the sideline he had the earpiece in and he was asking questions and talking to our offensive line and he’s into it. He’s a guy that can grasp information and then process it as well. There’s no question to miss all of offseason along with training camp that there are some challenges along with that but we can help him also from a coaches standpoint.

Q: How do you handle a situation when veterans say they are surprised at what’s going on?

A: We had some tough moments in that ball game yesterday that disappointed a lot of our players but we’re the ones that will have to get it fixed those guys included that made those comments. Nobody else is going to correct it but us and we’ve got to work hard to get that done and I know they will and our entire team will. We’ve got to keep battling and keep working to improve and we will. Those guys that are concerned, they’ll concentrate on what they’ve got to get done to improve as well and as we improve as a team, our team will improve. We’ve just got to keep working.

Q: What made this one of Josh’s better games?

A: Like I mentioned, the fact that he didn’t give up a big play, that’s encouraging. We had the big explosive pass, which is a big one coming out of the half, but the fact that he didn’t give up a big play, that was good. He tackled well yesterday. When he was in man coverage, he covered his guy. He did a good job in that, so that was encouraging. His tackling, his covereage and not giving up explosive plays, that’s an improvement from the week before when we played Pittsburgh, so he’s made some improvement. If he makes improvement again, that’s what you want to see. You want to just see him keep improving.

Q: It wasn’t his breakdown that led to the long touchdown?

A: No, there was some things that we need to do different and some things he could do a little different but no, I wouldn’t put that all on Josh.

Q: Could he have been deeper there?

A: You like for between he and Xavier to have a chance to make that play between the two of them but I wouldn’t put all of that on Josh at all.

Q: How do you emphasize with a guy that has suffered a major injury like Desmond has? How will you make sure that he continues to be there mentally throughout the process?

A: We talked briefly on my way out here and we’ll talk again prior to his surgery, but you’re right, I can definitely relate to what he’s facing and we’re hoping that it’s not a career-ending injury. He’s a good football player, super young man as well, and he’s got some work ahead of him but we’ve seen through Adrian that it’s possible to get back and not only get back but come back and play well. He has a good frame of mind, he knows what’s ahead of him, he’s been injured before, he’s going to work as hard as he can to come back and hopefully that will happen for him. He and I will definitely talk some more in the future.  

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