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Musgrave, Williams and Priefer Look Ahead To Sunday's Opener

Posted Sep 5, 2013

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave

Good morning. Game week. Getting close and we’ve very excited about it.

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Q: When you look at Detroit’s front, is it a tough front to run against?

A: It is. They do a nice job of being physical but they’re definitely very skilled at rushing the passer, those two interior guys. It will be one of the tougher fronts that we’ll face the whole year, if not the toughest.

Q: When they’re active like that and moving around, can you get them going one way or the other or is there a tendency to be bigger holes when you have active guys like that?

A: Not necessarily. We’re trying to do our due diligence to unearth any tendencies but they play pretty sound and they definitely roll them in there with their second group to keep them fresh.

Q: With Adrian Peterson not really playing in the preseason, how do you judge whether you’ve made progress, or if you have a bad game, how do you evaluate where you are when Adrian’s not there?

A: We’re assessing every day at practice and at OTA’s and training camp and in the games how we feel like we’re doing. We have our benchmarks that we want to hit but we want to keep Adrian fresh too. We have other runners back there too that are doing a good job. Toby [Gerhart] had a couple good runs in the Bay Area against the 49ers. We’ve just been gearing up for this week and we’re looking forward to it.

Q: Detroit has some new faces in their secondary?  

A: Yeah, they have some new faces, we have some new faces. One of our new faces, Greg [Jennings], is familiar with this division so that will help, we believe. We’re looking forward to seeing what we’ve got on Sunday.  

Q: How do they compare to what you were prepared for last year?

A: Very similar. Similar coaching staff of course and we’re hoping that we can build on a little bit of the success that we enjoyed last year against this team.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams

Just finished with the walk through, the guys are focused in as you might expect with it being game week, an opponent like Detroit, who is a very formidable opponent. Walk through was good. Yesterday’s practice, the guys were extremely focused, ran around well, so looking for the same today.

Q: Are you preparing for Detroit based on the way they’ve played in the past and how much time do you have to spend on it?

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A: I think you have to spend a lot of time on it. One of the things that we did well was we defended the run plays that they had last year and I think when we got up on them they had to abandon some of the runs that they had and go to the pass because they were playing catch up. They are very capable of running the ball and running it well.

Q: Do you think you’ve gotten a good enough read on what they’ll do with Reggie Bush?

A: Not just yet. We can guess and try and predict what they’ll do with him but we just make sure we have to go out and read our keys and focus on what we’re supposed to do because if we hunt up too much snakes or too many snakes or too many ghosts, we won’t do anything. So we’ve got to look to see what they’ve done in the past with their backs and with their offense. I don’t think they’ll change a whole bunch from years past, last year or the year before that.

Q: How does it change the play calling if Sharrif Floyd gets a majority of the snaps?

A: I’m not sure Sharrif will get the majority of snaps. We’ll see how it all shakes out at the end of the week with who is healthy and who goes and we’ll kind of make a decision there.

Q: How does a defensive coordinator game plan against an explosive player like Calvin Johnson or even Adrian Peterson?

A: Every team has a receiver that’s good but none quite like him. You have to try to limit the big plays that you give up against a guy like that and try not to let that guy beat you and try to make him play left handed so to speak. Calvin is such a great receiver that he’s going to get his catches. You just have to limit the big plays that you give up against him.

Q: How were you guys able to be successful against him at Detroit last season?

A: I think the guys just played assignment football, and that’s the thing that you have to do. You have to make sure you try to keep the top on the defense, you don’t start cheating in terms of when he catches a 10-yard play or a 5-yard route that you don’t start creeping down toward the line scrimmage. I think we just executed and tackled extremely well. When you do that, you tend to have success and I think that’s what the guys did. We didn’t leave covering him to just one guy. We kind of spread it around and had some different looks. The guys just kind of executed.

Q: What about with what happened at the game here when he had over 200 yards?

A: We didn’t do the same thing. We gave up some big plays over the top and that’s the key. They thrive on big, explosive plays and that’s what he does and does it well. Even when you’re in position sometimes, he’ll go up and get it over you and that’s what we have to try to eliminate this week.

Q: Did you have Chris Cook in there the second time?

A: I don’t think so, but I don’t necessarily think that was the case. When a ball goes up over the top, it’s kind of everything. It’s rush, it’s coverage, it’s making sure that you’re executing the defense. There is enough to go around and that’s what we have to make sure we do, that we don’t allow the quarterback to feel comfortable, that we’re on coverage, we’re on point there and that we play top-bottom instead of bottom-top in terms of the coverage.

Q: How much harder is it to play top-bottom when you have to worry about Reggie Bush?

A: Very difficult. You have another dimension where not only can Calvin Johnson beat you but Reggie Bush can beat you underneath. That’s the problem, but you have to pick and choose your poison. You can’t defend everything. If you try and defend everything, you’re not going to defend anything. That’s what we have to be cognizant of, again play the coverage, try to tackle well and when they check the ball down to him in the zone coverages that we run and tackle. That’s going to be a part that a lot of people don’t realize is that fundamentals are going to be important this week, that we run to the ball well, that we tackle well and gang-tackle and not just one guy because they’re good enough where they can beat you man-to-man or one-on-one.

Q: How much tougher is it to prepare for a team with some new pieces in week one when you haven’t exactly seen how they’re going to use new players?

A: It’s always tough because you’re not exactly sure what they’re going to do so you don’t have a long history of plays that they have. We have to go into it and focus on ourselves and what we do and what we do well and make sure our fundamentals are good, especially coming out of training camp and just go from there, not try to hunt up ghosts and snakes

Q: How does having a guy like Everson Griffen make your job easier?

A: He can get to the quarterback. He’s extremely talented. He rushes in different spots, sometimes it’s over a guard or a center and sometimes it’s out wide. The quarterback can’t quite hold a ball as long when he’s rushing, so that helps the secondary, it helps the coverage, so all around and the good thing about Everson is he’s not just a pass defender, he’s a complete end. In the run, too, he helps out a great deal.

Q: Everson Griffen was tabbed by Monday Morning Quarterback as a breakout player in this division, do you feel that’s realistic?

A: I do. What he accomplishes this year, I wouldn’t be surprised, whatever that is, because he’s a very talented individual. 

Vikings Special Team Coordinator Mike Priefer

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Q: What do you do for an encore after last year’s game at Detroit? Three returns?

A: No, we had two, but last year is over. We’ve been talking about that really since the beginning of the offseason program. 2012 was a good year, we did a lot of good things. A lot of guys stepped up and played well. Anytime you have success you have to look at it like you want to build off that success. That’s a good foundation, but you can’t rest on your laurels. You can’t ever say this is who we are all the time. All that hard work that went into last year helped make us successful. I’d like to think that we worked extremely hard this year to prepare for 2013. Again, that’s over with, we’re going to build on that hopefully and move on.

Q: Overall, what are your feelings on Jeff Locke?

A: Jeff, like any young punter, is a little bit inconsistent. Like any punter in general you’re looking for consistency. Number one, first and foremost, you want the situational punting to be exactly how you want it in terms of backed up, or plus-50, or middle of the field, whatever the case may be. We’re looking for high hang time punts that they can’t return, force as many fair catches as we can. We’re not quite there but like any young player, he’s a work in progress. He has improved and I’m excited about his future.

Q: What’s your level of concern with him as a holder?

A: He struggled a little bit the other night against Tennessee, but I think we’ve gotten some things fixed. We’re working on some different things and working very hard on it so hopefully we’ll be okay on Sunday.

Q: Any of the new faces that you have that we don’t really notice like a Zach Line, that you’re eager to see how they cover or block?

A: The good thing about a Zach Line or some of the other younger players is that we did get to see them play and cover and do some return work in the preseason games, along with training camp. We feel like we’re not going to put anybody out there that’s not prepared. We’re excited for Sunday.

Q: Out of those guys, does one guy stand out that may be a really good special teams player?

A: I don’t want to get into specifics, but like I said back in training camp, I don’t want to mention one guy or the other, but they’re all working very, very hard. We’ve got a good group. Coach Frazier and Rick Spielman have really built a good group of guys that not only are good football players defensively and offensively, but special teams is important to them. They’re high character guys that work extremely hard that want to get better, that want to continually learn and want to continue to be successful.

Q: If the holder has a rough night, Blair Walsh seems like a pretty mentally strong person that that’s not going to affect him, or is that concerning?

A: That doesn’t concern me at all nor should that affect him.

Q: Is Jarius Wright a backup return man for you?

A: Yes he is.