Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Q: Do you expect
A: We’re hoping he has another good day of practice. He did well yesterday. We do have some two-tight end concepts, which we normally have in each and every week. We’ll be glad to get him back in there. We’re really glad that he’s healthy again.
Q: Overall, has the two-tight end sets panned out anything like you thought it would?
A: Not yet. Both of those guys had tremendous springs. Starting out in Mankato those first couple days, until John got hurt in that second padded practice, we had high hopes. I think we can still realize those. I think it’s going to come to fruition so we’ll get that started this week if we can get him back out there, which we expect to.
Q: Does having John Carlson out there help
A: You would think. Kyle’s been doing a good job, too. We need to do a better job getting him open. We had some plays dialed up for him the last couple weeks and whether it be protection, or the route didn’t shake out like we wanted to, or someone else was open, we just need those stars to get aligned so we can get him those touches.
Q: What extent are you concerned with
A: Well we’re not pleased with our production. We need to get back on track. Everybody can sense that we’re very disappointed, not at all discouraged, but we’re very driven and determined to get it back on track. It’s a tough, tough stage that we’re going through, but all of us have been through tough times before in life, so we’re going to keep working through it and get through it as fast as we can.
Q: Have you guys had good weeks of practice the past few weeks in that aspect?
A: I feel like we have, yes.
Q: When you look at how defenses are approaching Kyle Rudolph now compared to the beginning of the season, have you seen anything significantly different or are you more or less seeing the same stuff?
A: I think we are seeing similar coverages. We’re doing a fantastic job running the football as of late and Kyle’s been a big part of that. We’re looking forward to getting a little more bang out of our buck in the play-action game and Kyle has to be a big part of that. That’s an area for improvement immediately.
Q: Coach Frazier talked about taking a look at schemes and route running. Are you guys seeing some things that you really need to take a look at and change?
A: We have and we’re hoping for immediate results. We really are. This has been a good process for us to go through as coaches and players because we all take accountability and so we’ve all really looked at the fundamentals and what exactly it is we’re trying to achieve. We hope that we’ve honed in on more of that so we can get better production.
Q: What’s been the biggest concern in the pass protection? It seems like there are different breakdowns at different times.
A: There have been and we’ve really prided ourselves on not having free runners on our quarterback the last year and a half. It really started Thursday night against Tampa Bay. We had two guys come off the quarterback’s left side untouched and that’s very uncharacteristic for us. We had some seepage up there in Seattle, so we have to get that secured. I know the O-line is working at that. All-in-all, they’re doing a fantastic job both run and pass blocking, but we have to make sure our quarterback stays clean in the pocket so can get these balls launched.
Q: Is there something about the protection schemes that have allowed those wrapped pressures to have a fair amount of success these past couple games?
A: The one’s that I was referring to weren’t the wrapped ones, they were just turning guys loose. We also need to make sure we have a sense of timing in our passing game so the ball gets gone in case somebody does decide to wrap or add on, as you’re alluding to.
Q: Where do you sense where Christian Ponder’s confidence is at right now?
A: I sense that it’s OK. I sense that it’s right where it was at the beginning of the season. None of us are pleased, and I get that sense from Christian, that he’s not pleased with that we’ve been putting on the field. That’s common and I think we all can relate. We’re ready to get that taste out of our mouth in a hurry.
Q: Is there any sense that he’s trying to do too much instead of just letting it go and playing?
A: I don’t think so. I think he’s trying to do his job, like we all are. We’re going to keep working to get it right.
A: I think he’s back up to full-speed, I think he is. He’s doing a terrific job and we’re doing a good job of blocking and creating some air in the defense for him to do his thing.
Q: How surprised are you that the passing game hasn’t gotten going with the way Adrian is running?
A: Well, it goes hand-in-hand. We don’t care how the ball gets in the end zone. Run, pass, shovel, fumblerooskie, whatever it takes. We just want to get in the end zone. We know we need to have good balance. The last couple games, the last two or three weeks, we’ve got to balance out our running game, but really, we want to do everything better so we can get that desired result on game day, that outcome that we want.
Q: Do you sense defenses changing the way they approach your offense with Adrian running the ball the way he is?
A: Not necessarily. I think the defenses have their philosophies, whether they’re playing the Vikings or the Packers or the Dolphins. That’s what they believe in and that’s what we prepare for each and every week.
Q: How ready is
A: He appears to be ready. He’s a sharp kid. We don’t know what Percy [Harvin’s] status will be, we hope that he can get back, but Jarius had a good day at practice having a little more of a role yesterday.
Q: How much would it change your play calling having Jarius in there rather than Percy?
A: It would be a little bit different because Jarius doesn’t have the same experience that Percy does. Both of them are talented players, though. We should be fine.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2012
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
Good morning gentlemen. Just finished with walk-through and went through our short-yardage and goal line, red zone, third-down packages and the guys seem to be pretty wired in. Looking forward to playing a very good, much improved Lions team that has changed some things around. They’re running the ball much more effectively than they have been in the past or the beginning of the season and also they’re throwing the ball more efficiently. Maybe not some of the big ‘wow’ plays, which are still coming, but the ball is thrown more efficiently, so we’re going to have our hands full here in Minnesota this ball game.
Q: What has Ryan Broyles added to their offense?
A: Just another piece to the puzzle and that’s not a negative thing. He’s doing a great job of blocking. It’s helping the offense out. It adds another piece to the puzzle so you know what, it’s not necessarily him. I think they’ve just streamlined what they’re doing. Not a lot of formations like we saw last time. They are sticking to a package and doing that well.
Q: Are they more patient as a passing team?
A: I guess so, yeah. They’re more efficient I would say, rather than patient.
Q: Are they getting better running the ball or have they just played some weaker run defenses?
A: No, I think what they’re doing, they’ve narrowed down what they’re doing and they’re doing it extremely, extremely well and the running backs have helped. They’re making good cuts, they’re making good decisions and they’re taking what’s there and maybe not a whole bunch of, again, big plays, but they’re efficient.
Q: They are bringing that sixth offensive linemen (Riley Reiff) in recently. Is he just overwhelming for the guy he is up against?
A: We were joking the other day. We said he’s a little bit like, and this may be a stretch in some sense, but a little bit like Adrian Peterson in that you can’t simulate him in practice. Everybody thinks that with Adrian that, hey, these are just designed plays for him and we stop this, but when you get in a live situation, Adrian Peterson is a different deal. That’s the same thing with the extra lineman coming in, he does a great job, he’s athletic, he gets his pads down and he’s going to be a handful.
Q: What’s at stake for your run defense?
A: I kind of liken that to, if you will, the analogy would be driving a car and not turning on the keys or not putting gas in the tank or not using the steering wheel. The car still works, you can still use it, but you still have to use it correctly and right now, that’s what we’re not doing. We’re not executing or using the defense correctly. It’s not broken by any means. We just have to use it correctly and in the NFL, when you don’t do something correctly, no matter who you play, it doesn’t work.
Q: Was gap control the problem again against Seattle or was it missed tackles?
A: A little bit of everything. It was gap control, it was missed tackles and you have to give Seattle some credit because some of it was their scheme. They did a good job, a better job of executing their offense than we did our defense.
Q: Is it like a broken record with the gap control and missed tackles being the same problems the last few weeks?
A: To everyone else, it may seem like a broken record but the NFL, it’s a marathon, it’s a long season. There are going to be times when you may not execute the same way but when you believe in what you do, and we do, the coaching staff does, the players do, you have to keep preaching the same thing because if you sway with the wind or sway when something does not go well or think something is better than it is when you are playing well, it’ll turn into being wishy-washy and we’re not going to do that. We do believe in what we’re doing. We just have to stay the course.
Q: Has it been frustrating for you that it’s not getting through to them or not being executed?
A: No, because when we were shutting down teams, we played the 49ers and the guys crushed it. But if you looked at tape, everything was not perfect in the 49ers game and some of those other games where the results were good in terms of stats, but we could still see in some places that maybe we were off a little bit. It’s still a process and we’re still in that process going step-by-step and you have to be careful week-to-week that when the reporters say, ‘Man, they’re crushing it,’ that you always reel guys back in and say, ‘Hey guys, look, here’s what we’re wrong in. If we do not do these things correctly, these are going to be the results,’ and it just so happens these last three weeks, those are results being off just a little bit.
Q: Do you feel like they’ve bought into it too much when they’ve had success?
A: I’m not sure if when you say ‘they,’ each guy is individual in terms of what they do. I know they’ve bought into what we’re preaching in terms of running to the ball and being in the details. Sometimes guys will just lapse and try to do too much rather than just doing your job and in this defense, that’s the most important thing, ‘Hey, do your job first and then get to the football,’ and sometimes guys will do that in reverse, try to get to the football and then say, ‘My door’s open.’
Q: How important is it for you to get stouter play at the nose position?
A: It’s always important. You always want to be stout up front at the nose and at the three (technique), those are important no matter what you’re doing, where you’re playing, in any defense. I think in defense, you win up front.
Q: Are there things technically that
A: I don’t know if it would be to figure it out, I just think it’s do more consistently and we may be mixing some words there, figure it out, but he just needs to do it more consistently. He has all the tools. He’s stout, he’s strong, he’s a physical guy, he loves football and that’s what we love about him. We just have to get him to do what he’s doing on a consistent basis.
Q: You haven’t been able to generate many turnovers recently. Are teams being precise or are you not being aggressive?
A: I think turnovers come from a variety of ways. First of all, they usually come in bunches, but also, they also come from running to the ball and that’s one thing we talked to the guys about, was that we want to make sure that we continue running to the football. There was some loafs in the ball game and those loafs are turning down hits or not running full-speed or not getting up off the ground and we saw some of those, which were uncharacteristic of the defense. When you hustle to the ball and you play full-speed and when you get guys in predictable modes where they have to throw the football, that’s when those turnovers come and the last couple of weeks, teams have been able to be balanced against us where they could run the ball, throw some safe passes, throw the high-percentage things and that’s when it’s tough to get those turnovers, when teams are playing close to the vest.
Q: Are the loafs sort of a by-product of being on the field as much as you have been?
A: I’m not quite sure, I just know that they came and I don’t think it was a psychological thing where guys were on the field. Our motto is it doesn’t matter how long we’re on the field or where we are on the field, we still have to run to the ball and we still have to defend our turf. To me, that’s just another example of being able to show America, show Minnesota what we have in terms of our defense. Being on the field, that’s fine with us.
Q: Leslie Frazier said Letroy Guion should have been taken out in the second half with turf toe. With everything going on being a coordinator, how aware of you of little injuries and monitoring whether a guy should be pulled or not?
A: Typically, when they come to me, it’s usually a big deal. They may or may not have known at that time whether it was a big deal. He may have said, ‘My foot is hurt.” I’m not quite sure, but usually when they’re coming to me they say, ‘Hey, this guy is out,’ or the second week of the season when Jared (Allen) hurt his shoulder, they said, ‘Hey, we got to put him on this side because of this,’ so it’s usually a bigger deal when they come to see me about an injury.
Q: How much do you need to stress to guy to tell you about an injury?
A: We want guys to be smart about it. You’re right in that we don’t want guys to say, ‘Hey, I have a hangnail and it hurts,’ but we also want to be smart about it. We don’t want guys to go through a ball game, and we’re going to have things that hurt, but we don’t want guys to injure themselves where you cause further damage to something, so we want them to be smart about that and communicate, not necessarily to me, but to the trainers. The trainers are the ones that are the professionals and they’ll make good decisions about those things.
A: More than enough. We like what A.J. is doing. It’s a good fit for us. That brings Josh (Robinson) in the nickel and it’s not just A.J. there, it has something to do with Josh. We like that rotation, we like the way that we’re bringing Josh along in terms of the defense. Between the combination of A.J. doing well and Josh doing his part in the nickel, we like that rotation.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2012
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Every week it’s something else. Every week it’s something new. This week it’s Stefan Logan. People don’t give him enough credit. I know I read an article from a Detroit paper that said he’s struggling. He’s so good. I’m very concerned about him, obviously. He’s very quick. He has incredible body balance, that’s the thing about him, you get a good shot on him, he stays up. He’s 180 pounds soaking wet. Obviously, it’s one of those keep-me-up nights this week, like all the good returners do. Of course, Jason Hanson, the old pro and Nick Harris has done a nice job for them and has done a great job the last few weeks since they’ve brought him back.
Q: What differences have you seen in Detroit’s coverage units since your first game against them?
A: The thing about the NFL, obviously, is if some guys can’t get it done, they bring in new guys. They brought in a couple new guys, but for the most part, they’re doing a lot of the same things, they’re just doing them better. They’re a well-coached team. Their head coach puts a lot of emphasis on special teams. You know they were only going to get better. It’s been six weeks and you can see their improvement. I think anytime you get burned, you get a little bit embarrassed; you’re going to come back and play a little bit harder. Your back’s against the wall, you’re backed into a corner, so to speak, you’re going to come out swinging and that’s what they’ve done.
Q: Who have they brought in that jumps out at you?
A: Some of the starters and some of the safeties like [Don] Carey, [Ricardo] Silva, they moved [Travis] Lewis, the linebacker number 50, they brought him up and put him on more units. Those guys are playing at a high level. Of course John Wendling is doing a great job. Stefan Logan, they moved him to the five on kickoffs. He’s doing a great job. And Kassim Osgood, he maybe lost a little bit of a step, but at the end of the day he’s still a veteran that’s covered a lot of kicks and been to several pro bowls. I faced him many times when I was in Kansas City and Denver while he was with the Chargers. He’s still playing at a high level. They’re a good group, they’re a well-coached group. You knew they were only going to get better.
Q: How many new faces do they have?
A: I think there are four on kickoff and I want to say two or three on punt, if I’m not mistaken. And some guys rotate in and out, too. If they’re a starter on defense they might be subbed out by a young guy for one or two reps, then the starter comes back in. They’re rotating guys around a little bit and putting their freshest guys on the field.
Q: How unusual is that to put that many new faces in?
A: I think, like any NFL team, it goes back to if some guys can’t get it done, you’re going to find guys that can. If they were struggling, they’re going to bring in two or three new faces and I think, if I’m not mistaken, they’ve only cut one guy. They cut 57, [Doug] Hogue, the linebacker, who’s now in Carolina, who I think is a pretty good football player, but they’ve replaced him with Lewis, number 50, their 7th round pick out of Oklahoma, on some of the units Hogue used to be on. I don’t think it’s a drastic change by any stretch. I think they’re doing a lot of the same things, they’re just doing them better. I think they’re very well-coached. I think their head coach does a great job of not only special teams personnel, but special teams emphasis in terms of making sure they have enough practice time and their guys are prepared. They’ve improved dramatically in that respect.
A: More than likely, yep. I’ve rotated some other guys in, A.J. [Jefferson], Josh [Robinson] and Jarius. If Jarius is up, I don’t know if he’s going to be up or not, but he’d be another option, too.
Q: How close is Jarius to contributing?
A: I think on special teams he could contribute right away. He’s a smart, conscientious young man who’s worked very hard to try to be a better punt and kickoff returner. We put him in on the scout team to show teams that wander two on kickoff. He can do those sorts of roles at probably a back up level right now. It’s kind of fun to see a lot of these young guys, how much they learn and how much they improve since the spring.
Q: What’s worked right for you guys on coverage this year?
A: Well, on kickoff coverage we’ve only covered 12. Blair [Walsh] has gone right for us. It goes back to the guys believing. It’s funny, when you kick them five, six deep and they bring them out, our guys get another five, six, seven yards to get downfield. We’re playing fast. We’re doing a good job with our technique and fundamentals. It’s guys going out and buying into what we’re preaching as coaches and at the end of the day, the kicker really, really helps.
Q: How many of those 12 are you guys kicking it high and trying to get them inside the 20?
A: Tampa, like I told you, we tried the whole game that way. It depends on the returner. Against Leon Washington we weren’t trying to do that. He miss hit that kick a little bit, but our guys responded well. It happened to be in the corner so they had a return called that actually benefited us on that one. We tackled him on the 15. But guys are playing fast and sometimes I kind of like when they take a knee in the end zone and Stefan Logan is one of those guys. Last time we played them I think we had all touchbacks.
Q: What was the difference for
A: He didn’t tweak anything, but he knew what he was doing wrong. He figured out what he was doing wrong with his drop and his leg swing. It’s so minor and a minute adjustment for him that he went out and had a tremendous pregame and had two really nice punts. The shorter one was high, it was a fair catch, it was only 35 yards. And it was a really nice day in Seattle, you guys knew the kind of weather it was. A little bit of rain, but other than that, the winds weren’t bad. I’d say two or three were outstanding punts and the other was OK. We can live with that, but you always want more. I talk about him being a weapon. He’s a good enough punter that he can be a weapon for us and I think coverage-wise, if we get the hang time punt that we want, the high, far, deep, high hang time punt, we have a chance to cover those.
Q: How many fewer holes do you see in Detroit’s coverage units?
A: They’re a well-coached group. Like any young player, or group of young players, the longer you go into the season, as long as they stay healthy, the better they’re going to get at their techniques and fundamentals and I think that’s where Detroit’s at now, like I think we are. Going into the Detroit game last time we had just played San Francisco and given up two long kickoff returns so I’m sure they were chomping at the bit, too, to be quite honest. I know Logan was probably sitting there watching that tape going, ‘Man, I got one.’ So it’s the same type of thing. As the year goes on, teams, if you stay healthy, you make the certain personnel changes that you need to make, you’re going to get better. That’s what I’ve seen from Detroit.
Q: How much of it is better talent and better effort on their part? You said getting embarrassed would create better effort.
A: I would think so. I’ve been embarrassed before and maybe I worked longer that week following. I think at the end of the day, you just demand a certain level of effort and expect them to play at a higher level when you do get burned. I don’t think it was a lack of effort the last time we played them. I think, they’re better now than they were.
Q: How much of the success of your coverage units is due to health?
A: We’ve been very fortunate. I think a lot of that has to do with the touchbacks. You’re covering 35 touchbacks and 12 returns. Last year it was the complete opposite of that, maybe even more. We’re covering 35 or 40 kicks at this point of the year, so you’re going to be healthier at this time of year than you would be. I think that really helps. That’s a big factor in my mind.
Q: What was
A: Over 63. He could have gone 60 to 65. When he hit the 55-yarder that thing was fading left a little bit because he played the wind, but that would have been good, distance-wise, from 65, I would think. It hit the net a ways up there. That was a heck of a kick. He did a good job.
Q: Were your juices flowing a little bit towards the end of the half because there was a possibility of a long field goal?
A: Oh, that one? Oh yeah. Jerome [Felton] did a great job of picking up that kickoff. They tried to squib and a
Q: Blair said he was lobbying for a 67-yarder with nine seconds left. Had there been three seconds left, would you have tried it?
A: 67, that’d be tough because then what they would do is put Leon Washington back there and we have to cover it with a bunch of big guys. That’s the thing that’s going to the back of my mind. Not that he can’t make it, but if he doesn’t, we have to get ready to cover with big people and that’s tough. Maybe 65, 64 in that range, I would think, on that day. It was not a very windy day. In his mind he’s going to make it from 70, though. That’s a young kid with a bunch of confidence and maybe he would. I don’t know, but I’m not going to put anything past him right now.
Q: Have you ever seen a 55-yarder clear the uprights three quarters of the way up?
A: No. That was unbelievable. That was a great kick.