Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
A: He looked better than he did yesterday so that’s positive. Yesterday he was hopping around a little bit.
Q: Which knee is it?
A: Not sure that I know.
Q: Do you know exactly when it happened?
A: No, I don’t think we know which play. I think it was one of the times [Kyle] Vanden Bosch got to him.
Q: When did you first realize there may have been an issue?
A: Yeah I think the communication has been really, really good both during the season, training camp and offseason so we want to keep it going if we can.
Q: With all that Percy can do, it gives you a lot of possibilities but does it also make it challenging to figure out how and when?
A: Well, not really. We have a bunch of good playmakers, especially with Jerome [Simpson] being back. We’re looking for more and more production each and every week because we do have some really fun players to work with.
Q: Did you notice a difference is how Detroit approached you defensively with Jerome on the field?
A: It would be hard to compare and contrast. We just played those guys twice last year and we’re a completely different team this year. It’s definitely fun to have Jerome out there. He brings an energy to the huddle, the sideline, the field of play, the practice field, he just does. He brings a lot to the table
Q: What improvements are you looking for from
A: Jarius is doing a good job. We just haven’t had a place to get him active on game day. He’s growing into the offense and he’s growing into the NFL game from what we see out here at practice.
Q: Does it make it tough that the Titans have been without their middle linebacker for three games and now he’ll be back?
A: Yeah and he had a really good preseason. He made some fantastic plays against Arizona in their third preseason game. I’m sure they’ll welcome him back with open arms.
Q: What do you see in him that are his strengths?
A: Good savvy, good ball skills. If he gets near it in the passing game, he’ll definitely intercept it.
Q: Did you and Percy have a conversation about offensive players and their roles in the offseason?
A: It’s hard to remember back that far. Right now we are focused on Tennessee’s defense.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
Good Morning. Another good day to prepare for an AFC South team. Looking forward to it. The guys seemed to be dialed in and tuned in. The one good thing, I don’t think they’re reading all the clips people are writing about them and the things they’re saying about them. They seem to be pretty even-keeled, which is always a good thing. They’re ready to work. We had a good day of practice yesterday and I’m looking forward to another good day with short yardage, goal line and third down.
Q: How encouraging was the performance last Sunday in terms of the amount of plays your guys made?
A: Very encouraging. That’s one of the things that’s a barometer of coming along is the amount of plays you can make on the football and I think the guys did that. We still have a little bit of work to do on third down and some other places, but we feel good about where we are and the progress we’re making.
Q: What is the impact going forward from
A: We want to put physical play on tape. We want to show people that we’re going to run to the ball and when they play the Minnesota Vikings it’s going to be a long day in terms of a physical ball game, so that’s the way we want to play, a physical style of football. It was good to see that Harrison did get the ball out.
Q: When was it when you fell in love with Harrison’s skill set and what it could mean to your defense?
A: At the Senior Bowl. I think everyone knew he was a good player. I don’t think we had any bad players at the Senior Bowl, but you want to see if what you see on tape really matches up with what you get in terms of the individual work that Coach [Joe] Woods did with him. He showed that he was – most big players get to be a little leggy, they don’t change directions well and Harrison did do that and he was a smart, instinctive ball player so that was good to see. All those things that you thought that were on tape really, when you got to see him, they turned out to be true.
Q: How has he played in spots where the average person may not recognize how well he’s playing?
A: One instance was the big circle post that he had when Calvin Johnson, they rolled out and they threw down the field. That wasn’t necessarily his play. He did a great job of coming from the backside and making a play on the football and he does that more often than not. There’s been some other plays where he’s made up for some other people. When I was in Indy, Coach [Tony] Dungy used to call that the, so to speak, eraser. That he can erase some mistakes that maybe other people make. That’s been a good thing that he’s done since he’s been here.
Q: That was that first pass to Calvin Johnson?
A: I’m not sure if it was the second quarter. It was the long pass down the middle of the field that he came from the backside and almost intercepted it. I think Calvin Johnson may have knocked it out of his hands, but it was an outstanding play in terms of covering a lot of grass, chewing up grass and making a play on the football.
Q: How quickly has he learned the defense compared to other rookies you’ve coached?
A: That’s tough. You know what, they’re all different. Everyone has a learning curve and they’re all different, especially since everyone comes from a different system in college and some of the things may be similar and some may not be. I would say extremely well. In the top half, so to speak, even higher than that. Really what helps him is that he’s instinctive and he understands football so that helps him a lot. The concepts that we’re asking him to do, he can put them up on the board, understands them and takes them out to the football field, which is really what you want them to do.
Q: What do you think of
A: He’s done a great job. He’s taking command of the huddle, the huddle is his, the defense is his and we see him growing and feeling more comfortable with leading the group. From the huddle, to making the calls, to executing those calls in Nickel so we feel good about that.
Q: Do his traits in the run game help in the pass game if he has things in front of him like the play he made on Calvin Johnson?
A: Yeah and not just that. We’re asking him also to run down the middle of the field and play essentially a deep third in Cover Two, but for sure. That’s what we like about him. That one play was outstanding in terms of him seeing the quarterback, moving as the quarterback’s eyes moved and then breaking on the ball, anticipating the throw and then making the tackle. That’s important too that he hit him and there were no yards after the catch. That’s exactly what we’re asking him to do in that instance.
Q: You’ve been rotating on the defensive line and getting production, what does that do for matchups, being able to rotate guys effectively?
A: First of all, it keeps guys fresh. We want to make sure that at the end of the ball game, that when it comes down to two-minute, and most ball games do come down to the two-minute, we have enough guys that are fresh and ready to go and that can hunt. We want to run to the football and hunt in those two-minute situations and the more guys that you have that are playing in the first quarter, second quarter and third quarter, the fresher guys will be when it comes down to close the ball games out.
Q: What were the things that stood out about
A: I remember the first day I was looking at tape sitting in my office and there was a blur going across the screen and I was thinking, is that a linebacker? Is that a safety running across the field? And I went back and forth a couple of times and I got my program out and looked at it and it was Everson Griffen. I looked at his height and weight and I was thinking, ‘Wow, we have something here.’ I went across the hall and talked to the linebackers coach and I talked to Coach [Brendan] Daly and he told me who he was, what his background was, and I was excited to see how big he was, how fast he was and I just wanted to make sure that we put him in positions that we thought that he could be successful and that’s what I think the defensive staff has done, to place him in spots that he could flourish.
Q: That blitz on the fourth down situation against Detroit, did you guys just catch Matthew Stafford in a good look with that blitz or why did that work?
A: I’m not sure why it worked. I’m not sure what his thinking was. I think he tried to throw an outlet pass to the running back and
Q: Besides that blitz, how many other blitzes did you run?
A: I think it was three. I think. I’m not quite sure.
Q: Is that a good sign?
A: Every game is a little bit different. There will be some times when maybe we’ll blitz a lot more because it’s needed, the staff thinks that’s what will work that week and sometimes – Detroit was a week that we didn’t think we needed a whole bunch and the game plan called for us to play a little bit more coverage. Every week is a little bit different in how we approach it.
Q: After watching Chris Johnson on tape, do you get a feel for what went well last week that didn’t the first three weeks?
A: I’ve seen him for the last few years being in the AFC South and I don’t put a whole bunch of stock into maybe what happened the first couple ball games. I know they looked dynamic in the preseason and I know that he’s a dynamic running back and if you give him one inch, it’s one inch too much so we have to make sure that we corral him and take care of him because the first two or three weeks was – I know that he can get out, so that 39 yards he may have put up one week and maybe it was 41 the next, that usually doesn’t happen with him. We have to make sure we take care of our job and not look at those two ball games and think that’s going to happen every week.
Q: What’s the biggest thing you have to take away from him to keep him from being productive?
A: Hopefully the quarterback doesn’t give him the ball. Really, we have to keep our leverage, make sure we don’t give him the edge and in the same vein, we have to make sure we don’t let him just run straight down the middle of the field. He has tremendous speed, he has tremendous change of direction, he can catch the ball out of the backfield so we just need to make sure all eyes are on him when he’s anywhere close to the football and all 11 hats to the football.
Q: Is Matt Hasselbeck a different challenge than what Jake Locker would have been?
A: It’s always tough when you’re facing a guy that’s been in the NFL as long as he’s been and has intelligence, smarts. There isn’t anything we’re going to design that he hasn’t seen so we have to make sure we execute our game plan and know he’s going to complete passes and know that he’s going to be able to see the coverages and just make sure that we execute what we’re doing and not worry so much about him.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: Last week you talked about how kickoff coverage would respond. You didn’t get a chance this week though?
A: I kind of liked it that way too, especially when they were tired after a long score. That’s one thing you get worried about. In fact, I had talked to Coach (Leslie) Frazier about calling timeout after the first one (kick return) but obviously after the first play, they shouldn’t be too tired but they were so excited and then after the second one (punt return), the amazing thing is in the second half, you don’t want to call a timeout but I already had a sub for Marcus (Sherels) and I turn around and there he is. I said, ‘I got somebody for you.’ He goes, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He wasn’t even breathing hard. That’s what kind of special kid he is, so he was ready to go on the next play.
Q: So you were thinking about taking a timeout 12 seconds into the game?
A: Yeah, only because I’ve had it happen before where you give up a long return after a big play like that and because many of the same guys who are on the return team are on the kickoff phase as well, so you get a little concerned about that.
Q: Have you ever seen a guy break as many tackles as
A: He broke two big tackles and he made a couple of people miss and then he sidestepped the last guy so yeah, the individual effort by him was phenomenal and the best thing that I thought the other guys did is they blocked well initially and
Q: Is that return supposed to go up the middle?
A: It was a middle return, yes.
Q: During those last 30 yards, it was like a six-man escort.
A: That was pretty cool. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before. I was really fired up about that.
Q: What happened on
A: He got a little too close to the ball, probably lunged into it a little bit and then wrapped his foot around it and he’ll do that every now and again in practice. We’ll work in here and we worked on that yesterday. After the special teams period, we come in here every Wednesday and do about 20, 25 field goals with those three guys and continue to work on their chemistry and the things were trying to get better but it’s all about consistency and I think his timing was good there. That was my first inclination was that it might have been too fast but his timing was fine. He just wrapped his foot around it a little bit.
Q: Is that one frustrating because it could have essentially put the game out of reach?
A: Very frustrating, yeah. That’s what I told him. I called him over after the play and said hey, look, I wasn’t mad because he’s 9 of 10. You can’t get mad for what he’s done for us this year and he kicked off so well and really helped our team win that game, but I said, ‘Do you realize the situation?’ He had already thought about it. Now you’re up three scores, there are 10 minutes to go in the game, the way our defense was playing, I just felt really good about us winning that game at that point and then you’re up by 14, that’s a whole different deal. Two scores is obviously not as good as three scores but hopefully he’ll grow from that and learn from it and move on.
Q: How do you express your concern about that without getting too far into his head?
A: That’s exactly how I talked to him. I was very calm and I was calm anyway. I was disappointed for him, disappointed for us and he knows that. He’s a smart guy. He doesn’t have to be told when he does something wrong and we watched it on tape together on Monday morning and he knew what he did wrong. We talked about it and are going to correct it and go from there.
Q: Percy Harvin has probably returned a majority of kickoffs this year. Was there some magic words you said to Coach Frazier?
A: Please. Obviously when Percy is back there, it’s a whole different dynamic and it’s a dynamic for our football team because now we have guys believing his can score every time he touches the ball and I think just the fact that he’s going to help our football team whether he’s taking a touchback or they are kicking it away from him or he makes a big play, he just makes our whole special teams unit better when he’s out there and Coach Frazier knows that and I think the offensive coordinator knows that and everybody on the team knows that. The more you use him, the better our team will be.
Q: Is he turning into one of those guys that people have to be aware of in any situation?
A: Absolutely. I think he’s the guy that, if I’m kicking off against him, I’m very concerned. Every week, I’m concerned. This week, we play (Darius) Reynaud and he has a touchdown under his belt and he’s very good but yeah, offensively and special teams, Percy Harvin is so special. He’s such a special athlete and a special young man. He plays hard, he practices hard, he does everything full-go and that’s the kind of guy you love to coach. I think no matter what he does out there, he’s going to make us better.
Q: When you have someone like
A: You know, I’ve been asked about Jamarca a lot because initially, he didn’t start and he was a full-time special teams guy. Now, he’s starting, he’s a part-time or one phase special teams guys. He’s a pro and he understands his impact on this football team and what he means to our special teams unit so even though he’s only on one phase, he’s still in every meeting, he knows he’s a backup on the other phases, he knows we only dress 46 guys and that when called upon, he’ll be ready to go for us and not only is he playing well on defense and I’m excited about that because he helps our football team, but he’s also a very good gunner and probably one of the better gunners I’ve ever coached.
Q: In training camp, you asked guys for a full buy-in on special teams. Right now, it seems like there are a lot of guys who are heavily invested?
A: Yeah, and it starts with the head coach and starts with our general manager and the guys we bring in. Our head coach preaches it, he talks about it. Our assistant coaches back me on all of that stuff with the individual guys in their respective rooms. We have high-character young men that understand the importance of special teams, that really, if you don’t want to play it and I tell them right off the bat, if you don’t want to play it, you don’t want to be involved and come find me. I’ll take you off, but you better start on offense and defense because we’re going to try to find a replacement for you and I think we’ve drawn that line in the sand in saying, ‘Hey, you’re either with us or not with us,’ and we’ve got the majority, if not all the guys that are with us.
A: Oh yeah, and he readily admits that. He’s been inconsistent. He came up with some big punts again and every game it seems like one or two are huge punts for us and then one or two, we need to survive that. In fact, the return that Detroit got on us was a very good punt. He didn’t hurt us, but you want him to be more consistent. He wants to be more consistent and he knows we need to get there for him to play at a high level every week.