Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon guys. We came out of the game not too bad from a health standpoint.
Q: Regarding the last play, in the future would you rather just have
A: Yeah, we were hoping we’d at least get another shot if it wasn’t there immediately and it didn’t happen but that’s something he’ll learn from and get better at if we’re ever in that position again.
Q: Will Stephen Burton need surgery?
A: No, he’s not going to have to have surgery. It should be able to heal in time without surgery, which is good news.
Q: Do you think it’s rare in the NFL today for a team with a record like yours to be battling like you are?
A: I don’t know about rare. I haven’t had a lot of experience where we are. I just know for our guys to continue to fight, especially yesterday when you’re down like we were at the half and even in that first quarter, says a lot about the character of our players. There are a lot of reasons not to really concentrate and focus and battle and they found reasons to battle, to focus, to believe that they could get back in that game and win that game. They were actually playing to win that game yesterday and at times, you felt like we were the team that was fighting for a playoff spot the way they battled and I wanted so much for them to be able to get over the hump in that game and it just didn’t happen. I tried to explain to them to just continue to fight and do the things they’re doing and eventually it’s going to happen for them.
Q: It looked like there was a facemask on the last play of the game.
A: Yeah, I had a chance to see that play. It’s no question, it’s a facemask but for us there were so many things happening in that game that if we had done some things a little better earlier, it might not have come down to that one play but it was definitely one that was missed. You would have liked to have seen it called but we can do some things to avoid putting ourselves in that situation. Six turnovers over the course of the game, five up to that point, really makes it hard to win in our league.
Q: On the plays were
A: He wasn’t too deep. What has to happen is when that back foot hits, if it’s not there, you have to get rid of the ball. You can’t hold the ball and he’ll learn from that, but those guys on the other side, they get paid too to rush the passer so if you hold that ball longer than you should, that’s what can result in those situations. You have to get that ball out. You can’t wait for a guy to get open. It’s a little bit of timing. If he’s not open, you have to get rid of it and he’ll get that but in that situation, we’ve got to get it out of our hand.
Q: Was that what happened on the interceptions too? Was he late getting the ball there?
A: The one that was returned for a touchdown, he threw it a little behind the receiver. You have to get it a little more out front. The one coming out of the half, the scramble and just a bad decision, throwing across your body and in our league, guys are going to recover. It’s just one he has to learn from. You don’t want to throw across your body over the middle of the field, it’s just too congested.
Q: In the scope of Christian’s development, was yesterday a big step backwards?
A: I think time will tell. For him to experience what he experienced yesterday, I’m hoping as time goes on and as he grows as a quarterback that that will be something that he learns from as well and help him to be better. There are going to be some times where he is going to be nicked up through a ball game and he is going to miss some time, and you hope that when it happens again he will have a better feel for what ‘I can and can’t do in my preparation and my play as well.’ We are hoping that we will look back on it and just see it as a part of his maturation as he eventually leads our team to much success.
Q: That first interception where Alphonso Smith just drove on that ball and rolled in to Aromashodu, that looked really similar to the interception he threw to the linebacker, it was similar coverage a week earlier, is that more concerning when you see the same sort of an error?
A: When we analyze and take a look at it; I know the coaches are going to take a look at it with him today; what you don’t want to do is what you just said, and make the same mistakes repeatedly because that begins to get a little worrisome. He is doing some good things to offset some of the errors and we have to continue to accentuate the positives that he is doing and try to eliminate some of the negatives, but I do think he is growing and I think yesterday was a part of the maturation process for him and we will be better for it and he will be better for it in time.
Q: What about the protection, that’s got a little bit to do with those turnovers too?
A: Protections always matter; I thought our protection for the most part was pretty good yesterday. Part of helping protection is throwing the football on time, being able to run the football. But protection is always a big deal when you’re throwing the football. Joe Webb was able to get out of some tough situations yesterday when protection broke down.
Q: Is Cedric going to play another snap for you?
A: Yeah, I mean Cedric is not in my doghouse. He is a guy who has worked extremely hard for us and battled back from some tough injuries. He had some moments that were a little bit difficult, but I haven’t given up on him and I hope he hasn’t given up on himself. We will revisit things this week as we prepare for our next opponent and just see where he fits at that point, but he is not in my doghouse at all.
Q: Has he talked to you about the concerns he expressed after the game about being benched?
A: I haven’t talked to him today; I didn’t speak with him directly after the ball game, so, no.
Q: Concerned though, about those comments?
A: To be honest, I have not read his comments. I don’t know exactly what he said. He and I eventually will sit down and talk.
Q: Talk about what Joe did on that final drive there at the end of the game.
A: Joe did a lot of good things when he got in the ball game. He created a spark for our team and really gave us a boost and protected the football and put together some nice drives. That last drive is a championship caliber drive. Playing against a team that is vying for a playoff spot, and for him to take it down and get us to the 1-yard line and get us in position to win the game, that’s a big deal and we don’t take that lightly, but that’s what we need. We have been in a few games like that where we had the ball and needed to put together a drive, so that was big and it’s good to see that guys competed. Our protection, our receivers, the things that happened during that drive.
Q: You had mentioned that Cedric is maybe just not playing with the same confidence as he had in the past, when did you notice that that was a problem?
A: It’s been something that has kind of been ongoing. He and I have talked about it on different occasions during the year. About just playing with the confidence that I know he is capable of having, because he has made some plays for us and at times has made some plays for us this season. I don’t ever want him to get down at that position. It’s hard to play corner in our League when you don’t play with confidence. You are going to get beat sometimes, but you have to believe in yourself and your abilities in order to be successful at that position. If for some reason you are not executing, we don’t want it to be because of lack of confidence. So to answer the question, it’s been something that I have been talking to him about for a few weeks.
Q: Has that manifested itself on plays like the touchdown, where your other two corners are in press technique and Cedric is six yards off and gives the guy a free run?
A: Yeah, it’s hard for me to explain that one. He has executed that technique time and time again in his career here, so to not get it done on that play, I’m not certain why that didn’t happen. I know he is capable of doing it, I’ve seen him do it a number of times.
Q: You said you weren’t worried about the facemask, do you plan on having any communication with the League on that or ask for a clarification?
A: We will, like we do every week, send in some plays and ask them for an explanation. I’m sure that will be one of the plays we send in to the League also.
Q: Some of the things that Joe Webb is able to do, is it just another example of how you need to get him on the field?
A: No question. He is a guy who can create plays when there is nothing there and we have to do more as far as getting him out there and try to get him in position to make some plays. Especially when Adrian is not playing and we are relying so much on Percy, we need all the playmakers on the field that we can get. He is for sure one of our playmakers, so it’s something we will continue to explore, we have some packages that we use sporadically, maybe we go a little bit deeper with some of those packages.
Q: How hard is that with him being the backup right now?
A: It’s tough, for obvious reasons. If something were to happen with him, you have to make sure that Sage is up to speed to some of the things we’re trying to do on offense. That was one of the reasons we signed Sage; so that we could continue to utilize Joe in different ways. But it does make a difference if you’re going to utilize him in certain packages, you put him at risk. But he’s such a playmaker and we need playmakers, it’s going to be hard not to try to utilize him.
Q: If something had happened to Webb, could you have put Sage in?
A: We had a small package for Sage, if something were to happen to Joe, that we had rehearsed throughout the week, just to make sure we covered ourselves. So, we were prepared if something were to happen to Joe.
Q: When you look at next year, is having a strong 3rd quarterback there something you need to have so you can utilize Joe?
A: I think it’s something, when we get to that point, that we’ll have to talk about. Joe is such a weapon. You want to find ways to utilize his abilities. But it’s definitely something we’ll have to talk about.
Q: Is there any potential for Joe to have a role much like the one Percy plays?
A: Joe’s talents are different than Percy’s. You’d like for Joe to be able to take the ball from center sometimes, you don’t mind splitting him out at times, you don’t mind him lining up in the backfield sometimes. So, the fact that Joe can throw the ball, which is a little bit different than what you would ask Percy to do, they’re different types of talents and there are different ways to use those talents.
Q: How concerned are you about some of the special teams coverage breakdowns over the past month?
A: It’s a concern. The last few weeks we’ve had some breakdowns. Part of it is due to change in personnel and moving guys around, but part of it is that we’ve had some missed opportunities where we could have had some people pinned back, or we miss a tackle or we don’t take the proper angle. But it is a concern. When you’re battling and trying to get wins, you need to win that phase of the game. At times we have, but we haven’t been very consistent over the last month or so, and that’s created some issues for us.
Q: This was the second time this year
A: That’s a good question, because that’s something that we have really tried to emphasize with Mistral; hydration. It’s been a bit of an issue with him and the cramps yesterday weren’t necessarily due to a lack of emphasis, because that’s what we’ve been emphasizing, but it still popped up for him. We’ll have to continue to emphasize his hydrating not only the day before the game or the day of the game, but throughout the week. That’s something we need to stay on him about and continue to press him on. But that’s been something we’ve had to deal with.
Q: What can you get out of Emmanuel Arceneaux if you do elevate him to the 53-man roster?
A: He’s been such a hard worker in practice and really has a good feel for what we’re trying to do on offense. We don’t feel like we’ll have any issues with his understanding our offense and what’s expected of him. And his work ethic has been so good; we’ll think he’ll be a plus for us. He’s an excellent blocker, has good hands, has pretty decent speed, but his work ethic is one of the things we’ll really appreciate once we get him on the 53.
Q: Field position has been a big issue?
A: Yeah, they get the ball on the 37, I think, once and scored. So, yeah, field position hurt us a number of times yesterday. We put them on some short fields and they’re too good of an offense for that to happen. But I’ll tell you, our defense really stood up on a number of occasions. Even with the field position they were put in right before the half, we had the fumble and we needed to hold them to a field goal. Otherwise, the game really was going to get away from you. We were able to hold them to a field goal. I take my hat off to
Q: Was route running the biggest thing with Emmanuel Arceneaux coming out of camp, in terms of him needing some time to learn the offense?
A: Yeah, that was part of it, him just making that adjustment to the way football is played here compared to where he had come from (CFL). And the things we were asking him to do. We ask our receivers to block a lot because of our run game and what we do with Adrian. So, that was a part of it as well; just adjusting to that style of football, it’s so much more wide open in the CFL. But he’s made that adjustment; we’re looking forward to see how he performs.