Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon guys. Had a chance to go back and watch that tape with our staff today and just a very impressive win by our football team, just to go on the road and play the way we played across the board was great to see. Our defense was terrific throughout that game, probably our most complete game as a team and, without question, our best game of the season from a defensive standpoint. That goal line stand really sent a statement. When you take a look at it and see the situation that we were in and how there was a chance for Houston to really get back into the ball game and so many guys stepping up and making big plays time and time again for our team on special teams, on offense. Watching the way Christian [Ponder] played, the things that Adrian [Peterson] did, although he didn’t get 200 yards rushing this time, but the impact that he has every time he’s on the field is so good for our offense. It opens up so many things in the passing game and the fact that we were able to hit multiple receivers in the passing game for us is something we strive for and we finally got it done in this ball game. Then to continue to convert third downs on offense and then to deny third downs on defense, it’s a big deal. The field position battle that we won, just so many good things in that game. This is where you want to be playing your best football and yesterday we exemplified what can be our best. The characteristics that we strive for, being a tough, smart, disciplined football team were on display throughout. Just a great overall team effort. Injury-wise, we came out pretty good, although Adrian is a little bit sore with that abdominal muscle. We’ll have to see how he does this week, how much work we’ll give him as we get ready for this ball game, which will be a huge ball game for our team. We’re hoping to get
Q: Can you play better than this?
A: We’ll have to, we’ll have to. We think we can and you just want to keep getting better as the season goes on and we want to play even better in this next ball game and I think we’re capable of doing that. There are always some things you can be better at when you watch tape and we saw some things, even in this game against Houston, that we could play better, some areas we could play better in.
Q: After the past couple of years, how rewarding is it to be sitting here knowing you can win and you’ll be in the playoffs?
A: When you come to training camp, everything you’re working towards is to get to the playoffs and let the chips fall where they may once you get there and for us to be on the cusp of getting there, it’s satisfying in some ways but until you actually make it happen, it’s hard to put your mind in that frame. We really have to focus on this ball game, winning this game, and then you can think a little bit about what you’ve accomplished, but until you get that accomplished, it’s hard to even think about what’s ahead.
Q: Last year you finished 3-13. Did you ever think you would be sitting here with you guys this close to the playoffs?
A: You’d have to know me well enough, and some of you have been around me for awhile, I never have doubted what we’re capable of doing here, and I understood where we were a season ago coming off the lockout and some of the things that were in place. Having an offseason, having participation by our players that we did, when you have 95 percent participation here in Minnesota, that’s a big deal when you’re trying to change the culture of a team. I was talking to Zygi [Wilf] and Mark [Wilf] after the game yesterday and we were talking about what you just said, about this time of the year a year ago. Zygi was in my office and we were just talking and I pointed out some things that I’ve seen in our League and how you have to deal with the adversity of a season. If you approach it the right way, you can make some corrections that next season to get things going in the right direction, if you identify what you think are the issues that have to be corrected and fortunately for us, we got a lot of things done this past offseason that helped to put us in the position we are right now, but every year is different, every year is different. Who knows what is going to happen next year, but to answer your question, I didn’t doubt that we could get it turned around. I just knew there were certain things that had to happen this past offseason to give us a chance to be in the position we’re in right now.
Q: When you talked to the team at training camp and talked about setting the bar high, what did you see in this team that made you believe they could be in this position?
A: For us, once again, going back to April 23, the investment the players made in the offseason program was unparalleled in the time I’ve been here. The commitment that they made told me that we had a chance because now they were going to be around our coaches and I think we have a great staff who are great teachers, to be able to invest the time that was necessary in order to get guys on the same page and get them to understand what it takes to win in our League, knowing we were going to have a lot of young players that we were going to have to count on to help our football team, a lot of first and second-year guys that we would have to win with, and that offseason around our coaches I thought was imperative to our being able to get this turned and get it turned in a hurry. What I saw in our players and our coaches working with them gave me an indication when we got back to training camp that we could get this done and there were some things we had to get done from a chemistry standpoint in training camp and we were able to get a lot of that done.
Q: Was there a moment where things changed after the loss at Lambeau to get you on this streak?
A: That game in Green Bay was a tough game. That game helped us in some ways. We found out a lot about ourselves on the road and I told our players after that game, I thought more than at any point in our season, we had played as a team. I really felt like we were coming together at the right time and I’m sure when they heard me saying that, they were like, ‘What is he talking about? We just lost to one of our rivals on the road,’ but I saw some things in our team and in that game that made me believe that we had a chance to really take off and that’s exactly what has happened. As tough as that loss was, I saw some things in our team that made me believe we were headed in the right direction.
Q: Was there any change of philosophy with
A: Not really. We try to do that with all the positions and all our players. We have a system, we have a scheme we want to run on offense, defense, special teams, but you still are always trying to do what your players can do. What we’re doing with Christian is no different than what we do with Adrian. That’s one of the reasons we signed
Q: After the Green Bay loss, how did you frame the final quarter of the season for the team?
A: Actually, Jared [Allen] talked with the team that Wednesday prior to Chicago about just that. This next game, which was Chicago, we have to approach it like a win or else type ball game. From that point on, that would have to be our approach. Of course Zygi [Wilf] came in on Friday and talked with them and gave them a similar message so they kind of knew where things were and how important this final month of the season would be. But you still have to go out and play and play well and you have you prepare properly. To our players credit, and our coaches, they’ve done a good job of doing just that, preparing and understanding the scenario. They want to win, they want to prepare properly and fortunate for us, we got good results.
A: Jarius has done a great job. You’re right, early on he’s inactive for just about every week and preparing, working harder, getting stronger, understanding the system a little bit better. An then he got his opportunity, I think it was the Detroit game and really had a great performance for us and he’s since taken off as he’s gotten more confident in what we’re doing and what we’re asking him to do. The game he had yesterday was a big time game. He was called on a number of different times to make plays for us. He ran good routes and got yards after the catch for us. He’s a young guy that we have high hopes for and had high hopes for him when we drafted him, but it was just a matter of his growing as a player and adapting to our League and he’s making strides. He’d be the first to tell you there are some things he wants to improve on, but he’s done a terrific job.
Q: Has Alan Williams become more comfortable with what guys can do and therefore he’s being more aggressive?
A: I think so. I think he, all along as the season has gone on, he’s gotten more familiar with our players and what their strengths and weaknesses are. We are, without question, playing our best ball on defense and this is when you want to be doing it at. You don’t want to start off great in October and September then all of the sudden you’re fizzling in December. It’s great to see how we’re growing as a team and we’re growing in defense, as well. He’s growing more accustomed to what our guys’ strengths and weaknesses are and he’s utilizing guys in a good way. The things that we did game plan-wise, our defensive staff did a great job throughout this past week preparing for Houston, which is a very good offense, one of the top offenses in our League. Alan and the rest of our defensive staff did a terrific job, but yes, he has really adapted to our guys and what their strengths are.
Q: Is there a wider variety of things he’s doing when it comes to blitzing than he did earlier in the season?
A: I don’t know if it’s a wider variety. A lot of the things we’ve done the last few weeks we’ve had in place, it’s just a matter of getting a better feel for when it’s the right time to use some of those tools that are in the tool box. He’s had a better feel now for us and the scheme and how we can use what we have in certain times in the game. He’s been very timely with his calls and that’s part of growing in a position as well. He’s done a very, very good job.
Q: How did Brian Robison respond to practice Friday? What is the thing that he has to get over?
A: He still had quite a bit of pain on Friday. We weren’t sure if he’d be able to go out there and really protect himself. He had some soreness, so we’ll see how he does over these next few days. He needs to be able to show that if he’s in a position where he has to tackle someone or of someone is pushing up against him, he can protect himself. If he can show that, then he’ll be ready to go.
Q: Is that mental?
A: No, it’s really physical for him. It’s an injury so he has to get comfortable to be able to certain things.
Q: Will Antoine Winfield have to wear a cast of any sort?
A: He’ll have to probably wear a soft case, yes.
Q: When you met with Zygi and Mark Wilf after the Houston game, did you discuss your contractual future?
A: No, we were celebrating that win. We were trying to celebrate. We were all celebrating. It was a great day for our team. The funny thing about our business, you don’t get a chance to celebrate very long. We have a big challenge ahead of us, big challenge. When you see a team score 55 points when you get ready to play them you just say, ‘Man, we got a challenge ahead of us.’
A: Fred had a very good game yesterday. He did a lot of good things. He played lights out and he did a good job the week before. He’s playing good football, but Letroy [Guion] is still our starter. He’s played well for us. He struggled with that toe injury for awhile, but we need good depth and good play from our nose tackle for our defense to work effectively. Between Letroy and Fred, we think we have two guys who can give us what we’re looking for, but Letroy is still our starter.
Q: What did Houston do to limit Adrian?
A: Need not look any farther than that number 99. He causes a lot of havoc and Antonio Smith, as well. Both of those guys did a terrific job. There aren’t a lot of people that have J.J. Watt on their team, thankfully for us. He can be very, very disruptive and we had to do a lot of things to try to keep him from being too disruptive. They did some good things. They brought a lot of people to the line of scrimmage, not unlike a lot of other people who did the same thing. A lot of blitzing, bringing people off the edge, not unlike a lot of other teams, but their personnel, they have good personnel. We’ll see similar schemes, but if you don’t have a similar personnel, good luck.