Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
Tough challenge this week, extremely tough challenge playing the Houston Texans at their place. They’re on a roll. They’re doing extremely well. They have a very balanced offense, extremely good zone running attack and play-action off of it. They have big plays, they’re protecting the football and scoring points. It’ll be a challenge for our defense to go out and play a playoff-bound football team and to see where we are.
Q: Because of the balance, how do you go about allocating resources this week?
A: Always have 12 guys. You know what, you have to play your football. You can’t worry about doubling number 80 and doubling 23. You can’t do that. Ultimately, you’ll be short in some area. You have to try to limit what they get, you know they’re going to get yards, but you have to make sure you keep them out of the end zone and that’s going to be our task, to keep them out of the end zone and run around and try to force turnovers by playing Viking football, which is fast, which is physical and getting to the football, and when it comes out, we have to be able to get on it.
Q: You seem to be a different team when playing with the lead as opposed to playing from behind?
A: It’s always better to play with a lead but it’s also our job, no matter what the situation is, to stop them, and if we limit the amount of points they have or if we don’t let them score, the offense will have a higher chance of playing with the lead so it’s on us too to make sure they don’t score points.
Q: What strikes you about the way they take care of the ball?
A: (Gary) Kubiak’s offense has always been an efficient offense. They’ve always run the ball extremely well and when the quarterback is able to stay upright, they’ve always protected the football and made it hard on the defense because they are in a lot of third-and-short situations. It’s going to be on us to be patient, if they pick up a first down, not to panic, if they pick up a few yards, not to panic and make them go the long haul.
Q: Does your familiarity with playing them in the past so many times factor in?
A: None. They’re a good football team and if you look at the tape, they haven’t changed a whole bunch, so you can look at this year compared to last year compared to years in the past, it’s how well they do it and how well they execute. It’s going to be up to us to make sure that we execute and my familiarity with it is not going to help our players. It’s a different situation when you go out there and it’s a flat zone scheme and guys are getting chopped, or they go out there and it looks like the zone and it’s a boot, so it’s going to be an adjustment because we can’t simulate the speed and the quickness of what they do. We’re just going to have to, again, make sure that we take care of ourselves, make sure that we focus in on our techniques and what we’re doing so that we can play fast and read our keys.
Q: Was it a bigger emphasis by offenses to keep
A: I don’t know. Every year is a different year, and last year there was still a big emphasis on making sure that Jared didn’t get to the quarterback and somehow, he found a way, every year, it’s just a little bit different this year. They come in bunches and they haven’t come as many as they did last year. I think, if you would ask Jared, he would say, ‘That’s okay as long as we’re winning football games,’ and that’s the most important thing, that as a team aspect, that we’re winning football games and I think he would take that over the sacks.
Q: With sacks aside, has Jared played at the same level he was last year?
A: He is playing at a very, very high level. It doesn’t always equate to the sacks or the personal accolades that may come, but he’s still huge part of what we do. He’s the one, and up front, they’re the ones that make our defense go.
Q: How much have you benefited from a kicker that has given you good field position?
A: We love it, we love it. We love the touchbacks that we get. We love it if once you get close to the 40, that you’re at least guaranteed a field goal, so we feel outstanding about what we have in our kicker.
Q: What did you sense you could do to Sam Bradford by mixing up some looks and disguising coverages?
A: We didn’t want to give him the same look. When you give an NFL quarterback the same look, it makes it almost batting practice for them, so we want to make them work. We want to make them work at the looks, work at the coverages, and not do his job for him. That’s our job, just to give the guy different looks and still do what we do and make him work for it.
Q: Did you get a feel that put some strain on him?
A: We did.
Q: Bradford said after the game he hadn’t seen that volume of pressures on film. Is part of being able to run those zone blitzes and disguise that much, you gaining a comfort level with the players and the players gaining a comfort level with the defense?
A: Nope, it was just time. It was time. Sometimes you go into a ball game and you feel like this isn’t the week to bring pressure game-plan wise and you think that the front four will heat them up and get there. The Detroit game may have been one that we didn’t need to and we felt good with the coverage and that game it was. Every game is different within itself so you just have to look at the tape and see what works for you.
Q: Based on what you’ve seen the last few weeks, how much will
A: With that, we’ll just have to see how his conditioning is towards the end of the week, how well his legs feel, how well he feels. We expect him to play and how much he’ll play I’m not quite sure. I’m not sure if he’s ready for 60 or 70 reps yet, but I know he’s ready for at least 20 or 30. We’ll see at the end of the week. We’ll talk to Coach [Leslie] Frazier and see where Cook is. He’ll be playing, I’m just not quite sure how much.
Q: How much does Andre Johnson influence how much Chris Cook plays?
A: I don’t know if it’s Johnson as much as it is that Cook’s a good player and when he left he was playing at a high level so we missed that guy being in there. We just want him back.
Q: Have you been tempted to put a shadow on any receivers this year? You’ve pretty much played sides with your corners this year.
A: We have. I think guys probably do best when they’re locked into the techniques that they’re playing. They’re used to going one-on-ones on one side, they’re used to rerouting and playing the side. I’m usually more concerned with what we do and making sure that we take care of ourselves rather than short changing ourselves based on what another team is doing and what their strengths are.
Q: When Houston’s run game is at its best, what is driving it?
A: The flat, the way they cut, the speed at which they move, the lineman are athletic, they work well together and ultimately the running back is a good back. He can get to the edge on you, he has a great stiff arm and he runs with speed and power. You put all those things in with a few boots and play actions and you have a good complement of plays.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2012
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: All year long kick coverage has been really solid, what’s stood out to you about the work of that unit?
A: I think the work of all the core guys this year has been outstanding. We’ve built a roster, our personnel people, our head coach have built a roster filled with young guys, high character, hard working; they know their role. Special teams in some teams is kind of an insult, where here we’ve got guys itching to play special teams and I think that’s the mentality and the culture we’ve established here that’s really made a difference. We’ve had some guys step up some weeks and other guys step up another week and it’s been fun to watch and fun to coach.
Q: Have you been pretty thrilled with the end results?
A: Absolutely. Other than the one game, San Francisco got us on two returns and I think that was week three. They’ve done a good job the first two weeks and then ever since then they’ve done a quality job. We just have to hope it keeps going.
Q: How much credit do they deserve for the start you had on Sunday?
A: We talk about complimentary football all the time and our kickoff team helped our defense, our defense helped our punt return team. We got a decent punt return to the 45 and now our offense got the ball going in. That was huge. That was eight minutes to go in the first quarter and we were up 7-0 and that was a big deal for us to start fast, especially on the road.
Q: When did you sense the buy in of guys not being insulted to be on special teams but really itching to play it?
A: We had a few guys last year and then I think even the guys that were here last year, this year have said, ‘You know what, this is kind of fun. We have a kicker who’s going to give us a chance on kick coverage, we have a punter who’s going to give us a chance on punt coverage, we’ve got returners that make plays and can make people miss even if I don’t get a perfect block’. So probably at the end of spring going into training camp I was pretty excited about the direction we were going.
Q: Are you getting more tempted to have
A: I’m always tempted to do that, but that’s kind of my ego kicking in. I think what’s best for the team a lot of times is a touch back depending on who’s out there. We had a couple injuries last week so we had some subs who went in there and did a great job.
Q: What has been the key to keeping Blair Walsh’s leg fresh?
A: He’s been the key to be quite honest. I talk to him about it all the time and I talk to Chris [Kluwe] about his leg and Cullen [Loeffler], Cullen’s the work horse; he has to work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I think it’s the young man knowing his body and knowing what his limitations are and structuring practice around what he can and can’t do.
Q: Just him being honest on when he’s a little sore?
A: Yeah and it really started back in the spring. You’ll get a lot of young kickers and punters who will say, ‘You know what, I want to do whatever the coach asks me to do, I’m going to keep kicking and punting’. I’ve been fortunate enough and blessed enough to be with Jeff Feagles, I’ve learned so much working with him and he said, ‘Hey you know what, this time of year’, and he was an older punter then, but he said even younger punters, younger kickers, they need a break. They need to rest their leg, they need some time off. Taking the lessons I’ve learned from a guy like Jeff and then applying them with the kickers and punters and snappers I’ve worked with in the past has really helped.
A: Marcus is our security guy but you know what, he’s had some good kickoff returns this year. We didn’t give him any opportunities the past two weeks. The one we had the other day, it was a good idea to bring it out and I think we’re one block away from maybe getting to the 25. We’re not going to score, they covered it really well. But I like Marcus because he’s quick and he’s tough and the ball security aspect of it.
Q: What things stand out to you about Keshawn Martin and their return game?
A: Keshawn Martin, he’s getting better every week. I really liked him coming out last year from Michigan State. I’ve got a buddy of mine on the Michigan State staff who said a lot of good things about him and once he figures it out, he’s going to be really good. I just hope it’s not this weekend because he’s scary.
Q: Glad they didn’t hold on to Trindon Holiday?
A: Yeah you know what, the thing about Trindon is he’s had some ball security issues. Obviously he’s a big play guy that can make a lot of plays but I think that’s one of the reasons why they let him go. A team like Houston doesn’t need a guy that’s going to turn the ball over. Anybody doesn’t need a guy that’s going to turn the ball over. Keshawn [Martin] is doing a great job and that’s who we play this week and our guys have a lot of respect for him.
Q: Kicking or punting, is there a specific scouting report on the building and the retractable roof?
A: No, the only thing that’s ever been a factor is when it’s open. The sun can be a factor if it’s a sunny afternoon and kicking towards the tunnel we come out of in our left corner, if they’re kicking it to us. This coach has been around a long time. He’s smart and he’ll loop it over there where the guy is looking into the sun. We’ll be ready for that part of it but other than that, I think it’s just a great place to play, I love that stadium.