Cracks begin to show, but Vikings show unified front
NOV 04, 2013 7:01p ET
Two of Minnesota's defensive leaders, defensive end Brian Robison and Kevin Williams, reportedly took issue with the some of the play calling, offensively and defensively, that led to another last-minute loss -- its third of the season in such a manner.
"There's some things that are going on internally that are not allowing us to close out games and we've got make sure we handle it in-house and we get it done," Robison told reporters after the game.
"I figured the interception would have got it done for us," Williams said after the game, referring to an interception by A.J. Jefferson with 4 minutes, 29 seconds left. "You think we would run (on offense) to run the time out. But I don't coach offense. I just have to play what they call on defense."
Williams added: "I think we could have been in better situations at the end of the game."
The Vikings returned to the team's facilities on Monday and said the comments were the emotional reaction after a disappointing loss and part of a discourse to help the team pull itself out of a 1-7 hole.
"It is human," Robison said of the emotions after Sunday's game. "But at the same time I don't take back anything I said yesterday. I'm probably going to get griped at for it and in my honest opinion I don't think I said anything out of line. I don't think I necessarily threw anybody under the bus. I didn't say anything that I shouldn't have said. That's the thing we've always prided ourselves in, holding each other accountable. I want to win ballgames just as much as the next guy and I believe everybody in this locker room wants to win ballgames. In order to get that done we've got to all be in this together and get it done."
Robison remained firm on his comments, but said he's focused on helping the team win. Coach Leslie Frazier said he needs to talk to his defensive leaders to narrow the focus and keep the team together with a short turnaround before hosting the Washington Redskins on Thursday night, trying to stop a four-game losing streak.
"I probably do need to do that," Frazier said of talking to Robison and Williams. "I appreciate the communication. I understand the frustration. We were all frustrated at the end of that ballgame yesterday. But there are so many positive things that occurred prior to that two-minute drive. But we'll definitely talk through that situation as a team later this afternoon and just where we are and what we have to do to move forward."
The specific concerns from Robison and Williams on Sunday regarded the defensive play-calling on Dallas' game-winning drive, in which Minnesota laid back and didn't pressure Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as aggressively as earlier in the game, sometimes rushing just three players.
The Vikings had held Romo to 27 of 42 for 247 yards passing and Dallas to 260 total yards before the game-winning drive. Romo was 7 of 9 for 90 yards on the game-winning drive, hitting Dwayne Harris for a 7-yard touchdown with 35 seconds left. The Cowboys covered 90 yards in 2:09 for the winning score.
Minnesota also had a chance to put the game away with a drive in the 4-minute situation. Following a Jefferson interception, quarterback Christian Ponder missed Greg Jennings on first down on a deep pass. Adrian Peterson ran for a yard and then Ponder was flushed out of the pocket early on third down, and Minnesota punted taking only 1:45 off the clock.
"I think a lot of times every person has their idea of the way something should be run," Robison said Monday. "But bottom line, as players we get a call in the huddle, we've got to run the call that is played and try to execute it to the best of our ability. That's what we did on Sunday. We took the play-call, we tried to execute the play call and it didn't work out for us. They ended up scoring and winning the ballgame."
Frazier reiterated Monday the decision to pass on first down following Jefferson's interception and said there was only one defensive look on Dallas' game-winning drive which he thought the Vikings could have approached differently.
One of Frazier's best assets since becoming coach in 2010 for the fired Brad Childress has been guiding the team through several distracting situations. Frazier has maintained his calm, even approach taking the team through the collapse of the roof at the Metrodome, which caused a home game to be played at Detroit's Ford Field, being forced into a mid-week game because of a snow emergency, playing through a franchise-tying 3-13 season and the off-field issues with former receiver Percy Harvin.
Frazier spoke Monday about the necessity to keep the team together through this year, which has several disappointed after last season's playoff appearance and tied the worst start in franchise history.
"It's a natural thing for guys to maybe do when you have tough losses like we've had and particularly like the one yesterday, one that's fresh in your mind," Frazier said of the postgame comments. "If you're not careful you start to believe that this is going to be a trend. So we'll have to talk through that to make sure that doesn't become a mechanism that we'll fall back on if something negative happens in the ballgame. So you just to keep believing things are going to get turned around and I know that they will with the way the guys are fighting and battling and the ways they're practicing and preparing to win. It gives you hope that things can get turned. You just got to remind them of some of the things they did well yesterday."
Linebacker Chad Greenway said some of the comments from Sunday come from the limited time before players speak to reporters following games, noting he's shared his own frustration in the past.
"I think it's always tough when you're so frustrated, especially, I always feel like that 10-minute window when you guys aren't allowed in a locker room after a game is a little too short," Greenway said. "Half-hour might be enough time. When you walk off the field after a loss like that and the frustrating, extremely frustrating loss, it's difficult to hold your emotions in check and sometimes it just comes out in ways you never thought it should have…But the reality is, moving forward we're not going to get anywhere by pointing fingers at each other. Just try to move forward with each other."
Frazier wants the Vikings to move forward together and wants his defensive leaders to bring their issues to the coaching staff.
"You know, I respect their opinions and I know how competitive they are and how much they want to win," Frazier said. "I like for them to talk to their coaches or myself about whatever concerns they may have and try to get those worked out. But I do understand their frustration and I respect their opinions."
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