Chad Greenway admitted he has been "hesitant" at times and missed tackles in the Minnesota Vikings' first two games. Leslie Frazier suggested Greenway might be trying to do too much.
Either way, Greenway didn't want to get too far into specifics on what is happening within the Vikings' defensive scheme.
"A lot of times it's easy to pick apart what's out in the open and can be seen, that everybody can see. But it's the things that happen that people don't understand that can't be graded or can't say, ‘Hey, he's doing good' or ‘He's doing bad,'" Greenway said. "The reality is you guys don't have really any idea what's really being taught or what's being coached in that room. Without really getting into the details of it, I'm just going to answer questions like this and you guys are going to wonder what the real answer is and you're not going to get it."
At issue is some of the breakdowns that happened Sunday against the Chicago Bears during their game-winning drive in the final three minutes of their 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Toward the end of that drive, the Bears converted first-and-20 with a 23-yard pass to TE Martellus Bennett. It appears on film that MLB Erin Henderson let Bennett run past him and expected helped on the outside. Instead, Greenway and CB Chris Cook were following a receiver over the middle of the field and no one was left to cover Bennett, who caught the ball and continued on his way for a 23-yard gain.
Three plays later, Bennett caught a 16-yard, game-winning touchdown with 10 second left when it was clear there was confusion on the Vikings defense before the snap. Cook was calling for help to his side of the field and couldn't get to Bennett outside quickly enough when the tight end caught the touchdown pass.
"Without getting into too much of what we do on defense, we can't really talk about the ins and outs of who is going to have what and what we're going to do. The reality is the play was called. We played what we thought was called and that's it," Greenway said, admitting that there was miscommunication on Bennett's 23-yard catch, too.
"Without saying this guy is to blame, that guy is to blame or anybody is to blame, I think the reality is if you continue to talk about stuff, you just end up hurting yourself next week."
A few hours before Greenway's comments, Frazier said Greenway may be trying to do too much with Henderson moving to full-time duty at middle linebacker (he had played there in the nickel defense last year) and Marvin Mitchell moving into a starting spot at weakside linebacker, Henderson's old position.
"(Greenway's) got to slow down a little bit and do the things he's always done," Frazier said. "He does not have to make anybody else's plays. Just do your job, calm down, relax and play the way he's always played. He's had a lot of success for us. He's played at a Pro Bowl level. Just don't feel like you have to do any more other than your job.
"There's potential for that to happen with a new guy across from you. That's something we've got to guard against. You've just got to trust that he's going to do his job, you do your job and we'll be fine as a group. He shouldn't feel like he has to do any more than he has in the past."
Although Greenway admitted that he has been charged with three missed tackles in the first two games, he didn't necessarily agree that he has been trying to do too much.
"I would say hesitant for some reason," referencing the missed tackles. "When it's something you work and do and do and do and do, and then you don't do it right – you end up reaching on some plays – it just really torques you off. All I can do is just continue to work on that. As far as the run reads and stuff, a lot better in Chicago. Made some plays. Can't make them all, obviously. I think sometimes when you try to see too much, you try to do too much and you've just got to worry about your job and taking care of your business."
Greenway said he is reading offenses well, but added that Detroit's use of misdirection plays can be tricky. He also said arthroscopic surgery he had on his knee in June is not an issue.
He is taking ownership of his three missed tackles so far, even if that doesn't seem like many for a linebacker.
"When they're out in the open or they're in space or you're one-on-one with guys, it's the tackle that you've got to make because it's going to hurt your team," Greenway said. "You're giving up first downs and there are game-changing things that can happen in drives. I don't have an excuse for it other than I've got to bring my feet. Get there and bring him down. Find a way to do it. It's pretty simple. It's certainly not my first or last missed tackle that I've had or will have."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Hesitant or over-reaching? Greenway explains
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