One month ago, when the Vikings had confusion in their defensive backfield during the Chicago Bears' game-winning drive, head coach Leslie Frazier said there were some things he could have done differently to help out defensive coordinator Alan Williams on those final, hectic plays that cost the Vikings the game.
Now, despite being ranked 31st in total defense and 19th in total offense – rankings based on yardage – Frazier said he believes offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and defensive coordinator Alan Williams are putting players in position to be successful.
"I think they are. I think our coordinators are doing a good job," Frazier said. "Anytime your record is where ours is, there's some things that you can improve on. They're working as hard as they can to improve. We're going to do the very best we can to give our guys the best game plan for this upcoming game. But they're working as hard as they can to put our players in the best position to succeed. And our players, when they're put in those positions, they've got to execute their assignments when that happens."
As for points scored and yielded, the Vikings are actually 11th in the league scoring points but they are 27th in points allowed per game. They have yielded 34, 31, 31, 27 and 35 points.
"Points are a big deal. Third-down, red zone defense, two-minute, four-minute, those are the things we talk about and work on all the time. But points are critical to your success," Frazier said. "We are definitely giving up too many points at this point, and we've got to work to get that number down in order for us to have a chance to have a winning football team. It's something we'll continue to work on and continue to do the things that are necessary to improve that number."
Defensive end Jared Allen was searching for answers, at least those he could make publicly, Sunday after the 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He was having a hard time expressing what he was feeling.
"I'd have to watch the film. I don't have any answers right now. I'm reeling, I'm guessing right now. Once we watch the film, it will be evident. A game like this, it's evident," defensive end Jared Allen said.
"We've got to find something, some call, some rhythm, because right now, that was – ugh!"
Frazier said he believes the Vikings were prepared, but he pointed to the execution of the calls and then making plays when they were afforded to the players, referencing what should have been an interception that safety Jamarca Sanford dropped on the first pass from Carolina QB Cam Newton and one of Matt Cassel's two interceptions.
"You know, I can't catch that interception for them. I can't throw that ball early, where we threw the pick. I can't do that for them," Frazier said. "But just got to get them in the mindset, the importance of execution. It's just so hard to play our game, especially where our team is set up, where errors for us that sometimes are very difficult to overcome. Just got to get them in that mindset, the importance of our execution on every single play. And continue to emphasize that. Just taking care of the details of their job on every play."
Defensively, the Vikings allowed touchdowns on four of the Panthers' first six possessions, and one the possessions that didn't result in a touchdown was because the Panthers kneeled down at the end of the first half. Carolina had double-digit plays on three of those four drives, including the initial 15-play drive, as well as ones that went 15 plays and 10 plays.
Offensively, the Vikings had only one drive in the first three quarters that went more than eight plays – their 15-play drive at the end of the first half that resulted in a field goal.
Frazier said the Vikings will "take a look" at some things on offense before beginning to game plan for Monday Night Football against the New York Giants on Oct. 21, but he also mentioned execution again.
"I thought we came out firing on all cylinders, moving the football right down the field. The turnover, we weren't able to overcome it. It would've been nice on the very next play from their standpoint for us to catch the interception that we had, and that would've thwarted any momentum that they may have, but we didn't. We didn't make the catch. And they got a little confidence. But I felt like our guys were juiced up and ready to go and ready to play. We just didn't execute. You've got to execute your assignments."
Some of the veteran players, however, seemed to be at a loss for words on how they were beaten so badly at home against another team that was carrying a 1-3 record.
"We didn't see this coming," Allen said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Frazier points to execution, not game plan
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