Bad rankings and bad performances aren't going to pull defensive coordinator Alan Williams away from what he believes is the right defense and the right personnel for that defense.
The Vikings are ranked 30th in total defense, a measure of total yards per game, 21st against the rush and 29th against the pass.
"It's not like there are quick fixes that you can bring in 11 Pro Bowl players … we believe we have the right guys here. Our front office does an amazing job of bringing in good players," Williams said. "Leslie Frazier does an amazing job and Rick Spielman of evaluating talent, evaluating character. This is a time that character shows through. A lot of teams, if they were 1-6, you wouldn't see the guys playing hard out there on the football field. Our guys are playing extremely hard. We just in some cases need to play smarter, in some cases. With that, we just, again, keep grinding at it, keep working at it."
The Vikings are 1-6 and players insist nobody has quit. But Williams had an extensive post-practice talk with DE Brian Robison and S Jamarca Sanford. Afterwards, he came to press conference podium in the field house and immediately talked about his message to the players, which he said happens more frequently than just when reporters are there witness to it.
"We have a way of doing things here in Minnesota. Our way here in Minnesota is to work hard, is to do the right things, is practice hard, to run to the ball, to be on the details. And it doesn't just come by saying it. You have to do it," Williams said. "And you don't want to through growing pains in terms of losing ballgames, but when you do lose you don't just say, ‘Hey, we're going to find a different way or go outside your core values.' You want to stick with what you're doing if you truly believe in that and you want to keep grinding away because there are negative voices out there to say, ‘Hey, do something else, fix something else. Other people can fix it, or other people outside the organization can make it better,' and that's not the case. We believe we have the right people, we have the right system. You just have to keep plugging away. And if you really believe that, and we do, iron down and be more detailed than what you were. Sometimes it's called death by inches when you don't do things right and you don't really see the results until later on. But we want to make sure that we tighten down the details and even be more focused than we were."
Williams mentioned multiple times that players hear outside voices about the defense.
"Guys go home, they have wives, they read the paper, they look at the news," he said. "You have all these voices that say, hey, there are different ways of doing things. I do know that it's something that you continue to reinforce, even when you're winning. That's something that even last year we reinforced, but it just wasn't a major deal because you're winning ballgames. Even when you're winning, sometimes guys think, you know what, I have a different way of doing something so I can even get more sacks or more interceptions or more tackles. You say, ‘Nope. We have a core value of the way we do things and that's how you win championships.'"
The Vikings' game against the Green Bay Packers seemed to bring a lot of their defensive issues further forward.
The Packers were 13-for-18 on third downs, 2-for-2 on fourth down, racked up 464 yards of offense and held the ball for 40 minutes, 54 seconds compared to the Vikings' 19:06.
The Vikings are last in the league on third-down efficiency and the number of first downs surrendered.
"We're still building the foundation to win football games and we want this to be the model of the NFL. To be that, you have to build a firm foundation. You have to go through, sometimes, some growing pains, which we are right now. You don't want it, but to build something solid, sometimes you have to go with that."
"… But it takes solid, keep doing, keep sticking to it, keep grinding. And at some point you're going to find out that the rock is going to break. It is going to break for you. You are going to see results. You may not see results now in terms of wins. But guys are improving. They are getting better. I know in the NFL, it's a matter of, hey, the wins are really what counts, but sometimes the wins cover up a multitude of sins or stinks, and you've just got to keep grinding."
The Vikings' pass defense has been especially porous. They are 26th in sacks per pass play and are giving up, on average, 287 yards passing per game.
Wiliams' message to the secondary?
"Not to work outside the scope of the defense. Sometimes when you're maybe not getting interceptions or playing as well as you think you should, you're thinking, ‘I need to do more. I need to go over here and make up for someone else,'" Williams said. "My message is: don't do that. Be more detailed and if we tackle better, if we run to the ball more, if we execute assignments better, the results will be better. That's one thing that we continue to reinforce."
But there are no indications that Williams is going to move away from the scheme he believes in.
"You stick to what you do," he said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Williams preaches his defensive message
Viking Update Top Stories
Cutler returns, praising Vikings defenseBears QB Jay Cutler is returning to action and expects some rust, but he has immense respect for the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 2:43 PM
VIDEO: Bradford breaks down offensive issuesWhile Sam Bradford has generally had an impressive start to his time with the Minnesota Vikings, that didn't translate last week. He discusses the offensive struggles against the…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 2:33 PM
VIDEO: Zimmer blasts report, talks BearsMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer defends his character after an erroneous report that was later corrected went viral, but Zimmer settled in to talk Bears mostly on Thursday.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 1:39 PM
Vikings look to turn the pageComing off their first loss of the season, the Minnesota Vikings are looking to shake the label of being soft and get back to their winning ways at Soldier Field Monday, a place…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 12:28 PM