Leslie Frazier continues to take blame for late defense
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Harrison Smith was motioning safety Jamarca Sanford to start the play closer to the line and cornerback Josh Robinson was looking back at Smith. Smith then drifted to his left on the crucial play in the Minnesota Vikings’ 31-30 loss at Chicago on Sunday.
On the other side of the defense, Chris Cook was all alone, waving to Smith to move over. Cook never got the help he was looking for and the Bears came from behind to beat Minnesota on the play with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to tight end Martellus Bennett.
The touchdown overshadowed a defensive effort against Chicago in which the Vikings came up with four turnovers and held the Bears from scoring in the second half until Bennett’s touchdown with 10 seconds remaining.
A day later, Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier continued to take the blame Monday for the defensive collapse on Chicago’s game-winning drive.
“Kind of got away from some things that we would ordinarily do in that situation,” Frazier said. “That’s nothing to do with our coaches, that’s more to do with me because that’s something if it’s our offense, our special teams, I’m on the headset saying, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do that, whatever.’ I could have helped with some strategy there.”
Frazier wouldn’t offer many specifics of the breakdowns, but issues with either the scheme or execution were apparent as the Bears went 66 yards in 10 plays and 3 minutes, 5 seconds of the game clock to score.
“There were some things we could have done differently, that I could have done differently, in that situation in helping to prepare our coaches and players in that situation,” Frazier said of the play.
On the touchdown, the Vikings said they had seen the alignment for Chicago earlier in the game.
“It was a similar look,” Cook said. “We just got to execute a little bit better. We were just a little bit off. It was a play that I could have made, should have made. I’ve made it before. It hurt more being as it was in the end of the game and we were in position to win it on defense.”
Cook later added: “A few guys were off. And when guys are off, other guys try to cover it to help them out, and things happen. It’s football, man. It’s a fast game.”
Frazier said he has the opportunity and time to override calls, but didn’t on the final drive on Sunday. He said he has no issue with the play-calling from defensive coordinator Alan Williams, or offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
Instead, Frazier wished he had spoken up to the coaches and players about what he was seeing. Frazier said, in hindsight, he probably should have taken a timeout.
“I kind of kicked myself on that,” Frazier said. “That was an opportunity for me to interject and to maybe help in a way, like I do with our offense, like I do with our special teams, and just have to do some things better from my standpoint in those situations.”
Injury updates: The Vikings came away with few injuries from Sunday’s game. The biggest concern was to tight end Rhett Ellison.
Frazier said Ellison hyperextended a knee and he might not be able to practice when the team returns on Wednesday.
Center John Sullivan has a calf contusion after calling the injury a strain following the game. Sullivan is expected to practice.
Kevin Williams said his knee was “fine and “wasn’t too sore” on Monday morning after playing Sunday. Williams had missed the Week 1 game at Detroit.
Peterson worried with footing: Frazier said part of the slow start for running back Adrian Peterson was the messy conditions on Sunday.
Soldier Field had hosted a college football game on Saturday and then rain caused the field to be in even worse condition on Sunday. Peterson finished with 26 carries for 100 yards.
“Early on, the surface I think messed with him a little bit,” Frazier said Monday. “He and I were just talking about it before I came in here. He was a little concerned about the surface, but once he settled in, he began to get some of those runs we have all grown accustomed to. But part of the issues I think he dealt with yesterday were trying to hit that home run on every single run, and it’s not going to always be the case. But overall in these first two games, he’s done well. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve just got to make sure we get him some holes.”‘
Peterson ranks third in the NFL in rushing heading into Monday night’s game with 193 yards this season, 44 yards behind Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy for the lead.
Follow Brian Hall on Twitter