View Full Version : TICE QUOTES from Mon PC's

11-19-2004, 01:01 PM
This thread is mostly for archiving the Press Conferences the Morning after the game.

No comments are necessary make another thread if you think it is worthy of discussion.

The reason for doing this is so if someone wants to go back and look at his reasoning they can. I don't know where else these are archived.

11-19-2004, 01:01 PM
Tice: Well, that was a tough way to finish a day. That really takes a lot out of you when you lose a game on a last-second field goal, especially back-to-back games like that. I've gotten through most of the film with the defensive staff, trying to make sure we can identify, well there's plenty to identify that we can get better at, that's for sure. But we have to clean up some areas there and make sure the guys are in the right spot, and when they're in the right spot and they're afforded a chance to make a play, they have to make more plays on defense. (They're) probably not carrying over the way they're preparing throughout the week because I thought the last two weeks they did prepare really well defensively. (We had) less repeats than we've had throughout the course of the season, and then we're not carrying it all the way over to the field. And I understand some of it's youth, but at this point, 11 weeks into the season, that gets old to me, talking about the youth factor. Daunte (Culpepper) had a big game and really showed a lot of playmaking ability, and Nate Burleson continues to get better for us every week. We're tied, technically. Not really, we're behind Green Bay 5-4 in the race for the NFC North with Chicago making a run now 4-5, and Detroit we have up this week. Four out of our last seven games are NFC North opponents, so there's your season. NFC North opponent games, four of those in the next seven. (We have) seven games left, and really we're just concentrating on this game at home against Detroit, an NFC North opponent. We have to win the game, and we have to find a way to win the game. We have to find a way to make more plays than they make. We don't have any injuries to report, just the normal guys nicked here and there from the game. A couple guys are banged up, but nothing that looks like we'll hold them out, but we'll see as the week progresses if anything pops up. Last week on Tuesday afternoon Onterrio (Smith) came in with a stinger from the fumble on the first play of the game, but he didn't miss any time during the week. But we haven't had anything pop up really this week yet, so we'll see how it goes and see how they wake up in the morning tomorrow.

Q: Did you see anything to indicate that Derek Ross didn't have possession of the ball?
A: I didn't. It's tough. I don't know what to say. Unfortunately we didn't get the ball there, but that's just the way the ball bounces sometimes. It didn't bounce right for us there and in a couple other situations.

Q: Have you looked for another kickoff specialist?
A: Yeah, I'm looking at a couple guys, and really he had two bad kicks, although he didn't get the ball to the five. It was cold, and the ball is not going to carry that much, but he did kick three kicks over 4.0 to the 10 (yard line), so we're going to continue to evaluate that today. When we brought the six guys in last week, Jose (Cortez) was the most consistent. One of the bad kicks hurt us. The last kick was actually a pretty good kick. It was over 4.0 to the 10. We didn't cover the kick very well until the end when the ball came out, which was a fortunate thing, we thought anyway. We have to look at it, and we will, but that change might not do anything differently. We are inside the next two weeks. Nothing's changed now. It's too early in the day today. Most of that stuff is done on Tuesdays, and we've already identified a couple other guys, and two of them are guys we had in last week that he kicked better than in the two-day tryout. It wasn't like it was a one day, "Let's go kick ten kicks and the best man wins." We actually had him kick two days and he was the most consistent one. We lost our kicker, who was kicking the ball extremely well. It's just how ironic things are; now we miss Aaron Elling and early in the season when we released him we didn't miss him. But that's how the season goes. We have to battle through that stuff. We have to battle through that stuff.

Q: What's Randy Moss' situation?
A: Randy's doing really well, and again, when Chuck (Barta) identified the injury, when he felt the pop, Chuck and the medical staff was right on the injury, I believe. They said it was going to be a four to six-week injury until he was 100% healthy. The little bit of work that he did those two games, one week he didn't really do anything. He went out and wanted to keep his streak alive. The next week he worked a little on Friday. He felt like he knew the injury, had identified the injury, he being Randy, that he had played with it, had had the injury before when he was training with Cris Carter 23 miles an hour on the treadmill or something down in Florida. He identified what speed he would be available to us at. Chuck indicated don't expect more than 8 to 12 plays and don't expect the second half to have Randy Moss available. At that point we didn't get in the red zone that game. That was that Giant debacle, and it stiffened up and that's when I believe he realized going on it like that wasn't going to help the team. It was throwing our rhythm off a little bit. So we're right on track for what Chuck said, a four to six week injury, so that could be Jacksonville or that could be Chicago. More than likely it will be Jacksonville. We talked about it the other day. I think Randy is in the mindset if he can practice on a Friday, then he can play. I think at this point we've been down that road before, him practicing on a Friday and trying to play. I'd rather he practice a whole week, and if he can practice a whole week then he can play because we've already been down that path before with "I feel pretty good. I feel pretty good. If I practice Friday I want to play red zone," and it didn't work out very well. I think what we'll do this time is if he can practice all week, he'll be up. Now whether that's Detroit, which I doubt it is, Jacksonville, which is more than likely, then we'll be right at six weeks.

Q: What is your experience with guys coming back from hamstring injuries?
A: The problem you have with these soft-tissue injuries is that you have to rely on a lot of what the player's telling you. The MRIs and everything show you bleeding and fluid; the different colors of it show you where the bleeding is and the fluid and the water and all that stuff, but you really have to rely on the player, what he's telling you, what he's communicating to you with the groin injuries, the hamstring injuries, all the pulls. It's not like a broken bone or a chipped bone where an x-ray can tell you this has to heal. So you rely on a lot of what the player's communicating to you. I've seen nothing but 100% recovery. Look at Marcus Robinson. We held him out two weeks in training camp and he had a mild strain, a mild strain, a very mild strain. We held him out two weeks because he kept trying to come back. "I feel good. I feel good." He'd go out in practice and he wouldn't make it through the whole practice, so we have a little bit of background with the same type injury with one of our own players this year at training camp. So I think it's when the player can get through everything that we'll announce that Randy is close to being 100%. I don't even know that he'll be 100% in six weeks, but he should be pretty close to it.

Q: Will he get another MRI?
A: Yeah, I think he should now that he realized the MRI helped him identify that he was hurt. I think he had the notion that, "I've played through everything in my career, and I can play through this because I know what level I can perform at with this injury." But really, having Randy Moss out there as a decoy doesn't really bring much to the table after a couple of plays. I think having Randy Moss back as Randy Moss is a lot better for us, I believe. I think the MRI that he'll get is kind of a moot point if he's able to practice. If he's able to make it through a whole practice, then obviously he's healed up pretty good.

Q: You wanted to get the running game going again. It turned out to be the same numbers as the week before.
A: Well we got behind, so that's what happens. The runs I thought we did attempt were pretty solid, and I thought both running backs, I think they had equal carries with five. I thought it was pretty solid. We had planned on using both running backs. Mike (Bennett) got a lot of work in practice last week, and I thought he looked pretty explosive. That's why we decided to start him. It was really a moot point. They both were going to get about the same carries. I thought they both ran the ball hard. They only had four or five carries, five carries I think. When you get behind that way, it's tough to really sustain that running game, and our quarterback was making a lot of plays too. He got in a rhythm pretty good when we went to the shotgun.

Q: Would you like to have one of them emerge?
A: Yeah, you'd really like to have one guy carry the load each week and have the other guy be the spell guy, if you will, and you kind of look at a lot of things. How is the guy hitting it during the week? Is he hitting the holes really quick during the week? Does he have a good feel for what our plan is based on the defensive front? With that said, even though Onterrio didn't miss any practice time last week, I didn't think he looked as explosive as Mike did. I thought Mike had a really good week last week. I really did. Yeah, you would like to see that.

Q: Can you talk about Nate Burleson?
A: Yeah, he's such a great athlete. I think he once told everybody he can jump higher than any athlete in the Twin Cities. I know he's got a 40-inch plus vertical. He's just a pleasure to have around because he works so hard, and he wants to be identified as a playmaker for the Vikings. I think he's going out and proving each week that he's a reliable guy. He has a drop here and there, and there are certain balls that look like to me he seems to have a little problem with, but I'll tell you he continues to get better every week. He's a very good blocker too, and he's just great to have on the team. I love having him around. He has a great name too. Nate, that's my son's name.

Q: You talked last week about getting defensive playmakers on the field. Do you think you have them out there?
A: I'm frustrated with that really right now. I don't see the carryover from the week of work on the field on Sundays with the same consistency I'm seeing during the week. We have to continue to work hard as a staff to look at how we're practicing, how we're installing things. Again I don't want to go back to the young thing because it sounds like an excuse, but with young guys you might have to tweak how you're installing things. I was just meeting with the defensive staff. I've been with the defensive staff, which seems like a daily ritual now over the last couple of weeks. But maybe we have to do more walk-throughs later in the week. Maybe instead of Saturday night watching tape and reviewing things, maybe we have to walk-through in the ballroom of the hotel. I'm not trying to make jokes here. We have to look at why we're not carrying over what we're doing during the week all the way to Sunday, and once these guys get more consistency in how they're lined up and how the calls are made, how they take on blocks and simple things like how they're turning the shoulders and running and over-running plays, then we'll be better. Until we do that we won't be better. We'll look really good on a couple of plays, and then we're going to give up a big run when we should have a guy in the hole. So we have to play with more consistency and certainly we can identify, I think all of us who watched the game can identify we have to play with more consistency at the linebacker position.

Q: What happened this week with lacking rhythm on both sides in the first half?
A: I didn't see that. We scored on the first drive of the game. We had some nice drives. I'd have to look at how many three-and-outs we had. I thought we only had one, maybe two. I thought we had pretty good rhythm offensively. There were a couple plays that we didn't quite make to keep drives going, but I thought we moved the ball pretty good throughout the team. I know you asked that yesterday, but I didn't really see it that way. Defensively, again it's a consistency thing. We have to have the guys play the calls the way they're designed to be played. Every single time the call is made, there is a reason for a call. I'll give you an example. There's a beautiful under four call inside the 10 (yard line), and coaches are yelling, "Watch for the swap boot." I mean yelling it. Then they get a motion; we don't carry the motion over, and we should have a particular player on the motion. That should be a no play, should be a no play. Instead it's a touchdown. Now all week in practice that guy was getting blown up. Every time he caught it, I don't remember if it was Butchie Wallace or whoever it was, he was getting blown up. Larry Ned or whoever it was. But in that particular case we let the guy catch the ball and run in for a touchdown. Why are we not carrying over? That's what we have to continue to look at as coaches, and no matter what it takes we have to get that fixed. Like I said, if it's more walk-throughs, if it's more film time and less meeting time, who knows? We're just going to have to continue to look at that because we have to get it rectified. It has to be rectified.

Q: Do you feel you're at a point where you need to challenge your players?
A: I challenge them every week. They all make fun of me about, "It is what it is," and that comes from pointing out reality. The films don't lie. You can sit there and say, "I didn't say that," but if it's on film they can say, "Well do you want to see the clip," and you said it and you went, "Oh, okay." Films don't lie. We say the same thing in sports. When we watch the tape and we show the team particular plays and a guy is misaligned. "No, no, no, I was in a five," but then meanwhile the guy is in the three, that's an alignment term, the film doesn't lie. It is what it is. That's a constant with us, with the Vikings. We want to point out how we can get better. It's not a demeaning thing. We want to point out how we can get better, and then the players, we're lucky to have players that want to get better. Some teams don't have players that accept coaching. We're very blessed as coaches to have players that want to get better, and if you have that as a coach, you have a lot going for you if you have players that want to get better.

Q: How big is this Lions game?
A: Well it's big. We lost three games in a row, and losing stinks. It opens up a lot of windows for everybody to second-guess what you're doing. You want to make sure you stay the course and believe in the way we're doing things because when we were 5-1 and we were doing things the right way and now we've lost three in a row, and it's easy to second-guess what you're doing and say, "Maybe we're not doing this right," because of something someone says. I really believe our guys want to get better. They don't want to fail. They don't want to fail for each other. We're a close team. I don't think they want to fail for their coaches. But losing is tough. It makes things rough. I'm not going to sit here and say losing feels good. I like to have fun and joke around with you guys, but it's hard to do when you're losing. I think I'm a guy that cares, and when you lose it's hard not to let some things bother you that are said because it hurts. That's just if you're a man that has character, I think it should hurt. Maybe that's how I get sometimes, but if I get that way sometimes I certainly don't mean anything personal, but a lack of sleep and trying to fix things does that to you sometimes.

Q: Is that what happened last night with the email question?
A: Yeah, but Joe (Schmit) and I have fun on the show, and we talked about it during the commercial what was going to come up. It's like Dan (Barriero) and I doing a show. A lot of times we'll talk in between about what's coming up, and at the same time you want ratings to be good. At the same time I'm going to make sure that I don't hide from any question. I want to make sure I address everything, and if someone hits a good point and I screwed up, then I screwed up. If somebody hits a point that I disagree with, then sometimes I have to say I disagree. I wasn't in a wonderful mood last night.

Q: Was it light-hearted or was it from the heart?
A: I had fun. We laughed about it during the commercial. Joe said, "Good thing we didn't have worse questions than that tonight." But I do believe what I said about that particular thing. Yeah, I would have loved to score with 12 seconds to go, but we have to tie the game. First and foremost we have to tie the game to send it to overtime. That's the first thing, and I laugh about it a little bit. Really there's nothing to laugh about right now, but last week I'm doing just the opposite. I'm trying to make sure Peyton (Manning) doesn't get the ball back before the end of the half, and last week I blew the clock management. This week I score too early, so that's what I said, when you lose it opens up a whole lot of stuff for everybody. Then I try to say, "Well I didn't want to try for a touchdown because too many bad things can happen," one of which was a rule, an obscure rule, which I either explained in the wrong way or whatever, but my point is last night they went for it with 8 seconds to go, and if Brian Williams catches the ball. They get greedy, but he didn't catch the ball. And they had a timeout left because they had clocked the ball, so it was a little bit of a different situation, but anyway, you just have to do what you believe is right for your team to win. Sometimes it works out for the best, hopefully most of the time, and sometimes it doesn't. That's just life in the big leagues.

Q: Is one of your hot buttons when people ask you about last year?
A: Well it is, but I've kind of gotten off of that because I think anybody that's looking at it, it's not a hot button anymore because you lose two games on the road to really good teams, really good offenses, on a last second field goal. It's hard for me to think that anybody that really follows it or follows the team, including my wife Diane, who got off that and said last night, "It's not the same team. I agree with you." I've won her over, so that's a start, and she's tougher than all you guys put together. It's not. It really is not. We lost two games on last-second field goals. Last year I believe if we got down like we did in those games it would have turned into a semi-debacle, and it would have snowballed and gotten a little worse. I don't see that with this team, so it's a different time. Like I said on TV last night, how can you compare Kansas City's team last year to Kansas City's team this year? You can't. How can you compare Carolina's team last year to Carolina's team this year, who played in the Super Bowl? You can compare some things on our football team or some players, but it's not the same team. It's not the same chemistry. It's not the same character, if you will. It's not the same grittiness. Did we win those games? No, we didn't win those games. We didn't make enough plays. I think it's hard 100% to compare both teams, and I think that's what we're doing when we talk about it. Is it a coincidence that we lost a game and lost a couple more in a row after we lost to the Giants? I hope it is because otherwise if we ever play the Giants again I might hide. I'm hoping it's a coincidence, but losing those two tough games like that I don't think is anything to be embarrassed about. We don't want to lose them. We don't want to be 5-4; we'd rather be 6-3 with a two-game lead, but we're not, and we have seven games to go starting this week with Detroit. We have to win some games. We're at home in front of our fans the next two weeks, and that helps a lot. That helps a lot.

11-19-2004, 01:06 PM
I had heard that Tice went off on some fans during his show. I was wondering what he had said.

11-19-2004, 02:38 PM
he said they got screwed and packer fans are still jackasses

11-19-2004, 02:39 PM
Makes sense to me. That he would say that, at least.

11-19-2004, 02:42 PM
no but he did tell the fans to "shove it" after all the negativity about the team in the town

11-19-2004, 02:53 PM
:-) Nothing like a coach alienating your fans, hey, skogs?

11-19-2004, 02:55 PM
About feckin time! :cussing:

little redhead
11-19-2004, 03:13 PM
Actually he was on a sports show he does every sunday night and he got a stupid question via email and it set him off. The question was did he think Moe Williams scored to early??? you know when we scored with like 1 minute and then some left in the game. Tice kind of gave a look like what kind of f***king question is this. He said someone who would ask that kind of question has no clue about football or is an idiot. He then went on to say what would you have Moe do take a knee.. then he told the guy he could take his question and shove it somewhere he was a little testy but that is one of the reasons I like him he tells it like it is.... It was a stupid question after a tough loss. Maybe not the classiest thing to do but oh well can't take it back now.

11-19-2004, 03:25 PM
Oh, I was wondering what it was about. I had only heard innuendo (not like the stuff on the other threads) about it.

little redhead
11-19-2004, 03:32 PM
"LosAngelis" wrote:

Oh, I was wondering what it was about. I had only heard innuendo (not like the stuff on the other threads) about it.

Judging by the way you used the word innuendo I see you have been peeping in on those other posts yet you never joined in....

11-19-2004, 03:35 PM
"little redhead" wrote:

"LosAngelis" wrote:

Oh, I was wondering what it was about. I had only heard innuendo (not like the stuff on the other threads) about it.

Judging by the way you used the word innuendo I see you have been peeping in on those other posts yet you never joined in....

Los is a voyeur???

little redhead
11-19-2004, 03:39 PM
"purplehorn" wrote:

"little redhead" wrote:

"LosAngelis" wrote:

Oh, I was wondering what it was about. I had only heard innuendo (not like the stuff on the other threads) about it.

Judging by the way you used the word innuendo I see you have been peeping in on those other posts yet you never joined in....

Los is a voyeur???

That was my thought he just likes to watch or maybe he didn't think he could keep up with those other boys on this site.

11-19-2004, 03:51 PM
Voyeur...I like the sound of that...:-)

I'm just way too much of a gentleman to post anything innuedoey.

(is that a word?)

11-19-2004, 07:41 PM
"LosAngelis" wrote:

:-) Nothing like a coach alienating your fans, hey, skogs?

Last year during the suberbowl here in Houston, I walked up to Tice and tried to introduce myself as a Vikings fan and he totally blew me off.

I could understand if he was being harassed by a lot of fans and was tired of it at the time but it upset me a bit that he did what he did. To his credit, I could tell he was drunk. It was right outside of the lobby bar where I ran into him.

It was at the Downtown Hilton in Houston. Plenty of Coaches, Players and former players around.

11-19-2004, 09:32 PM
Thanks for the Tice interview snowinapril. Very informative.

11-19-2004, 11:18 PM
You are welcome, I will continue to do so.

11-20-2004, 04:20 PM
Wednesday November 17th 2004

Tice: Well we're certainly excited that we get to play another game this week on Sunday. We have another division opponent coming in, NFC North, Detroit Lions, who certainly have upgraded the talent level on their roster. At least to this point, (they have) the two best inside players we've seen on defense. They're very, very good players, and it looks like they're making more of an effort to get the running game going and run the ball more. Roy Williams might be the best rookie in the league. He's a little bit hobbled by an ankle, but he certainly has tremendous skills, tremendous skills. So this will be a great challenge for us. We're really thankful that we're home in front of our fans. We really need them, our fans this week, to get behind the kids, get behind the guys, and we need to carry over our practices to the game on Sunday. (We need to) do a better job of that. We'll upgrade Randy (Moss) to doubtful. He just went through a 20-minute workout and looked really good. He's coming along right on schedule. I'm very pleased with that. We'll continue to work on the endurance in that muscle.

Q: Any change on Randy's timetable?
A: No, I think it's exactly how it's been the whole time. It was told to me four to six weeks, six weeks before he's 100% healthy. It looks like we're right on that, and I think he's doing a good job of rehabbing. I think the training staff has done an excellent job of getting him back this quickly. We're right on it.

Q: He won't play at all this week?
A: Well we'll upgrade him to doubtful, so you can read into that any way you want. Maybe they'll get ready to play against him, and maybe they won't.

Q: Talk about the opportunity you have against Joey Harrington.
A: He started out great, but if you look at his numbers he hasn't thrown a lot of interceptions. He's taken more sacks than he did last year. Last year he took very few sacks and threw a lot of picks, and looking at him on film I think he swapped them out. I think he's holding on to the ball a little bit, taking the sack, to not throw the ball into coverage. So he's kind of swapped out. Last year he took very few sacks, got the ball out, but threw more picks. This year he's taken more sacks, not thrown the picks. But if they got the running game going, like any quarterback that would help him out some. Hopefully they don't get the running game going against us. But he played very well early in the season, has struggled a little bit lately, but he's a number three pick in the draft. He's got a lot of talent. If you look at the Giant game he was about flawless in that game, and he beat the Giants, something we didn't do.

Q: Has Nate Burleson become an unlikely playmaker?
A: No, you have to remember going back to his senior year in college, and I'm probably wrong, but somewhere around 147, 149, 144 passes he caught his senior year in college, so he showed, at least at that level, that he was productive. He caught a lot of passes in college, and as somebody said when we drafted him, it doesn't matter if he caught 140-some balls at Division III because 140-some balls, that's a lot of catches at any level. So we knew he had some playmaker ability. Our coaches and scouts had some familiarity with him. One of our coaches recruited him coming out of high school. He has an excellent family. His brother was a super basketball player here with the Gophers, so we knew he had some athleticism, a 40+ inch vertical jump. We're just pleased that he's progressed so quickly. When we did a study a few years ago, the biggest jump for wide receivers drafted is between the first and the second year, and he certainly has made that jump.

Q: What's the biggest issue with your defense?
A: Well finding out a way first of all to get them to relax a little bit. I showed the last three plays to the entire team today on the three-and-out when we stopped them. Brian Russell, who supposedly isn't any good in space, made a tackle in space on a player for a 1-yard loss. On second down a guy that has struggled some the last couple weeks E.J. Henderson ran through the guard and made a tackle in the backfield for a 2-yard loss, and then on third down we had seven or eight guys in on the tackle on the screen to go three-and-out. It was about as flawless a defense as you can play. Why did we play flawless defense the last series to tie the game? I don't know. What's the answer for that? We're trying to figure that out. We'll look at how we're meeting. We'll look at how many breaks were taking. We'll look at how we practice with the cards and the scripts. We'll look at all those little tweaks. Is it time to change the length of practice time to rest? No, I think that's not going to accomplish anything. I think we have to figure out why we're not carrying stuff over from practice to the game, make a few little tweaks in some of the scripts possibly, in some of the cards, a couple personnel tweaks, maybe the amount of playing time for certain guys. We'll look at the productivity. The guys that are producing need to play more. The guys that aren't need to play less, and the guys just need to relax and go play. That second-to-last series guys just went and played, and they went out and made three great plays. But then you come back the next series after the fumble and all that, and we have two players that don't run the coverage exactly correct and they're able to throw a corner route in there. Why? We have to figure that out. That's our job as coaches to figure that out and get the players to carry that over to the field on Sunday.

Q: Do you feel like your offense has to score 35-40 points to win?
A: The goal of our offense is to score one more point than they score. That's always the goal, and that always has to be the goal. If it's 4-3, it's 4-3. If it's 35-34, it's 35-34. We left a play on the field. I pointed it out in the meeting, as great a game as Nate Burleson had, 11 catches, 140-something yards, if he catches that slant in there and scores a touchdown, then we don't have to go for it on 3rd-and-2 to try make a first down. We obviously weren't hitting the fades. We threw about five of them. We couldn't hit those things, so as great a game as he played, we left an opportunity on the field. Not to pick on Nate, and obviously that kind of stuff doesn't bother Nate. Nate wants to do everything perfectly, so he's a perfect guy to use as an example. He's not going to go in the tank. But we left an opportunity there.

Q: Talk about Eddie Drummond.
A: He's good; he's this year's Dante Hall, two punt returns for touchdowns last week to get them back in the game, put it into overtime. We have to be very disciplined. We have to run, and we'll have to make some personnel changes. Even on that last kickoff we had because of some players that were not suited up that had not been performing well and injuries to say a Raonall Smith, we've had to call other players into duty on some of those teams. (They) may be not as athletic and as fast, which causes you to not be as efficient in coverage. I felt, ironically, the two returns (Green Bay) had were on two of (Jose Cortez's) better kicks, and they were acceptable kicks; a 4.0 hangtime to the 10 is a very acceptable kick in the National Football League, especially on a cold, cold evening. A 3.89 or 3.75 is not acceptable, but that wasn't the case. It was a decent kick. But we have to make the plays, and against this kid we have to be about perfect, so it's a great challenge for our special teams. That's good; that's good that they're challenged. I think it's excellent. We were challenged by Dante Hall last year, and we fared pretty well.

Q: Does that mean you'll concentrate on it more this week?
A: We concentrate on it a lot. We meet a lot. We meet 45 minutes every day. We practice a half hour before (regular practice). We give special teams a lot of time. It's the same thing that we're facing right now on defense, and it just shows you how a week will change. Two weeks ago the special teams made a lot of plays. Last week they didn't make a play when we had to make a play. That's football. Each week it's another correction.

Q: Do you have guys that can take some of the morale responsibility off your shoulders?
A: Well I certainly don't want to walk around like Dr. Phil. I get to go see my Dr. Phil today, Dan Barreiro, so Danny will take care of me and I'll be fine. But I don't walk around with an air pump. If I see the air pump, I'm shoving it and using it to pump guys up. It must be the phrase of the week. I think we've got enough veteran leadership to carry us through hard times. There hasn't been a society that has built toughness in times of peace, and we're certainly not in times of peace right now. So we need to be resilient and show some mental toughness and some character and forge our way through this tough time and this dump and make sure we get through and get through it better and get through it as a better football team and a team with more character and more mental toughness and more resiliency. In the end that carries you. It really does, if we handle it the right way.

Q: How do you walk the line of finding positive things from losses while concentrating on the bottom line of winning?
A: I think this is the stage as coaches we just need to teach. Unfortunately, when you teach you have to point out some negative things, and the players have got to accept coaching, and coaches have to accept coaching. If we didn't do the job then we have to be able to correct ourselves. We all have to get better, starting with me and all the way down through the coaching staff through the players through the equipment manager. We have to get better. That's really the only way to look at it.

Q: Is Raonall Smith any closer?
A: He had a great day yesterday, and then he woke up this morning with a headache again. He goes in Monday for another test in Pittsburgh. Hopefully at that point he'll be cleared. I said to Smitty, "We're all saying right now we need Raonall Smith," and that hasn't been the case for two years. That's a good thing for Smitty. We'd love to have him back because he's a playmaker, and he would help us immensely, especially on special teams. He's out for this week.

Q: Is Mewelde Moore any closer?
A: Yeah, Mewelde's closer. I think Mewelde has that baseball mentality. He thinks there's a 15-disabled list. I hope he doesn't think that he has to be 100% before he comes back because he needs to understand as a young player they're not going to be 100%. I remember watching Roger Staubach one time, and they asked him, "When do you feel bad?" He said, "The first day of practice." They said, "When do you feel good again," and he said, "Around Memorial Day." You just don't feel good. So he's close; he's coming, and he's hungry. He wants to get back. I wish we had him this week. He would help us in the return game, but we don't. I don't think we will anyway.

Q: Any fond memories of watching Thanksgiving football?
A: No, I've played in the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas and coached in two, and I don't know, you'll have to check because most of the time I'm wrong, but I think I'm 3-0. That's my fondest memory.

11-22-2004, 04:18 PM
Monday November 22nd, 2004

Tice: Good afternoon. It's about time. Well we made more plays than we have been making the last couple of weeks, so we were able to finish this one with a ‘W' as opposed to the other way, so that's really in the final analysis of things all that matters. Are there things we have to get better at? Absolutely, and that's part of this deal. Every week there's something that either has to get fixed throughout the process or the course of the game or things that have to get fixed throughout the course of the week, some of which can be answered on the practice field, some of which have to be answered by who's playing certain roles, personnel-wise, special teams, defense, offensive line, tight end, running back, so you have to look at all those things. At this point, I think, we're very pleased that we had an excellent second half, I felt, in basically all phases, offense, defense, and special teams. It's the first time in quite a while that we were able to put together a half where all three phases stepped up to the plate and did what was necessary to win the game, a game that we had to win frankly. (We're) 6-4, still tied with Green Bay. Three of our last six are against division opponents, so that's excellent. Things will take care of themselves. We don't have to plan ahead. We just have to finish out the season...and the way the schedule's lined up will take care of itself. Injury update, I'm sure everyone wants to know about Randy (Moss). He just worked out at 11:00. He looked extremely good. 100%? No, but he did really well. The key is to see how he comes in tomorrow morning because we pushed him pretty hard today, so we want to see how he is tomorrow morning. So we'll continue to list him as doubtful for now, and hopefully as the week progresses we'll be able to fix that and turn it into questionable, probable, we'll see. But he did a lot today, and the key is to see how he is tomorrow morning because we pushed it pretty good. The strength in there is excellent. The strength is excellent. I think the endurance is the key. Jacksonville, one of my great friends in the whole world, Jack Del Rio, is coming in. There's nothing better, and I'm sure Jack will say the same thing, there's nothing better than to beat one of your friends in anything, whether it's cards or basketball or Tiddlywinks or whatever. It's just exciting to play against a great friend. We were teammates here in the early ‘90s. We've known each other for a long time, and that's just going to be an exciting week for us and for them too probably. Everybody have a great Thanksgiving if I don't see some of you because we all have a lot to be thankful for.

Q: How is Nat Dorsey?
A: He's going to get an MRI, and it doesn't appear to be serious as far as out any length of time. The initial indications are it's strained, which could mean he could be back this week or it could mean he could be back the following week. It doesn't appear to be anything significant at this point, but with that said, Adam Goldberg went in and did a nice job. Except for the first play there on the one-inch yard line, he played pretty well. He played pretty solid for us, so we're very pleased with that. We're on to our third right tackle of the season, or fourth if you count Adam Haayer, so that's exciting stuff.

Q: Is the momentum in the season turning your way now?
A: I think the biggest key though, even without the Randy situation, is the way we finish the game. We've finished in the two areas where we've had some ups and downs and frankly defensively struggled as of late. Special-teams has been up and down. One week it looked like we had it all fixed. It's how the special teams and the defense finished the game. The offense has been finishing the games pretty well, but the defense finished well. The sack at the end, the interception, making plays when we had to make plays, that's exciting to see. Making adjustments at halftime and settling guys down, guys going out and making the plays they had a chance to make, making the tackles, not missing the tackles. Special-teams-wise, we had to have a big kick and we had it, a great punt. Great initial pursuit or shot, we call it taking a shot, that Ralph Brown did, #33, to force the ball carrier laterally and back a little bit and then to finish up on the play by other players, namely Ben Nelson, local boy (from) St. Cloud State. It was good to see us finish that way, and that in and by itself, I think Tom Powers asked me the other day, "How do you get confidence back in the defense?" I really think the only way is to succeed and have success. They had some relative success yesterday, maybe not against the best offense that we've faced this year, but at this point the success is the key for them to gain confidence, so hopefully we can gain some confidence from that.

Q: How is Mewelde Moore?
A: I don't know. I'm just, I'm miffed. When will I bring him back? We'll bring him back when he feels like he can go out and practice and play. I even saw him this morning and said, "How we doing?" He gave me the ("I'm not sure,") so (that) is not a good thing. I don't know. It's taking him a long time to come back, but high ankle sprains, in his defense, are weird injuries. Just when you think this is a mild high ankle sprain, you're looking at five weeks. If he were healthy he'd be back, and we'd find a role for him, even if it was returning kicks and taking some of those hits off of Kelly (Campbell) and Nate (Burleson). We spoke about that last week I think. But at this point it doesn't appear he's going to be any farther along this week. Why is that? I don't know. Each one of us heals differently. We all heal differently. We all deal with pain differently.

Q: Were you pleased your veterans seemed to take charge yesterday?
A: Yeah, I am because for two years I've said to the team, and I really believe this in my heart, there are some people that say (this is) Mike Tice's team. This really is not my team. The team belongs to the players, and until the players take over the team, we won't win the championship. I've felt that all along. I really believe that. I believe that all the good teams I've been associated with, and there are a bunch, have great veteran leadership, and until that veteran leadership steps up and makes the players do the right things, I just think you're going to be an average team. I think we showed some of that yesterday, and that's encouraging. That's encouraging.

Q: Will you use more no huddle?
A: We've used a lot of it this year. We've used some of it where you guys haven't noticed we've used some of it, where we come out in a no-huddle mode and then we got a penalty so now we're out of the no-huddle mode, or we come out in the no-huddle mode and we have some relative success on first and second down. We like to huddle up most of the time on third down. The calls are a little bit more intricate on third down; there's a lot more verbiage, so it's really hard to do that from a no-huddle mode. We don't make the first down so we punt, so we're out of the no-huddle mode. We have tried it quite a bit. We've been very successful with it over the last couple of weeks, most notably Green Bay and yesterday. It gives us some rhythm. The negative of it is if it's no-huddle and it's a very long drive, it takes a lot out of the offensive linemen. Dave Dixon came off for a play. I thought he got hurt (and asked), "What happened?" (He said), "I need a breath," which I was in shock, but he was spent. That's the negative of it. I remember doing the no-huddle last year, and Randy was exhausted, totally exhausted in the no-huddle. When we try to use it, we like it, but you can't use it extensively throughout the course of the game. You have to pick your spots, but we have had some success with it, especially as of late.

Q: Is it fair to say Bryant McKinnie has been struggling a bit over the last couple of weeks?
A: I would say he doesn't play as well on the road, and I would say that he has improved this season. I don't think he's the player yet that we think he can be. I think that's about as fair an assessment as I can make.

Q: Did you see the Green Bay game last night?
A: I did. I was actually at the (Sports Wrap) show, peeking out of the corner of my eye, and when they intercepted the ball I thought they had a chance, but then I looked up and Favre was running for 17 yards. So much for that chance.

Q: Talk about the slow starts you've been having.
A: Yeah, we address that almost every day, about starting fast. We talked about this maybe five weeks ago, where as in this league whether people like it or not, it is so tough to come from behind and win. There was a statistic I shared with our beat writers about teams that are leading at halftime win like 86% of the games, some wacky number. I don't recall the actual stat right now. But it's very, very hard in this league, whether we like it or not, to come from behind and win. We want to start fast, and I think if you talk to any coach, we're all talking about starting fast. In fact I heard three or four coaches on interviews last night talk about starting fast. It's really hard to not start fast on the road and win. That's why it's even more encouraging to see how we finished those last two games on the road with those crap starts, with the fumble, the poor punt, with Green Bay throwing a 50-yard bomb to score a touchdown. But the one thing we have done better the last two weeks, we've scored on our first drive offensively, and that's something we were not doing. At one point we had only 13 points in the first quarter. So we've scored on our last two first drives of the game. That part is encouraging. It's something we emphasize and talk about all the time. I even made a little nudge we get into the locker room a little bit sooner after warm-ups, and I'll continue to look at anything that can help. But it's just a matter of relaxing and going out and playing. That play yesterday put us all in a shock mode.

Q: You seem to finish strong in the second half though. What's going on in the locker room at halftime?
A: No panic. That's what I've seen as the difference. No panic. Coaches teaching, trying to make good adjustments and explaining to the players why certain things happen so there is no panic. If a player makes a mistake and coaches don't explain why the mistake was made, I think that's when players get really, really tentative because they feel like, "I don't know if I can do this," but then you explain, "Well if you would have hit this gap a little tighter or done this," it settles the players down some. I'm seeing a lot of that. I'm not seeing the ranting and raving and throwing things and breaking blackboards, and I think that's helping the team settle down some.

Q: Is that no panic a result of veterans taking charge?
A: Well I think it's also some reality. I think the players see it in the same way the coaches are seeing it. "Gosh, we're in a position to make some plays. We just have to make the plays." Football's a great sport because it's a constant chess match. It's a constant fix, and you're always fixing something. Whether it's in the course of the game or the course of the week, there's always something that has to be fixed. It's never two games in a row alike. One week earlier you're running the ball great, the next week you can't get a yard. One week guys are covering guys tightly, and the next week they can't stay with a guy with one leg. There's always something that has to be fixed, and that's the nature of the game. That, to me, is exciting. That's what's exciting about it.

11-22-2004, 05:17 PM
"snowinapril" wrote:

"LosAngelis" wrote:

:-) Nothing like a coach alienating your fans, hey, skogs?

Last year during the suberbowl here in Houston, I walked up to Tice and tried to introduce myself as a Vikings fan and he totally blew me off.

I could understand if he was being harassed by a lot of fans and was tired of it at the time but it upset me a bit that he did what he did. To his credit, I could tell he was drunk. It was right outside of the lobby bar where I ran into him.

It was at the Downtown Hilton in Houston. Plenty of Coaches, Players and former players around.
I'm sure some of the hounding by fans constantly gets old, and some fans do need to be considerate.
When the SB was hosted here in Phoenix, the players and staff were as gracious to everyone (as much as they could be) signing things, getting involved around events in town, even the retired greats that were here. A friend of mine even got two footballs signed by Staubach.

11-23-2004, 06:33 PM
From the HORSES(tice) mouth:

MOSS will play on Sunday against the Jags. Worst case scenario is limited plays. But he will be on the field.

This was from the NFL Networks VIKINGS CAM interview on the Monday night episode.

11-29-2004, 10:59 PM
Monday, November 29th, 2004

Tice: Good afternoon. Well, we're pleased that we're getting better. We still have a ways to go. But there are some things that we didn't do well say three or four weeks ago that we're starting to do better. I think we're gaining some confidence on the defensive side of the ball although we're not flawless. We've given up one touchdown in the last seven quarters so that's a start good, that's a start towards getting better. We've missed some tackles. I think a lot of that has to do with confidence and passion to get to the ball and have to have more passion to make the play then they have passion to block you. And we're going to continue to work on that. We had a couple alignment problems. We gave 38 yards rushing on the first two plays based on alignment. We have to understand that we have to be very precise in those areas. And we'll continue to work on that. The defense made more plays. That's what we've been talking about. Just make one more play. They made a big play again at the end of the game to close the deal as they did last week with the interception. We started 5 un-drafted players yesterday, which is a tribute to our college personnel and certainly to our coaches for being able to develop young talent. Sean Berton, un-drafted free agent tight end. Brian Russell, un-drafted free agent safety. Spencer Johnson, un-drafted free agent defensive tackle. Adam Goldberg, from Edina, un-drafted free agent tackle. Cory Withrow, un-drafted free agent center. So, that's a tribute again to the players for achieving, the personnel department for finding these players and the coaches most certainly for developing them. Some kudos there that is much deserved all the way across the board. We're 7-4 and obviously we'll be watching the game tonight with much enthusiasm. We have an NFC opponent coming up, Chicago. It looks like the weather's going to be fine, about 40 degrees. We'll try to get outside and practice some this week if we can. Other than that, the only injury to report is Dave Dixon's knee. It appears to be fine. We scheduled an MRI for this afternoon. It appears to be ok, but we'll see how functional he is with it. I don't know if there's any significant problem with it. He wasn't able to function with it yesterday, (he couldn't) change direction with it. Randy (Moss) came out of the game no worse from wear. In fact I think I commented to some of the beat writers last night that his biggest problem he had was his back tightened up. And that's obviously from a lack of doing anything physical over the last 5 weeks. We'll continue to increase Raonall Smith's work load and see if we can maybe one day soon get him back in the mix. Nat Dorsey continues to improve that right shoulder. Mewelde Moore hopefully will be available if we can find a role for him this week. Dorsey, if he's healthy we'll have to make a decision. Are we better served with Adam (Goldberg) who graded out very well? It was the first all year that we had all 5 offensive lineman grade out at 1.70 or better. The guys played well against a good front. We'll have to look at it and see. Obviously if Dave's ready, Dave will be back in there. The question is, Dorsey or Goldberg? We'll see how that goes.

Q: The defensive play at the end of the game. Is this a big confidence builder?
A: Well we've been making plays and getting confidence. Making the play at the end of the game and keeping the Jaguars (in check) except for the one (break down) on the man-to-man coverage on the play action pass, which was totally readable with the splits and the fullback in a two point stance. There were a lot of things out there showing, the motion of the back and the tight end that caught the touchdown being wide. Obviously, he's not in the blocking position. Except for that play, I think we did some things to gain some confidence. I think we'll still be able to show the players Wednesday when we look at some tape with them that when we don't do it exactly right they pop them. They pop the runs and make catches. But when we do it right we're pretty good. We had some plays as we have over the course of the last couple weeks where if you don't do it right, (they get) 12-15 yard runs. (When we) do it right, 0, 1 yard, 2 yard runs. We have to continue down that path of doing things more consistently the right way. As we do that we'll get better and better. We have a long way to go, frankly. So we just need to continue to work on that. Confidence comes from making plays, tackling, missed tackles comes from a little unsure ness of settling into space on third down instead of pulling the trigger and going to make the play and running through the guy.

Q: How did you feel about Onterrio Smith this week? Are the roles becoming clear?
A: Well I would say, yeah. I think there's a different style between the two players. I think Onterrio is scrappy and breaks tackles and at times makes something out of relatively nothing. Mike (Bennett) is an explosive player that really does well in open space. We'll try to define a role for Mike. I think right now we'll ride Onterrio and see how he progresses down the stretch.

Q: After Thanksgiving you start looking toward future game implications. Are you doing that?
A: Of course we are. As coaches in our staff meeting, discussing a lot of ifs and buts and this and that, but I think the most important thing is to not lose sight of this week, which is Chicago. It's hard to not look ahead. But you have to at the same time focus on whatever it takes to come out of Chicago a victor. That is the most important thing, more important than anything. Who's starting? Who's going to do this? How a team is playing that we're playing in two weeks is irrelevant to us beating Chicago. So we have to focus in on putting players in position to make plays this week against Chicago and not get caught up in the stuff. But at the same time it's hard not to. We're getting down to the end. It's so important in this league to win after Thanksgiving and right now we're 1-0 after Thanksgiving. And that's where it all starts to come to play. So that right now is the focus for us, Chicago and winning after Thanksgiving.

Q: What is the situation with Chris Hovan?
A: We'll find out. I'm not going to discuss that situation at all. We're going to look at the productivity of the group we had out there yesterday, look at their efficiency and see if that's the 7 guys we want to go with or if we make a change, would we be more productive. Right now I'm trying to find players that are going to be productive for us, minimize mental mistakes. And right now as a head coach that's my focus regardless of what position that might be, running back, defensive line, linebackers, and safeties. Sometimes it is what it is and you can't make a change and you battle your way through it. Other times you might have somebody that deserves the opportunity because he's performing very well in practice and you want to see i.e. Spencer Johnson. You want to see what the young man can do in the game and then when he gets his chance it's up to him. It's not up to us anymore. Some guys take the opportunities and seize it and frankly some guys don't. We had some offensive lineman yesterday that went out and took the opportunity and seized it and gave us tremendous comfort that as we go down the stretch here we are very deep in the offensive line. Those three young boys, well (Cory) Withrow's not so young any more, but Withrow, Haayer and Goldberg played pretty (darn) well.

Q: How much have you see Goldberg develop since last season on the practice squad?
A: I think the thing that impressed me about Adam Goldberg when we worked him out and signed him was his athleticism and his intelligence. He had a lot of bad habits. He was not strong enough. He has worked diligently in the weight room, as hard as anybody to gain physical strength and most of the time when a young player gains physical strength he also gains confidence in his abilities. I think right now Adam Goldberg is very confident in his abilities. He is very bright and aware for a player that has not played a lot of football. So I'm very pleased with what I've seen the last two weeks out of Adam Goldberg, very pleased.

Q: ...
A: Well (Jermaine) Wiggins told us that he can do all the things that he's doing when we signed him and we just kind of said, alright you're going to have a chance to prove it to us. Absolutely, with out a doubt, he has proven that to us and good for him. Berton, I think is a guy that now that he has been released is happier. One of the reasons I released Sean and talked to him about it was he didn't come to work everyday with a smile on his face. I think he felt we were out to get him as a coaching staff. He and I discussed that. He didn't burn any bridges when he left. When he came back he has seized the opportunity and frankly is playing very well right now. So we're very proud of Sean.

Q: How did Spencer (Johnson) grade out?
A: I don't have all the grades here. We're still in the process of doing that.

Q: Access his play yesterday and talk about why everybody in the league passed him up.
A: Well I don't know about everybody in the league. I think he had some injury in there or something scared some people, a wrist injury or hand injury. Frankly when you're talking second day we kind of eliminate the injury factor. First day it comes into play. He's a very active guy. The one thing that impresses me about him and with a bunch of guys we have and our defense (in general), they get better as the game goes on. Why that is? We were just talking about that. Maybe the youngness of these kids shows up in the first half and as the game goes on they settle down. Maybe that's the answer, maybe it's not the answer. I don't know. But he's very active and he's hard to block.

12-01-2004, 06:11 PM
Wednesday Dec 1st, 2004

Tice: Well it's exciting to be in this time of the season and have a number of games left against division opponents, three of the five to be exact. This one is always exciting for me because the intrigue of going to Soldier Field, one of the historic places even though it's been redone. It's still one of the historic places in the National Football League history, and all of the great players that have stepped across that field is exciting to me as an NFL football fan and semi-historian I guess. This won't be an easy challenge...Offensively they're trying to find something that can get them moving the football, but defensively, I look at the numbers, they're number one in the league in tackles behind the line of scrimmage, number one in the league in third down conversions or preventing third down conversions. We're number one offensively, so that will be a heck of a battle. They're number three in three-and-outs, keeping teams to three plays and getting off the field, and they're number two in the league in miscellaneous touchdowns scored with six. So defensively they're not little sisters of the poor or a team that is not to be reckoned with. Defensively they're going to be a heck of a challenge for our offense. They always are, and they will be, certainly with a defensive head coach as good as Lovie Smith. Offensively they're trying to find something that works for them, and their offensive line has been beat up a little bit. So has ours. So has ours. It's certainly not an excuse. But it will be a great game. The weather should not be a factor. It's supposed to be 40 or something like that. We'll go outside for a portion of practice today; (we'll) look at how the weather is tomorrow. Unless it turns into a bad day, if it's like today we'll go out for a portion of practice again tomorrow, and then we'll be inside on Friday. We'll give a couple guys a rest today - Dave Dixon most notably won't take much. He'll take some. The other guy we'll start giving a little rest to could be Brian Russell. He has a couple of things going on that really aren't showing up on the injury report but more of getting worn down a little bit at this stage of the season. Other than that I think the guys are focused. I think that should be the key word for the week - focus. Focus on what? Focus on the Chicago Bears. I don't want to hear the, "What if this and then this and this many teams have a winning record and this and that." Focus on the Chicago Bears because that's the message the players got today, and hopefully they'll listen to that message and not answer any of your questions unless they have to do with the Bears.

Q: When you're on that field, who is the first person in Bears' history you think of?
A: Well I think of Walter Payton. I was there one time when they were honoring Walter Payton, and we won the game. I was playing for the Seahawks. I won't forget that, a big throwback screen to John L. Williams down the left side, but coaches are like that. I think of Walter Payton, God bless him. I think of Mike Ditka. I think of Butkus and all the ferocious hits that you saw, him leveling people and grabbing people and jumping over the line and screaming and frothing at the mouth. All those type of guys are really what I think of because those are the guys I can familiarize myself with.

Q: Is there injuries to those guys getting rest?
A: Oh no, no, no. I probably shouldn't have brought it up, but I was trying to think of guys I was giving a rest to. I'm sure some of you guys will turn it into a bigger thing than it is. There are a number of players I'm going to start giving rests to. I don't really feel like going down the list of them because then it turns into a bigger story than it truly is. It really isn't a story. The only guy that's getting rest because of an injury that could affect him on Sunday is Dave (Dixon). I just think that there are some players now, mostly smaller players so you can read between the lines on that, so there will be another player that gets some rest, #26 (Antoine Winfield), that have played hard football and a lot of plays and look like to me like they're not as fresh, and they need to get a little more rest and maybe some guys that don't run as much for a living. Big guys don't run as much, and they should be sore.

Q: Do you know much about Hutchinson as a quarterback or do you think Jeff George will get some snaps?
A: I don't know if Jeff George is getting any snaps. Hutchinson,we're trying to learn as much as we can about him. We're looking at a lot of NFL Europe tape right now. That's about all we have to go on. We don't have any preseason stuff, and he hasn't played the last two games.

Q: Are you concerned at all that some of the players watched the Bears Thanksgiving Day and have little regard for their offense?
A: No, if they're listening I'm not concerned at all. If they're not listening then I'll be concerned.

Q: Talk about the importance of the pass rush.
A: It's very, very vital, and it's very vital that we play very aggressive on defense and we play a little smarter in the beginning of the game than we have say over the course of the last three weeks where we've played excellent defense in the second half. We're working towards getting that cleaned up, and it's exciting because if that's what we've earmarked as what we have to clean up to be a better defense, honestly, you guys might play it up a little bigger, (but) it's not much. The things that I showed the team this morning was not a lot. They gave up some big runs, but the mistakes that were made unfortunately were very dumb, but they weren't big errors. They turned into big errors because they had a good back; a good back is going to find a mistake, and he did. So did the guy from Indy, and so did the guy from Detroit, and so did the guy from Green Bay. That's what good backs do. They find the holes.

Q: Pertaining to Randy Moss against Chicago...
A: We'll see as the week goes on. Yeah, that's the plan. The plan is for each week for him to get better. I know he's feeling great today. He can't keep quiet. He's feeling really good today.

Q: Talk about Darrion Scott.
A: He's a very versatile player. He plays inside and out very well. He uses his hands good, not very good yet. He's very athletic, and he can run really well as all those young kids we brought in can - Spencer (Johnson), Kenechi (Udeze), Kevin (Williams). He fits right in that mold with those guys that can move really well for big men. He's very athletic and has great balance. I really like him a lot. He's coming on really fast right now, and I expect him and his role to increase each week as we go down the road here.

Q: ...
A: It's not like any other game though, so if you approached it like that you'd be sending the wrong message to your football team. What you do after Thanksgiving is paramount, and we need to win games after Thanksgiving. It's after Thanksgiving now the last time I checked. I think we threw out the last of the spinach yesterday, Diane and I, leftovers. So it's after Thanksgiving, so we have to win. That's the only thing that counts. You don't want to talk about who's coming in next week and what's going on on Christmas Eve. Chicago, that's the focus, Chicago.

Q: Talk about being on the road and having not won there since 2000 and how important it is to get the running game going.
A: You know, I don't know that getting the running game going is as important as getting something going. We're not going to go in there and be bull-headed and say we have to run the ball to win the game. We're going to go in there and say we're going to take what's there for us. If the running game's there and they're playing a lot of cover two, then the running game's there. If they're coming down and blitzing us and the passing game is there, then the passing game's there. I don't think we're going to go in with any pre-conceived, "What has to work for us to win?" I don't think that is important at all. I think what's important is executing what's there and taking what's there. There will be plenty of opportunities there, and we have to seize those opportunities.

Q: How important is the tight end situation?
A: Yeah, we just talked about it last night. We could do so much more if we had Jimmy (Kleinsasser). It's kind of what gets lost. I keep reading about poor this team and poor that team. I look at the guys that I'm missing. I'm missing Jimmy, I'm missing Mike (Rosenthal), I'm missing Kenny Irvin. I missed Randy for five weeks. I lost Michael Bennett for a while. Matt Birk has missed, what people don't realize is Matt Birk hurt his ankle in the Chicago game, and Cory Withrow played three and a half quarters of that game and we lost (Birk) for Houston. We could be doing so much more at a two-tight end offense if we had Jimmy and Jermaine. We were licking our chops last night, but we don't have (Jimmy), so Jermaine has been a big, big part of what we're doing. Jermaine has caught about everything we've thrown his way. He's showing a great knack for getting open in the zones, a decent run after the catch, a bad body, but he's played a big part in what we're doing. He's another weapon on the field.

Q: What would you do differently if Jimmy was in there?
A: I think we would be in the two tight end offense a lot more if we had Jimmy and Jermaine. I think that's clear to all of us upstairs. We would certainly be running the ball a little bit more and a little bit more explosively. What gets lost in this, I only look at one thing; I look at run efficiency, and we're third in the league in run efficiency. I don't look at average yards per carry because all of those things are, it's like the punt return average. If you take out the guys big punt returns, and then you really see how they are as a punt return team. One big punt return skews everything. But you look at rushing efficiency. If you're getting four yards on first down, more than half the distance on second down, over time as a line coach I've learned that's the most important stat in the running game, not what you rush per average because one big run skews the whole thing. That's what's important. The other thing that's important is explosive runs. How many runs have you had over 12 yards? We don't have a lot of those, so we're not explosive in the running game because we're not getting a lot done on the edge. We're not being able to run the ball to the outside, and that's taken away some of our explosive runs. We'd be doing a lot more two tight ends if we had Jimmy. I can promise you that, but we don't have him, so we just make do with what we have.

Q: (Pertaining to Jermaine Wiggins).
A: Throw back or throw up, something. I don't know. He doesn't look like much. He wouldn't pass the eye test, I'll tell you that much. But he makes plays and he's smart and he has some toughness about him. He has good leadership qualities, and he's played for some good coaches, so he's been coached well. He knows what it takes to win. He's done very, very well. We're very pleased with Jermaine.

Q: Is Lovie Smith the architect of cover two?
A: Well the architect of it is Monte Kiffin. Monte Kiffin is really the guy that brought that defense, he and Tony (Dungy), to the league. Lovie happened to work for those guys, so he has taken it and put his own personality on it. So have other guys that have left there - Herman Edwards. Everybody is going to put their own personality on it, but the true place where it was all established was down in Tampa Bay with Monte and Tony. So I don't know that Lovie's the architect, but he's a very good football coach.

12-02-2004, 12:01 PM
Daunte Quotes from Wednesday PC

Q: The Packers are your # 1 rival but the Bears have to rank up there pretty close.
A: They definitely rank up there. It's one of those Black and Blue, old NFC North games. Records don't really matter. We know these guys are going to be fired up and ready to play us. We have to prepare like that and we're going to be ready.

Q: They played you very close here last time. They're kind of a different team right now.
A: A little bit. But, defensively they're still very solid. Their leader, (Brian) Urlacher isn't in there. But, those other guys are stepping up. They have some cornerbacks that can really play, (Charles) Tillman. He's a player. He's coming back this week. Their other starting corner back is coming back. They're going to be solid. They're going to be ready to play. And they're going to be fighting against us.

Q: Seemed like you guys went a little longer today.
A: A little bit. We had a couple do-overs as we say a couple repeated plays. That's kind of normal with a game of this importance. We're just making sure that everything is in tact and how it should be.

Q: Do you think the team is on an up-swing right now?
A: We're highly motivated right now. We have the 2 wins to build on. When you can build on wins it's always good. We have to make sure no one's thinking about last week. It's all about this week. When you win a game it's just like when you lose a game. You just have to put it past you. I think we've done a good job of that.

Q: How are you adjusting to the injuries to the offensive line?
A: The thing is those guys, Adam Haayer, (Cory) Withrow and (Adam) Goldberg stepped in and did a tremendous job last week. We are expecting that again and they expect that from themselves. So it's really not a big change. These guys just step in and we keep it rolling.

Q: The Vikings haven't had the real good success at Soldier Field. It's a great ballpark.
A: It's a great ballpark. And for a lot of different reasons it's tough to go in there and win. For anybody it's tough to go there and win. That's our main goal right now. There isn't anything else in mind right now but going to Chicago and coming back with a victory, coming back 8-4.

Q: Why is it difficult to go in there and win? Is it the fans or what is it?
A: I'm not going to say it's the fans. They can be part of it sometimes with the noise. But, I just think those guys just play good at home. There's a lot of tradition that follows that team when they play at home. They rise to the occasion. The thing we have to do is overcome anything they throw at us.

Q: Is it important to get the running game going on the road?
A: We definitely want to be more explosive in the running game. We have to be more explosive in the running game, because that opens up our passing game. We're going to be focusing on that a little bit more, trying to be explosive in the running game this week.

Q: Is that because you're on the road?
A: I think so. Plus it will slow down their defensive front. They have a really good defensive front. Those goes really get after the quarterback in the passing game.

Q: Is Randy (Moss) close to being back to what he was in the past?
A: I think he's getting there. Let's think about it. Nobody who's been playing is going to be100%. This season is so long and it wears you down. It's hard to be 100% at this part of the year. If he can get back to the best that he can be, and that might be 90%. If he can be at 90% he's better than a lot of people at 100% anyway. So we just want him to get back to feeling good and continuing to keep working. And that's what he's doing. I think he'll be fine.

Q: Do you feel that your offense is clicking now that all of your weapons are back?
A: It's always feels better to have all the weapons out there. When you go have (Randy Moss), (Onterrio Smith), (Michael Bennett) and hopefully we can get (Mewelde Moore) back this week. With the offensive line and the way they play we're going to have a lot of big plays. That's what we're looking for. We expect to make big plays when they're there. But if they're not there then I have to check it down or do the smart thing with the football.

Q: You talked about getting the running game going right away. Do you think that will help set up the passing game and vice versa?
A: Hopefully. We're definitely hoping that. We have some ideas we're going to try to throw at them and attack them in different ways. But definitely we want to be explosive in the running game.

Q: How much of a surprise has the tight end (Jermaine) Wiggins been for you?
A: I'm very pleased with his effort. Jermaine Wiggins, I love playing with him. He's a great, great player. He never really got a chance to showcase his abilities for the teams he's been on, for whatever reason. He has a lot of abilities, as he's shown them. He catches the ball very well and he gets open. He has a knack to get open. He doesn't look like the most athletic guy out there. But he's very athletic when it comes down to it and getting open. I like playing with him. Hopefully I can play with him forever or as long as I'm in the league. He's a really good, reliable tight end.

Q: Does the loss last year in Chicago still stick in your craw?
A: Absolutely. We definitely remember that and it's going to be in the back of our head. So that's going to be a little added motivation for us as a team to go out and get the job done. The way that game ended last year it was tough for us. They out played us. That's all we can say. They out played us and now we have another chance to go and change the outcome now.

Q: ...
A: That's one of those (games) you go, man I wish I could have done this. I wish I could have done a little bit more. That was the kind of feeling I had. The good thing is we have an opportunity now to go out there and get another win for this season. And take another step toward our #1 goal and that's being the NFC North Champions. That's the only goal we're thinking about right now. That's the only thing we're thinking about right now, beating Chicago.

Q: ...
A: We're definitely not thinking like that. We're not even thinking about them knocking us off. We're thinking about going in there and taking care of our business and coming home with a victory.

12-06-2004, 05:02 PM
Monday the 6th, December 2004

Bears Loss??

Tice: Well in a perfect world we'd be sitting here at 8-4 with a one game lead on Green Bay, picked up a game on Atlanta, who got shut out yesterday, in a perfect world. Unfortunately, I'm 45 years old and I haven't lived a perfect day yet, and this certainly is not a perfect world. So we're disappointed that we had a chance to make hay as they say and to separate a little bit, but we didn't do it, so we wake up today and it's like it was when we woke up yesterday. We're tied with Green Bay. We control our own destiny. We gave other teams a chance to make a little ground as far as Wild Card positions are made, standings or whatever you want to call them. I've been watching the tape with the coaches. We're not finished with it yet, nor am I. I didn't see the mental errors that I've seen defensively over the last three weeks in the first half, so that's very encouraging. There were some plays we could have made, we didn't make, sacks we could have had that we didn't get, and plays on balls down the field that we didn't make. I didn't see the alignment errors. In fact, if I went through in my head the first half, I think there was one by a defensive linemen, none by the linebackers, and there were a lot of good plays made at the line of scrimmage where linebackers aligned correctly, played the defense correctly and were making plays at the line of scrimmage. We held them to 110 yards of offense in the second half. We blitzed a lot in the first half, a lot. They only threw 7 balls in the second half, so it's a little tougher to blitz the running game than it is the passing game. But we blitzed a lot in the first half. We didn't hold up on some of those blitzes down the field, unfortunately. They caught us in a blitz on that third-and-six draw late in the game, and that's what happens. As a line coach I've stated many times before you live by the dog, you die by the dog. On that particular play we died by the dog. Other than that, Kevin Williams continues to play great, and Marcus Robinson had a big day. We're 7-5; we talked about that. Injuries, Antoine (Winfield) is getting an MRI right now. It looks like the prognosis (is a) high ankle sprain. It's probably going to be tough to get him back this week, which in case Terrance Shaw would play base, and we'll have to look at Derek Ross or Ralph Brown for the nickel. We have other options possibly, but then all of a sudden you're becoming light in the secondary, so it's one of those deals you have to make due with what you have on your roster, and those guys have to step up and play a little bit better. I think sometimes when players are backups and they prepare all week to play special teams and they get some token reps in practice, they're not mentally prepared for when the lights come on and they're the guy out there on the field, and they're the guy that has to go in and make the plays. We've seen some positions, like offensive line, where guys have had to go in the game, and they've played extremely well, and we saw some yesterday where guys had to step up, and they didn't quite step up. But they're still your guys, and you still have to win with those guys. They need to step up the next week, which is this week, and that's where we're at that way. The injuries are starting to become a headache. That just makes it harder. It doesn't make it impossible; it just makes it harder, and we'll continue to battle through that situation and make sure we have the best guys on the field ready to play this week against Seattle.

Q: Do you have any gauge on Antoine Winfield's injury?
A: Antoine has been a little dinged up with an ankle before the season. He's played through it. It will be hard, I think, to have him up this week at any extensive playing time. We'll see as the week progresses if he's able to play nickel or just be a guy there in case there's an emergency. We'll have to look at that, but he's played through an ankle (injury) most of the season, and it's come and gone with some regularity. But he's been able to sustain his level of play on the field, but this is that dreaded high ankle sprain, which we're just getting Mewelde Moore back after what, five weeks. I'm not saying it's going to be five weeks. I'm saying you just never know with these doggone things.

Q: How do you think Terrance Shaw played?
A: He played well. He played well. From the tape I've seen, and again I haven't seen all of it, he played well. He did some nice things, and he's been playing well frankly, to be honest with you. He's gotten his hands on more balls in practice than any other defensive back over the course of the last three weeks, so we have a lot of faith in him. The other guys have got to step up in the nickel role and the dime role. Those guys have to step up. Terrance Shaw I'm very confident in.

Q: Is Mewelde Moore going to be back this week?
A: Well we don't know. Today's Monday. I'm still not finished grading the tape of yesterday yet.

Q: How is Onterrio Smith feeling physically?
A: We said it was going to be a physical game, and it certainly was, and he got hit. His foot is bothering him a little bit, and his male area he got hit in, but he's a running back, and running backs wake up Monday feeling like crap if they carried the ball, and he carried the ball. Normally they come around by Wednesday or Thursday, so I don't anticipate it being anything more than war wounds from the battle yesterday because it was quite a physical battle.

Q: How do you approach this NFC North race?
A: I don't think we worry about that. I think you just kind of worry about Seattle and let each game come one at a time and try not to look at the overall picture because really the overall picture doesn't affect us unless we screw it up. I think what we have to worry about is beating Seattle and taking care of our stuff. If we take care of our stuff, all the other articles and comments and opinions are moot. They really don't mean anything; it's just space filler.

Q: Daunte Culpepper said he was surprised with the pressure he got. Were you surprised with the pressure you got on Hutchinson?
A: Well Hutchinson made some plays. We got after him pretty good from the film I've seen to this point. We're hitting him around pretty good. We got a couple sacks early, and he made a couple of throws. We had a couple poor coverages downfield. When you play man-to-man, which we played a lot of in the first half, this guy has that guy and this guy has that guy and this guy has that guy, and everyone has to hold up across the board. If one guy doesn't hold up, we have a completion, and that's the negative part of playing man-to-man. But if you really want to truly get after a quarterback you have to play some man-to-man, but he made some throws. Some of the throws were nice throws, and some were throws where we had not as tight of coverage as we would have liked. The pass rush was pretty solid from what I saw. They had made one throw down the field on second-and-three where we're playing the run, and we have a really good run call and they went play-action. Well sometimes they get you, so you sit there and say, "Wow, that guy's open." We're on second-and-three, you have a backup quarterback, (and) you're playing the run, they play-action. That's a good call. Not every single time are you going to shut them down. Just like the draw call. We have a dog on, and the linebacker is actually going where he's supposed to go on the dog, and they pull a draw. Well I think some people said #54 ran by the ball carrier. Well he's doing what he's told when we're running a dog. You say, "One for them." Sometimes they make a good call. Those are two instances that I can recall offensively where they made good calls.

Q: In terms of pressure on the other side.
A: Well they got after it. I haven't seen a lot of the offensive tape yet, so I can't comment on where it was all coming from. I did see some pressure on the edge, and not necessarily always the tackle. There might have been some tight ends in there. If my eyes were not deceiving me yesterday, I think most of the sacks came from other positions than the line, frankly. Did they get some pressure? Yeah, they got heavy pressure on us, and that's a physical thing. I only saw one mental breakdown on a pass protection yesterday during the game when two players blocked the same guy and turned an end free. I only saw one of the pressures based on a mental mistake. It's physical. Why last week did they step up to the plate and take Jacksonville down the middle and give Daunte plenty of time? I don't know. If I knew that we'd be undefeated. This week Chicago got the better of us physically as it pertained to the pass rush. Now we ran the ball for about 7 yards a carry, about 66% efficiency. We ran the ball pretty well. Should we have ran the ball more? Well we could all second-guess that. That gives us something to do on Mondays. We tried to run the ball coming out the second half (and) we had a -3 yard gain on the first play. Those are all things, conjectures that you look at after you lose and say, "Well we probably should have ran it more." Well we probably should have ran it on first-and-three on the three-yard line instead of throwing the interception. That's pretty good hindsight, but we've been pretty successful down there throwing that particular route. Physically, as far as stepping up to the plate and to the challenge and playing hard, we continued to do that. If the team didn't feel like they could win, then on fourth down they would have gassed us for a first down. Instead we step up and stop them on fourth down and get the ball back and really have a chance to win the game, I think, still. Then we have a poor pass protection, and the quarterback gets hit and we throw an interception and game over. But I felt very good with two timeouts left and two minutes and some to go that we were going to get it in and hopefully execute an onside kick properly. But it didn't happen. It didn't happen.

12-09-2004, 11:08 AM
Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Tice: Good afternoon. Twenty-five days left in the regular season; 60 days to the Super Bowl. I don't know about you guys, but I am going to enjoy the heck out of the next 25 days. Why not? I'm going to have fun. We're going to work our butts off, but we have to enjoy it. We have to enjoy it. We're right where we can be able to obtain our goals. They're still sitting there right for us. The excitement of getting to play at home in front of the crowd that was absolutely fantastic against Jacksonville the last game out. We're hoping for some more of that. A team where in the last four games, believe it or not, our defense has given up 20 points in the second half in the last four games, so improvement noted. If we can put that together for 60 minutes and come out and start faster on offense, which we had been doing the three previous games - we had scored on our first drive in the three previous games, I tell you we could be right where we need to be. So I'm excited about that prospect. I'm excited that I'm able to coach guys that are willing to take coaching, accept coaching, and go out and improve each day, work hard in the classroom, work extremely hard on the field. (They're) starting to carry more of that over to the field, and evidence of the minimized mental errors on defense last week. Yeah, we have another injury, and I could sit up here and say, "Poor me, I've lost Jimmy Kleinsasser, Ken Irvin, Mike Rosenthal, Randy Moss, Matt Birk twice, Raonall Smith, Chris Claiborne for five weeks. E.J. Henderson's still playing with a sprained ACL. Mike Bennett was out. Onterrio Smith was suspended, and now I've lost Antoine Winfield." I could sit up here and complain about that, but why should I? Why should I? I get a chance to coach a team with some of the most enthusiastic fans in the country. It's Christmastime, which I love, and you always remember around Christmastime you need to be thankful, so I am very thankful to be able to lead these men, lead these coaches, coach the Minnesota Vikings for everybody. 't think I'm going to be down. We're going to move on and get better tI'm blessed to have my children and wife supporting me no matter what, no matter if we had four turnovers and only scored 14 points and three turnovers against the Giants and only scored 13 points. My dog licks me in the face when I come home at night, so I don't know why I should be down. So I donhis week. I've already seen evidence of that in meetings and walk-through today, and I get a chance to play a team where I worked my butt off for 10 years with, the Seattle Seahawks. I have a lot of fond memories of playing for the Seattle Seahawks and a lot of great friends in that organization. A lot of friends will be watching the game on TV in Seattle, and I'm ready to go. I'm working on very little sleep. I've been here late the last couple of nights, but it must be the joy of the moment and the joy of my job that I enjoy every day coming to work. I don't know what else to say. It's not phony; I really feel the way I'm talking right now. I feel good. I feel good about it.

Q: Do you get to the point where the little things aren't so little anymore?
A: Well I always go through the game at least twice, and we didn't have really the little things in this game. We had our number one, probably now our number two defensive player since Kevin Williams is shining so much, Antoine Winfield, go out. We had a backup go in and had three poor plays in one drive in the two-minute drill. We had a dog on, and they called a draw and they got us. And you know what, frankly, sometimes that happens. We had some big plays in the game. We had an errant throw on a naked bootleg to the left-hand side behind the receiver that turned into a return interception for 50 yards. That was on the 11-yard line. We had an errant throw in the end zone. Mistakes happen; our quarterback has not made a lot of mistakes. He made some in that game. Our two lowest production games offensively, points-wise, came in multiple turnover games, three turnovers to the Giants, four there. It's proof in the pudding that if you eliminate those turnovers, we can score against any team in the league. We certainly can move the ball against anybody. We can second-guess things, and I second-guess things when we lose too, but when you look at the tape, the tape is really what tells the story, and I feel good about where we're going right now. Not because there are four games left and not because we're coming off a loss, (but) I feel good because of where we're going right now, and I look at that number that we've only given up 20 points in the second half of football games. That's pretty glaring. That's a big number; that's a big stat, so we just have to continue to start faster and work harder. We are eliminating a lot of those little things. We really are.

Q: Have you been happy with the progression of the defensive backs?
A: I think Terrance Shaw, I don't think, I know, in the last three weeks in practice has gotten his hands on more footballs than any DB we have. I think he understands the system. I'm going to say for four or five weeks he was playing in the games as a nickel back with the wrist band on, and I told him what to do when the play was called. He walked in off the street to a new defense. It's hard to play fast when you're thinking. I think right now he's not thinking. He's playing fast; he's playing with good confidence. He's been playing extremely well on special teams. I'm looking forward to seeing Terrance play. I think Terrance is going to play fine. I believe Derek Ross is a guy that I've given a second chance to. I liked what I saw in training camp. His knee wasn't correct. He certainly showed a lot of juice. He's certainly shown in the games he's played in his career in the league that he's a playmaker. I believe he has five interceptions. I think he's a former 3rd round pick, so he certainly didn't come out a bum. He came back when he got healthy. Probably, I hate to say this about a guy that's been getting paid, but he was probably a little bored in his role, probably not as focused as he should have been, and I think he admitted that. This week he has an entire week to work, take every rep. I believe he'll play well this week. We wouldn't have brought him back and released a guy like Rushen Jones on an injury settlement if we didn't think Derek Ross could play. I'm not going to change my opinion of that. I think he can play, so I'm excited to see those guys go out and do their job. I'm excited at the fact that both our inside linebackers played extremely well and graded over a 1.85. E.J. Henderson, Chris Claiborne had probably the best game he's had since he's been here, a 1.88 grade, a lot of tackles. So I'm good to go with where we're at defensively right now. I really am. Do I wish we had Antoine Winfield, our leading tackler and our leading special teams tackler and our leading interceptor? Oh yeah I wish I had him, but we don't, so we can't dwell on that like we can't dwell on the fact we can't run the ball outside because we don't have Jim Kleinsasser. We're on our fourth right tackle. Randy Moss is 90-something percent, not 100%. You can't dwell on that; you just move forward.

Q: Can you talk about picking up the blitz? Do you expect Seattle will blitz like Chicago, and what's the perfect scenario on how you guys pick it up?
A: For the first time that I can recall in quite a while, we had a couple mental errors where we turned a couple guys free, not necessarily at the line position. I think all the time when there's weakness in protection, we all, including myself, want to blame it on the line. I think you have to look at the tape and see that that wasn't necessarily the case. The first time in a very long time we had that. We think we know the reason why. There might have been some fatigue involved with a certain player. We might have to pull certain players off the field after some long gains and stuff like that, give them a little rest. So that was some of the problem. They did blitz, I believe, every second down in the second half. Every once in a while you have to pop a draw in there and slow them down a little bit. We talked about the physicality and after the game before you see the film you say, "They handed it to our offensive line." I believe I said that, and that's why it's so hard to answer questions after the game without really looking at it. I think what happened is if you call, and I'm not questioning the play-calling but it is what it is, if you call six or seven consecutive passes and a man is 350 pounds, a man cannot be physical backpedaling six times in a row. When they're coming on him on the blitz, they're going to knock him back. Yeah, he might shut it down one time right at the spot, but you're not going to do that six times in a row when you have two big guys, one going backwards and one going forward. Something has to give. Every once in a while you throw a run in there to change the momentum and change the aggression to the offensive side. I think that will help those blitz situations a little bit more. That's reality. I'm not questioning anything. I just think that's an area where we need to keep a little better eye on it if we get into that mode. What mode is that? They're coming on us, and we need to change it to be offensive offensively, not defensive offensively. I think we got a little defensive offensively if you stay with me, if you know what I'm saying.

Q: Is the team as positive toward these last four games?
A: Why not? I don't see why not. We're still tied 7-5 for first place. We still control our own destiny. The only thing that occurred on Sunday is the fact that we gave other teams with lesser records hope in achieving their goal as a Wild Card team. It didn't change what's going on in the NFC North. It really didn't as long as we take care of what we need to take care of. Now if we don't take care of what we should take care of, then a whole lot of things will change. I'll be coaching special teams at Mississippi Community College, and some players will get run out of here. The bottom line is if we take care of what we have to take care of, everything's just fine, and then at the end of it you say, "What a great job Tice did taking his team to a division title with all those (darn) injuries." But right now it's like, "Oh boy, they have their backs against the wall." You know what, every day we wake up in this business, 32 teams, all the pressure, we have our backs against the wall to win because that's what you sign on to. You sign on to win, and I know I signed on to win. I didn't sign on to lose. I certainly didn't sign on to lose the division title on the last play of the game in the last game of the season. I didn't sign on for that.

Q: Talk about Shaun Alexander.
A: (He's) a very good back. He's a good back. If they keep handing him the ball, he's going to make plays. He's big, and he's got enough speed to get outside, as evidence to that toss on the goal line on Monday night if you all watched the game. (He's) not a great option threat coming out of the backfield as far as catching the ball, but (he's) a good screen runner as evidenced against us two years ago. But he's a solid, solid back. He's one of the top backs in the league. What, he set a record for 15 touchdowns three or four years in a row? The first back to ever do that I think, so that means he's pretty good. He has a good solid line, an excellent left tackle, an excellent left tackle. I love that kid. He's a good player.

Q: Is the difference for Kevin Williams this year just a sense of maturity?
A: I don't know that there's been a difference. I just think he's been a stud since we got him. I think his awareness is better. I still think there are times, and he'll tell you this himself, where he wants to make every play and he maybe jumps out of a lane or something like that. But he has tremendous balance. He's not on the ground a lot. He's strong and physical. He can run for a man 314 pounds. He has tremendous acceleration. He has big hands. He has long arms. He's smart; he's passionate. He has everything you look for in a football player. I'm glad he's ours, and I'm glad we picked him. I think he's one of the top players at his position in the National Football League. I didn't say the top player. I think he's in Detroit, but I think (Kevin) is one of the top players at his position.

Q: How would you assess the safeties to this point?
A: At this point, solid for the most part. They haven't made as many plays as they made last year. Somebody asked me why yesterday, and some of it is you're on your third coordinator in three years. Everybody has their own style, their own schemes. Some of the schemes we ran last year kind of freed them up to play some routes, and we're not using the same type things this year, so that's taken some of their ability away. The other thing is last year I think they caught every ball that touched their fingertips. I think this year they haven't caught every ball that's been thrown their way. (They're) playing better as of late, I think, which is key. We all need to do our best job right now because after Thanksgiving is the record we should look at. Right now we're 1-1 after Thanksgiving. Well we can't finish with a losing record after Thanksgiving because like I said, I'll be down at Mississippi Community College. I don't even know that there's one down there. I said that to Spencer Johnson, and he said, "I don't think there's a community college there." I said, "Spencer, it was a joke."

Q: Would you take the Notre Dame job?
A: No, I like my job here. I like working with you guys. I love my team, my staff. I don't know why I'd want any other job but this job, frankly, to be honest with you. I'm not shopping for a college job. I'm not anxious to leave anywhere.

Q: Is this a good chance for the other tackle, Chris Hovan possibly this week, to really step up, since Kevin will probably start seeing some double teams?
A: He does see a lot of double teams. He just beats them. Chicago had not slid the line to his position until this week, and this week they slid the line to him, and he probably should have had a hat trick. He had two sacks and ten tackles. I think a pretty good effort, a pretty good effort for a guy that they were sliding the line to. He's just a beast. There was a point during the season where he had some tendonitis in his knee, and I think it slowed him down a little bit. We were giving him a little bit of plays off during the week in practice. We asked him to lose four or five pounds and see if that would take some stress off the knee. We have given him some rest in practice, nothing notable, five or six plays, and he has dropped four or five pounds. I think that's helping his leg. There was a game, I want to say Detroit, where he was looking like he was limping on the field, and it was all pain-related. I believe it was Detroit because his production numbers weren't very good.

Q: Talk about Chris Hovan getting back on the field.
A: Well I'd love to see Chris carry over his great two weeks of preparation onto the field this week, and there's certainly a possibility that could happen. At this point we haven't made a decision, but it's certainly a possibility.

Q: What's the final status on Winfield?
A: We'll list him as doubtful, but he's probably more as out. But just in case a miracle happens, we don't want to list him as out and then change it. We'll list him as doubtful. More than likely we're looking at Green Bay, but we'll see. You never know. Different guys heal different ways. I know Matt Birk's ahead of schedule, so I don't think there's any doubt that Matt will be back for Green Bay. Everybody heals differently. We hope it doesn't take as long for him to heal as it took Mewelde. We'll have won the Super Bowl by then.

Q: Are you going to be more aggressive with the blitz with the injuries in the defensive backfield?
A: Well I don't know how (much) more aggressive we can be. We blitzed well over 60% in that game the other day, and that was part of our problem. When we did blitz we got burned a few times, and that's the old adage, "You live by the dog, you die by the dog." We died by the dog a couple times, most notably that draw. The two touchdowns on third down, 3rd-and-6 and 3rd-and-15, were both dogs with man coverage, so there are two third downs we dogged on. There was another third down made on a dog with man coverage. I don't know how much more you want me to dog. We actually might pull off the dogs because they didn't work last week. Maybe you take a team like that and you don't be as aggressive and you lay back in zone coverage. I took the other approach - let's get after the quarterback. Let's make him throw the ball quick. The problem is a guy fell down, this, that, and the other thing. We dogged a lot, more than we have been.

12-15-2004, 03:20 PM
Monday December 13th, 2004

Head Coach Mike Tice

Listen To Tice: http://play.rbn.com/?url=nfl/nfl/open/vikings/demand/Tice121304.rm&proto=rtsp

Tice: Well the one thing you get tired of saying when you lose is, "Oh, we'll be all right. We'll be all right. We'll be all right," or, "My bad, my bad, my bad," and you get to a point where it gets late enough in the season that you run out of time to hear the comments from people that are not executing, "My bad." And you run out of time to say, "Everything's going to be all right. We control our own destiny." The fact of the matter is that is a very disappointing loss, and the fact that we made two mistakes in the fourth quarter on offense, and we have to figure out a way to start better on defense because certainly we're playing much better in the second half on defense, so we've proven that we, in fact, can play that way. We've only given up 26 points in the last five games in the second half, but where is that in the first half? That's the thing we have to continue to work our way through as coaches and players. Offensively, where we've been able to score on everybody and anybody, we've scored three points in the second half of the last two games. Those two things for me are the most critical things to get fixed by Sunday in Detroit, so we can in fact win a game because we're at the point of the season right now (if) you win a game, everything that looks so glum today looks so much better tomorrow. So we have to make sure that we look at those two particular areas because those are the two areas that are hurting us and get that cleaned up. Kevin Williams lead all NFC, NFL defensive tackles with 10 sacks. We have, I believe, two guys on our team that have 10 sacks with Lance Johnstone, so we have some guys that are playing at an extremely high level. The injury report looks decent. Nate Burleson broke his nose, and Mike Nattiel hurt his trap up in his neck, and he should be okay. We'll evaluate Antoine (Winfield) as the week progresses and see if he can have any type of role, and of course Matt Birk is right on time to be active for the Green Bay game, or right on schedule I should say. I think it's important that we understand that some things have not gone our way. When you have goals, you want all your goals to come out exactly as you planned it. When you have visions, you want all your visions to be exactly how you envisioned them, but the reality of the situation, and not many times does it come out exactly the way you dreamed about or the way you envisioned or the way you've worked towards, so you have to continue to plug along. You have to continue to work at achieving those goals, and we're fortunate enough to be in a position right now that if we win a game this week, everything looks cheerier, and the fact if we win a couple games, everything looks a lot cheerier. Right now things don't look very cheerful, and right now things aren't cheerful in many of our homes, but we can fix that by winning the game.

Q: Do you feel like somebody is watching over you guys with the tie-breaker situation?
A: I've done more praying this year. I don't know if it's helping any, but I just think that we've set two mighty high goals for our football team. I think any time that you have three games to go and you still have an opportunity to achieve those goals you're pretty lucky, pretty fortunate, pretty blessed, however you want to say it. That's how I feel today. I'm not happy. There are some things we have to get quickly fixed, but we've been working towards that end for weeks and weeks and weeks. But that's the part of football that's confusing. That's the part of football that's intriguing. That's the part of football that's exciting, and certainly that's the part of the challenge of coaching that gives you the passion to come to work every day, and that's fixing stuff. Because there's never a week where you fix something and something else doesn't break. There's never a week where you fix something and something that looked so mighty good three weeks ago doesn't all of a sudden soil your carpet. We have this thing with not scoring in the second half on offense. Where did that come from? I didn't see that one coming. That one hit me in the back of the head, but now we have to figure that one out. Special teams looks to be consistent over the course of say the last four or five weeks. The kickers kicked the snot out of the ball yesterday and now we have to score in the second half on offense, but that's the part of the job you love, at least that's the part of the job I love. It never gets boring.

Q: Is it realistic to think Antoine Winfield can help you this week?
A: Yeah, I think it is. I think it's realistic to think Antoine would be available in some type of role, whether that's just to start in nickel as an outside corner or maybe even play corner. I don't know that nickel back, which is a little more stressful to change directions, would be the best scenario for him off the injury, but I think there's a good chance he could play this week. I really do.

Q: Is one of the things you want to fix your third down conversion rate?
A: I don't know that that's a good comment. We were the number one team in the league going into the game in third down conversion. In fact, we were the only team in the league that had 50% or more. That's again what's so intriguing about this game is this is a one week type of game here. If we win this week, we're 8-6, and, "Boy we're looking great for the playoffs," and "Boy they've got it turned around and figured out." We're at 52.5% or whatever we were in third down conversions going into the game. We were 30% in the last game, and now, "Boy you have to get that third down conversion fixed," but that's what's exciting about the game. Of course we're going to look at why we didn't do as well as we had been doing, but we set the bar on third down conversions in the league. We've set the bar because we were number one by a good margin, not a good margin but three percentage points or so, which is a good margin after 12 weeks of football.

Q: Any further thoughts on the Randy Moss pass play?
A: Yeah, I think I could join the list of guys that wish that we'd probably called a different call, but what happens in that situation, the last thing I thought of was that we were going to turn the football over. I thought we had three options in it - score a touchdown, and right away when I heard the call my thought was, "Okay, if we score too quick, do we go through that same damn thing we went through in Green Bay and Indianapolis?" My thought was, "No, our kick coverage has been pretty stellar today, and our defense is playing really good football right now," so my concern was winning the game. We had to score a touchdown to win the game, so that kind of blocked out of mind the score too quick thing. Then I thought, "Well what else can happen? He can throw a touchdown. He's going to run it out of bounds, or he's going to whip it out of the back of the end zone." Randy, I believe, has thrown three touchdowns on the same exact play for us before. We have called that play over the course of time a number of times, and it's been a big play in some games, in some critical times. I go back to the Giants game in the Meadowlands a number of years ago. It was a critical play in the game. He threw a touchdown to Cris Carter. Could I sit here now that it was not an effective play and second guess and say, "God, I wish he would have ran the ball there?" Yeah, I can join the list like everybody else, but at the same time we've done astonishing things with our offense, and Scotty's (Linehan) called a lot of great plays, and I find that if I start second-guessing his calls, he loses rhythm and now you take your coach that has a tremendous amount of confidence - I think we'd all agree with that - and he starts to second-guess what he's calling. (If) you sleep on it and you have a lot of time, I think we all want to jump on the second-guess bandwagon, but I'm not going to allow myself to do that because I need my coordinator to be confident. I understand he's a man of character. I work with him; I hired him, and I don't think anyone's going to beat him up more than he is. I saw him after the game. I know how he was feeling. He feels like he probably let the guys down, so I don't know that me second-guessing him or berating him or saying, "Why the heck did you call that call," is going to help out. What we need right now is a coaching staff with great confidence so we can figure out how to score more points in the second half. I don't need a guy starting to second-guess himself, so that's where I'm at with it. Were there safer calls? There probably were safer calls, but we were trying to win a football game. We hadn't scored in the second half except for a field goal, and that was after we gained a whopping one yard after an interception by Brian Russell.

Q: Did that factor in, that your offense was not moving the ball?
A: Yeah, that was part of his decision. In discussing it with him last night, that was part of his decision.

Q: Have you been able to put your finger on why the offense is struggling in the second half?
A: Well that's what we'll work on diligently over the next two days to make sure when we game plan that we're looking at everything. This whole football now is computer this and Tennessee that and fake them out by using this formation but run this play because you used to run this play in that formation. That's how the league has become, so we're going to make sure we look at everything we're doing and make sure we're not getting too predictable. I'm not saying we are, but maybe we are. Who knows? Maybe we've been so good for so long we just line up and do what we do and say, "Stop us." Maybe at some point people are, so we have to look at that.

Q: Did you blitz enough?
A: Well here's the problem. When you play West Coast offenses, you can look at the stats throughout the league and I'm pretty sure you're going to find that the top five least amount of sack teams in the league are West Coast teams. They're rhythm teams. You're not going to get to the quarterback a lot, so you have to mix in the blitz at the right times to get the right matchups with the right coverages. I'm not going to second guess the amount of times we blitzed. It seems like the times we blitzed, it worked, but that doesn't mean it's going to work every time. What it means is when you do it more, you expose yourself in the back end, and certainly we had to make sure that we protected some players that were in there filling in for others yesterday. I thought the amount of times and when we blitzed were pretty effective. Again that doesn't mean if you blitz more you're going to have more effective plays.

Q: What's the interaction between you and your coaches during the game?
A: (Scott) calls the plays to Gus (Frerotte), and Gus calls the plays in, so there's a process that takes time like every team. Some teams the guy on the sideline calls the plays in directly. We call them from the booth down to Gus into the game, which takes a little more time. If you have a coordinator in the booth and he calls them down to another coach and he calls them in, it's the same type thing.

Q: Do you interact with the coaches?
A: No, what we try to do is shut up when a coach is trying to do his job. We find out over time if there's too much talking going on in the headphones, coaches can't focus on what they're supposed to do. For example, on defense the first one to speak is Jim Panagos, and that's because he's in the booth letting the coordinator know what personnel is coming on the field. So when he's talking, no one else talks, and then once he does that then Teddy (Cottrell) will call the call in, and then if there's any other chatting to be done...it's done after Ted calls the call. What you find out is if there are too many people talking on the headphones, then people can't do their job, including me questioning what happened on the last play. At times I'll ask what happened on the last play, and I understand I just need to back off because guys have to do their jobs. If too many guys are talking, it becomes chaotic.

Q: If Scott makes a call, can you say no to it?
A: I can do whatever I want. I'm the head coach. Close practices, I can do anything.

Q: ...
A: Yeah, there was a screen play that I saw on the first touchdown that I thought if he was in the game, he would have made that play. There were some plays, but other guys have to step up and do the job too. If you have a player that's arguably the second-best player on your defense behind Kevin and you lose him, you're going to lose some plays, but that's to be expected. When you lose those plays, somebody, or multiple players, have to step up and make those plays that he was making.

Q: Is Randy getting close to being 100%?
A: I think he's pretty close to being 100%. He got a little fatigued at the end of the half he indicated. He came out for a couple of plays, but going into the game he felt like he was in the mid to high 90s health-wise. He seemed more bouncy in pre-game warm-up. He seemed to have more spring. He certainly was able to run away from some people yesterday, and I don't see him taking a step back or being any less healthy this particular week. I see him continuing to become more explosive, so that's good news.

Q: Did he ask you or Rusty Tillman to go back and return that punt?
A: Well we had two things going on. Nate broke his nose, so we had some discussion whether we wanted Mewelde (Moore) to go back there, so that was a little bit of it. And the second part is he wanted to make a play because he felt like he needed to make a play after we had a bad play. When they punted down, we were only in a fair catch territory. That basically eliminated the chance of him making a play, but he wanted to make a play.

Q: Is that something you might do in the next three weeks?
A: I don't know. We'll have to look at that.

Q: Were there some things you saw when looking at tape last week that made you guys think that the reverse pass would work during this game?
A: No, we just kind of winged it. Of course it was a play that we felt based on what they were doing it would be there for us. Again, it's not like you're trying to score a field goal to win the game. We had to score a touchdown to win the game. We hadn't done really jack in the second half offensively, so we had a play we had worked on for a number of works, which we always do with our special plays. This is one we've carried for a number of years, and we put it in the game plan this week to use it at the right time, and it didn't turn out the right way. I could give you five or six plays that we put in for this game. Some worked, some didn't, but that's on a weekly basis. It turned out that this turned into a turnover, so it's a critical play in the game obviously.

Q: Any Chris Hovan thoughts after yesterday?
A: He was out there working hard.

12-16-2004, 10:47 PM
Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

Tice Press Conference:

Tice: Well I'll tell you, it couldn't be any better. We have a bunch of guys that understand what's at stake, and there's certainly a lot at stake. First and foremost what's at stake is a division crown. For whatever reason, somebody's shining down on us and has given us this third strike, if you will, after losing two games in a row and you wake up Monday morning and you still control your own destiny to win the division crown and still achieve both the goals you've set for yourself, lofty goals but very achievable goals. I think we're right there in the sense that we have some good things going despite the losses. Our special teams right now is probably playing as good as they've played in the three years I've been a head coach. Our kickers are all hitting the ball very well. We're playing smart on special teams. I showed a few clips to the team this morning of smart play on special teams. We're getting a lot of guys at the football. One time we downed a punt, there were nine guys downing the punt. Those type things you win with down the stretch here. Again we're working our butts off to figure out why we're having these anxiety coverage issues early in the game defensively, why are we jumping things as if they're ghosts and not going to the guys that we should be going to, and then as the game progresses and we get to the second half, we can shut down any offense in the league. We've given up 26 points in the second half over the last five weeks against three pretty good quarterbacks too - Brett Favre, Byron Leftwich, and the (Matt) Hasselbeck kid from Seattle is no bum. I think they're the fifth or sixth ranked offense in the league, so we're being able to do it in the second half. We've got to do that for, it's hard to do it for 60 minutes, but let's try doing it for 40 maybe or 45 minutes. I'll take 32 minutes right now. That would be an improvement. Offensively, all of a sudden a team that was able to score with or without Randy Moss on the road, at home, on the rooftop, in the parking lot, has scored three points in the second half of the last two games. Some of that, I think, is we've lost a little patience. We've gotten into some third-and-long situations that we hadn't been getting into. We've been able to make first downs. In fact, I think we're the only team in the league that averages over 50% on third down conversions. Last week for some reason we were 30%. You go back and look at it and say there's got to be a reason. Are we throwing the ball to the wrong guys? Are we calling the wrong play? No, we had a lot more third-and-eights, third-and-nines, third-and-eights, third-and-sevens, third-and-eleven, third-and-seventeen. Those situations are hard to overcome against a bad defense, no less against a solid defense, so we have some things that we can address and certainly focus on this week. We had another injury. Ralph Brown fractured the orbital bone in the eye socket. He'll miss three weeks. We had to put Raonall Smith on injured reserve. He has not totally healed on that concussion situation, so we put him on IR to make room for Rhett Nelson, a young player that we've developed over the last two years. Derek Ross is like a cat. You can read between the lines. He's like a cat. I think he's on 8 and a half (lives) right now. I spoke with the young man this morning and indicated that next week we will bring Rushen Jones back, a player who we are familiar with who we did an injury settlement with, so let's get it back down to eight and not up nine. Then everything will be okay. Antoine (Winfield) made some progress today from yesterday. We'll continue to monitor him and see if there's any chance at all that he'll play this week. Other than that we did have some players that played at a very high intensity level and played very well in the game. Adam Goldberg continues to play very good football for us at right tackle. We're just so pleased with the young man. He's playing each play like it's the last play he'll ever play in his career. In fact, if we can permeate that throughout the course of the game to other players on the team, play every play like it's the last play you'll ever play, I think everything else will take care of itself down the stretch here. Cory Withrow continues to limp through that sore knee and play good, steady football for us. Nate Burleson, what else can you say about him? He's playing with a broken nose, a separated shoulder, and a fractured finger. He's making a lot of things happen, playing with great passion, blocking great, catching the ball, returning punts. Moe Williams is running down on kickoffs after he catches the ball on third down. Kevin Williams is an elite player in this league today, an elite player in this league today. So we have some guys playing at a high level, an extremely high level. We just need more guys to do that down the stretch and make more plays, and then those close games, those four point losses, those 10 point losses, those three point losses will turn into two point, three point, five point, eight point, 10 point victories as we go down the stretch here. We have a lot to be thankful for as we enter into this holiday season. I'd like to thank Nordstrom's and the Salvation Army for helping Diane and I out yesterday with our giving tree for the needy down at Nordstrom's. We had 21 players attend. We're very proud of that project that Diane put together, and next week on Monday we will have over 500 people of need, homeless here at the facility for the first Christmas party hosted by the players and the coaches and their wives. We have a lot of friends that are helping us, a lot of restaurants and a lot of companies that are helping us with this project, and we're very pleased to be able to do that for our community, for people that we can help out because why? Because we're lucky and we can.

Q: Has this become a stay healthy and get a little momentum league?
A: I think that has something to do with everything, I think, if you can keep your key players healthy. When you have a thought of your team coming out of training camp, if you can keep them healthy, especially the key players, I think you have a chance to sustain those visions. I think momentum and confidence at the right time has a lot to do with everything. I think we've proven we can come out of training camp with a (heck) of a lot of momentum and confidence. Sustaining that has been a struggle over the last two years, but we can finish it better. I think the injuries play a part. I think the experience, how much experience for the guys that step in after those injuries occur, is a big factor. If you're bringing all youth in, then right away, immediately your team is going to go into an inconsistent mode, and that's because you have young guys learning new things every time they happen, and every time it happens, it's another new thing for a guy that causes anxiety. If those people that you've put in after those players get injured, and again, I'm referring to the injury part of it, are a little bit older veterans that have played in the league, I think you have a better chance of not being (inconsistent). But this is a young league. We all have to deal with the same headaches, but that certainly is a part of it.

Q: Talk about what areas need improvement this week.
A: Well every week we evaluate where we have flaws. Some weeks we don't take a step back in some areas and we continue to get better, and some weeks like the last two weeks, we've turned the ball over. We've taken some steps forward, i.e. special teams. Our kickers are moving forward. Our defensive front is playing outstanding football over the course of the last few weeks, but we've taken a step back in the turnover thing. So we're always trying to evaluate the areas we need to improve each week, and hopefully there's not many areas we're taking a step back in. We've got to clean up this turnover thing that's haunted us the last two weeks.

Q: Talk about the young guys at the linebacker position.
A: We knew going into the season, Red and I talked about this and I think you guys wrote about it, part of the key to our season was how quickly we could bring those young linebackers along. One of the things that did hurt us there was when (Chris) Claiborne got hurt, and he wasn't on the field to bring these young guys along and to bring that leadership. That gave us some inconsistency, and then losing E.J. (Henderson) in there for a couple of weeks put us behind a little bit because he was coming along very nicely. He had an outstanding preseason. That messed up our thinking a little bit. The young man #54 has played four positions for us. His head is spinning. If we could have had some continuity there and kept them all on the field, I think we could have brought them together and along a little quicker than we have. With that said, Chris Claiborne has played outstanding football the last two weeks. I think Rod Davis has showed us a lot of signs in practice that we're going to try to get him on the field some this week. E.J. has settled down in the run game and still has some anxiety in play-action. He's playing a little too aggressive in play-action, but I think we still have time to bring it along to where it's efficient enough for us to achieve some things down the stretch here. But when you get a young group like that and you lose that veteran, the Chris Claiborne in there, that's what hurts you more than anything.

Q: Talk about the similarities between this year and last year.
A: It's two different teams. We talked about it when we lost the three games. It's not really to me, and it's ironic that it starts with the Giants and we have these losses in the middle of the season, but there's a different type of flavor to it this year. This year we don't have Randy Moss in that stretch, and this year we lose two tough games on the road. Last year we go on the road, we have all our bullets and we get blown out against two teams that went 4-12. I think it's a different flavor. It's the same type deal, 2-5 in this last seven-game stretch, but to me it has a different flavor to it.

Q: Is fatigue a factor in the second half?
A: I think all teams are tired right now. We haven't been in pads in a month, so I don't know how fatigued they can be. We leave the building at a really good time - Thursday 3:00. They get plenty of rest for the most part. Hopefully they're not on the streets racing around, clubbing it, but I think this time of the year fatigue certainly plays a factor for everybody, including coaches. You try to buy the rest when you can buy it, and otherwise you just forge ahead and keep your head down.

Q: What about fatigue in the second half of each game?
A: The second half of each game? Well we're playing better in the second half of the games on defense. On offense, no I don't think fatigue is a factor. I think right now, in looking at the tape our offensive line is beat up pretty bad. You have Withrow limping around. You have (Dave) Dixon limping around on a bad knee, and you have (Chris) Liwienski limping around with a nerve problem in his back from a bruise he sustained against Detroit. I think we have some guys limping around a little bit right now, and that's taking a toll on us, but we're no different than anybody else. I think a lot of teams have guys limping around.

Q: What encourages you about this team's character?
A: I think what encourages me is how they come to work each day to work and to get better. As soon as they stop coming to work, then the whole thing's over. I think as soon as they stop coming to work each day, then you just can't get anything done. They come to work and accept coaching very well. They're very honest young men. They understand what they need to do to get better. That's what encourages me about them. If they stop working, then it's not going to be good.

Q: Did you give any thought to putting Ralph Brown on IR?
A: I gave no thought at all to that. We need the defensive backs. Ralph Brown was playing excellent football for us, has been playing great special teams. There was thought of making him the nickel back this week, unfortunate timing again. Here's a guy that's going to get a promotion to nickel back, and he's out for three weeks, but that just kind of goes with everything, so we just deal with that and move forward. We'll bring Rhett Nelson up, a kid that's got a lot of speed, has played good special teams for us in the preseason, and (we'll) see if Rhett can go out there and get it done.

Q: Are you worried Randy Moss has lost any type of confidence?
A: Randy lose confidence? Shoot, Randy's not going to lose any confidence. Randy's good to go. Randy's about as close to 100% as he can be this time of the season. He obviously ran by some guys in the game the other day. We took five shots down the field; we didn't hit them all, but if you go back and look at the five shots, each time we took a shot the quarterback had somebody in his lap, whether a lineman got pushed back or a guy came off a block or whatever, so it's hard to hit those shots when somebody is right in your face. But Randy, no, he's running by guys, blocking well during the game. He wanted to return a punt last week to make a play. He just needs to throw a tighter spiral I guess, that's all.

Q: Did he apologize for that throw?
A: ...He knows that he needs to help us win down the stretch here, and he knows he could have made a better decision, but that goes without being said.

Q: Do you feel like the players have a responsibility to talk to the media and the fans?
A: Well each person is different. Each person is going to talk to the media when they feel that it's good, and some guys want to and some guys don't. I don't demand that any particular player talks to the media. We have enough guys that talk to the media that are there for you people. You have a head coach that's willing to talk to you guys all the time. Not a lot of teams have that, and you have a quarterback that always has a smile on his face and is accountable. Not every player wants to talk to the media. Randy's his own man; I can't speak for Randy Moss.

Q: ...
A: Oh absolutely. Randy Moss wants to win. Randy Moss always wants to win. That's why he gets intense sometimes. He's about a world championship. He's got all the money. He's got all the accolades. What he's lacking, as Cris Carter was lacking, is a world championship.

Q: Are you going to give Randy an opportunity on special teams this week?
A: Well we'll see. We're looking at that. Nate's pretty beat up right now. We're looking at that, and we're looking at what our opening call would be, probably a reverse pass, but we'll go to the left this time.

Q: Kevin Jones has started running the ball very well over the last month.
A: Yes, absolutely, and that's a good point. He's running the ball like a first round pick should run the football. Right now he's their guy on offense, not #11, not #8. Right now the big play guy is the running back, and he is certainly a guy that we have to start everything we do on defense with stopping him, and if we don't stop him, it'll be a long day, and we'll be answering other questions next week.