Housecleaning on the Spielman roundtable

Rick Spielman (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY)

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman talked with beat reporters about a number of topics last week. While the quarterbacks and Leslie Frazier dominated the conversation, he also addressed several defensive issues, playing the young guys and trade talks.

Rick Spielman's talk with reporters last Friday was highlighted by his thoughts on the future of the quarterback position and the coaching staff.

But with a quick turnaround to two games in five days, there were a few items Spielman addressed that should be of interest to Vikings fans. Here is the notebook clearing on those topics:

On the defensive problems …
Rick Spielman:
"I'm sure if you talk to Coach (Leslie) Frazier, coach (Alan) Williams that our defense hasn't played as up to where we expected it to. But I know the players, they have to go out and play better. Our coaches are working on schemes and teaching them to execute better, that all goes hand in hand. It's still young, yet I know we have nine games left. We expect that those guys are going to continue to improve and that we will be an effective defense. But everybody wants to put why we're 1-6 to blame on the quarterback, but it's not. It's across the board – it's offense , defense and special teams. So when you look at it as a whole, your whole team has to play better."

On the loss of Antoine Winfield in secondary …
RS:
"Antoine was a great football player here; there's no doubt what he brought to our football team. You have to make extremely, which we did at the time, (difficult) decisions in the offseason. You can only keep a certain amount of players at a specific number. When we have our meetings, we talk about it. We have X-amount for these veterans. What's the most important thing for our football team? We tried to sign Antoine back. It just didn't work out. Once that didn't work out, we have to move forward. Sure, we have a very young secondary, they're continuing to grow, but I see progress and them getting better each week. But if you look across the league at all the young corners, it takes time for that position to continue to grow and get better. That comes with patience. I see them guys working extremely hard. I see Joe Woods, our (defensive backs) coach, down there working extra after practice. I think those guys are going to be very good players."

On if he overestimated depth in secondary …
RS:
"We're playing with the same secondary except for Antoine. Xavier (Rhodes) is new. We have some injuries back there now and there's some young guys. Jamarca Sanford was a starter for us last year and we signed him back. He's played extremely well and tried to step in. Harrison Smith we were very excited about. He's injured right now. But I don't look at injuries as an excuse. To me that's a cop-out. It's the next guy up who has to step in. When you have young depth, OK, you're going to have to go through some ups and downs. But if those guys are continuing to work hard, and our coaches are continuing to work with them to get them developed, that will pay off for you down the road."

If cutting Winfield was a bigger risk than thought …
RS:
"Antoine, again, he was an aging vet and we had a couple of guys that if you look at our roster and the guys that are in their 30s, you can only have so many. It's unlike – you can't have back in the '85 Bears and have 22 guys that are veterans back there. It just doesn't work anymore. It doesn't work in the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement); it doesn't work in the cap era. So those are the decisions that you make when you sit with your personnel staff, when you sit with your coaching staff and lay out all the options out there. OK, how strongly do we feel about this guy if this guy's not here? Or who is more important, this vet or this vet? So those are all the decisions, all the conversations that you have when you go in to trying to make the best decisions you can from a personnel standpoint going forward."

On his level of optimism regarding Harrison Smith …
RS:
"Yeah, we're looking at it week to week. I know he's down there really working hard to get back. It was an unfortunate injury, but Harrison is working extremely hard to get back. If we didn't think, if we weren't optimistic he wouldn't be able to come back toward the end, you could have just put him on the IR (injured reserve). But that's why we chose that IR with designation to return."

On wanting to see the younger players on the field as the season progresses …
RS:
"We want to see everyone. We're doing that evaluation every day. I want to see. I watch every day at practice and I come back and watch the practice tape every night. (I look at) what our practice squad guys are doing. How are they getting better? What is their future? So it's not just the guys playing, even the guys that might not be on the field, you're assessing those guys every day and what they're doing in practice … what their skill set is and does this guy have an opportunity or a chance to help you down the road?"

If there is a point where you say you need to see young guys play …
RS:
"I will leave all that up to Coach Frazier. Coach Frazier will always determine, and I truly believe the coaches will always need to determine, who's playing to give us the best chance to win."

On the difficulty of evaluating young players without much playing time …
RS:
"We're seeing some young guys. The evaluation in practice and some of these guys now are playing on special teams, the (Michael) Mautis of the world, (Gerald) Hodges was up and played well on special teams. So you can get a pretty good assessment on them not only in practice but as they get activated for, if they're on the 46 usually they're going to be playing in some fashion most of the time on special teams."

On what the trade deadline was like …
RS:
"Just like you guys, just sitting there."

On the interest teams had for Jared Allen
RS:
"I'm not going to get into specifics. Everybody gets calls. But there's some great articles written out there. It's pretty self-explanatory on why there was only one trade put out there. It's not the NBA or it's not Major League Baseball. It's a lot of the other things that go into the NFL that you're dealing with besides just moving player A to player B."

On if trade talks got serious …
RS:
"Oh, I don't know if they're serious or not. Everybody talks. Just like all (other) 31 teams at some point talk."

On how the Vikings can get Adrian Peterson going more …
RS:
"Adrian just hasn't had the same opportunities, the same number of touches. Maybe you guys could look at the stats, how many touches he had at this point in the season last year. I know we had a lot of success with our offensive line that we have intact. We were able to get our fullback back after a three-game suspension. We have our tight ends back, basically working with the same group as we were last year when Adrian had all that success. Some of the games of late have gotten out of hand, where it takes the ball out of Adrian's hands trying to get back into the game. There's a lot of different factors that have affected it. But I don't think Adrian has slowed down one bit. I just think across the board our team just has to play better."


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