Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met with the beat writers who cover the team earlier this afternoon. Here are the highlights:
Highlights from opening statement:
"... I can tell you this: There is no divide. Everybody is working as hard as they can together. Everybody is very supportive of each other. Everybody is pushing to the limits to try to get this turned around. But I'm also very, very optimistic that this thing can turn around and turn around quickly, just because I see behind the scenes how hard everybody's working, from the players, from the coaches, from myself. Everybody's trying to get better, to get this season turned around as quickly as we can."
On coach Leslie Frazier's job security:
"Leslie Frazier is our football coach and we are 100 percent behind Leslie and his coaching staff. And we’re 100 percent behind our players."
On whether his job is safe for the rest of this season:
"Leslie Frazier is not going anywhere. I am telling you that we are very committed to Leslie Frazier and this coaching staff. And we’re committed to our players, and everybody is working extremely hard to get this thing turned around."
More on whether Frazier still has support from Spielman and ownership:
"Our focus is on getting this turned around, on getting this changed from our organzition ownership on down. We back coach Frazier 100 percent and we'll do everything we can to to help him get this thing turned around."
On why he signed quarterback Josh Freeman if Freeman isn't going to during the season:
"The reason to bring in Josh Freeman is, when I looked the situation, can we add a guy that would improve our 53? I understand the situation because of the sensitivity because it’s a quarterback position. But I also understand that if there is a player – and this was a unique situation that does not happen every year. Believe me, there were more teams than just us involved in this. I felt that it was an opportunity to take a look at a young quarterback, whether he played or didn’t play -- that’s the coaches decision -- but for us to get an evaluation on a player for the next 12 weeks since he’s been in here. You rarely get an opportunity to do that.
Everybody is looking for the franchise quarterback. If you’re not out there always looking and trying to find until you actually find a Peyton Manning, then I feel you’re not doing your job. Our job is to be aggressive, to try and get that position solidified. Does that mean that Christian Ponder is not that? I’m not saying that whatsoever. Is there a reason why we brought in Matt Cassel? There was a definite reason why we brought in Matt Cassel and the value he brings this organization. This was a unique situation that I felt was too good to pass up. Now, where we’re at with our quarterbacks will be determined at the end of the season. Now that we have the ability to look at all three of those, how the coaches handle who’s playing and not playing, who’s the backup and not the backup, I’m 100 percent whatever they decided to do. But I know by the end of the year we should definitely have idea on what direction if we have a franchise quarterback on this roster right now, or do we have to go into the draft potentially and look for a franchise quarterback, or where do we go at the end of the season?
On whether he can determine if Freeman is a `franchise quarterback' if he sits the rest of the year:
"I believe you can because they’re with him in meetings. They’re with him at walkthroughs. We’re out there watching him at practice. They’re watching his work ethic. They’re watching him interact with the trainers. All the unique things that you couldn’t do, let’s say, if you waited until the end of the season and then tried to go out and sign a quarterback or any other position. This was just a great chance, whether he played or not, that you would have a much better idea of what a Josh Freeman was or whoever that is by the end of the season just by him being in your building and being around that player for 12 weeks."
On spending $2 million on Freeman if he doesn't play again this season:
"If that helps us make a decision on who’s our quarterback going forward, it’s well worth it."
On whether he considered releasing cornerback Antoine Winfield a risk before the season:
“Antoine, 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, 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 why he has optimism during a 1-6 start:
"Just because what I see what's going on in this building right now. Not that there's not a sense of urgency. If you look at our season so far, a couple games early we should have easily won if you make a play here or there, or do this here or there, those could have been easy victories. And then you go over to London and you have a real solid victory, to go overseas and play...Pittsburgh was struggling at the time but still a very good football team. And then we came back we haven't played as well. Everybody's trying to figure out how to get this turned around and get back to where you could win some ballgames. I just see how hard the coaches are working at night, the players are doing extra, there's always a sense of urgency but guys really care and everybody's sticking together. That's what gives you the optimism that we're going to fight through this and get through this. You read about or see some places where you are struggling and then there's all of a sudden some divide. If anything, this has brought us closer together as an organization to get through this and get this turned around as quickly as we can."