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Robinson said the coaching staff has tweaked his assignments throughout the season in order to simplify things and give him a “cleaner read.” Vikings coaches have shown patience and routinely acknowledged that they understood Robinson would encounter growing pains as he adjusted to his new role.
“You can teach guys drills, and you can go through practice, but it’s different on gameday,” Woods said. “That’s the experience that he has to gain. I can’t help with him that. I can teach him, but in that game environment when there’s pressure, that’s when you’ve got to be able to react. He’s actually playing pretty good in terms of the nickel position.”
And when he’s lined up outside at left cornerback?
“There’s some issues,” Woods said. “But it’s across the board.”
Robinson has become an easy target for criticism, but the secondary’s struggles extend beyond just one player. Now in his fourth season, Cook still has not intercepted a pass or proven that he can stay healthy. Already declared out for Sunday, he will have missed the same number of games that he’s played in his career — 28 — because of injuries and legal issues.
Smith looks like a future star at safety, but Sanford has lacked consistency on the other side. The team drafted rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes in the first round, but he’s officially only made one start.
Frazier has resisted moving Rhodes ahead of Robinson as the starter on the left side, preferring instead to use the rookie primarily in nickel situations. Rhodes has played 64 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, yet he’s tied for team lead with six pass breakups.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Rhodes is showing gradual improvement but that he still makes youthful mistakes and displays some hesitancy.
“Right now, he’s about 50-50 with playing extremely fast and playing less fast then he should,” Williams said.
Williams remains encouraged by Rhodes’ bright moments. He pointed to the rookie’s tackle — a “grown man tackle,” he said — on a 5-yard catch by Green Bay’s Myles White on a second-and-16 play last week.
“It was exactly like it was diagnosed and played it exactly like we want him to,” Williams said. “You’re saying, ‘Man, we just need to do more of that.’”
Williams tried to drill that message into his secondary and entire defense this week. At his weekly media session Thursday, Williams repeatedly stressed that he believes the Tampa-2 scheme is the right system and that players should tune out “voices” that suggest the Vikings should try something different.
One common complaint is that the Vikings don’t use Cook and Rhodes — two big, physical corners — in press coverage enough.
“I’m just doing whatever the assignment the coaches tell me to do,” Rhodes said. “If it’s press or if they want me to play man off, I’ll do it. It depends on the offense we play against.”
It’s unrealistic to think the Vikings could scrap their entire system and overhaul their personnel in the secondary at this stage of the season. They just have to hope for collective improvement by a group that looks under siege on a weekly basis.
“What it comes down to is, every game each guy is going to have two or three opportunities to make a game-changing play,” Woods said. “Right now, we’re just not making them consistently.”
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|Washington||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Seattle||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Houston||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|NY Jets||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|Arizona||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|New Orleans||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Green Bay||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/15/13 7:30 PM|
|Baltimore||12/16/13 7:40 PM|
|Central Conn St||73|
|Central Penn College||72||FINAL|
|South Dakota St||59||FINAL|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|SE Missouri St||34||FINAL|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon||X||29-26|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon|