Any injuries come out of the game that you know about?
“Still sorting through it. I don’t know. I think Mike (Michael Bennett) is going to be okay. He is a little sore, but I think he will be okay.”
It seemed like the offensive line really stepped up and looking at the tape what did you like about this game?
“I think they did. We had a plan and I think it was going to take every bit of that to go in and do that under the circumstances—short week, in that stadium, with their specialists. I think we played keep away the way we needed to. Time of possession, kicking game, and then certainly Doug (Martin) did some things with the offensive line providing the way. Erik Lorig did a good job [of] opening some things for Doug (Martin) in the run game as well. Then defensively more times than not doing it the way we set out to do it. Hit the big run. Couple of passes [and] the catch—like Percy (Harvin)’s catch I thought we had a chance. Man what a throwing catch that was. We covered that about as well as you can. It was just a tremendous play. It is going to happen some times.”
21 straight touchbacks for your punter and he is doing a great job of making it easy to cover those kicks, right?
“I guess that is a record. They just told me on the way down. That was since the merger. When they told me that I said ‘what merger’? Was a long time ago, right? That’s a record that will probably last for a while. In the punting game too, whether we pinned them right on the sideline or the ball went out of bounds I thought it was an excellent job. Michael Koenen did an excellent job on both phases. Then to get Connor (Barth) back on the three field goals, our specialists did a great job.”
How exciting is it to look back on Doug Martin’s performance last night?
“Again, from the beginning we have been saying I think this guy has got some special abilities. He just keeps getting better and better. I think things are slowing down for him a little bit like they do often times for very talented rookies, but he is going to have to be. That’s how we are designing our offense. Between the running game and the vertical passing game it has been—last couple of weeks it is fitting together better.”
What do you worry about on a short week as a coach like the one you had last week going into Minnesota?
“The physical fatigue. We were fortunate that we came out of the New Orleans game decently with our health. Can you lock in and focus? I think our guys did a great job. From the minute that game was over Sunday afternoon, they knew what we were up against and they locked in and prepared physically and mentally. The last part is the emotional preparation. Sure helps to be playing on national television and all that, but both teams are playing on national television and they were the home team. So [I] am proud of the way the guys responded. One of the things you concern yourself as a coach is the draining as that game against New Orleans was emotionally; you know can you reload it in four days and go play the way you have to. It was a good job by our players."
Are you at a point in your offense where you can play any way the opposing defense wants to play?
“Well. I think that’s definitely what you have to do in this league. You have to take what they are giving you. Then that is that in between where they are playing that two-deep run and run fit safety. So it is like a seven-and-a-half man. I think you have to be able to respond. I think everybody sees the quarterback throw the football, but for Josh (Freeman) to be able to identify what they are and be able to get us in the right thing and that’s what he is doing a good job of. Last night was not his most spectacular throwing game, although he made some nice throws, but some of the things that he did that no one will ever know are what are most impressive. Getting us into the right run. Redeclaring once we realized what they are doing. Redeclaring things and getting the whole offense blocking it just a little bit differently. Those are big, big things that no one knows about, but I do and the coaches do and his teammates do. That’s critical stuff. You still got to go block them, but at least now we are on the advantage [with] the way he repositioned it. So that is something that we got to keep getting better at because we are going to see some different things. When you have Mike (Williams) and Vincent (Jackson) there are going to be some different looks. Even the Vikings did some things they had not done to try to negate both of them. You got to be able to identify that and so far Josh (Freeman) is doing a good job of that.”
Are coaches weary of how many touches a rookie or running back rookie gets and has confidence grown in the rookie and how many touches he can get a game?
“Well, we do keep a close eye on it because we don’t want to find them in the latter part of the game unable to go or get him bumped up. In the same breathe, the really special backs that I have been around they want it. They get in the groove and they feel it. I could see that Doug (Martin) was feeling it. He wanted carries. I also saw when he got gassed a little bit and I thought Earnest (Byner) did a good job of getting him out when he could sense that. We are going to have to keep doing a good job of regulating his carries as far as how he looks on that day. The last thing you want to do is take your guy off the field when he is feeling it because those guys get stronger.”
You went with Leonard Johnson in the nickel last night and can you talk about how he played and why the change?
“Leonard (Johnson) went to nickel corner and Eric (Wright) bumped inside. (Brandon) McDonald had a little thing like we talked about during the week and he wasn’t 100 percent. Again, that’s a other guys opportunity, right, and Leonard stepped up and I thought played well. [He] had an interception and was close to having two so that’s encouraging. You have a free agent rookie that steps up there and plays on the big stage and it wasn’t too big for him. We saw him do it in the preseason, but for him to do it in a regular season game and on the road that is good stuff.”