Here are some select quotes from Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, defensive coordinator Fred Pagac and special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer prior to Week 16's game against the Saints:
Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave
Q: How comfortable do you feel about what you have now and how much of these last two weeks are you going to gauge to what changes need to be made going into next year?
A: We'll definitely use them. We're going to look to improve from last week's performance and keep working in the right direction. I felt like we made some strides against Oakland, Denver, Detroit. Not as many strides, if any, against New Orleans. The next two weeks are to get back on track.
Q: How much of the offense this year has been trial and error with the lockout and the quarterback changes?
A: I think a lot of people have had to go through the same obstacles that we have but we want to do a good job of getting production on the field. At times we've done that and the next two games will give us two more opportunities to get back to having productive games where we put touchdowns up on the board.
Q: Christian Ponder's self-assessment of Sunday was that he got a little hesitant at times. Did you see that when you looked back?
A: That's an accurate assessment I thought. Probably a natural step in the progression of a young player where you want to make the correction and at times you may over-correct rather than finding that happy medium.
Q: You had the package on Sunday where Ponder and Joe Webb are in the same backfield. Is that designed to confuse the defense as much as possible?
A: It is. We've got an eight- or 10-play package there and we've only scratched the surface with it. We've got a number of other plays that we've been working on and we're looking forward to getting those on tape and getting good at them.
Q: Is there any concern from you that you may not be back if you go 2-14?
A: I always think it's a part of this profession. The key is focusing each and every week to do your best and correct the mistakes that you may have made in the previous weeks. We're right back there with that focus again this week.
Q: Do you regret not having Christian Ponder start from Week One? Would that have possibly been a positive?
A: It's hard to tell. The way things went I think were good for Christian. He got to get his feet wet and kind of watch from the sideline a little bit, find out what the routine was like, assess the speed of the game from the sideline and then be able to go out there and apply his own talents in between the lines starting with that Chicago game. I think it worked out for him in the best way.
Vikings defensive coordinator Fred Pagac
Q: If you could get Jared Allen that sack record would it be a nice silver lining in what has been a tough year for you guys?
A: Yeah, I think if you asked Jared he would rather have wins than sack records, but that would most certainly be a nice individual deal for Jared.
Q: He always gets a lot of attention. Has it been different in the last few weeks as he keeps counting up the sacks?
A: No, he has been getting the same protections all year long. He has been getting chipped, double-teamed and obviously a week ago the quarterback got the ball off pretty quick. I don't think things will change for him. I think they will continue to chip him and they are going to continue to have people on him and he is going to continue to play.
Q: Can you talk about the plan for Cedric Griffin?
A: I don't know a whole lot about that yet; a lot of it depends on our health. He has been doing a good job this week, he is working hard, he is being a pro, he is working at his craft and working at his technique and if he has to play, he is going to play.
Q: It's been nine games since an interception; does it surprise you that it hasn't happened in that long?
A: We try to preach turnovers weekly. It hasn't happened. When we have had opportunities obviously we are going to have to make it. Once it breaks, then the floodgates might open for us.
Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: Have you seen any positive or negative trends for you guys as this season comes to a close?
A: The one good thing about the end of the year, you get to see some younger guys that hopefully are improving. Hopefully they've been paying attention in meetings all year, but whether they've been on the practice squad or they've been on the inactive list every week and now they're active, and now they're playing. Most of the time those guys are playing for me. You're hoping that they take what they've been learning all year and apply it to the games. I think you're starting to see that with guys like Brandon Burton, or Mistral Raymond, or some other young guys like Emmanuel Arceneaux, who got a chance to get in last week and did a good job. These are kids that don't have a lot of special teams experience that are starting to, hopefully, rise to the occasion and we'll continue to do so as the year winds down.
Q: When those opportunities come for those guys, are they handling it pretty well or are they overwhelmed?
A: They're not overwhelmed. I think every guy is going to handle it a little bit differently because of their personalities, or it would be phony. If I started to notice a guy act how he normally doesn't act, there would be a little phoniness to it. But I think they're each going to use their personality and always fall back on their personality traits. I think I've seen some excitement, I've seen confidence, I think, is the best word to throw out there. They had some success, they had some failures. We've had some broken-down coverage where they've been the culprits, some of these young guys. But, when we correct it, and you see them do it right, then they get more confidence. I think that's the fun thing for me to see as the year winds down.
Q: Overall, how would you assess Chris Kluwe's season?
A: Like a lot of our special teams, he's been inconsistent. He's had some incredible punts for us and then he's had punts that have hurt us. So, it's not any one thing, it's not any one person. I think if you ask him or any one of our guys, they've been very pleased with certain aspects of their game, and there are other aspects where they'd say, "You know what, I didn't do as much as I should have done or as I've been coached to do." So, hopefully, as a group, we can continue to improve the last couple weeks. I'm taking it very seriously. To me, every game, every Sunday or every Saturday, when you play, it's like Christmas. That's what I live for in my profession. To me, that's the culmination of all the hard work during the week and all the hard work in the off season. So, we have two more opportunities; let's make the best of both of these opportunities.