Vikings GM Rick Spielman has a black belt in verbal judo, and since he was named Vikings GM, he has dazzled us numerous times with mastery of what we've come to call Rickspeak.
What is Rickspeak? It's a process in which Spielman speaks many, many words...yet says nothing. At least on the surface. But if you have a keen eye for subtlety*, and an ability to read between the lines**, oh, Rick's telling you exactly what you want to hear***.
The Minnesota Vikings held a press conference earlier today to discuss the firing of former head coach Leslie Frazier. GM Rick Spielman did the vast majority of the speaking, and as we do here from time to time, we interpreted what Rick said, and we'll tell you what he actually meant. As always, what Rick was quoted as saying will be first, and then what he meant will be interpreted immediately below****
*I have no eye for subtlety
**I cannot read on the lines, much less between them
***I really have no idea if it's what Spielman actually meant.
****Really, I don't. I'm making all the interpretation stuff up for comedic purposes, but it has been said that there's an element of truth in really good comedy. Which is why this will probably be terrible. Hey, you've been warned.
Rick had a monstrous opening statement, something that needs to be broken down bit by bit.
Rick says: I just want to reiterate what Zygi said, this was an extremely, extremely difficult decision. When you sit there and evaluate and go through the process, I think all of you know how I work, you look at the whole body, you don't just look at this or that. As we sat there and evaluated it we felt that change was needed for our organization to take a step forward.
Rick meant: This wasn't a difficult decision.
Rick says: I talked to all of the assistant coaches today, they are all currently under contract. I will meet with them on an individual basis. In order for them to go on to another team they have to get a written permission. I will look at that on a case by case basis on whether that permission is granted or not.
Rick meant: I have no intention of keeping any of the assistant coaches around.
Rick says: Our number one goal is to start the search immediately. That process will start this afternoon and I expect to have interviews lined up over the next three or four days.
Rick meant: Look, I gotta get a move on. I already lost Bill O'Brien to the freakin' Texans. If I screw around much more, I'm going to have go hat in hand back to Chilly. And no one wants that.
Rick said: This is going to be a very extensive search. I’ve sliced it every way you can slice it, I’ve looked at 13 different categories where coaches come out of and that can be everything from head coaches that are currently offensive coordinators, former head coaches, head coaches who are currently defensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, offensive coordinators without head coaching experience, college coaches with and without NFL coaching experience, so there is a long list of areas that you can look for in a head coach. The one thing that I can tell you though, as we did our research and looked if there was any specific category that was more successful than the other, there wasn’t. That’s why we have to do this extensive process and we have to go out and find the right head coach that we think is going to lead us into the future and to give us the best chance to take the next step forward. With that I will go ahead and open it up for questions.
Rick meant: I have no idea who I'm going to hire, and I really don't know what I'm looking for in a head coach. Heck, I'm taking resumes from everyone. Even that kid who applied for the UND coaching job with the best power point presentation ever is on the list. Actually, he's number three right now.
Next, we moved on to the Q and A portion of the press conference. First, Rick was asked what it would've taken for Frazier to be retained.
Rick said: You know, we talked about it with the ownership last night, this decision, I know that there have been a lot of rumors floating around out there, this decision was not made until this morning. We went through the process last night with the ownership and just looked at the whole body of work since Leslie has been here. He has done a lot of very good things, but we felt as an organization that it was the right thing to do to move forward and we have the utmost respect for Leslie and what he has brought to this organization, but again we have to look for consistency year in and year out and that is what we are going to be looking for when we bring in a new head coach and the consistency year in and year out, that we are competitive on the field.
Rick meant: Nothing. Wilf told me him or me. Easiest decision I've ever made.
The next question was if whether or not terrible quarterbacks prevented Frazier from winning.
Rick said: I’ll address the quarterback situation just like every other situation, I take full responsibility for the personnel decisions, whether they are good, and sometimes they don’t work out for whatever reason. I’m always going to be aggressive that if a personnel decision does not work out to try to get that rectified as quickly as we can. I talked to you guys mid-season about I’m responsible for putting the best 53 players I can possibly put on our roster, but I have to leave it up to the coaches to make those decisions on who gives them the best chance win on Sundays and Leslie consulted us, consulted our ownership about the quarterback situation, just like everything we have very open dialog, open communication, but ultimately the coach and his coaching staff have to decide who is playing and not playing on Sundays.
Rick meant: Not my fault, man. Not my fault. I gave Leslie one of 37 possible choices at quarterback, and he managed to play all of them. Granted, they were all bad. But not my fault, man.
Rick was then asked about whether he gave Frazier enough talent to make the playoffs. What follows is a Rickspeak Tour De Force.
Rick said: Yeah, I feel very optimistic about the young talent that we have on this football team. I felt very strongly about the last two draft classes that we have been able to put together. Are there holes that need to be filled? Definitely, and we will address those holes. Last year we felt we needed to upgrade the receiver position. I think that was one of our main priorities and we were able to do that by going out and signing a Greg Jennings and to move up aggressively in the draft to get a Patterson-type, the development in how Jarius has come along, and Jerome Simpson, who was a different player this year than he was last year. But a lot of those personnel decisions will be made when we put the new coaching staff in place and they will have a lot of influence on not only the quarterback position but all of the positions and I am very open minded and feel it is very important to have open communication when making those decisions that everybody in the organization is on board with that decision. I don’t think we have ever came up with a decision where guys may have had disagreements but by the time we were done not everyone was on the same page. As long as I am General Manager here there will never be an incident where I would go out and sign a player or draft a player without working directly with the coaches and the coaching staff and our scouts to get everybody on the same page. Defensively I know people say we have some holes on defense. We are getting a little older there. But I can tell you that I was very encouraged by the way some of these young guys have stepped up and played. To see Xavier Rhodes before he got injured and the way he was playing, when Erin Henderson had his issues and to see Audie Cole step in and do a nice job, to find a Shaun Prater out there and to see him go out and compete and he was with us for half a year, to lose a key player like a Harrison Smith yet to have an Andrew Sandejo, who is not only one of our core special teams players, but also stepped in and did a very good job and you see what kind of football player he is. Are there holes? Definitely there are holes. Is that my responsibility to get those holes filled? It definitely falls on my shoulders and just like I said to the staff earlier when I talked to the team today is that I will do everything that I can to get the right head coach and to get the right personnel in here. It will be a very tedious process, and it will be looked at from every angle to make sure we are going to make the best possible decisions we can make.
Rick meant: Yeah, pretty much. Not my fault Bill Musgrave has a game plan that can firt on a 3X5 card, and Alan Williams go to defensive formation is the prevent. Overall? Not my fault, man. OH HAI THERE I DRAFTED CORDARRELLE PATTERSON AND HARRISON SMITH AND PICKED SHAUN PRATER OFF THE TRASH HEAP AND HE DIDN'T SUCK BECAUSE THE REST OF THE SECONDARY IS WARMED OVER ASS EXCEPT XAVIER RHODES SO THAT MAKES ME AWESOME. ALSO, AUDIE COLE WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Rick was then asked if you could make up for poor QB play in the NFL.
Rick said: You look at our division this year, and the time that Cutler missed, the time that Rodgers had missed, and those guys had lost some games but somehow survived and Chicago and Green Bay played for the division title. I think that every team is always going to be looking for that franchise quarterback until you actually get one and you are going to continually grind away at that until hopefully you finally hit on one.
Rick meant: Nope.
He was then asked a couple more questions before somebody asked him about the Josh Freeman situation and how it affected the QB situation.
Rick said: Well Freeman did a lot of good things through practice, I think that when Matt Cassel got in there, and Christian played well in that stretch where he came back, and then went back to his inconsistencies a little bit. Matt Cassel took over and he played very well. At that time who gave you the best chance to win ballgames? I think that everyone felt that Matt Cassel gave you the best chance to win those ballgames at that time, and that is a credit to Matt to the way he stepped up and played.
Rick meant: Freeman was pretty much gasoline on a fire. But hey, at least I didn't trade away a second round pick for him like I did for A.J Feely in Miami!
Rick was asked a bunch of other questions, but we've only got time for one more. But this last one is a doozy: Your ability to get quarterbacks here and in Miami has been in question; how can you be trusted to fix the quarterback situation?
Rick said: I have not got in right yet. We have worked as hard as we can to get that right and I try to use as many outside sources as I can. I am not afraid to look at experts in that particular area. I am going to rely heavily on our head coach and whoever our offensive coordinator is and whoever our quarterbacks coach is and they are going to be heavily involved in this process. A lot of it has to do with making sure that the quarterback fits in the system that you are trying to run. Like I said, I wish that you could make getting a quarterback easy, and it’s not, that is maybe the most difficult position to fill but we are going to do everything and use every resource that we can to try and get that corrected.
Rick meant: I have no idea what I'm doing right now. I'm like a blind man at an orgy...I'm just sort of feeling my way through.
Man, the off-season is going to be awesome.