Notebook: Brian Robison wants wins and accountability in losses
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Certain Minnesota Vikings defensive veterans expressed their distaste for play calls on the Dallas Cowboys' final drive that led to the game-winning touchdown on Sunday.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday he'd probably sit down with a few key players and discuss their frustrations, which are plentiful in the Vikings' locker room after a 1-7 start.
"You know I respect their opinions and I know how competitive they are and how much they want to win. I like for them to talk to their coaches myself about whatever concerns they may have and try to get those worked out," Frazier said. "The frustration grows with each loss with everyone involved. That's human nature. We need to put some wins together starting this Thursday night."
"We'll talk through some of that this afternoon and it's a natural thing for guys to maybe do when you have tough losses like we've had and particularly like the one yesterday, one that's fresh in your mind. If you're not careful you start to believe that this is going to be a trend. So we'll have to talk through that to make sure that doesn't become a mechanism that we'll fall back on if something negative happens in the ballgame."
Defensive end Brian Robison was one of the veterans to negatively refer to the late defensive play calling on Sunday. Robison was specifically frustrated about calls that sent one of their four pass rushers into coverage on four of the nine plays on the Cowboys' game-winning drive.
Even though Frazier said it's an 'in-the-moment' decision by players to speak out, Robison had no remorse on Monday.
"It is human, but at the same time, I don't take back anything I said yesterday. I'm probably going to get griped at for it, but in my honest opinion I don't think I said anything out of line or necessarily threw anybody under the bus. I don't think I said anything I shouldn't have said," Robison said. "That's the thing we've always prided ourselves on is holding each other accountable."
After holding the Cowboys to less than 50 net yards on their previous four drives, quarterback Tony Romo picked apart the Vikings defense as he marched down the field in two minutes for the nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams blitzed linebackers on two of the final nine plays, one accounting for a Romo incompletion and the other for receiver Dez Bryant's 34-yard catch-and-run at midfield.
On the play, safety Andrew Sendejo whiffs as he jumps the wrong route and Bryant comes free for the big gain. Fellow reserve safety Mistral Raymond was in position, but missed the tackle before cornerback Marcus Sherels chased him down to the Vikings' 21-yard line.
"I just want to win a game. We made jokes about it, but we have yet to win a game on American soil. We just have to find a way to get it done and hopefully we can be 2-7 after this week," Robison said.
The Vikings ponied up first to Robison, one of five defensive linemen in a contract year, when they signed him to a four-year, $28 million deal in October.
Rookie linebacker Michael Mauti had staunch opinions about standing up for yourself when facing adversity, such as bullying.
But since drafted in the seventh round in April, Mauti said he hasn't had to defend himself like that. Mauti said there's no hazing or overt disrespect between players such as being reported out of the Miami Dolphins' locker room.
Reported bullying and extreme forms of hazing have forced offensive lineman Jonathan Martin to walk away from the team and for the organization to subsequently suspend fellow lineman Richie Incognito while allegations are investigated.
"Since I've came in the NFL, it's really changed. Not saying there isn't things we ask rookies to do, but I think things change. You need those rookies, you don't want them to feel like they're left out," Linebacker Chad Greenway said. "I don't know if [Martin's situation] shocked me. I've seen that across the NFL. I don't want to say rookies are treated poorly, but certain things they're asked to do as a rite of passage. Not in any way derogatory or negative or in any way to change their lifestyle because of the money. More the things you ask them to do, not hazing, it's much, much less than that."
Mauti said Greenway took the linebackers to dinner before the season, as custom, and the eight-year veteran picked up the tab.
"I ask the guys to go get donuts on Saturdays or pick up food for the guys," Greenway said. "Nothing huge."
Safety Harrison Smith was optimistic on Monday that he'll be able to avoid surgery on his injured foot and return for the final three games of the regular season.
Smith was placed on injured reserve-to return after suffering from a severe foot injury, generalized as turf toe, in the Oct. 13 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He's eligible to return to practice following the Nov. 24 game at the Green Bay Packers.
"I don't see why I couldn't return and play," Smith said. "Nothing is set in stone, but I feel good right now."
Smith is eligible to play the Dec. 15 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles.