MANKATO — The Vikings secondary play was porous at best last season, so when the team had a chance to hire Alan Williams as its new defensive coordinator, head coach Leslie Frazier didn’t hesitate.
Williams had been the defensive backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts the previous 10 years. In 2006-07, Williams and Frazier worked together in Indianapolis and helped the Colts win the Super Bowl.
On Friday, he got his first chance to coach in a game with the Vikings and worked from the sideline instead of from the booth. Logistically, Williams said everything went fine.
“The communication with coaches was fantastic,” he said. “We have a group of veteran coaches (Mike Singletary, Jeff Imamura and Diron Reynolds) so they are a big help with the eyes in the sky that tell me what is happening , who is doing what.
“I got great feedback from them. We will try it again this week and see if, from the coaching staff, if we can keep some consistency in the communication and way we operated on the sideline.”
The players came away believing that having Williams available on the sideline was a plus.
"I like being able to talk with him during the timeouts and see what he’s seeing,” linebacker Erin Henderson said. “It’s beneficial to have him there.”
Linebacker Chad Greenway agreed: “I thought he made the right calls and put us in the right positions. He did a good job and he’ll keep getting better and better as we go along.”
If the game management side of things went smoothly for Williams, the actual play of his team did not.
The Vikings gave up 412 net yards, including 182 on the ground.
“I saw some misfits, a few bad angles to the football (as we were defensing the run),” he said. “But I also saw some good things.
“I saw guys running to the ball with great effort, guys taking care of their responsibilities, just not consistently enough. Of course when you’re in the NFL and don’t take care of your assignments, (a 17-6 loss) is the type of day you can have against a good team.”
Williams said it was not a case of the Vikings players being over matched physically, it was more a case of them not being in the right place at the right time.
“It was mostly guys that were not in their gaps,” he said. “They could have stayed in their gaps. They saw the ball inside, and went inside the ball bounced outside.
“They ran hard but we also say they want to run smart. When we get to that it will be fine.”
Preseason Game 2 is on tap for the new defensive coordinator this weekend against the Buffalo Bills at Mall of America Field. Like his players, he’ll be looking to learn from the opener and make the necessary adjustments.