Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams made an example of the Minnesota Vikings after Minnesota’s embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers last week.
The Vikings, which saw several of its start offensive players slipping on the grass at Lambeau Field on January 1, struggled to find their footing in the first half and fell behind 18 points in part to several blown plays due to slip ups. Many of Minnesota’s skill players did not heed their coaches’ advice of wearing seven-stud cleats, which has made it a talking point throughout the week after the 41-17 loss.
It was a cautionary tale to the Vikings’ chagrin that Williams made an example of, pointing to the cleats becoming an excuse for teams that don’t take the necessary precautions.
“Just put on the studded things and stop trying to look cute,” Williams said before the Lions’ pivotal season finale at Green Bay on Sunday night. “Just play with the field… just put on the studders and go out there and play ball. Don’t try to go out there and put on your fancy, cute shoes… and you out there slipping. After that, now you have to use that as an excuse. We don’t want excuses, we want to go out there and perform and go out there with a dub, so we’ll be ready.”
While wearing the correct cleats seems minute, Lions coach Dan Campbell echoed Williams, calling “wearing the proper shoes” a key to victory.
“Our guys know it. They’re on it,” Campbell added, per Detroit News’ Nolan Bianchi.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Irked by Players’ Decisions
After Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the cleats issue several times in the aftermath of the loss at Lambeau, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips drove the point home in his Thursday press conference, calling out the players’ professionalism.
“We definitely have to take the conditions into account and we have to be professional about whatever the environment we’re playing in. The margin for error in this league is small. It was noticeable that it happened with us and it didn’t happen with them. It was something that was addressed,” Phillips said on January 5.
“Guys got to understand the margin for error is so small. It can’t be like, ‘Oh, I’ll get it next time.’ You don’t know how many times you’re going to have that play to change a game or continue a drive. We have to be professional about it. Whether it’s technique at times — you cut off the wrong foot on any surface, you’re going to fall down. But it was noticeable. It has been addressed prior to the game and post-game. We’ve got to be better there.”
Oddly enough, cornerback Chandon Sullivan, who played for the Packers from 2019 to 2021, didn’t wear seven-stud cleats when he played at Lambeau, Phillips said, adding every player’s situation is different.
However, the number of players falling on the grass field was a common trend last Sunday.
Vikings’ Path to the Super Bowl Likely to Be on Grass
Minnesota got its lesson learned in time for the postseason. The Vikings have another grass-field game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this Sunday to close the regular season.
Their path to the Super Bowl is likely on grass as well.
If Minnesota advances beyond the first round of the playoffs, a likely rematch with the New York Giants, the Vikings are bound to play the second-seeded San Francisco 49ers or the top seed Philadelphia Eagles in the following rounds.
Both teams play on grass in outdoor stadiums.