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Postgame Quotes: Cassel, Bridgewater, Zimmer and Others Talk After The Cardinals Win

Posted Aug 16, 2014

Vikings QB Matt Cassel

Q: Tell us about your first half. You came out, it was a really crisp performance. Just tell us about that.

A: I felt comfortable tonight. I thought guys did a tremendous job all night making plays. The offensive line did a great job against a great front. Obviously we are going to have some corrections to make but all in all I thought it was a strong performance by us.

Q: Do you feel like this offense let you unleash your arm a little bit? You seem to be throwing it better, crisper just because the ball is going down the field. Is that part of what Norv Turner is allowing you to do?

A: You know that’s just kind of how the system is set up. I think that they do a tremendous job, all of the coaches do, throughout the week of preparing us, getting us ready, talking about how they want to read certain plays, progressions, all those things. It really helps when you get on the field on game day and have a lot of confidence going in knowing that your preparation will put you in a position to succeed.

Q: Are people making more of the quarterback competition outside of the locker room than you guys do inside?

A: Inside the locker room it’s a day-to-day operation. We are grinding through camp and obviously we are all competing out there on a daily basis but at the same time we are all trying to get better at what we are doing, our craft, learning a new offense. So I am sure there is a lot made of it on the outside but on the inside we are all competing every day. 

Q: Do you think the battle is going to go down to the wire with the way Teddy Bridgewater played in the second half?

A: I’m not sure. It is the coach’s decision; he is probably the one who is better to speak about that than I am. At the same time I just have to keep going out, playing hard and hopefully performing well and letting them know that I am ready to play.

Q: You seem genuinely happy to see Teddy succeed. I saw after the first touchdown you gave Teddy a big hug.

A: You are always happy to see your teammates succeed. The whole thing about this is we are all in this thing together. We are all about winning ball games and I think everybody is a whole lot happier when you’re winning than when you’re losing. To go out and see Teddy throw his first touchdown in the NFL, even if it is preseason, that is really cool. I remember mine. It was a great night for him. I was excited for him. I was excited for Rodney Smith, who made tremendous plays at the end of the game, who is a guy who has worked his tail off and is able to come out and perform on a stage like that. That is the fun part about preseason and it’s the fun part about the NFL.

Q: What do you attribute to Teddy’s improvement over the last week?

A: Teddy has done a tremendous job throughout the entire camp. Ever since he has gotten here he has kept his head down and worked hard. He is a guy who is going to continuously learn and want to ask questions. I think the sky is the limit for Teddy. He just has to continue to push through and work hard. 

Q: Can quarterbacks overthink sometimes?

A: I think we all can overthink at times, like anybody. At the same time if you can simplify it on game day through your preparation, I think that is when quarterbacks really succeed.

Q: What we saw tonight with you and Kyle Rudolph, is that kind of attributable to how he is being used in the offense or better chemistry between you two?

A: I think Kyle just did a tremendous job of getting open tonight. The coaches put him in a position to succeed. Like I said, through our preparation throughout the week, we knew that he would have some matchups where he would be one-on-one and he took advantage of those matchups.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater

Q: It seemed there was no panic in anything you guys were doing.

A: Our coaches always talk about just playing football and letting it rip. It’s all about winning the man–to-man and the one-on-one battles and I felt we did a good job of doing that tonight.

Q: How pleased are you to take such a big step from your first preseason game to your second?

A: I’m very pleased. I’m just going to try and continue to get better. Last week was a learning experience, getting a feel for the game and today I was able to go out there and I knew what it took to game plan and go into an NFL game and play football. The guys around me did a great job of assisting me and making transitions.

Q: Rodney said on the touchdown play that he may not have been the primary target, but you told him coming out of the huddle to be ready.

A: Oh yes, it’s amazing. Earlier in the week I told Rodney [Smith] that if we call that play and you’re one-on-one I’m going to throw you the ball. Rodney made a great play today and I take my hat off to that guy.

Q: Do you feel the race for the starting quarterback job is going to go down to the wire now after your performance?

A: Right now I’m not even looking to the race, I’m just focused on trying to become a better player each and every week. I’ve always said I’ve had a great group of guys in the quarterback room who have been assisting me along the way. I was able to complete my first NFL training camp and those guys have been mentoring me and giving me the knowledge that I need to know. They always tell me that no question is a dumb question. I commend those guys for being great mentors for me.

Q: It has to be nice to have Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle [Patterson] both saying it’s Teddy time

A: It’s not, I’m still the young guy here and I still have a lot to prove and I still have a lot to work for. I’m going to come in each and every day and get better.

Q: You talked about struggling, do you think in the last few days you’ve been able to put that behind you and move forward?

A: Yes, I’ve been trying. I’m a young guy and a lot has been thrown at me. I tend to overthink things. Coach Turner and Coach Zimmer always tell me to just do what you do best and that’s play football and have fun, so today I was able to go out and play relentlessly and not overthink plays and trust everything they’ve been telling me.

Q: Setting the bar for future performances type of high?

A: It’s great to be able to finish a game that way, but the guys around me made it happen also. Great communication in the two -minute situation. Us young guys being in and Joe Berger being the veteran center in there with a young group in Adam Thielen and Jarius Wright and those guys making big plays today. Kain Colter making a spectacular catch on the sideline to get out of bounds and help us stop the clock. It was a great overall performace from the entire unit and even from the veterans. Coming to the sidelines they were giving us advice of what to expect on the next series, so it was a great team performance.

Q: You got hit on the last series, how did you overcome that?

A: I didn’t pay any attention to it. You’re not always going to have a clean pocket as a quarterback, so you have to stand in there and deliver some throws. The guys up front did a great job of communicating and not every play is going to be perfect, but as long as we work hard, out play and out hit our opponents the outcome should be pretty good.

Q: Where does the chemistry with Adam come from?

A: I think it started back in rookie mini camp. I remember asking myself who is this guy the first time I met Adam [Thielen]. He was just a guy making plays across the board. He was there for a couple of weeks prior to us, so he was mentoring the younger receivers and telling them what to expect. Adam continues to make plays since the rookie mini camp and the chemistry that started back in rookie mini camp and has just been good this far.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

It was a great game for the fans to watch. These kinds of games make an old coach even older, quickly. I thought it was a very entertaining game for the fans and I like how our football team competes. I like how they try to do the right things and they go out there and hustle around, usually good things happen when you do those kinds of things. I talked to the team quite a bit this week about making sure we had a clean pocket for the quarterback. I thought the offensive line, the backs and the tight ends did a good job there. I thought we needed to get around their quarterback more, which we did quite a bit tonight. We needed to eliminate mistakes; we still have some work to do there. I said they have got some good corners and good receivers and we need to win a bunch of one-on-one battles on the outside on both sides of the ball and actually, I think we did a pretty good job there. They hit a couple of them and we did a good job. And then the last part was to be great in the red zone and offensively we did a heck of a job there. All-in-all, it’s nice to win, but we have got a lot of things to correct, a lot of things to clean up. I’m proud of this team, the way they perform.

Q: Have you made any decisions on the quarterback situation?

A: No. Not yet.

Q: What did you learn about your safety position tonight?

A: We played a lot of them. I know it’s coach speak, but there’s so many things going on, I have to really study the tape to figure that out. I thought they all did some good things as far as the safety spot. I didn’t notice (Chris) Crocker all that much. Jamarca (Sanford) had some good plays, had a couple of bad plays. (Andrew) Sendejo, same thing. It was a little bit of a mixed bag. We will just evaluate more on tape.

Q: Arizona’s last score must have been frustrating, but you got a chance to see your team in a 2-minute situation.

A: We don’t want to do those things, but to be able to go down there with 1:08 and two timeouts to go down and score and hit the two-point play, that was impressive. We have been working on that situation a lot in practice and tried to get down there and Teddy (Bridgewater) has been good in all of those drills. It’s not just Teddy, Rodney Smith made a great catch, (Adam) Thielen made a great catch, they helped us a little bit with penalties. The offensive line did a better job in protection. We could have ended the ball game a lot earlier if we don’t have a late hit on the quarterback. There’s four minutes left in the game and it’s going to be 2nd-and-four and the clock is running right before the two-minute drill and we get a holding penalty that stops the clock, moves it back out and we have to punt the ball back to them.

Q: Was it your plan to play Teddy Bridgewater the entire second half or did that just happen?

A: Yes. That was the plan.

Q: What did you think about that controversial 4th down play?

A: The official on my sideline I talked to and I said, “They can’t advance a fumble on fourth down.” He said, “Yeah, you’re right, don’t worry about it.” Then the official came up to me and said it was a backwards pass because the quarterback never had possession of the ball so it wasn’t a fumble. They were able to advance it. There were some other things that happened in that play that probably didn’t get called. The officials in this league do a great job, they really do. We don’t always agree with them, but they do a great job. Dean Blandino and his staff really work hard to make it right.

Q: Do you need to get another preseason game before you’re going to decide on a starter QB?

A: I have a date in mind.

Q: Has it changed?

A: No, it has not changed.

Q: How did you think Matt did tonight and what more does he need to do to show you he can be that guy you need him to be?

A: Well Matt is doing great. Honestly, he takes charge of the football team. I still like to compete and we still have to keep competing. They all are getting a lot of reps as you see. It didn’t hurt Teddy not getting a lot of reps, it hasn’t hurt Matt not getting as many reps as he would but we will be getting ready to go for St. Louis when we decide the QB spot. I think Matt has a great command of the offense. He is getting better at it all the time, he is making the correct throws and you know what he is taking care of the football and both of them did tonight. They took real good care of the ball, the backs ran hard. You know it is still about the team. Everything we talk about is not about one person it’s about the team.  

Q: Do you think your pass rush was the best part of your first team defense tonight?

A: Well you know Arizona has a terrific offensive team and scored 32 against Houston last week and a lot of it was in the first half. Obviously the first drive we didn’t play as well, but we got them into some third - down situations later on where we mixed and rushed people a little bit tonight and I think we had better pressure on them. You know we are still developing and learning. We are a young defensive football team so they are still learning every single day and the more situations we can put ourselves in I think the better off we will be. We gave up a couple long balls tonight which we can’t do and win usually, but it wasn’t like we didn’t have them covered. You know they made a couple great plays and that happens in the NFL. 

Q: Early in camp Norv talked about wanting Kyle on the move more and more fluid, is that kind of what he was supposed to look like tonight?

A: Kyle is great kid, I love his competitiveness. I love the way he works. He is a big team guy. He will do anything you want him to do. He came up to me when he was out first half and said, “That guy you got up stairs is a genius”. He was talking about Norv. You know our coaches do a good job coaching these guys and the players are really liking what they are doing and we still make mistakes. We still are making some mistakes we shouldn’t be making but as long as we keep working at it and we stay with their nose to the grindstone, because we can’t get fat and sassy because we won two preseason games. We got to still work.

Vikings Wide Receiver Rodney Smith

Q: What did you think of Teddy Bridgewater?

A: It was unbelievable; he’s a big- time player. They drafted him in the first round for a reason and he just showed them that he was well worth it.

Q: What do you think of the poise he showed on the last drive?

A: He does it every day in practice. I wasn’t surprised at all, he always puts the ball on the money, he is always efficient, so I wasn’t surprised at all.

Q: Did you know you were going to be the target on the end zone play?

A: Actually when we left the huddle, Teddy (Bridgewater) just told me to be ready. Once I heard the call I had my mind set because I knew it was going to be one on one.

Q: Did you know you were in bounds when you caught that pass?

A: Yeah we work on toe tapping all the time with coach George Stewart at practice so it was kind of second nature.

Vikings Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson

Q: What do you think of Teddy Bridgewater keeping the expectations low?

A: I told Teddy, I think that drive made him the man of the city. I told him I used to be the man, but he just came and took over all my little shine that I had.

Q: What was it like to watch Teddy do that?

A: Just looking back it was amazing. Not being a part of it, but being on the sideline feels like you’re a part of it. I told him he did a heck of a job getting the ball to Adam (Thielen) and Rodney (Smith) who are two young guys that are coming up trying to prove themselves. They went out and felt like they had a lot to prove and they did that.

Q: Teddy Bridgewater seemed a lot more composed, did it seem like that to you?

A: He is so calm, he just sits back there and delivers the ball to the receivers and doesn’t panic. He is always smiling and you need a young quarterback.

Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway

Q: How much has Barr impressed you, especially with him getting that sack tonight, does it take the pressure off him?

A: Yeah, I mean he’s two for two. He’s got great instinct. He’s a great kid, he works hard and he’s humble and he wants to be great and he works at it.

Q: What do you make so far of the crackdown on illegal contact?

A: Yeah, they got me today. You know, I thought I held my ground and that was my piece of turf and I’m there, and you know when he ran into me and the ref was right behind me but he couldn’t see that he actually ran into me and pushed me off and that I had nothing to do with it. But it is what is and they make the rules and that’s the way it is and they’re going to keep calling it like that during the regular season so I hope this is a test but if they’re going to keep doing it then we’re going to have to adjust and obviously let them run free.

Q: Some of these rule changes seem to benefit the offense?

A: It seems a little crazy to me because you see some of the hand fighting out on the field and things get all crazy and there’s just no contact but you know, again, I’m not trying to get a fine from the league I just think that’s something we’ll have to adjust to.

Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen

Q: Teddy Bridgewater is kind of setting the expectations kind of high here isn’t he?

A: Oh yeah. He comes in and works every day and he expects a lot out of us, his receivers, and we expect a lot out of him so it was pretty cool to see the way that he played out there tonight.

Q: You guys have some great chemistry, where is that coming from?

A: I think it is just because of rookie camp. We were in here together for the first time together and I was able to come in early before all the other guys, so I think it’s because he is a good guy, a great leader, and easy to follow.

Q: There is a lot of talk about interceptions he’s thrown earlier in the week, how has his mentality changed throughout the week?

A: I think it’s pretty cool when a guy like that maybe doesn’t perform well, he is really hard on himself, so it is cool to see a guy like that come out and just prove himself like he did tonight on the football field during a game. Everybody criticizes every play, especially when you’re a first rounder. It’s pretty cool to see a guy who works hard every day and then shows it on the field.