Vikings Quotes - Musgrave and Priefer - August 3

Posted Aug 3, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave

I thought it was a good practice, out there quite awhile. It sounds like someone fell out in Philly today and we are glad to get off of the field healthy and get these guys back in football shape. It’s definitely an ongoing process.

Q: How is the process going just trying to install all of this stuff so quickly?

A: It’s unchartered territory. We’ve never been through anything like this whether as a coach or a player so we’ve tried to be smart and whittle down the volume we present to the players. We want to be difficult and diverse to defend on offense but at the same time we want to know what we’re doing. We also want to get these guys back in football shape and not just work hard mindlessly. We want to work smart. We’re bouncing all of those factors with our eye on September 11 down in San Diego. Fortunately we do have the month of August and we’ve planned as such I believe.

Q: You came here thinking Bryant McKinnie was your left tackle. How tough is that decision from your end to cut this guy and how confident are you going forward with Charlie Johnson that he can assume a pivotal role in your offense?

A: One of the things that we do in this game and in probably many facets of life is adapt and adjust. We’re always ready to adapt and adjust with whatever comes our way and with Bryant moving on, we’re ready to adapt with Charlie or whomever else is on the squad. We’re looking forward to working with a number of guys starting tomorrow that haven’t been allowed to be on the field as of yet.

Q: You had mentioned before that a veteran would probably help with the lockout. Does that help when you are trying to install with not as much time?

A: Yes, the veterans at all positions definitely help with this limited time of preparation. To be able to acquire a player like Donovan (McNabb) with the number of years of experience that he has at the position is rare, so we feel very fortunate he’s on the Vikings and we’re looking forward to what he brings to the table.

Q: You played behind John Elway and Elway has compared himself to Donovan McNabb. There are probably some transitional skills between McNabb and Ponder. Do you see that link between those guys?

A: Yeah I do. I never heard John say that but it sure makes sense. I’ve talked to Donovan about that. Not just because of their styles and a little bit with their ages. Donovan is entering into his mid-thirties and at times, quarterbacks really start to apply the lessons learned right when they approach their mid-thirties and things like that. It happened with Steve Young in mid to late nineties. It happened with John Elway. We know it happened with Rich Gannon but you take your lumps early on in your career and then you still have your legs underneath of you, you can still make plays in your late-twenties and early-thirties and then as you get to your mid-thirties you start to apply all of those lessons and play a little bit differently but sometimes the end result is must better than you ever anticipated.

Q: With does your relationship have to be like with a Donovan McNabb?

A: We have to have good communication. We’ve got to have respect. Donovan has a lot of experience and I told him from the get-go that we have a system that we intend to teach to him, the quarterbacks, and all of the players but it’s really his system. It’s Donovan’s system so if something happens here in the month of August he would like to tweak, maybe call something differently in the huddle or line of scrimmage, teach differently, he should definitely come and talk to us about it because we’re open minded to it. We like to tailor-make or customize our system to fit our players so it’s not a system where we’re going to sit here and say Donovan didn’t fit or another player didn’t fit into our system. We’re going to customize it to really play to their strengths and I think you do that not only with the veteran guys but also with the young guys whether it be Christian (Ponder) or Donovan. We want to identify their traits that can help us win and then play to their strengths.

Q: How about Kyle Rudolph? How does he look to you?

A: He looks good. We’ve been out here two days. He’s good looking on the hoof. He’s big. He can get out of his breaks. He appears to have good hands. We’ll get the pads on tomorrow and of course as we go through camp and the preseason games we’ll learn more about his strengths and his limitations and we’ll try to put him in position to be successful.

Q: Do you think Joe Webb is going to be a guy who can help you at positions other than quarterback?

A: I’ve heard a lot about Joe and I’m looking forward to seeing what he has got under the hood. He is doing a nice job at quarterback now. We want him to focus on quarterback and not dilute his pot too much but we know he can run, we know he can throw it 80 yards and we know he can make people miss. The new rules will enable us to kind of have a Joe Webb-package that I can see in the future too where we can have 46 guys dress and when that third quarterback goes in he doesn’t make the other two birds ineligible so we’re looking forward to finding out what Joe is all about. If he proves to be one of our eleven best players at times then we’ll get him on the field.

Q: When you look at your receiving core, especially Percy Harvin, he is not the big, prototypical number one guy. Do you see a guy you see who can be a go-to guy in this offense?

A: I think we do, but again that would mean we would need to tailor our offense around his strengths. He is not a big 6’1”, 6’2”, or 6’”4 Randy Moss type that’s going to win outside versus a corner all day long. We’re going to do a good job with Percy by moving him around, making defenses have a tough time identifying what his role is on that specific concept and then simply get the ball in his hands whether it be throwing it forward to him, handing it to him, tossing it backwards to him, putting him behind quarterback where he can receive the snap initially so we know it’s going to get in his hands. The key is getting him his touches to let him do his thing.

Q: When you saw that Michael Jenkins was released by Atlanta, how fast did you run down to Rick Spielman’s office and tell him to get the guy?

A: I think both George Stewart and I are excited about the prospect of acquiring Mike Jenkins. He’s a solid player. He’s accountable. You get his best every day. He has his strengths and limitations like all of us in every facet of life. We’re excited because he knows our system a little bit better than everybody else because he’s had more time on task over the last three years.

Q: Is it fair to call him a possession receiver?

A: Most possession guys are good at catching. We definitely want our receivers to be able to catch so he fulfills that role. He can stretch the field too because he is fast at the top end. He’s a 6’5” guy so he’s not going to be able to get in and out of breaks like a Percy Harvin or Steve Smith like those types of guys, little (Santana) Moss with the Redskins. Those guys are quick, of course DeSean Jackson but Mike has his strengths and he’ll be smart. He’ll be able to play all of our wide receiver spots and fill in and adapt and adjust if something happens that’s unforeseen.

Q: Can Michael Jenkins be the deep vertical threat that you need downfield?

A: He does. He’s fast at the top end. He has the size to go up and get it. Both of those guys, even though they are getting a little bit long in the tooth between him and Bernard Berrian, we feel like that will be part of their role is to be able to stretch the field and give us a chance to throw the ball down the field and achieve some chunks.

Q: What are your thoughts on Bernard Berrian? What are your thoughts on what he can do and what can you do to get him back on track?

A: We went back and looked at a bunch of film when he had those 790 or 800 yards and averaged nearly 20 yards a catch three years ago and again, we want to know what Bernard excels at and then we want to make sure we put him in those positions so he can do what he’s comfortable with and has confidence in and also that fits in our system. We expect him to be our split-end. He’s sharp too. He could fill in at the flanker spot or the slot but we expect him to start at the split-end and really be our intermediate to deep route runner when we want to do all of our play-action’s.

Q: Are your outside receivers pretty much interchangeable to a certain degree?

A: No, I think they’re specific. The split-end is distinctively different than the flanker, so we’ll start out with Percy (Harvin) playing the flanker. We can always mix and match those guys for certain concepts but we’re looking for the guys to be able to do different jobs in those two different spots.

Q: With Joe Webb being the top athlete that he is, has it changed this year that you can designate him as an emergency third quarterback or maybe a wide receiver? And how do you feel about having depth at the quarterback position?

A: Well we feel good. We like having a guy like Joe Webb who will be able to dress for the games, and we can put him in at any time without making anyone else ineligible. We’re looking forward to finding out about Joe’s capabilities and if they prove to be worthwhile then we will create some packages for him.

Q: With Donovan being out the first three days, and not being able to practice with you guys, is that a big deal or can he learn as much from watching the practice and communicating with you when he sees things, or does it hurt not having him out there?

A: On one hand it’s a good way for those guys to go through the break-in process and learn the language, learn through osmosis, get some mental reps. But really you don’t learn as much as you would if you were out there doing it. As a quarterback you really learn from your mistakes on the field in practice, and you don’t make mistakes while watching. We’re excited to have Donovan start tomorrow, it would have been great to have him out there the last three days, and try and make up for lost ground, but really all players need to get out there and butt their heads up against it.

Q: Coach with Adrian being gone for a few days you got a more extensive look at the other guys, can you talk about what you’ve seen from them so far?

A: It’s a good group of backs. James Saxon, our running backs coach is one of the best in the business, He does a great job with those guys. Our backs, not only are they ball-carriers but we put a lot of responsibility on them in terms of pass protection, and so they’ve done a good job the first couple days and it’s been fun to see those guys get more turns in practice with Adrian’s absence here in the short term.

Q: How do you approach the grooming process with Christian Ponder long-term? With a guy like McNabb who says he wants to play another five or six years, how do you juggle that balancing act?

A: Well there’s a balancing act, but we can do more than one thing at a time. That’s part of our jobs as coaches. We want to be the best team we can right now and prepare to win every single game with whomever we line up with, but we also want to develop our younger players for the future. Christian’s role will be just that initially as we start out. He’s done a good job the first couple days when he gets in there. We try to put him in some tough situations, it’s not all just easy hand-offs and easy completions, we want to make him strain and almost encourage the defense to cause some problems so he can make some mistakes and learn from them and grow as a player.

Q: Do you need a true fullback in your offense? Or is it fairly interchangeable in terms of using an H-back, and do you think you have one on the roster?

A: Well we’re finding that out. We’ve got some guys on the roster that have a lot of toughness and a lot of smarts, and that’s what we’re looking for initially. I think our system is flexible enough where if we had a full-back on the roster that proved to be one of our top 11 guys and we wanted him on the field for a certain number of plays we would definitely include those concepts in every game-plan, if not then we will have the chance to adapt and have either a tight end or wide receiver play that full-back position and ask him to do some various jobs and help our running game and our play-action.


Vikings Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer

Q: Is there a lot of work to catch up and install new schemes during practice with a shorter offseason?

A: The problem you have, and everyone around the League has the same problem obviously because of the time constraints, is that in the spring I don’t do a lot of scheme work. I do a ton of fundamental work, techniques, fundamentals, hand placement, foot placements, how to do the certain things we’re asking them to do physically. The mental part is not as important in the spring. Although we get through the rules, we get to certain situations, situational football which is very big for me and for coach [Leslie] Fraizer. So we don’t get that work. We lost a lot of that work, like everybody else in the League like I said. We have a lot of catching up to do. What I did Monday, yesterday, and today is--the phases of punt, kickoff return, and punt return, and then tomorrow will be kickoff--is I’ve really focused on mainly the techniques and fundamentals the very first time around, 20 minutes each. I have [Assistant Special Teams] Coach [Chris] White helping me and he does a great job, so we’re able to split up and to do different parts of it. Like yesterday with punt team it was the gunners. He had the gunners and I had the interior people. Today punt return I had the interior and he had the vice people, the corners and safeties. We’re able to do that to start, so I wanted to get that foundation and then move more on to the mental aspect and the scheme part of the phases.

Q: Are you noticing players being rusty on the fundamentals?

A: Usually if they’re not very good athletes they have trouble with a lot of drills because I think you have to be pretty athletic to do our stuff. But I think our personnel people and our head coach have done a great job with assembling a good group of players and I’m really excited about working with them because what I’ve seen working with them in the last three days is better than I thought I would or better than I’m used to.

Q:Are you changing a lot of the schemes from what the players are used to from last season?

A:. Yeah, it’s more technique and…punt protection is different. Footwork is different. The hand placement is different. The calls are going to be a little bit different but my calls are fairly simple and I try to make the schemes as simple as possible early in the year so the guys don’t have to think about what they’re doing, [instead] they’re thinking about how they’re doing it. Or they’re not even thinking at all. I tell the guys, I tease them all the time, they come to the sidelines and say, ‘Prief, I thought,’ and I’ll stop them. We’re not allowed to think. Once the ball is snapped or kicked, we’re reacting. We’re not allowed to think. And they’re not paid to think. They’re paid to react. I think the thinking and all that sort of thing has to be done in practice and prior to the snap and prior to the kick. And once the ball is rolling, once that play starts, they’ve got to react. That’s my job, and [punter] Chris’s [Kluwe] job to make sure they’re reacting the way we want them to react.

Q: You’re giving the guys a crash course with so little time. What are some of the main points you want to get across right now?

A: What I’ve done the last three nights is, like I said about the different phases is, I’m big on PowerPoint and obviously huge on video. So right now we’re doing the PowerPoint stuff from my playbook, okay here’s how we line up, here’s what our alignments are, very simple from square one, stuff I would do back in OTAs and the minicamps. But I think it’s going to be a crash course. It’s going to be a one week, here’s how to do it, here’s how to get lined up, and after that I’m going to expect them to know that, expect them to react a little bit quicker than I normally would at this time of year because we haven’t had that foundation. But once we had that foundation set, I’m going to expect all of them to raise their level of play and raise their level of understanding of how we want them to do things fundamentally and with techniques.

Q: Will Percy Harvin be the kickoff returner or are you worried about it hurting his performance at wide receiver? Will you use running back Lorenzo Booker for kick returns?

A:.I’m used to that when I coached, we had the same thing we had a receiver who was our primary return that the head coaches said, ‘Hey he’s okay,’ or ‘Hey, he’s going to play a ton in this game and he’s the key guy for our offense who I can’t use him as much.’ I think that’s going to be a game-by-game type of deal. I would obviously love to have him as our primary returner, although Lorenzo Booker is a very good returner. We have some other young guys we’re going to try to work in here during the preseason. I’m excited about where we’re at. I’ve been at places where I didn’t have many options at all. Here we have several options, which is very exciting for me.

Q:Will you use wide receiver Jaymar Johnson for punt returns?

A:That’s a good question because the punt return job is wide open, and I told him in meeting him, I told him two of the last few practices that we’ve been out there pre-practice with the JUGS [machine] or with Chris [Kluwe] punting today, it’s a wide open job and four or five guys we’ll be using in the preseason to try to figure out who’s going to be the guy. And it’s not just catching punts. It’s being a courageous player, it’s being a smart player, when to make the right decisions and obviously, ultimately it’s ball security. That’s the number one thing for any of our returners and I tell all our returners, kickoff returners, punt returners, ‘When you have the ball in your hands, you’re the most important person in our organization,’ and I firmly believe that. When it’s in a game and you have the ball, there’s no one more important than you are. And it’s the guys around them to protect him, but when he’s got the ball in his hands, he’s got to protect it. That’s huge for us.

Q: How hard is it to evaluate and pick the right players with 90 players invited to Training Camp?

A: We watch, obviously we have the spring to evaluate many of the players, now we’re going back and where we’d watch practice maybe two or three times [in the spring], now we’re watching practice four or five times to make sure we’re evaluating the right guys. And [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Chris White, we’re in the office 10:30, 11:00 last night going through each of the depth charts one more time. It’s tedious and it’s time consuming, but it’s extremely important because not only am I getting it, because I haven’t been here, I’ve been here since January, but they haven’t been around with us. So I’m learning the whole team and we have to evaluate the whole team at the same time so it’s fun, I like the challenge. It’s not like flying helicopters in the Persian Gulf, but it is challenging.

Q: What is your idea of how the new kickoff rules will affect you?

A: I have an idea, but you never know until we start off. Kicking off from the 35 [yard line] and only having a five-yard start and we talked a little bit with some of you guys in the spring when you guys talked to me when Coach [Tony] Dungy was in town. It’s going to change a lot of what I did on kickoff because I was a looper, crosser, confuse the heck out of the kickoff return team; that’s what I was trying to get to. I think we can get to a little bit of that after the ball is kicked, but you don’t have that room because you only have that five-yard run up. It’s a little bit different deal. So I’m going to have to adjust probably more than the players.

Q:How much does it help to have an established kicking game with veterans with kicker Ryan Longwell, punter Chris Kluwe, and long snapper Cullen Loeffler?

A: This is the first time in my career where I’ve, the different teams I’ve been with, where I’ve walked into a situation where the kicker, the punter, and the snapper are the same guys, and they’re veteran guys and they’re really good at what they do, and the returners too. I’m very fortunate and I’ll just try not to mess them up.

Q: Was there a sigh of relief when kicker Ryan Longwell was re-signed?

A: Yes, maybe a sigh, maybe a couple of tears shed. No, I’m kidding. I’m very pleased to have Ryan back for obvious reasons.

Q: Are you an emotional guy [jokingly]?

A: I am an emotional guy. My wife will probably tell you that I cried [jokingly], but not this time. But I was very happy that Ryan’s [Longwell] back obviously.

Q: How does the kickoff rule changes affect the value of Ryan Longwell?

A: Even before the rule was changed, we had some ideas. And before the lockout, Ryan and I had talked. He is a guy that, like a lot of established kickers, veteran kickers, that they understand how to kick and where to kick and where to place the ball more than a younger guy does. Like I call a mortar kick to the 20-, 25-yard line, [Younger kickers] they’ll never go to their left, a right-footed kicker is scared to death of kicking it out of bounds. Ryan won’t have that fear because he’s done it so many times we can do so many things and I call it a bag of tricks. Ryan has a bag of tricks that he can use and utilize on kickoffs that will help our coverages. Now we can do some different things with our coverages to keep people off balance.

Q: How are you getting to know and what do you think of your players, specifically Ryan Longwell, Chris Kluwe and Cullen Loeffler?

A: The great thing is when I was with Kansas City, we got to come to Mankato three years in a row to scrimmage the Vikings and I love the atmosphere here and it’s always fun to come over here. And I got to know [punter] Chris [Kluwe], Ryan [Longwell], and Cullen [Loeffler] when they were together and we’d bring the Chiefs over. I’ve gotten to know them a little bit then. I’ve talked to them a couple of times before the lockout and we got to know each other this last week. He’s like a lot of specialists. They’re a different breed but the thing about all three of them, including [kicker] Nate Whitaker, our young kid from Stanford, is they’re all coachable. They’re all intelligent. Their craft is really important to them and they have a sense of urgency. And if you’ve got that with veteran guys, you’ve got a chance to be successful.

Q: What’s your relationship with punter Chris Kluwe?

A: His intelligence is through the roof. I mean I thought I was fairly smart, but not talking to him. He’s probably like a lot of other specialists. I should probably rephrase that, but you’re right. Chris is a great guy, as are the other three, and it’s going to be fun working with all of them.