Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: Do you feel like you have to get Cordarrelle Patterson more involved with how much Adrian Peterson's absence has affected the running game?
A: Yeah, we need to continue to find balance and when everyone talks run-pass, it's balance in terms of getting all of our guys involved. In my experience, when you're going good, they take someone away, they concentrate on someone, it gives someone else the opportunity. Cordarrelle is in a different situation than he was a year ago. Teams are matching with him and they are concentrating on him and we've got to continue to work to get ways to get him the ball but obviously get the ball spread around.
Q: What was New Orleans doing to take him away?
A: I don't know that you say take him away. I think they matched up with him with who they feel is their best corner so that tells you how they feel about him. They played a lot of man coverage, a lot of very aggressive man coverage. When you go through what we went through and you have a quarterback change and you're in a hostile area, you'd like to get Cordarrelle the ball. We're trying to get the ball and move it and we didn't move it as well as we wanted. We moved it and our concentration now has to be coming up with touchdowns. I thought we had two or three chances to throw touchdown passes and we didn't get them. We've got to find a way to get that done.
*Q: How do you see losing Kyle Rudolph impacting things? *
A: It's the same thing Coach [Mike Zimmer] has talked about since we've had these injuries. You have to have a mentality of we've got to find a guy to replace him. We're in that process and you go the tight end position, the running back position. We've obviously taken some hits and we're working hard to fill those voids.
*Q: Is Chase Ford healthy enough to contribute there? *
A: We're working Chase and we'll make a decision on where he's at at the end of the week. I think he's making progress, obviously MarQueis [Gray] has worked there for the last couple of weeks, he's a guy that's the same deal – making a transition from a position. He's making progress and you know Rhett [Ellison] is going to have to step up.
*Q: What does Chase bring when he is healthy? *
A: I'm not as familiar with Chase as you are probably because he hasn't had a lot of practice time but he has the potential to help us in the passing game.
Q: Where has MarQueis grown the most?
A: I think he's becoming more comfortable with playing the position. Obviously the biggest transition for any guy who goes from quarterback to playing a position on offense or defense is the physical part of the play – the blocking. Obviously the physical part of the play is so much different than playing quarterback.
*Q: Do you feel comfortable having him catch passes? *
A: Yeah, that's his strength and we're working to help him improve as a receiver and the way he runs routes and the things he does. He has outstanding hands and that's his strength.
Q: Teddy seemed to display a lot of patience on the long pass to Matt Asiata. Is that the case?
A: Well that's the thing that I think Teddy has – an outstanding maturity level. He went through a progression of three receivers and then he found the check down. New Orleans tries to add an extra blitzer and when they did we picked it up and Matt came open and those are bonus plays. We had a play very similar to that in the New England game I think and Matt Cassel got a little bit of pressure but Matt Asiata might have had a 50-yard play. It was still a 10-7 game at the time so those plays can make a big difference.
*Q: On third-and-6 in the red zone you called a quarterback draw. How nice is that as a play-caller to have that kind of ability? *
A: Yeah, it is. It's something that you've got to base it on who you're playing and they gave us an opportunity to run it and so we took it. It's a nice option. It's a nice option, I'll say that.
*Q: What might you change with a new starting quarterback? *
A: Did [Atlanta Falcons Defensive Coordinator] Mike Nolan ask you to ask me that? When you have a guy who is starting his first game ever in the National Football League you just have to make sure you're sound. We have to be sound, we have to be prepared for anything they might do. Obviously you've got all of the tape on them playing for as many games as they've played and their whole season last year, and we did a lot of work on them in the offseason on all of our early games, and then the unknown – how are they going to change? What are they going to do to affect the young quarterback? In my experience when you're inexperienced at that position you get some looks that you haven't seen before because it makes sense if you're on defense you're going to try to disrupt him. We have to be sound in what we do. Teddy does a great job, we just talked about it, of being patient and we've got to understand our situation in terms of we've got a new right guard in there, we've got a new tight end in there. We haven't had the consistency that we want and we've got a new quarterback in there. We've got to manage the game and I think Teddy will do a good job of doing that.
Q: Does it help with the way he handles blitzes and that they might not do that like they would a normal rookie?
A: Well it's not my experience, because defenses want to create negative plays and we've gotten some big plays, but teams have created plays. It starts, and I know all of you guys wonder, we want to score points, we want to go but we've got to start from the standpoint of we've got to eliminate negative plays and we've got to be sound and we can't give them opportunities to create a short field or those type of things.
Q: Do you give Teddy any specific advice or words of wisdom going into his first start?
A: Going through the reads, the progression and what we're trying to do in terms of the game plan. He's going to be prepared to play, he's going to know what we're asking him to do, he was last week, and then go out and play.
Q: You called a timeout when it looked like they overloaded on the right side. How do you combat moments where teams might start to target the right guard position with it being a new starter?
A: Well the timeout wasn't based on the front, I think the timeout was based on the play wasn't called right. I'd like to say that we're not going to have that problem but like I said, I've watched a lot of football like you guys on TV and when you see it happen to veteran quarterbacks, you see it happen to teams that are awfully good on offense you know occasionally that when you have a young guy it's going to happen. We have to work our way through those things.
Q: What do you have to do to get the run game going?
A: We have to be more consistent number one. We have to get ourselves in the best runs possible in terms of when they're giving you different looks and that was hard, that's hard when you're playing on the road in New Orleans with the situation that we were in. From a standpoint if we get some run going, we've got to be more patient from a play-calling standpoint and give our players more opportunities.
Q: What does Vladimir Ducasse bring?
A: He's a big, physical player and he's worked awfully hard since he's gotten here to get in there. I think he's improved a great deal in his pass protection. We know those guys are going to be challenged. Not only do you have a new guy in there but he's new working, he's new to our system, so he's new working with the right tackle, working with the center. That's the one thing in the offensive line, continuity is so critical and we just have to be prepared for the different looks they give us.
Q: How much do you miss the explosiveness that Adrian brings?
A: I'd like to think, and everyone would like to think, the scheme but you just look at the first game of the season and I think we had six runs over 15 yards. You guys asked me after the preseason if I was excited to have Adrian back and how do I think he'd contribute and obviously you know he's one of the best backs to play. That being said, Coach has made it clear. You've got to go play with the guys you have and we've got to find a way to create that. Now we've created it and Matt's had two passes over 25 yards. We're not going to live on that but those plays where the ball is being thrown behind the line of scrimmage and ran for 40 yards is an explosive play. Maybe some of those things will help us down the road but we need to get consistency in the run game if we're not going to get the big plays.
Q: What's been the biggest thing missing in the running game?
A: When you're not running the ball number one it's probably we're not getting enough runs and some of that has to do with the games. In the New Orleans game we had seven possession, we had eight but one was the end of the half and we took a knee. We had four in the first half and three in the first half. You're in a game where you'd like to be patient but you're in a game where you're not going to get very many attempts so sometimes you don't get the chance to run the ball as much as you'd like. We've just got to adjust to the game and play the way it comes up. The most important thing for us is consistency in the run and you break it down each different run and one times it's the back, one time it's the guard, one time it's the tackle and obviously it's not going to be perfect but when we get some run going I've got to be more patient with it.
Q: Is David Yankey ready to maybe step in with Brandon Fusco out?
A: He's working hard to continue to get ready. At some point he's going to need to be ready, yeah.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: Anthony Barr mentioned that he thinks he's not playing well enough, do you think he's a perfectionist?
A: No doubt about it. I think he is, I think he knows there's a lot of things coming in and out of games that he can get better at and it's going to come with experience. Just the recognition of things and his reaction to them quicker, I think those things will continue to go. That's our human nature, we look at the things that we did wrong and try to go out and improve them from day-to-day. That's what we're trying and it's a good trait to have. He's in here working every day to correct those mistakes from the game and just to keep working on his craft and his toolbox of different things we're asking him to do.
Q: If Chad Greenway can't play will Anthony Barr wear the helmet communication system?
A: He did it last week when Chad went out. We've worked a couple of guys, we always work a couple of guys throughout the whole offseason, throughout training camp. It's not that big of a deal, we have worked a lot different guys with the "dot" in there. He's one guy whoever's really in the most packages is the guy that we try to keep in the helmet. From that aspect of it, when Chad went down the other day, he was the guy that was in every package so he was up in it. He's working it in practice, everything still ran pretty smoothly.
Q: What clicked with your alignments after the first couple of drives in New Orleans?
A: I think when you look at New Orleans, when they come out offensively, that's one thing that they've done traditionally, is started fast. It just seemed like initially there early, we were a little rattled, didn't handle our assignments and alignments as well as we liked to. Once guys realized what it was they were doing, we settled down and we ended up playing. It's going to be like that again this week because we're playing another offense that really gets off to a fast start, usually. There is a lot of movement starting out in the first 15 plays. They do a good job. From that aspect of it, with those guys, we've got to get lined up, be able to recognize what it is they're trying to do to us, recognize what our assignment and alignment is and go out and execute. That's what it boils down to at the end of the day, is going out and executing and not getting caught in a situation where you are trying to do too much.
Q: Do you remind guys that you don't want to start off in a 13-0 deficit?
A: That's the biggest thing, is we want to go out and we want to start fast. That's the thing we want to do. We know these up-tempo offenses that's what they're doing, they're coming in, we've got to start fast. We can't get out there and all of the sudden you panic. Let's get lined up, let's handle our assignments, let's go make tackles. It's still going to come down to the fundamentals of the game. You get into position to make the play. We have got to play fundamental football, get off our block and make a tackle.
Q: What did you think of Gerald Hodges on Sunday?
A: I thought he did some good things. The number of reps that he had in there, he made some plays. He's been a work in progress and the thing that we keep expressing upon him, if he'll come in, work every day, he will see those things keep getting better and better because he's gaining more experience at it. He's learning the fundamentals and techniques of it and he's going out and he's executing them. From that aspect of it, we just got to stay on him, keep our thumb on him. Keep him progressing each day. He's had a good week of practice, he had a good week of practice last week and it translated over into the game when he got the reps in the game. That's the thing, practice the way that you're going to go out and play on Sunday, that way when you're out there playing on Sunday it's not a surprise.
Q: What's the biggest thing that Gerald Hodges has to come along with?
A: With most linebackers that haven't played a lot, it's just the experience of position, anticipating what's going to happen. Number one, the familiarity with what we're doing defensively, but then what offenses are trying to do to him. A lot of times when you're younger, especially at linebacker, you're so concerned about what it is you have to do that you don't realize what an offense is trying to do to us. From that aspect of it, I think all of that coming together is really helping him to react a lot faster.
Q: What does Devin Hester give them offensively?
A: He's an explosive player, always has been. He's made some big plays for them, especially in the last ball game, working him in the slot, running him on reverses. As a receiver, he's done an outstanding job for them as a receiver and they're talking about increasing his role. From that aspect of it, we've got to know where he's at and know what we're doing coverage-wise and what to anticipate as far as formationally where he's lined up, those kind of things. They're an explosive offensive football team, they've got a good quarterback, a good running game. From that aspect of it, you can say the same thing we said last week, this is another explosive offense. They've got a good quarterback that gets rid of the ball and we've got to go out and do a good job fundamentally and technique-wise of what we're asking of them to do.
Q: How would more disciplined do you need to be as a defense against a guy like Hester?
A: We talked discipline. All of our defenses are set mechanism-wise. Who has got the reverse and all of those types of things. Whether we're playing an option team, playing guys that run reverses those kind of things. We're set that way. The biggest thing going into this game is we have to emphasize it a little bit more. From that aspect of it, we've just got to get them to understand what it is they're trying to do us and emphasize it in the calls that we have. Just go out and execute when we do get those plays. We get into position to make those plays we have to make them.
Q: How would you evaluate Everson Griffen since you have been here?
A: Every that he has done in the offseason, through the preseason and these first three ball games, the one thing I like about Everson is that he's been consistent. That's the thing that we're preaching to all of our guys and Everson is a good example of it. He comes in, he goes to work and it's showing up on Sunday. He's been a consistent football player for us. I know he doesn't have the number of sacks that he wants, but it's not about that. It's about coming in here, getting better. It's going to help the whole defense as a whole as we keep progressing down the road and those things will come to you. From that aspect of it, that's the one thing we like about him, is his work ethic and it shows up on Sunday the work that he puts in during the week and he's able to go out and execute what it is we're trying to get executed on Sundays.
Q: Have you communicated to the defensive line that sometimes Coach Zimmer's defenses don't emphasize sacks from the front-four?
A: We really don't sit around talk about personal goals. We're more concerned about the group as a whole and being successful as a whole. We don't individualize and say, "Okay, this position we need to get this." Good pass rush and good coverage go together. We've always said that. You're not going to have one without the other. Sometimes you'll get a coverage sack, sometime they'll sack before we can get the leverage in the coverage. From that aspect of it, we just talk about working together schematically and what we're trying to get accomplished from week-to-week.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Great task, great challenge ahead of us this weekend with the best returner that's ever played this game, in my opinion a future Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he hasn't skipped a beat. Watching him on tape, he still has the great vision, the great explosion, the great speed. He's still kickoff return and punt return this year, unfortunately again, like he's been in the past. We have a great challenge and our work cut out for us.
Q: Do you view it as almost a revival of Devin Hester?
A: He still played well against us last year that first game we had at Chicago. He was the only one on the field that didn't slip on the slippery field, the only one. He had a great game against us. Every time we go against him, he's a huge challenge and it might be a revival for him, but it's still the same challenge for us. He's just a great player.
Q: Has Cordarrelle Patterson had opportunities to break stuff or what have you seen there with how close he is getting to having big returns?
A: We had one last week on the counter. We ran a counter-left to open up the second half and he was one block away and I think the kicker may have had a chance to make the play around midfield. But their safety, turned out to be the front-side safety, the left side on our left side made a really nice play. Antone Exum (Jr.) had a nice block on him he just made a nice diving tackle. If he gets by him, he might score. It was a good return, a well blocked play other than that. With the high, deep kicks we are facing, we've faced so far this year it's been a little bit slow in coming. Hopefully, as the weather cools a little bit and it gets a little bit windier, we will have some more opportunities.
Q: Is it hard for Cordarrelle Patterson to stay patient because of his success a season ago?
A: I think for any young player that has had the kind of success that he's had in the return game, sure. But that's my job to make sure that he is patient and he's not making decisions that are going to hurt the team. He's going to take a knee when he needed to take a knee and take them out when he should take them out.
Q: Is that the first time he's faced that high, deep kick?
A: Yeah, the Patriots drove them out of the endzone. The first game, (Greg) Zuerlein kicked a few out of the endzone, so these were higher and a little bit shorter. We thought we had an opportunity then just had the one good return, a little frustraiting from me because they covered it well. They had a good scheme, we reacted well to the scheme and had a nice counter play, like I said, that could have popped. It was the 35-yard line, it helped us set up a field goal.
Q: What do you say to Jeff Locke about kicking it to Devin Hester?
A: I thought Jeff had his best game of the year. He kicked well against St. Louis, struggled a little bit against New England, did a really nice job last weekend. I told him just to build on his success and keep them high and short near the sideline or even out of bounds, I'll take it against Devin.
Q: Do you think he struggled against New England being outside?
A: I wasn't there, but I don't think it was that windy against New England. None of us can use that as an excuse, especially right now. I don't know if you guys saw yesterday, he kicked in the pouring rain. We had a 15 minute rain shower, 10 minutes of which was the entire punt period. I think the good Lord is just trying to get us ready for the game or for the rest of the year for any bad weather we may have. He's got some confidence right now, as he should. I'm looking for some good things from him on Sunday.