Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: Would you talk about how you can get Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in the offense?
A: You want to get all of your guys involved. You look back to two weeks ago, Atlanta was very concerned and aware of Cordarrelle and they were concentrating on him a great deal and Jarius (Wright) had his best day. Obviously, Teddy (Bridgewater) had a great day. To me, those things come around. There's things that we've got in every week for Cordarrelle and we're anxious to get him more involved. We'll keep trying to.
Q: Can you use Cordarrelle Patterson more in the run game?
A: Yeah, there's things we have in. Obviously, after the first game, he got a lot of attention when we started moving him back into the backfield. People really got wide. The runs that he had on them were perimeter runs. Like I said, those things tend to come back around.
Q: Are there adjustments a young player has to make when the defensive focus shifts to them?
A: Like I said, I'll go back to the Atlanta game. He made a big play in the drive when we were down by one. He got single coverage and he beat the corner and he caught a 25-yard ball, got us down in the redzone. I think you just have to take advantage of the opportunities that you have when you get singled-up or when the play develops and comes to you.
Q: What has Cordarrelle's attitude been like?
A: He's been working hard. He's working hard. Obviously, he got banged-up a little bit in the Green Bay game. I think he's working hard. Again, I understand everyone's preoccupation with that. We're getting ready for Detroit and we're looking at ways we can get our guys involved and we can move the ball. They're the #1 defense in the league in a number of categories. We just saw Green Bay, and they (Lions) held Green Bay to one touchdown and they played awfully well, they shut down (Aaron) Rodgers and did awfully well against them. Our starting point is Detroit, and then obviously, how do we get everyone involved in the offense.
Q: When you look at the Lions tape, what has changed defensively with them this season?
A: They've always been very talented, very physical on defense. I think with the changes, their front is playing extremely well. They're doing some different things in the secondary. I think to pressure more and to really play tighter coverage on your receivers and a number of different styles of coverages, so I think it's helped them.
Q: Coach Zimmer said he saw progress with Cordarrelle Patterson against the Packers, did you see any differences?
A: The thing that Coach is looking at is the depth of his routes. The way he ran. There's times you get open and the ball doesn't come to you, no one sees that, we do. There were some times we had a lot of pressure in that game, the ball didn't come out the way we would like it to, or didn't have an opportunity to get it out. I think just what Coach is talking about, the way he approached it, the work and the way he ran his routes.
Q: What does Teddy Bridgewater's athleticism do against a strong front-four like the Lions have?
A: We don't want to spend a lot of time having him move, but it is an added deal for him and he showed it in the game he played. He showed it in the preseason. He's got outstanding feet. If they lose contain, if they're not disciplined in the rush, he's capable of getting on the edge. The touchdown run where he got outside. I think you do when you show those type of plays on tape, you do get the attention of the defensive line and they're a little more aware of containing you and it might help you in terms of your protection.
Q: How good is Teddy Bridgewater at throwing the ball on the run?
A: He's been outstanding. He's been outstanding. He's a young player that, it's going to be fun to watch him play every time he goes out because you learn more about him. Defenses are going to do things differently. We're going to see some things different than we did from Atlanta. They have a full tape on him, on the things we did. There's things they will do to try to counter what we did in terms of the running game and the style of run we had. Obviously, they're an outstanding defense and it'll be a real challenge for our offense.
Q: What was Teddy Bridgewater able to physcially do in practice yesterday?
A: I look at it, if we didn't know he twisted his ankle in the Atlanta game, you would out here, you wouldn't know that he's missed (time).
Q: What does Jarius Wright bring to this offense with the attention that Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings receive from defenses?
A: He's obviously got outstanding speed, he's shown that. He can win a one-on-one matchup against man. Again, if someone else is being singled or they put their best DB on someone else, that matchup gets better. He's proven he can win that matchup.
Q: How hard is reading defensive disguises for a quarterback going into his second NFL game?
A: He works so hard at it and like I said a long time ago, the stuff we did in training camp, I don't know if you're going to see more difficult looks than what we saw against our defense. There's a back-log of experience from that. It's different than games, obviously, every time you go play they're going to have a new wrinkle for you, they're going to have something for us that is directed towards Teddy. We have to adjust to it.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: What is the importance of having Harrison Smith in your defensive backfield?
A: Harrison's a true professional, he comes to work every day, does a good job of communication with us, defensively. He makes plays for us in the game. He transfers from the practice field to the game. He's been pretty consistent for us all year. That's what he brings to the table for us.
Q: If Harrison Smith is unable to play Sunday, who takes over his role?
A: Right now, we've been working some guys back there. (Andrew) Sendejo has been working back there at safety, (Antone) Exum (Jr.) has been working at safety. It's the next man up mentality. We go onto the next guy and we move from there.
Q: What is your level of confidence that Smith will be able to play Sunday?
A: He did some things yesterday, and he'll come back today, he'll do some more things. We'll just keep evaluating it as the week goes through.
Q: How much progress has Antone Exum Jr. made since he has joined the team?
A: He's done a good job for us this year on special teams. He hasn't really had a lot of reps defensively for us. We're pleased with where he is at right now. It's just a matter, he doesn't have a lot of game experience just because we haven't been able to get him in the games. He's done a great job for what we've asked him to do on special teams. I know Coach Priefer really likes the production that he's had one special teams. From that aspect of it, he's still learning, growing as a player.
Q: How would you evaluate what went wrong on Thursday?
A: There were a lot of things. A lot of fundamental and technique breakdowns as far as tackling, as far as leverages, as far as our eyes, as we went back through it and got a chance to evaluate, not only the game, but what we've done throughout the season. That's one of the things we talked about. We've got to get back to the fundamentals and concentrate and focus on what it is that we need to get done, as much as anything.
Q: Any idea on what you need to fix, especially in the run game?
A: I think it's a combination of things. If it was just one thing, we'd just cut it out. It's a combination of things from play-to-play. That's the thing we try to impress upon our players this week, we want to get back to doing the things fundamentally and technique-wise that we were doing before. To get back to those things and go out play at a high level with a lot of energy. We should improve from there.
Q: Do you feel this week's game is a good opportunity to get back on track?
A: I think we had a chance to sit down and evaluate ourselves and evaluate our players and see the things we were doing good, things we weren't doing good and get back to a lot of the fundamental and technical things. We've been able to, with the extra day, work those things. Hopefully, it will show up on Sunday.
Q: Is Detroit a good matchup to show you've made progress in that area?
A: Again, when we look at it, it's been more about what it is that we're doing, as opposed to our opponent from week-to-week. Granted, each team has a different set of problems, but from our aspect of things, we want to concentrate and focus on what it is that we are going out to actually get accomplished.
Q: How much more difficult is it to game plan without knowing Calvin Johnson's status?
A: We're going to prepare just as if he's going to play. Again, our focus is on what we're going to do. Gameplan-wise, yeah, it changes some things, but from that aspect of things, we're trying to focus on the technique and fundamentals of what we're trying to get accomplished by call and those kind of things to help our defense improve.
Q: Coach Zimmer said he was expecting Anthony Barr one day to be one of the better, better linebackers in the NFL, how good do you think he can be in the NFL?
A: I'll tell you, I've coached linebackers a long time in this league. He has as much potential to do that, especially coming out here with the production that he's had as a rookie. From that aspect of it, he's ahead of the curve and with his professionalism, to be able to have that at such a young age, pay attention to details, being able to do it on the practice field, do it in the game. From that aspect of it, it's just a matter of him continuing to get experience and keep working and keep getting the production that he has. I think all of those things will come with the flow as it keeps going down the road
Q: Does he have more potential than you have ever seen out of a rookie linebacker?
A: He's as good as a rookie that we've had, I've had, I should say. He's as good of a rookie as I've had in the past at the linebacker position.
Q: Who would be the next linebacker on your list?
A: I don't know. I've coached a lot of guys over the years. Like I said, each one of them has been a little bit different. He's probably as high of a draft pick as I've had at linebacker, so that says a lot, too.
Q: Are you surprised at the instincts that he has?
A: For a guy that played running back for his first two years of college, played linebacker for two years of college, now all of the sudden he comes to the NFL, it's his 3rd year of playing linebacker, I'm really impressed with the production and the things that he's able to accomplish at the position. He gets the most out of his ability every day, that's what we try to get everybody to do. He comes out and pays attention to the detail. He can pick up things that we are trying to get accomplished. He's a good match in coverage, he's a good pass rusher. From that aspect of it, him paying attention to the details of all of the things we're asking him to do. To wear as many hats as he does as a rookie, from that aspect of it, yeah, I'm pretty impressed with him.
Q: What can he do now that he couldn't do earlier in the season?
A: It's more of him being more comfortable with what it is we are asking him to do. As far as, keys, alignment, reads, all of those type of deals. Now, when the ball turns over, he's not having to think quite as much. From that aspect of it, I think he's a lot more comfortable and his athleticism can come into play more.
Q: Do you continue to game plan for Calvin Johnson and even Reggie Bush with their injury status?
A: For us, again, we're preparing as if both of those guys are going to play. Then as we go in the game, certain calls that we may run, may not run, if they're in there or not in there. From that aspect of it, we're kind of taking that approach to it. We're really concentrating on what it is that we're trying to get accomplished to what they're doing schematically. And then if they play, they play. If they don't, they don't.
Q: What has Golden Tate brought to the Lions offense?
A: He's had a good year for them so far. His run after the catch has been incredible. He's one of those guys that you've got to keep good leverage on in the coverage. Once he catches the ball you have got to have guys rallying to him to get him on the ground. Within their offensive scheme, they've done a good job of finding ways to get him the football, whether it's on screens or coming out of the backfield or whatever it is. He's a pretty big part of what they do offensively.
Q: What has made the Lions vulnerable to giving up sacks this season?
A: I don't know if it's the new system. You have got to look at it from week-to-week, the matchups and those kind of things. From that aspect of it, I think, it's a new system, guys are getting acclimated to it. I don't want to say it's one particular thing.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Obviously excited about a divisional matchup at home, hopefully we'll have a great afternoon for football and looking forward to getting back in the winning ways.
Q: The Detroit Lions brought in Matt Prater this week. Just in your experience can kickers get up to speed pretty quickly? Or are problems created with the comfortability with long snappers and holders?
A: It is always a process but I think it's much easier for a kicker than it would be a punter or a returner for any other player for that matter. When I was in Denver, Matt got hurt when I was coaching him and we actually brought in Steven Hauschka and signed him on a Saturday and he played on Sunday. He missed his first field goal and then after that he did a really good job. There is kind of a learning curve a little bit but it's much easier for a kicker than it would be for any other position.
Q: Are you going to try and exploit that?
A: Mess with him in pregame because I know Matt pretty well. No, I'm just kidding. Matt's a good guy, he's a fine young kicker. I think Detroit got a good one unfortunately for us.
Q: Did you change up the punt return a little bit?
A: No, we try to study, like any other coach, we're going to study the opponent and see what we think can work against them. This past game, I thought Tim Masthay had the best game I've ever seen him have. He had a phenomenal game and he really hurt us field position wise and we lost that part of the field position battle so I was disappointed. Obviously you can't do anything about how well he punted but I thought we should have had a few more yards out there. Hopefully this week we'll get back into where we were against Atlanta and setting up scores and doing some better things that way.
*Q: How is Jabari Price doing on special teams? *
A: Jabari is doing a nice job. It's important to him, he plays hard, he studies, he asks good questions, he practices hard. He had the unfortunate penalty on the kickoff return that negated a huge kickoff return. It was 14-0 and we responded with a 58, 56 whatever it was kickoff return to cross the 50, their 45, and we have a chance to put our offense in great field position. The next thing you know we are back on the 13. It cost us a ton of field position. I tell the guys all the time, return penalties kill you. Really he didn't have to do it, he didn't have to hold him for that to be a good return.
Q: Is Cordarrelle getting the same opportunities on kick returns that he had been?
A: Yeah, just what I was talking about. We had a great return against Green Bay that was called back and it shouldn't have been. When he had the little hip pointer deal going on we put Marcus [Sherels] in there and he had a 46, I think, 46-yard return out to the 38, which was good field position for our offense and it was 42-0 and whatever it is but we did go down and score. I think the two returns we had against Atlanta, the punt return and kickoff return, were huge. It helped us get 10 points there. The kickoff return last week against Green Bay helped set up a score. Those are the things that I keep preaching to our guys that if we play penalty-free football, play with great fundamentals, we've got a chance to help our football team every time we put our return game out there.
Q: What have you seen from Antone Exum, Jr. in what he's been able to do?
A: Yeah, another young player, very much like Jabari. They study, they ask good questions, they practice hard, they are playing hard, making some rookie mistakes like they all do and those are growing pains that I expected but the good thing is that he has a great attitude. Both of those young men are very intelligent like a lot of our young guys and guys that are veterans, too. We have smart guys that play good, disciplined, smart football. We just have to eliminate the penalties as we go forward.
Q: Is it difficult to get players to play hard on special teams when the score gets out of hand like it did?
A: The great thing about special teams players is they are backups for the most part. They know they have to perform no matter what the score is and that's what I preach to them and that's a good question. I was on the sideline, it was 42-10 and I told our guys, "We're going to play Green Bay again and what we don't want to do is just lay down and die here," because it's a pride thing. It's a part of the process of being a good football player and a good football team that you're going to go through adversity and it's how you respond to adversity that determines what kind of football player and what kind of man you are. That's what I was preaching to them on the sidelines to the best I could. I was talking to myself just as much as I was talking to them because it was tough. It was tough but we're going to bounce back, we're going to play hard this week and our plan is obviously to go get a win.
Q: There isn't a team in the NFL this season that has faced as much adversity as you guys have. Is it surprising that you guys have a chance to be .500 after six weeks?
A: We've had a tough schedule, it's been a challenge, our head coach has set the tone from the beginning. We're going to be a tough, disciplined football team. We're going to play hard and that's what we need to do week in and week out and when we do that I think we give ourselves a good chance to win.
*Q: How did you figure out how to use Exum and Price given their strengths on special teams? *
A: Well a lot of it started in the spring kind of feeling out who they are athletically, who they are with their personality and how bad they want it. A lot of special teams is "want to" like we've talked about before. The preseason helped a lot moving them around in different spots and I'm excited about where they are and where a lot of young guys are. Scott Crichton, we haven't really used him yet, but I can't wait to use him more. He's getting better every week because we are using him on show teams. He's a backup on punt, we're getting him reps in the spots he'd be playing in on Sundays. There are a lot of rookie and second and third year players that are continuing to develop – even the guys on the practice squad, it's fun to get to know them and see how they compete and the kind of quality football players that they are. As we go down the road, we'll see how they can help us.
Q: How do you approach rookies and how you try to use them on special teams?
A: Well same thing, we coach them on our techniques, we coach up, obviously, the schemes. We tell them what we expect and if we get what we want on tape then we are going in the right direction. If we don't, we are going elsewhere and I think they know that. I lay down the line as soon as they get here – most young players are going to make the team or not make the team based on their performance based on special teams unless you're a starter on offense or defense. That kind of holds true every year. As long as I'm coaching special teams, that's going to be my philosophy. Fortunately that's our philosophy from our head coach and general manager. Our organization knows that we need to play quality special teams to help our football team win games. The more I'm using these guys the more I find out about them.
Q: How much transfers from special teams to offense or defense for those guys?
A: Yeah, I think the coaches are going to find out – the defensive and offensive coaches – a lot about guys in how they perform on special teams and what their attitude is like. They will ask me how he's been in meetings, how he's been in practices because they're not going to watch that tape obviously. They'll see the games and how they perform in games. I think it's a great preparation for young guys because when they do have the opportunity to play more offense and defense their eyes aren't really huge anymore, they've already had maybe 15 or 20 punt or punt return reps in the first three or four games under their belt so they don't get as nervous, especially the young players. The guys that have been around before obviously it's a little different but the young players kind of get accustomed to the NFL by playing special teams first and when they're ready, they're ready.
Q: How much does it change the flow of the game when you aren't scoring as much and so Blair Walsh can't give you those touchbacks on kickoffs?
A: Obviously you have to score in order to kickoff but we could have helped a lot more the other night. Right from the get go we kicked the touchback, we get a three-and-out, our defense does a great job against their great offense and the kid booms the ball and we don't catch it and it hits and roll and they get a 58-yard net and not only did it help their field position but it really got their crowd back into it. We shut their crowd down in three plays with our defense and then we go out there and let the ball hit the ground and that's very unlike Marcus and he knows the mistake he made and to be quite honest that was kind of the field position battle for the first two quarters to be quite honest with you. We need to do a better job with that – we've got to flip the field. Since I've been here, we've been the team that usually does that and wins the field position battle so we've got to get back to doing that this weekend.