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Coordinators Address The Media on Thursday

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner

Q: How much of Cordarrelle Patterson's lack of involvement is on him?

A: When you talk about it obviously we're not getting done the things we want to get done offensively. It's not ever on a guy, right now it's on our entire group and when I speak to the entire group it's coaching, it's every player getting better and that's our emphasis. Obviously, we looked hard at everything that happened to us last week and now obviously we're getting ready for a team that's very similar to Detroit in terms of their defensive front, their pressure schemes. We've just got to shore some things up. We've got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback and when we talk about the protection with the quarterback I know the emphasis, in terms of the conversations, have been the offensive line but it's everyone involved in terms of what we're doing, how we're doing and then getting the ball out on time, backs being exact in protection and then everyone taking care of their assignment, taking care of their guy.

Q: Should we anticipate keeping another guy in for protection?

A: Well again everyone has been talking about how we've gotten pressure and not got gotten pressure. A lot has to do with who you're playing and what they're doing and they force you to keep a guy in, sometimes it gives them an extra guy in coverage. I think that we've looked hard at the pressures we had and we believe we can fix them and the schemes are equipped to fix them. Certainly there are times when you want to keep a guy and certainly there are times you want to get everyone out.

Q: You've gone four games without a passing touchdown?

A: Sometimes that's deceiving. We've missed three or four opportunities for passing touchdowns; I think we missed three opportunities in the Atlanta game. You've got to get them when you have them. I wouldn't say I remember having gone that many times without a passing touchdown, no.     

Q: Do you need to quicken Teddy Bridgewater's release?

A: His release is not the issue. Unfortunately we put together a nice drive and unfortunately he didn't see the safety sit, the safety had chased the inside receiver and the way they had done it he didn't see him and threw an interception and I think after you do that you can be a little bit too careful, you can make sure on some throws and I think there were a number of throws where it wasn't about his release, it was about anticipation and trusting what you see and turn the ball loose. Detroit did a great job in mixing what they do. They're an outstanding defense. Like I said, we face a lot of the same things this week. It's a growing process for a young quarterback and he, obviously, in the Atlanta game got in a rhythm and things just came up unbelievably well for us that day and the ball came out and he showed what he's capable of doing and he's going to go through some periods where you're not sure, you see a different look, they are defending you a little different, you've got to trust what you see and you've got to go.    

Q: How many times have you gone from being a genius to not being a genius to right back up again?

A: Anyone who has coached a limited time or a long time in this league knows this is a week-to-week league and every week presents a whole new set of circumstances, a whole new challenge. This week presents a different challenge than we had last week. They are similar in a lot of ways but it's on the road. They're an outstanding defensive football team. That's why from my standpoint you never get too high or too low and that's why you try to teach that to your football team – you don't want to get too high, obviously, and you don't want to get too low.  

Q: Is route running something you're still focused on with Cordarrelle?

A: We'll be working on route running with Cordarrelle when he's eight years in the league. You are always working on getting better in all different things and developing different routes, developing different style routes and I know the emphasis is on one guy but this isn't about one guy. We need to get the ball completed to all of our guys, we need to get better in the running game obviously, we need to manage the game as well as we can. Again, when you're struggling a little bit you can withdraw a little bit. We can't withdraw, we've got to be aggressive, we've got to go. I was watching New England in the game last week and the first quarter and a half they didn't score. They had three-and-outs, they had two three-and-outs, they had a missed field goal, they had two times they were in third-and-15. It doesn't always go exactly the way you want. You've got to fight through the negative things and when you have opportunities to make plays you have to make them.

*Q: Have you re-examined Jerome Felton's role in the offense?  *

A: We've been in a tough way because obviously we get in the second half of games and we're trying to get back in a game and Jerome, the opportunities are limited there. We need to find ways to keep him involved in what we're doing. Certain games he's going to get more involved and then in certain games with a solid defense it's going to be hard to get him as many reps but what we'd like to do is get him those reps throughout four quarters. A lot of our negative plays have happened in the fourth quarter in games where we are in no-huddle, two-minute. We don't want to spend an entire quarter in those situations.     

*Q: How has Mike Zimmer been on the offensive side of the ball this week given the struggles? *

A: Mike has been involved from the get go. I told you guys a long time ago that this is about the Minnesota Vikings offense. Everyone from a coaching standpoint has involvement. Mike and I have communicated from the minute we got here in terms of style and what we want to do. We're always communicating about personnel, we're always communicating about things that give defenses problems. He sees it from a defensive mindset; I think it's a great resource for me and our offensive staff.     

*Q: What have you had to change with Adrian Peterson out?  *

A: Well you know I told you guys when we got going after the preseason, it was exciting to get to have him as part of it and I think you saw it in the Rams game that there are things that looked like they were going to be really exciting. When you have the ability to run the ball and the threat to run the ball, it helps a quarterback, it certainly helps a young quarterback, but we know where we're at and we've got to make this thing go. We've got young backs, two young backs that are playing good that are going to keep getting better and we've got to find the best way to attack teams like Detroit, like Buffalo that are dominant up front and manage the games.

Q: Are you guys any further along in the discussions of the offensive line? Will it still be the same five?

A: When you come off a game last week and when you've struggled for a couple of weeks, you look at everything there is, every possibility. I think Coach Zimmer has done a great job of challenging our group, we've challenged our group, we've got to play better.

Q: Are you seeing how they are responding in the meeting groups?

A: This is a hard working group. This group, from the day I got here, they want to be good, they have high expectations, we have high expectations. I think we had an outstanding practice yesterday from a physical standpoint – that's how you get better. We have to manage those situations we are talking about. We've got to do our best to stay out of those situations where you are playing as many snaps of no-huddle in the fourth quarter and we've had a lot of negative plays in those situations.   

Q: Can you talk about the high number of drops you've had this season?

A: We've just got to keep coaching and working and getting the right guys in there. I don't put it on one area because there are a bunch of times where we've had guys open and we haven't gotten them the ball. We've got to put this thing together and help each other out.  

*Q: What's it like for this offense to have the same starting quarterback two weeks in a row? *

A: Well continuity is critical and for Teddy to have the chance to play and having played last week and then look at it and work on the things we've got to improve on, it'll be great for him.  

*Q: How do you see Chase Ford's role in this offense with Kyle Rudolph out? *

A: Well he's been able to come in and make some plays and he does give a threat, a running threat. I think he and Rhett [Ellison] complement each other well.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards

Q: How are you measuring Chad Greenway's effectiveness?

A: Well he practiced yesterday so we'll just progress through the week and just see how he does during practice as we go through the week. Yesterday he practiced pretty good and seemed to be okay but we just have to follow it through the week and see how he feels as we keep going.

Q: What's the impact of getting him back and having back a veteran player?
A: Chad is a good player, there's no doubt about it. Getting him back would be a boost for us but again, we just have to follow it through the week, see how he's doing, see as they keep looking at him through the week, see how he's progressing and that kind of thing. I don't know medically all the things that they're talking about so from that aspect of it we'll just have to keep going and see how he progresses through the week.

Q: What have you liked about Gerald Hodges filling in that role?

A: Gerald did a nice job. He made some plays, you could see his burst. He made some flash plays for us while he was in there. From that aspect he came, he worked hard, he seemed to pick up what we're trying to do schematically pretty good and was able to go make some plays while he was in there and made the most of the opportunity when he got it.

Q: What has helped him?

A: I think just from familiarity and consistency within what we're trying to do, technique, fundamental wise and schematically. From that aspect of it, that's where we all are. We're still all working to try and be as consistent as possible from day in to day out.

Q: How do you try and stay on top of Sammy Watkins with the speed that he brings?
A: There's no doubt he's a tremendous talent, young guy that's in there that has really been effective for them in what they're trying to do. From our aspect of it, we'll go in and we've got different ways that we're trying to play some of the concepts that they're playing and match and play. That's the biggest thing we do. We're more concerned about what we're trying to get accomplished and making sure fundamentally and technique what we're doing conscious of what we're trying to get accomplished as opposed to so much of the opponent. We definitely know who he is and know the caliber athlete and what he brings to the position, no doubt about it.

Q: Have you seen the most growth from guys like Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson since OTA's started?

A: I think the biggest growth is familiarity of what we're trying to get accomplished schematically and the fundamentals and technique of the corner position. I think they've become more consistent as we've moved down the road and that's the biggest thing. Like I was saying before talking about Gerald Hodges, it's just trying to keep working on consistency about what it is that we're trying to get done from week-to-week and from day-to-day as opposed to so much about schematics.

Q: For the cornerbacks, the techniques that you guys are teaching versus what they were previously learning in more of a cover 2 schemes?

A: I think they were in a different scheme. I don't know what they were being taught to be honest with you. We really didn't look at what they were being told, that kind of thing. The only thing we were worried about was them latching on to what it is we were trying to teach schematically, fundamentally and technique at the position. All our concentration and everything has been on that and seeing them progress and be consistent day in and day out. That's the thing that we're trying to continuously preach and work on.

Q: What were some of the things after just a few practices that they needed to work on most?

A: I think we were a lot more hands on, press man technique then probably they were used to in the past. From that aspect of it, that's where we kind of worked. You couldn't really do a lot of pressing in the offseason because of the rules of the CBA, so from that aspect of it once we got to training camp we went from playing off to really playing a little bit more press-man. There was a period there with just recognizing different things, people were trying to do with that fundamental and technique to try and get on and off the press.

Q: Do you think you need to turn the ball over move?

A: That's one thing we're always trying to do is get the ball back to our offense. From that aspect of it, our biggest deal is to go out and one thing we want to do, coach talks about it, we want to play smart, want to play tough, want to play physical. One thing that we preach on is taking the ball away. Our emphasis right now has been primarily on doing those things and going out and playing hard. We feel like with everybody running to the ball, playing physical, tough defense, that we'll get the ball out. That's one thing we're preaching is the first person secures the tackle then the next guy comes in. We've had a couple situations during the course of the year where guys have tried to tackle the ball as opposed to tackling a person. We miss the tackle and it ends up being a big play. From that aspect of it, yes we are working on it and the biggest thing is just keep getting better each day at it.

Q: Where is that balance, how much do you try and play defense and how much do you try and get the ball?
A: I think we're always conscious of trying to turn the ball over. We're always trying to strike the ball out but the biggest thing is to make sure that we have the tackle secured with the first person there. Then everybody else that's running through the ball through the effort through the football, come in and try to get that football out.

Q: Have you seen any over-anxiousness on the opening series that causes them to score on you?
A: What happens is a lot of teams script the first 15 plays of the game so the first couple of drives you're usually on a script. What they do is a lot of times they'll come in and try to implement things that maybe have hurt you in the past. From our aspect of things, we've tried to settle down and work, concentrate on what it is that we've got to do as opposed to the matchups of what it is that they're trying to do. I think, like you said, we haven't gone out with it last week, we didn't start fast, we gave up a touchdown there on the first drive. The biggest thing is when you look at the plays that hurt us in that drive, there were things that we had control over. The biggest thing is when we get in position to make a play, we've got to do a good job with the fundamentals of tackling, and those things that make the play when we get that position.

Q: Is that unique to the opening series or is that because of how you guys have come out?
A: Like I said, I think everybody in this league comes in the first series and pretty much is scripted in what they're going to try to do against you. You see a lot of new looks, you see a lot of things that you probably had seen in that past that had hurt you. There's a lot of different aspects that go into it. Our biggest thing is, if we'll work the fundamentals and techniques of each call of what it is that we're trying to get accomplished then when we get in position, do a good job of the fundamentals of tackling, we'll have a chance to get off the field. There have been some games where we've gone out there and we've gone three and out and there's no difference there. When we get an opportunity to make those plays we've got to get those guys on the ground and get off the field.

Q: Is there a stat or benchmark that you hound your players on that you want to do every week?

A: The one thing, one of our goals last week was we wanted to go in and do a good job against the run, we wanted to get off the field on third downs. Those were two nemeses that were bad. We wanted to play good in the red zone. Every week those are areas of concentration for us, no doubt it, but in order for us to be a good third down team you need to be good on first and second down there you're not always in third and short. From that aspect of it, it all kind of parallels together. There are different aspects of each team, one team may be better at one aspect of the game whether it's running the ball, passing game, or whether it's in third down or whether it's down in the red zone. Each week is a different challenge and a different matchup.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer

A tough loss on Sunday. A big challenge ahead of us this week, we're excited that we're going to be back on the field. A very good opponent, Buffalo is getting better and better on special teams every week. They're playing with a lot of confidence. They have three kicker/punter type combinations. They have a kickoff guy, a punter, obviously, and a field goal kicker that hit a big game-winner against Detroit a couple of weeks ago. Their cover guys are outstanding. They're well coached and we have our work cut out for us. Hopefully, we're up to the challenge.

Q: There is a lot of talk about the Bills speed being a strength on offense is that also the case with special teams?

A: I think so. They use offensive players on their core special teams. Number 15 (Chris Hogan) does a great job, 81, (Marcus) Easley, is possibly in the top three or four core special teams players in the AFC. I've been telling our guys that all week and he's injured right now. If he plays, obviously, that's another challenge for us.

Q: Was there any consideration to make a change with your kick returner with Cordarrelle Patterson's health?

A: There will always be the consideration for that. If he's healthy he will go, if he's not then we have Marcus (Sherels) waiting, ready to roll. Joe Banyard could go, Jarius Wright, Jerick McKinnon, we have got a lot of guys that we used even in the preseason or have enough experience that we feel comfortable putting them out there. If he can't go then we've got people waiting.

Q: Was Cordarrelle Patterson's hip the reason he was timid with his returns?

A: Initially, that may have been the case. I think his hip was bothering him a little bit. He didn't communicate that with me, because I know he wants to be out there. There might have been some miscommunication on what his job was to do on that. We practiced that again today, it's called a squib alert. We have got another returner out there in case they squib the ball to us. They kicked it deep, we still have a return called. I think there was a little miscommunication, a misunderstanding of what we wanted from him on that play. We will get that corrected as we go forward.

Q: Is Patterson more vulnerable to contact or acceleration with the injury?

A: I know when he is healthy enough to be out there, neither one. If he is struggling a little bit it is probably both, because he won't be able to accelerate or he will take a shot on that hip, it's obviously going to bother him. If he's healthy enough to go out there, he will be utilized to the max. I'm sure he will give us 100%.

Q: What did you see from Jeff Locke's performance against the Lions?

A: He had three really nice punts and he had four that were not as nice. They were difficult conditions. Most of his punts were into the wind, where the other guy had most of his punts with the wind. It's just kind of the way it worked out. It will work itself out, it will even itself out as the year goes on. Jeff needs to understand that he is definitely strong enough to kick into any type of wind. He's got to trust his technique and trust his leg swing and his drop. He'll correct some of those errors. The three that he hit were really, really nice, big time punts and the other four we just have to make those mishits 4.3 (second) hang times instead of 3.8 (second) hang times.

Q: Is Ralph Wilson Stadium one of the more unpredictable stadiums?

A: I think so. To be honest with you, I've only been there for one preseason game in my whole career. So this will be the first regular season game. I know it's going to be windy, I think it's going to be a little bit warmer than it usually is this time of year up there. The good thing is we've been dealing with wind in practice or at TCF, hopefully that won't bother us.

Q: How often do you lobby during a game for a surprise onside kick?

A: Whenever we have one in, if I think it's there. Obviously, it's up to the head coach. It's one of those things I can let him know if I think it's there or not there. I know that's kind of the way, what Indy (Indianapolis) has been doing. That's a good question, but I look it more along the lines of kickoff return. We have to be prepared for that surprise onside kick. That's been my focus in being sound and make sure we take that away.

Q: Is there more or less emphasis on the onside across the league?

A: I think it depends on who the opponent is. Indianapolis did a great job with it there the three times they got it this year. In years past, Tennessee has been fantastic at it. We played them a couple of years ago, we knew it was coming and they still almost got it. We were fortunate we ended up getting the ball. It depends on the kicker and how good he is at it, what surface you're playing on, grass, turf, etcetera. 

Q: Have you practiced onside kicks over the years?

A: Kickoff-wise, if we have it in that week we will practice it. On kickoff return we practice it two or three times every week, we have to be ready for it.

Q: What factors go into kicking an onside kick?

A: It will be if they're doing what we think or saw on tape, the reason we put in a surprise onside, would be something we saw on tape. If we think it's there, then I will recommend that to the head coach and he will make that call.

Q: What are your views on Buffalo's kicker combinations?

A:No, I hate it. I don't like it at all. I think what you lose is a core special team player on game day. Now you have to dress four specialists instead three and to me, that guy is a quality, quality core special teams guy. I've never liked it. If you have to do it, you have to do it. To be honest, I think (Dan) Carpenter is a really good kickoff guy, too. He's an outstanding field goal guy, they've got a young kicker that has a great leg and it works for them.

Q: Coach Zimmer mentioned special teams could perform better, do you think his concerns are beyond Jeff Locke?

A: I think the biggest thing this week communicated to me, would be the penalties and I agree with him 100%. We are doing some really good things on special teams. We're covering punts well, we're kicking off well, we're kicking field goals well. Field goal block has had great effort, we blocked a PAT, a low PAT against New Orleans. Kickoff return we've had a couple of big plays, but it's the penalties that are killing us. That's very unlike our team. Last year, we were penalized 14 times the whole year, this year we've been penalized 9 or 10 times. That's where I think, I'm not going to speak for coach, but coach has mentioned to me that it's the penalties that hurt us. I think we are playing really well in certain areas, but if we eliminate penalties we will get even better.

Q: Would you consider moving a player, like Antone Exum Jr. off special teams if they keep committing penalties?

A: I've told those guys, if they're a repeat offender, they're in danger in being off the core teams. We've got to be able to trust the guys that are out there that they're not going to get penalized. I like what Antone is doing, he's playing hard, he prepares hard. He's a rookie, he's overzealous at times but if we tone that down, we will be fine.

Q: Would you say that in general that is the case with a lot of the young guys?

A: It's like that every year. We deal with young guys every year. I'm not going to use the young guys as an excuse. I think we just need to do a better job of coaching it up and coaching the techniques and making sure when they get in those certain situation they don't pull the trigger in terms of getting that penalty. We have to do a better job of decision making at the end of plays. We had the one against (Jabari) Price, against Green Bay, the kickoff return, it was a 50+ yard kickoff return, it was a 7-0 game. Who knows what happens in that game if we keep that return. Punt return, we've had a couple this year that have hurt us. I think four overall, where last year we had four for the whole season on punt return. We have work to do in that regard. It's been addressed, it will continue to be addressed and we have got to make sure that we trust the guys that are out there.

Q: Were you surprised to see that fine on Antone Exum Jr. from the Green Bay game?

A: Yes, very much so, very much so. I think the flag, and the way that I have to coach that, they're going to throw that flag because it's a safety issue. It ended up being helmet-to-helmet. It was close, but it was helmet-to-helmet, in my opinion. It wasn't mean or malicious on his part. I think he was trying to make an aggressive play, it just happened to be there. He just can't lower his head, he's got to lead with his hands and that's what I've told him to do.

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