Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: What have you seen with Teddy Bridgewater and how he handles the hurry-up situations it seems like that's when he's at his best?
A: I've seen that said, I don't necessarily agree with it. I think that what he's been able to do, when you're throwing seven, eight, nine, 10-straight passes. you do get into a little rhythm and you get people open. You're not depending on one play and it's a run, or you're not running the ball twice and waiting for a 3rd down. You get more opportunities, you get three plays to get a first down and he's done a good job with that. Like coach said, he's been good in our 2-minute situations from the beginning of our OTAs and minicamp. You want that, but I think it's easier on a quarterback. Like I said, you're not worrying about running the ball, you're not worried about setting something up, just playing.
Q: Is there any thought to use more of a hurry-up offense?
A: One of things we're trying to do is help our offensive line, we're trying to run the ball. Again, I just said, in the two-minute drill you through eight-straight passes, I don't know that's what we're trying to get done. I like what we've been able to do. We improved in protection last week. I thought we improved in a number of areas. A lot of it is a week-to-week thing, who you're playing how you match up, what you're doing against them, but I thought we did a lot of things better.
Q: What have you seen from Chase Ford and his expanded role?
A: He's in there. He's the guy that's playing in our nickel package, our 3-wide receiver package. That guy is an important of what we do and he should be catching four or five balls like that in games, particularly if we throw it 40 times. I think he's done a good job with the things we've asked him to do. I always tell the guys, there's five eligible receivers and we've got to use them all and games come up different. Tampa played some coverages that allowed us to get the ball to the tight end.
Q: How important is moving in the pocket to get through progressions and how do you think Teddy Bridgewater did in those areas last week?
A: I think Teddy's been outstanding in the pocket all along. We had a better pocket, so it helped us. The thing that we did in the game, we made plays that were there, but there were a bunch of plays that we were just off. I told our guys, we've gotten better over the last two weeks and we were about that far off on five or six plays, a number of them would have been plays over 20 yards and we need just to keep getting a week better, a week better, so when those opportunities present themselves we make those plays. That game could have been different. It could have been a little easier for us if we'd made some of those plays.
Q: How does it work differently in developing a first-round player is there different treatment?
A: I think once they get here, you're trying to help them get better. Young players, the number one thing you do have to have, you have to have some patience. I'm at an age where my patience isn't as good as some of the younger guys. I have a sense of urgency and expect that, but I do have a realism that, like I said, we have Greg Jennings running a 7-route, a corner route, on 3rd and 10, it's really a play that we make all of the time out on the practice field and we're off that far. That play gets us inside the 30 and gets us a first down. Some guys tend to say, "Well, we will get it next time." Next time is going to be a different coverage, they're going to play it different, we might not have as good of protection. That sense of urgency about making the plays that are there, I think you have to have. Our players are understanding that and I think we're doing better with it.
Q: On that corner-route does the ball need to be thrown a little sooner?
A: Just need to flatten the receiver a little bit. There's a big hole in there and he could have brought him back just a hair. The ball, obviously, was a little high, Greg (Jennings) got a hand on it, couldn't get two on it.
Q: With so much emphasis on the next game how do you balance preparing for that game while developing young players?
A: It's every single day that we're working on it, then it has to, obviously, apply to the team you're playing. This team, you all probably got a chance to watch some of the Monday Night Game, they had a veteran quarterback, Washington was playing against a real veteran quarterback and felt the best way to go in critical situations was to blitz him. If they're going to blitz Tony (Romo), I would imagine they're going to feel comfortable blitzing us. We obviously have to have a plan for their blitz package and for their bluff blitz package and for anything new they might do. That's part of a quarterback's development, a part of all of our offensive team's development is moving on to the next week and understanding that it's a different defense, it's different personnel, it's different blitz packages, it's different coverages. This is an outstanding defense. They've played good teams. I think coach said they're ranked 7th in the league in total defense. They've played some pretty good offensive football teams, so it's going to be a challenge for us.
Q: How much do you look at numbers such as sacks versus what you've seen on tape?
A: You do both. We have every statistic known to man and sometimes you can get bogged down by them and you do what you say, you watch the tape. What are our issues in terms of the things that have given us problems, things we're doing well, things we need to get better at, that type of thing. The emphasis when you have a young quarterback is always on that quarterback, but my what my emphasis is, is on all 11 guys on the field, everyone continuing to get better as we get better as a group, obviously, the quarterback is going to play better.
Q: What are some things you've been stressing to score more points?
A: The number one thing, obviously, is you can't have negative plays. You can't turn the ball over, you can't have sacks. Obviously, we did a better job with that last week. And while you're doing that, sometimes, like I said, you can't withdraw or you never give yourself a chance to make a play. If you get to a point where you're comfortable with not turning the ball over, and doing a good job of protecting and getting the run game going, then the way you're going to score points is make big plays. There's four or five plays, as I've said, in the game that we had a chance to make plays over 25 or 30 yards and we didn't make as many of them as we could have. If you're going to score points, you're going to make big plays at some point. In our touchdown drive we broke off a 25-30 yard run to get us into the redzone. In the 2-minute drives, we got a couple of big plays out of it to give us a chance to get in scoring positon.* *
Q: How much of Jerick McKinnon's ability to cut is natural instincts versus designed cuts?
A: The running game, to me, is always trying to get the guy started. Get him four or five yards up the field. Give him a hole to start to work. I worked with a guy a long time ago that coached a couple of Heisman Trophy winners at USC, he always used to tell the back, be a good runner. At some point you get the runner to a point and then be a good runner. Jerick has very good run instincts. Obviously, for a guy that's limited in terms of his experience of being a running back, having been pretty much a quarterback in college. He has very good run instincts, he knows when to outrun a guy, when to cut back. He's powerful, a lot more powerful than he looks. He's a physical guy. He's bigger than he looks. We're excited about the progress that he's made.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Just been trying to get prepared for this week with the news of the quarterback situation and all of that kind of stuff so we've been working pretty diligent here in the last two days trying get the game plan.
Q: How do you prepare for that quarterback situation?
A: You never know. We're just going about it just like last week we were preparing for two different guys so we are going about it, preparing the best we can. Schematically I think offensively they are going to pretty much stay the same. I think they'll do some things different between the differences in the quarterbacks but, for the most part, offensively I think they'll pretty much stay schematically what they're doing.
Q: How much longer does that make your week not knowing?
A: Well you just want to make sure that you see the games, sort of like I was telling you last week. We had to go back and see all of the games that the other quarterbacks started in and just see what differences there are, what they like the call a little bit more with about a quarterback being in there and if he has a different favorite receiver in certain situations, that kind of thing. You've just got to make sure you do your homework when he's playing and what you see.
Q: What kind of threats do they pose with the deep ball?
A: They throw the ball and they've got some receivers that can run and really get and run so from that aspect of it we've got to do a job. That's one of our goals, not only just to stop the run, but to come back and don't give up big plays. That's one of our main focuses each week is when do they like to take the shots, down and distance wise, position of the field. So from that aspect of it that is one of our goals and one of our concentrations from week to week. We kind of go through and that's one of our goals, we make an emphasis on it and show them when they like to take those shots.
Q: Is the defensive line playing like you wanted when the season began?
A: No doubt. They are playing good and that's the big thing that coming in they all bought all, that's a good room, they all bought in to what we are trying to do and from week to week things have to come up, nuances, technique, fundamentals have all pretty much stayed the same. From week to week the different schemes that we see and this week will be a big challenge for them. So from that aspect of it, yes, we're pleased with where we are but we know that we've still got some room to improve. So from that aspect of it those guys take the challenge each week and have some good production from week to week.
Q: Did you think it was just a matter of time of them adjusting?
A: I think all of it, yeah. I think that's a big part of it – belief in one another, belief in the system, belief in the techniques and fundamentals, seeing how from week to week that they can get better and then actually going out and performing at a high level and getting better. I think that's all a part of the confidence that they are able to exude from week to week.
Q: Washington has the vertical speed but is it important that you have the sideline to sideline speed?
A: There is no doubt about it. With this offense, number one they can vertical stretch you down the field, but they also, underneath, they've got enough speed in their crossing routes and their opposite high-lows and their bunches and clusters and those kinds of things that we've got to do a good job and our guys underneath in coverage have done a good job of talking and communicating about the different pass-offs and that kind of thing. That's another area that we've tried to stress and guys have gotten better at it and more comfortable schematically at what we're trying to do underneath.
Q: What are your thoughts on Everson Griffen being the Defensive Player of the Month?
A: I think it's great. Everson has worked his butt off since we've been in here. He's bought in and every day he comes to work and he's able to go out on Sunday and perform and so from that aspect of it we're happy for him. We've been stressing all the time that it isn't just one guy, it's everybody that makes that happen – good coverage, good pass rush goes hand-in-hand and guys are realizing that and going out and doing what we're asking them to do.
Q: Mike Zimmer talked about the running game yesterday. Do they lean on that cutback more than other teams?
A: What it is is it's sort of like what we saw against Green Bay. They are really going to stretch it to the front side and then if you've got the edge set on the defense there, he'll stick the foot in the ground. This guy is more of a one-cut guy where he's going to get downhill off the stretch play. It's very similar to teams we've faced and if you remember when Houston used to run the same type of scheme. We saw it against Green Bay. Certain teams do it a little bit different in how they block the back side but from that aspect of it that's what we're looking at this week. They're really going to try to stretch us, which is going to put some stress on our defensive line and linebackers get downhill, be able to build that picket fence. So from that aspect of it we've been working that all week. We've gone back and looked at teams that have tried to do that to us throughout the year and you get a little different variation of it from different teams at how far they want to stretch it, what they're telling the back as far as his vision to when to make the decision to cut back but a lot of factors go into it as far as guys doing their job.
Q: What do you tell those backside guys to make sure they don't get swept?
A: The big thing is we've got to work on the backside. You can't relax. And the tough thing with this team, they run so many bootlegs and so many things coming off that action that sometimes you see guys wanting to get up the field and that kind of thing and that's what we can't allow to happen. You've got to be able to work and leverage the ball on the back side, just flat down the line, but don't turn your shoulders where you're too flat and can't get back out to play the boot and those kinds of things. It'll be some stress on the backside to make sure that we can handle the cutback off of it.
Q: What is it about Coach Zimmer that has allowed him to have success developing young players?
A: I think the one thing just going back with Zim over the years is that he's consistent. What we start fundamentally and technique wise doesn't really change. We may change things schematically with what we do from week to week but as far as a technique and fundamental standpoint across the board positionally there is not a lot of change. What we try to do each week is keep that constant that when you get into a game and things don't go the way that you think they're going to go or what you've practiced, they put in new plays, you can always fall back on your fundamentals and your techniques and be able to fall back and use those as a springboard to play through it so from that aspect of I think the consistency of it and then guys having success seeing the consistency of it kind of plays in hand-in-hand because now they believe in what it is you're trying to get accomplished and go out and try and accomplish that goal each week.
Q: Do young players that are drafted early have a certain mindset to develop?
A: Well whether they have the attitude or not we're going to start from the basics of ground zero. We don't take for granted that anybody knows anything. It doesn't matter if it's a veteran, it doesn't matter if it's a rookie, we're going to go through the scenarios and put them through those situations through practice, through training camp, through the week as we get ready. We're going to go through those situations and make sure that they understand crystal clear exactly what it is that we're expecting them to perform versus certain things. From that aspect of it, I think the combination of being consistent, them knowing exactly how we want to do something and then there is always things that you have to adjust to but being able to be consistent with the fundamental and techniques of what we're teaching, I think that is the biggest part of it.
Q: You forced five three-and-outs in a row last week. What causes a streak like that?
A: I think guys going out and executing what it is what we're trying to do. That's one thing that we haven't beat ourselves, we haven't made a lot of mistakes, and that kind of leads into it with guys buying into what we're trying to get done technically and fundamentally, understanding the situation that we're in - whether it's first down, second down, third down – the personnel that they use, the field position, all of those things play into a big part of it. There's a lot of work and planning that goes into it but the biggest thing is our guys going out and executing what it is and recognizing what it is that they're trying to do and go out and perform.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: On Monday Coach Zimmer said he had a message in the team meeting about special teams, what have you seen in the past few weeks and what have you seen specifically in the Buccaneer's game?
A: It's the mistakes. It's the penalties, to be quite honest. Not making good decisions at the point of attack or not making good decisions either before the play and how they're going to block someone or obviously the middle of the play or at the end of the play and just not making good decisions like they've been taught to do. That's the frustrating thing for me is the penalties this year. We were not penalized very often last year and this year we have been. That's been tough. We've lost a lot of hidden yardage or a lot of return yardage because of the penalties. I think that was the big message with the young guys. Those are the ones making the most mistakes, the young guys, and usually that's what it is. When you're an error repeater, I've said, you're going to run out of chances at some point. We've got to make sure we either get it corrected or we got to find somebody else to do those jobs.
Q: Do you have more young guys on special teams this year than in the past?
A: I haven't even looked at that, that's a good question. I haven't really compared it to last year because it's like that for every team every year pretty much. You're always going to have young guys playing for you, that will never be an excuse for me. I just think you're going to take what the team has given you, what the roster is, and you're going to make the guys that are playing for you, whether young or old, better. That's my job week in and week out. We've got to keep working on technique, we've got to keep working on schemes and matchups to help these guys so they don't get penalized and that we're more successful than we've been, especially in the return game.
Q: The three touchbacks from Jeff Locke are uncharacteristic for him. Is there a reoccurring theme that lead to those bouncing the endzone?
A: He's still trying to figure out the best swing for those based on winds. It was a beautiful day, obviously, Sunday. The first one he outkicked it big time. The second one hit about the one and went in. The third one like you said we slipped, we should have had it down inside the 10. The fourth one was down at the eight and then the last one was a tough one because that one I think it landed at the one as well. Those are things we're working on. We have to keep focusing on game day and pregame to figure out the winds, to figure out how best to punt in that situation. He understands situational football. We preach it all the time. The head coach preaches it, I preach it; complimentary football, situational football. Those were very uncharacteristic mistakes for Jeff and he's going to get better going forward.
Q: How important is the development for the young guys to really just give them field time even if they are committing penalties?
A: The more experience you get, the better you're going to be, especially if you're talented enough. Like these guys that are making the mistakes, they're very talented football players, they wouldn't be here if they weren't. They have to continue to focus on not be penalized and focus on, and I tell them all the time, 'you're blessed with God-given abilities, there's a lot of athletic talent in this room' when I talk to these guys. 'At the end of the day, take what the good Lord has given you and combine it with the techniques and the schemes that we're teaching and you're going to continue to be successful', but they have to do that all the time. They have to be consistent in order for us to be a consistently strong special teams unit. In the return game specifically, we're not getting that done right now, but it will get better.
Q: How do you rectify that? Is it mainly telling guys if you don't clean it up you're not going to be playing?
A: It's two-fold. It's either, if I'm allowing it, it's either coaching is obviously allowing things to happen or they're just not good enough. I think they're good enough and I'm not allowing it to happen so it's kind of a two-way street; get better or we find somebody else. Or, Mike Priefer, you have to do a better job of coaching it and teaching it and that's the approach I've taken. I don't want to wholesale replace guys. We'll replace them if we have to, but I have to coach them better, I've got to teach them better. I know they understand the importance of it. If they don't after this then they're lost causes but I think they understand how important it is and how important field position is.
Q: If they're not contributing on special teams they're probably inactive each week?
A: That's correct, that's correct.
Q: Does that hit home with them?
A: Oh absolutely, they want to play. Like any competitive athlete they want to be on the field.
Q: If you had to put a word on it is it something as simple as just discipline?
A: It's a great word, I'm big on discipline. That's a good word, I'd put that on there. I don't think they have a lack of discipline, I just think they need to be more disciplined in a consistent manner and that's being disciplined to be quite honest.
Q: Are you at the point of just making changes?
A: Maybe, we'll see. I don't make those final roster decisions but those are the things, right now this week I'm working more people than I have for any normal week to make sure that we're going to get as many guys prepared so on Sunday when we put our active list out there, those 46 guys, we've got the right guys prepared for their jobs that day.
Q: On Jeff Locke's touchbacks, how much of those are based on hang times and allowing guys to get down there?
A: The hang times were actually quite good. That's what you worry about. A lot of those punts hit the 7 or 8-yard line and they're 3.8 hang times you don't have a chance, but the hang times were good, they were just too deep, most of them were just too deep.