Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
*Q: Can you talk about the signing of Ben Tate III? *
A: I've never been with Ben Tate and I'm not real familiar. Obviously we are in a situation where yesterday we had one back that could practice so the timing of him being released, an opportunity for us to add a back, certainly it was good timing and we're getting started with Ben and trying to teach him our system and hopefully get him where he can be ready to go and contribute.
Q: Will you water it down and just give him the bare basics so that he can play on Sunday?
A: I think we're going to work towards that. We'll see how he handles it, we'll see what our situation is. Obviously if you water it down too much then those guys on the other side it's pretty obvious to them. Hopefully there are some things we can get him involved with.
Q: What does this move say about the future of Jerick McKinnon and how you view him as a running back?
A: I think we're excited about Jerick and what he's done and I see him as our running back. As I said, he's been limited in practice last week, he's limited in practice, couldn't practice yesterday, hopefully can practice today. You've got to protect yourself obviously with Matt [Asiata] not being able to practice yesterday, in doubt as to whether he'll play or not. We had one back who could practice yesterday. That's a big part of it.
Q: Is it a risk to give Jerick more carries because he's a smaller back?
A: He's a 210-pound guy who is put together pretty good. I'd like to see us get more carries, I'd like to see him get more carries, I know how that all goes but games come up different and when we've been able to get in those situations and get him the ball, he's done well. I think he's going to be a very good back in this league.
Q: What have you seen when they've moved Clay Matthews to the inside linebacker spot?
A: I think they've done it to get their best players on the field. The combination of getting him inside gets a very good player at the outside. When they are in that early down, nickel package they are still using Clay as a rusher. They're an outstanding coaching staff and that defensive group is unbelievably experienced and they are doing everything they can to get the most out of their players and it's been very productive for them.
*Q: How much did the back injury have to do with McKinnon's lack of carries? *
A: It had nothing to do with it. As we've said, when we convert third downs I think we've been able to keep balance. We did not do a very good job of converting third downs in the game. In the second half we started our first drive, I had a drive on our own one-yard line. We got one first down there. We had I think two carries on that drive and then the next drive we got the ball on the turnover and ran the ball on a first down play and threw two straight passes and didn't convert and kicked a field goal and missed the field goal and then the next drive there was eight minutes left and we were down by 11. That's the way the second half went. You're not going to get a lot of carries if that's the way the game goes.
Q: Does it matter to you if you get to work outside for practice during the week?
A: You know we played outside a few days ago and it was damp and cold. Our guys, I thought with that part of it, handled it well. We're going to get it cold in here. That's the thing we've got to fight. The forecast is for rain and we can't create that scenario. I think coach has put together and outstanding schedule and done a good job of getting our guys ready.
*Q: What kind of traits have you seen from Jerick McKinnon that makes you think he can be an every-down back? *
A: I think he's elusive, he's got very good vision, he's got outstanding quickness and he's more powerful than he looks. He catches the ball extremely well. He does a great job. There were some questions when we drafted him and early in camp if he'd be able to protect but he's done an excellent job mentally and physically in protection.
*Q: What do you remember about Rhett Ellison's dad, Riki, from your time with him at USC? *
A: I didn't coach Riki and that's probably a good thing, he was an inside linebacker. I was not only there the entire time he was at USC but had to coach against him when he was at the 49ers and the Raiders. He and Rhett have a lot of the same characteristics – very, very competitive, very serious. Riki was going to do whatever it took to find a way to get an edge or find a way to win.
*Q: What do you like most about Charles Johnson? *
A: He's a lot like a lot of our guys. He's a young receiver that is learning how to play and I think he's talented. He's got good size, he's got good range, he catches the ball well away from his body. He's got good quickness, he can run by you, and he's got good feet so he can run intermediate routes. He obviously did not play last year, spent the whole year rehabbing his knee. He was in Cleveland's camp so we got him late but he's learning not only a system but he's learning how to play in our offense and I think he's growing. I think you see a little bit of chemistry developing between Teddy and all of our receivers. It's not obviously anywhere near where we want it but I see it developing every day in practice and you see it at times carry over to the field.
Q: Did he get enough time to spend in your offense last year in Cleveland?
A: He didn't do anything last year. He came in and had a knee surgery. We signed him off Green Bay's practice squad and when he got there on the physical they found out that he had a problem. I'm not a doctor, he had a problem with his knee and they did surgery so he was not involved in anything we did.
Q: Did he show you anything during his time around the facility?
A: We were spending a lot of time with the guys that were playing.
Q: What is it that allows him to separate himself from defenders?
A: Some of it is the way coverages come up and the position he was put in and he was playing in the slot on a number of them and he was crisp with his routes. I thought he was sudden, he got in the right depths in terms of the routes when he was running the in-breaking routes and when he does it right he has very good quickness in and out of the breaks.
*Q: How much of the offense does Cordarrelle Patterson need to absorb in order to be more familiar with it? *
A: I think all of our guys do. Cordarrelle got a couple of opportunities in the second half and made a couple of catches. That was encouraging. All of these guys just need to play. As I've said, to me Wednesday, Thursday, Friday practices are critical in terms of their development and that's how they are going to get better – how they practice, what they do in practice, the things that show up in practice – and then you want it to show up in the game and sometimes it does and sometimes it's harder because teams are going to do things to take plays away and like you said sometimes it comes up where (Johnson) is in the right place and gets four or five catches, sometimes it's someone else.
*Q: How would you assess the play of the protection? *
A: I think our protection has been much improved over the last three games. I think it's helped us. We had 47 snaps against Chicago so they didn't have as many opportunities to rush us but certainly in Tampa and in the Washington game that was part of the reason we were able to have the success we had.
Q: How have you handled the young guys on offense and the patience it takes for the offense to blossom?
A: Well there needs to be a sense of urgency, which I think we've continued to have, the coaches have tried to continue to create and then you do have to have some patience. The guys just have to understand, Teddy had a great week of practice last week. He got the chance to do some things that we hadn't been doing. He threw some routes we haven't been throwing. He's getting better. I see him getting better every day. Sometimes, as I said, games come up in different ways and it shows up and sometimes it doesn't show up but his development I think is coming along the way that we hoped it would. I saw someone say he took a step back and you know games are different. There are some pretty good quarterbacks that didn't win last Sunday and I don't know if you'd say they took a step back. We're just trying to build something and create a foundation for all of these guys.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: What can you take away from your previous game against the Packers specifically against the run?
A: I think they've really done a nice job of running the ball. We've got to do a good job of tackling, which we didn't do last week. We know coming into this game and after playing these guys the first time that you've got to do a good job of tackling (Eddie) Lacy. They're very good at run-after-the-catch, their receivers are very good, athletic, do a good job of stiff arming and stuff and running after the catch, so we've got to do a good job of limiting those things. That's been an emphasis for us, is we've got to do a good job of tackling. Once we get into position to make those plays, we've got to get them on the ground.
Q: What's the key to tackling a bigger running back like Eddie Lacy?
A: One thing we always try to emphasize is getting a lot of hats to the ball, so we've got to have everybody running to the ball, get there with a specific purpose and we've got to get this guy wrapped up and get him on the ground. You've got to wrap up, grab cloth and get him on the ground. He does a good job of stiff arming, does a good job of breaking the initial (tackle), yards after contact, he does a good job with that so. That's been a point of emphasis as we've gone into this week's preparation.
Q: What could you have done differently to help Josh Robinson against Chicago?
A: After going back and evaluating it, it wasn't just (Josh) Robinson. You look at our first 3rd downs, we had a chance to get off the field, that's a big emphasis for us, and we don't get off the field. There are some things, technically, there are some things schematically that we can do to help him out, that looking at it we could have probably implemented a little bit more. It was a different week looking back at that week and the match-ups are different from week-to-week, so from that aspect of it, we wish we probably would have had some more things in our holster to put out there. We know what we've got to do going into this week, the first thing we are trying to do is stop what the offense is trying to do. Then you have to worry about the match-ups they create with moving different people formationally around and those kind of things. Those are the things we are trying to be very cognisant of going into this week's preparation.
Q: Do you plan on changing anything schematically?
A: We will have to see Sunday, I don't want to sit here and tell you exactly what we're going to do, but there are some things that we plan on doing to help ourselves in the situations, the 3rd down, the deep passes and those kind of things. So, from that aspect of it, yes, there are some things that we're looking at to help implement this week as far as game planning to take away what it is they're trying to do.
Q: What do you think caused Anthony Barr's missed tackles?
A: Again, I think it boils down to the attention to detail the angle, getting there, wrapping up, driving your feet on contact. So, we had to go back to the fundamentals of tackling and really put the emphasis on that because anytime you're playing a back like we had last week, a back this week, that's able to break tackles after the initial blow, we've got to do a good job of wrapping up and emphasizing those things within the tackling technique. That's one thing we didn't do a very good job of last week as a whole, defensively and we feel like that's one of our points of emphasis. We've got to be able to tackle, that's going to happen every play, so we've got to be able to line-up and tackle and wrap-up and drive our feet.* *
Q: How do you work on tackling within the rules of the collective bargaining agreement?
A: You have to still go through the fundamentals, you break tackling into different phases as far as your approach, as far as the power and explosion coming out of your hips, as far as shooting your arms, as far as wrapping-up, as far as driving your feet through contact. You break those techniques down within what you're doing within tackling, put it in the drill and emphasize it as you go through. The biggest thing is the angles that you take to the ball from everybody to get the guy bottled up where it's not just one guy trying to make the play, so from that aspect of it, there's a lot of different aspects of the tackling we can emphasize, whether it's in the open field, whether it's an angle tackle, getting off a block and making the tackle, so from that aspect of it, we just try to go back through those drills, work through those drills, emphasize it, put it in the team period when we're working the team period and just make them conscious of it with everything that we're doing.
Q: When you have an offense like Green Bay's how can you slow them down?
A: Our number one, as always each week, we want to be able to stop the run. In the passing game we want to not give up the big plays in the early downs and we want to be able to get off the field on 3rd down. We're looking at it from that segment, that's our goal going into it, that's what we're going to concentrate and focus on, rather than getting enamored with everything that they do offensively, because they do a lot of things offensively, schematically and their players do a great job of paying attention to the details of what it is they're trying to get accomplished, that's why they've been so efficient. When you look back on it, it still boils down to being in the right position and making the play when you're in position to make the play. Tackling, you've got to do a good job of tackling and you've got to with leveraging eyes in your coverage.
Q: Do you think Anthony Barr coming from a warm climate and adjusting to the cold climate has created any issues for him?
A: I don't think so. I don't think he's seemed to have a problem in the cold weather so far playing this year. I think the biggest thing is just, again, going back to the fundamentals and techniques and focusing in on those, and I think he will improve this week. From that aspect of it, I don't think it's been a big barometer or problem for him as we've been moving down the road.
Q: As a defensive coordinator, what's the scariest part of Aaron Rodgers game?
A: He's very efficient in everything that he does, from game management to being able to recognize schematically what you're trying to do coverage-wise to getting people lined up, to being able to adjust things. He does a terrific job in pretty much all aspects of the game. We've got to pay attention to detail to what it is we're trying to get accomplished. That's the biggest thing, is don't go out there and make a lot of mistakes, beat ourselves. We've got to do a good job of tackling, we've got to do a good job of being where you are supposed to be and being able to make the play because the one thing about him, he's so efficient in the things that they ask him to do that if he sees something out of it, he's able to take advantage of it. He's able to get them in the right play, he's able to adjust for the running game, protection-wise, draw guys offsides. You go down a list of things, he's really on top of his game right now.
Q: Are those the factors that keep his interception rate is so low?
A: I think that, I think him being able to get the ball out as quick as he's able to get it out. I think schematically what they're doing, adjusting the routes down the field, seeing what you're in and being able to take advantage of it. It's a collage of everything together. Right now, just being in that system as long as they have been, they're just very efficient in what they're trying to do offensively.
Q: Has the run game been the consistent problem in some of your losses?
A: I think that's a big factor in it. Any time you can make a team one dimensional, where you've got the run stopped and pass and now the guys up front can really tee off and get into a pass-rush mode and you can do some different things coverage-wise, I think that's a big part of it. But if you're worried about the run, then it kind of adds another incentive to it, that hey, I may have to get that 8th man in the box, or whatever we're doing schematically to stop the run. If we're not doing a good job of tackling then you start wanting to put an extra man in the box to help solidify that thing as far as the run game, which is going to put stress somewhere else, so it kind of all works together, that's one of our biggest emphasizes, we've got to be able to stop the run going in and out each week.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Green Bay Packers, great challenge, hottest team in football. Great opportunity, excited about it. Coming back to our new stadium and coming to Minneapolis and looking forward to this weekend. Q: How are the kickers adjusting to the cold weather games?
A: I don't think anybody actually likes it but they went down to TCF last Wednesday and they went down to TCF this week as well on Wednesday, yesterday. They got some good work in. Jeff (Locke) probably had 45-50 punts in yesterday during the walk through so I couldn't be down there with them but I trust that they're telling me the truth, how many kicks they had. Then Blair (Walsh) got some good field goal work in as well. Q: What happened on Blair Walsh's missed field goal?
A: I think he pushed it right to be honest. The great thing about Blair is that he's not an excuse maker, a lot of our guys, most of our guys if not all of them, they don't make excuses. They're going to own up to their mistakes and what he did, he just pushed it right. It shouldn't happen, he's too good of a kicker for that to happen, especially after making a 50-yarder, that was a beautiful kick. But the snap, the hold, protection, everything was fine. Should have made it. Q: How long have you been working on the fake punt?
A: For years and years. No, I think we've probably worked on it the past month. Wanted to run it earlier, it was just a great opportunity to run it, good time and area of the field. We have an aggressive head coach who wants to run those things and that's great for me. It obviously turned out well for us.
Q: Do you have to sell those fake plays to Coach Zimmer?
A: I don't think I have to sell him. Like I said, he's been aggressive since he got here. He asked me back in the offseason about running fakes. Field goal fakes, punt fakes, surprise onsides and it has forced me to be more creative, which is good. It's a good problem to have, not a problem, it's a good opportunity for me to get our guys excited about a big play like that, and obviously they were very excited to run it and succeed with it.
Q: Why did Andrew Sendejo carry the ball?
A: Because he's our normal right wing. We didn't want to substitute anybody there, that might be a dead giveaway in terms of what we're trying to run. He's a good athlete, he's smart, he's tough and he can run. He's fast, he's a lot faster than people thought he was or gave him credit for. If you watch him run down on kickoff every week you'd know how fast he is.
Q: With your conservative background did Coach Zimmer have to convince you to install fake plays?
A: No, there was no convincing. We only have so many minutes a day of practice time, meeting time, walk-through time, so some head coaches aren't as aggressive as Coach Zimmer. In the past I've become more conservative because some of the head coaches I've worked for weren't going to run it, so I'm not going to practice something that we probably have no chance of running. Lately, and all year to be honest with you, starting back in the spring we've been working on fakes because Coach Zimmer is a more aggressive guy, which is great for me. I am conservative by nature but I'm not going to just run things or suggest to run things just to run them. I think we need to be smart when we run them, and that was a great opportunity, perfect opportunity for us.* *
Q: How many trick plays do you have in your playbook?
A: Well I think you always have a couple. Based on the look that you're going to get, you expect to get from that team that week, and maybe you just work on one a week. You're going to have two or three in the game plan so to speak and then probably bring out your best one, your best play for the look.
Q: Since Coach Zimmer is more aggressive, have you implemented more trick plays this year?
A: We've been more creative and Ryan Ficken, my assistant does a great job because he's got an offensive mind. He has an offensive background so he and I tinker with stuff and talk about things and look at what people are doing on punt return and what they're doing on field goal block and get ideas every week. Hey, what can we do here, what can we do there. What's good this week, what's good the following week, since next week we play Carolina, he's already broke down a lot of Carolina tape and so he's already got some ideas. We go back and forth and tweak things and it worked.