Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: Can you talk about how the offensive line has been able to patch things together these last couple of weeks?
A: I think it's been a real challenge. I think Jeff [Davidson] has done a great job, Jeff and Hank [Fraley] have done a great job of getting those guys ready to play, getting those guys ready, the backups ready to play even when they weren't starters. I think being at home has helped us the last couple of weeks, being at home and being able to kind of have a little bit more control. This will be a challenge. You go on the road, you go in a dome, you go against the defensive front – this defensive front is playing as well as anybody in the NFL right now, have been all year really. This will be a real test for our guys.
Q: Did you take a closer look at the protections after the first Detroit game and giving up eight sacks?
A: Well there are a lot of things that happened in that game with eight sacks. I've been in games where we unfortunately gave up more than that and early in Dallas we gave up 11. Sometimes the game gets away from you and Teddy [Bridgewater] could have gotten rid of the ball quicker, we could have put him in better protections, we had a couple of breakdowns. As I said after the game we got behind and we kept trying to throw it to get back in the game, we weren't that far out of it, and they kept coming. They did a really good job. I think we could have done a better job getting the ball out quicker and getting the ball thrown away a couple of times and I think Teddy has a better feel for that now.
Q: What's the biggest difference you've seen in Teddy between the first Detroit game and now?
A: Well I go back, and everybody wants to discount the Atlanta game but I don't because he came in, we protected him well and guys got open. He played, we had 500 yards, he played like [Aaron] Rodgers did against Atlanta the other night. It was a complete different situation when he played against Detroit and I think that he was caught off guard a little bit at how good they were and how good the rush. He threw an interception early and I think that had an effect on him, the other two interceptions were tipped balls and one was a catchable ball and the other was batted by a defensive line. I think those are experiences that everyone says a young, that every, quarterback learns from. Unfortunately, somewhere down the road he'll be in that same position again. We'll try to handle that better.
*Q: Is that Detroit defense as good of a challenge as he's faced? *
A: That's the way they're playing right now and they've played that way against everyone they've played. Early in the year they held Green Bay to 240 yards or something and Rodgers threw for 150 yards in that game, they've beaten Miami there. They've played awfully good at home, they've played good everywhere, but particularly well at home.
*Q: What stands out to you about Joe Berger? *
A: He's a veteran player and he knows how to play and he knows how to prepare. He uses all of his experience to help him play. He does get outmanned a little bit at times but I think he makes up for with it understanding, having a good understanding of what we're trying to do and being in the right position.
Q: Is there a best position for a guy like him?
A: I think the reason he's on this team is because he's a backup center and a backup guard and he'll obviously be starting because we've had injuries and that's a good positon for him, and he's done well with it.
Q: Is Kyle Rudolph all the way back?
A: I don't think he'll be all the way back until we get into camp next year. When you have that type of procedure, I think it takes a while to recover. I think he's working hard at it and he's a competitive guy but he doesn't have the same quickness and burst when we broke camp. Like I say, when you have the procedure, it takes a while to get it. He's doing a nice job playing at less than 100 percent.
Q: Is it the separation that's lacking?
A: I think it's that explosiveness, the quickness, the things that we got so excited about when we got going in training camp.
*Q: What have been your impressions Ben Tate and what can you do to maybe get him more involved? *
A: Ben has shown us that he's got good run ability, he's learning the offense, he's making fewer mistakes, he's getting better at protection. I don't think those are reasons he hasn't had more opportunities. I think we played the game the way we should have played it the other day against the Jets. I think we played the game we should have. We had 18 plays backed up inside our own 15. We had a number of short yardage, different situations where I think we had the right guy in the game. We do want Joe [Banyard], and coach said it the other day, we want to get Joe an opportunity to carry the ball, we'd like Ben to get an opportunity to carry the ball but the most important thing I want to do is we want to try to win the game. We want to make sure we help our offensive line, we had three backups in the game during the second half. I want to make sure we don't put them in a negative position with a real good pass-rush team against the Jets, obviously this team is better. How it plays out, we'll see how the game goes and we'd like to get those guys a couple more opportunities if it presents itself.
*Q: What is it about Matt Asiata that makes him so trustworthy? *
A: Well it's a comfort level that I think our guys have with him. I think we know he's going to protect the ball, he does a great job with that. He did a great job to me in getting yards where there really wasn't a whole lot and protecting the ball when there was a free guy in the hole and I'm not saying the other guys won't do that but in this circumstance he was the right guy to have in there.
Q: What's the thinking of getting Chase Ford back in there more?
A: Well we would like to. He's a good receiver and he did some good things. I don't know, we've got some things where he's going to be involved, hopefully we can get to him. We've had things each week where he's involved and sometimes you're able to get to him and sometimes you aren't. Like I said, the way the game went last Sunday it went exactly the way we wanted it to in terms of giving us the best chance to win the game. They kept the ball for a long time, it was big for us to get first downs and when we had the opportunity to make a couple of big plays, take a couple of shots, and we were able to do that. This week to me is going to be very similar. We have to be smart in field position, we have to protect the ball, we can't give them a short field and when we have the opportunity to make a big play we have to do it.
Q: What's the biggest thing a quarterback has to do to learn and progress in that area?
A: Well, like I said, he's always gets the ball out, physically he's always capable of getting the ball out quickly. That was an emphasis when we got him here – we sped up his drops, sped up, not his throwing motion but his release, a sense of urgency to get the ball out. Guys have to run routes and get open quick to get the ball out quicker. As I said, I don't think you could get the ball out any quicker than he did in his first start against Atlanta. I think he did the things that we thought he was capable of doing. I think in the next week against Detroit, he didn't play against Green Bay, they covered us tighter so there were some throws he was reluctant to turn it loose so I think he'll throw those balls now. They did a heck of a job of rushing us, too. There are going to be situations with this defense that we have to minimize the negative part of it, we have to protect the ball. If we get a sack, we need to make sure they don't end up with the ball. If we try to make a tight fit, we need to throw it where only our guy can get so they can't get it. They're doing a great job of rushing and usually teams that rush real well cover real well, it goes hand in hand.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: Would you talk about the challenges of facing Calvin Johnson, does he keep defensive coordinators up at night?
A: I think you hit the nail on the head. He is a great route-runner, he's able to go up and catch the ball, he's able to go up over guys and catch the ball, so you've got to do a good job of locating it. They're moving him around within the formations and the different personnel groupings that they have. He's definitely someone that will keep you up during the week, just the different ways that they go about getting him the football. Then you look at (Golden) Tate, Tate is having a heck of a year for them this year. So, from that aspect of it, our work is cut out for us. We're going to have to do a good job of pressuring the quarterback and being able to keep leverage on the routes down the field.
Q: Is Calvin Johnson really good at catching in traffic and Golden Tate of more getting free of defenders?
A: Yeah, I mean, Calvin's caught it in traffic, being able to jump and get guys. People have doubled him, people have tripled him and he's still been able to go up and get it. Tate, he fights for the ball, especially in the 3rd downs. He does a great job in the route running, breaking in and out of routes. He does a good job of creating separation underneath. They've got two very competitive receivers that will pose a good challenge for us this weekend.
Q: How does the cornerback's technique change when playing a taller receiver?
A: What we try to do is focus on that, the techniques and fundamentals of what it is we're asking them to do, whether we're playing underneath, whether we're trying to stay over the top, whether he's got help over the top, it kind of varies from call-to-call and technique and how we'll play it. From that aspect of it, that's where the majority of our time is spent this week, trying to make sure that we're all on the same page there.
Q: Is Calvin Johnson a guy that you would typically double more than other bigger guys?
A: It just depends on the matchup. It always depends on the matchup. You go into a game, you're thinking, okay, we may approach it this way and then when you get going in the game, depending on how the matchup is going, you may not have to. From that aspect of it, you go in knowing that he's this type of receiver and we've got to do these things in these situations. There's times you're going to be able to double him, there's times you've got to single him. Throughout the course of it, it boils down to just playing that chess game.
Q: Do you see much of a difference between Theo Riddick and Reggie Bush?
A: Very similar roles. They're both fast out of the backfield, as far as receivers, good catching the ball. They're a bounce to the perimeter type runners have a lot of speed to get on the edge. From that aspect of it, they're very similar as far as the role that they play in their offense.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
I think I need to start out by say, go Navy, beat Army, going for 12 in a row this year, this Saturday.
Q: Could you explain your confidence to stay with Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoff return?
A: I think Cordarelle gives us the best chance to score every time he's back there. Like I told him, sometimes the way people have been kicking to us this year, is that he can just stand underneath the goalpost and we're going to get the ball at the 35 or 40-yard line because they're not kicking to him. He's always a threat and I understand that. My big coaching point for him on Sunday was hand the ball to the official, either celebrate with your teammates in the end zone or hand the ball to the official at the end of the play. He's got to do a better job with that, quite frankly, the next one, it was close as well, it could have been called a fumble. He's got to do a better job with that, he knows that, we've talked about it, we've addressed it. He's been good since he's been here, for the most part. Going forward the last three weeks of the regular season, we've got to make sure that gets done.
Q: Did he change gloves after the second fumble?
A: I don't know of the changing of the gloves, I know that he did, but I wasn't involved with that decision, I've got too many other things to worry about than what gloves they're wearing.
Q: What have you seen from him confidence-wise?
A: I think he's still confident in his abilities. Like a lot of young players, when they're not getting the success that they've had in the past, I think they press a little bit and he's probably a little bit frustrated, but his attitude has been great. He's studying, he knows the returns, he knows what he has to do to be successful, he knows where the guys are kicking the ball and we just hope to pop one here in the next three games and get him some more confidence going into the offseason.
Q: Do you feel like he's missed opportunities or have there been fewer?
A: No, there probably has not been as many opportunities as a year ago. I don't think we've blocked as well this year as we have in the past and we've had a lot of guys rotate in and out. That's no excuse, I've got to do a better job of coaching. I think he's had some solid returns. I think he's 10th in the league in kickoff return average, which is okay. Not good enough for him, not good enough for us. Our expectations, and I know your expectations for him are so high, that sometimes when he doesn't meet those, we all get a little bit frustrated. I think at the end of the day, he's still a very, very good returner, probably one of the best in the league when the ball is in his hands and he gets the seam that he needs.
Q: How much do you miss guys blocking that have been core special teamers for you in past years?
A: Those guys were very good and the guys that have replaced them have done a nice job. Joe Berger is the one guy that we miss. Joe Berger did a phenomenal job the last couple of years and the beginning part of this year, he was kind of the glue on the back-end. I think we're blocking well, we just haven't finished. We haven't put all 10 guys blocking well together like we did in the past. It might be one guy here or one guy there, for the most part we're doing a good job. As many returns as we've had this year, there are not a lot of tackles inside the 20, which we take a lot of pride in, but we're still not finishing blocks. We're getting out to the 23, the 28, the 25, but we're not popping the big one, either because one guy didn't finish. I'm big on penalties, too. Some of these young guys, we had a couple of penalties earlier in the year, that knock on wood, we've wiped out, but still they need to finish better in order for us to get a big play.
Q: Did you see what happened with the Chargers punter, Mike Scrifes?
A: I did, that was too bad. Mike is a good guy.
Q: What your emergency plan, do you work with Blair Walsh on punting?
A: Blair can back up, Blair punts during the week. He probably thinks he's as good as Jeff (Locke) is, but he does practice that. We've had Christian (Ponder) be a backup holder. Audie Cole can be a backup long snapper, we've got all of those things that we practice from time-to-time to make sure that we're ready.
Q: Jeff Locke would be the emergency kicker?
A: Yes. He'd definitely kickoff like he did last year for a couple of weeks, and then place kicking, maybe you'd go for it, or go for two, but we'll see. It's tough holding for a lefty, especially when you haven't practiced for it.
Q: What's your level of concern with Blair Walsh kicking outside?
A: I'm not concerned. Sometimes he tries a little bit too much. Sometimes he thinks a little bit too much. It really wasn't that windy, and maybe he didn't play the wind correctly the other? Obviously, he's got to make that kick, he knows that. I still think like I did standing up here last Thursday, he's one of the top kickers in the league and I still believe that, but he knows that in order to have that title, to be one of the best kickers in the league, you have to be more consistent kicking field goals, because the kickoffs are there, but the field goals have to be more consistent in order to be considered part of that elite group in the NFL.
Q: Is there something that hinders his numbers kicking outside versus inside?
A: No, I mean, it is, obviously, it's a lot easier to kick indoors; it's a no-brainer. There's no flags on the top of the goal posts. I think going forward he has to understand that his strengths are kicking through the wind, not playing the wind. We've talked a lot about that this year and I think he's getting better at it, we just had an off day.
Q: Can you talk about Cullen Loeffler being named to the All-Fundamentals Team and what he's done.
A: I've been around some good long snappers in the NFL, I've been very fortunate to coach some good ones. He is so professional, he takes his job so seriously. Not that the others didn't, he takes a lot of pride in his work and he works at his craft. He's been in the league 11 years now and he still takes coaching, the little things, it's on tape, it's in the drill work we do every week. He's very serious about his craft and I'm real proud of him. I'm glad he got that award, he deserves it. Go Navy, beat Army.