*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner *
Q: Was Teddy Bridgewater completing passes to 11 different receivers a product of the system or was he trying to diversify things?
A: Well, we played a lot of guys and that's the way that ends up happening. Normally you wouldn't have 11 different guys play in the game. That's where we're at right now and it's a positive thing. I think you can look at it a lot of different ways, I think guys see more when they run the same plays over and over and over again. When you get constant repetition you know where those guys are and you don't have to look for them, you're looking at your progression, the guy you're looking for isn't there and all of the sudden you turn, like he did when he found Zach Line, he knows Zach's going to be there. I don't know that he saw him or he turned and threw it to him because the first two guys were covered. I think just continuing to be more comfortable in the system, understanding what we're trying to achieve with each play and then adjusting that based on what you get defensively.
Q: How difficult is it to prepare for the Bears defense since they are running a new scheme defensively?
A: I still know the stuff we used to know, it just doesn't apply to this team. Every week it's a new challenge and every week you're going from Kansas City, that is very multiple, you go to Detroit, it's a four-man front, this week it's again, a 3-4, but teams that play a 3-4 defense are very multiple, they give you a lot of different looks. That kind of is a generic name that covers a lot of things, 3-4, they're very multiple in what they do and they present a lot of problems. It's a challenge, it's a hard week of preparation for our guys and right now they're doing a good job with it.* *
Q: Has Mike Wallace been the receiver you expected when the Vikings traded for him?
A: I think Mike [Wallace] has been outstanding. He's a guy that defenses got to account for. We have a number of guys that you have to line up and you have to account for them. I think it gives everybody opportunities, plus he's having production. I like everything about what he does – he works hard, he prepares like a professional, he goes 100 miles an hour on every play. He's a big contributor to what we do.
Q: What have your impressions been of Mike Wallace's personality off of the field?
A: Like I said, he's a pro. He works very hard at it. He's very serious about what he does.
Q: Have you had a lot of patience with Adrian Peterson because of his ability to hit the homerun?
A: I probably shouldn't say this, but it's like the lottery - if you don't play the lottery, you can't win the lottery. If we don't give him the ball, he can't break long runs. He was close in that game to breaking four or five different times. We're close to finishing blocks or getting on the right guy and giving him that chance. We knew going into the season, we know where we're at right now six games in that we have a lot of work to do in the offensive line. I think we've gotten better, I think in another month we're going to be better than we are right now. It is very much a work in progress, I think Adrian's done a great job of not getting frustrated because I know he feels it and sees how close he is on a number of plays. It's a matter of just all of us staying with it.
Q: With teams bottling him up early in games is he absorbing a lot of contact?
A: I've watched a lot of tape on Adrian before I was around here and he delivers and absorbs a lot of contact on most of his runs.
Q: Before each game do you have an idea of how many snaps you want each of your top-three tight ends to get in that game?
A: We play two tight ends a lot in a lot of different formations. We're trying to keep Kyle [Rudolph] fresh, he's really playing at a high level. He's still probably playing too many snaps, but we've got all three of those guys and we need to use them. Q: Are there egos on this team that you have to manage regarding getting the ball?
A: Well, they know me, and they know I'm too old to worry about that stuff. If there's egos or things that are issues, they don't come to me. They know that. They get explained to every day or very regularly that this offense is designed to be an equal opportunity deal. They're going to get opportunities to make plays and the ball is going to get spread around, 11 guys, as you guys said, got opportunities to handle the ball. It's equal opportunity.
Q: What's the story behind the shrimp issue with Adrian Peterson?
A: It probably wasn't a very good joke. We hit a big air pocket and bump on the airplane and when we got there and they said that Adrian was sick and I jokingly said, 'yeah, when we hit that air pocket he probably swallowed his chew.' I didn't confirm it or verify it, I kind of just said it, haha-type said it, but someone took it seriously.
Q: Do you have kind of a dry sense of humor that you like to share with the guys?
A: Well, I apologized to Adrian when we got on the bus, when he got on the bus I explained to him what happened, I apologized to him. It's pretty funny how things happen.
Q: Have you seen MyCole Pruitt improve his blocking abilities?
A: It's like last week we talked about [Stefon] Diggs, we talked about Kyle [Rudolph], we've talked about Rhett [Ellison], everyone on this team, including me, needs to improve in what we're doing and find ways to get better. Pruitt is a young guy so he has a lot of things he needs to get better at. He's working hard as a blocker, he really had the big block that got Adrian started on the long run. I think he's a willing blocker, he's physical enough to be a good blocker, he's got good athleticism, good feet. He's going to be a good blocker at some point. He's working hard every day to get better at it.* *
Q: Is willingness a big part of being a good blocker?
A: Well, I mean, I'd be a willing blocker but I don't know that I'd be very good. You have to have the things I'm talking about – he's very strong, he's got excellent athletic ability, he uses his hands well. You have got to work at it. You've got to want to block them, but I think that's like any other guy playing the position.
Q: What have you seen from Kyle Rudolph in his non-pass catching responsibilities?
A: He's got a good understanding of what we have to do. We've got a rookie playing right tackle and every week it seems like we're playing the best pass rusher in the league and we've got another really good one this week. We can't leave our linemen hanging and leave them out there by themselves. When you're playing three wide receivers as much as we are, the tight end isn't as big of a part on a lot of the routes. Right now, his contribution a lot of the time is making sure we're solid there at the right tackle and then continuing on into his route. If you have to hit a guy or help or bang a guy, some of your routes get comprised, but we're having success getting the ball to the other guys and that's what we're trying to accomplish.
Q: What did you see from Jerick McKinnon against Detroit?
A: We kind of get a rotation, get a feel for who we're playing and what we're going to emphasize in that game. We thought Jerick [McKinnon] would be good with the opportunities that he had. He missed the last six games or whatever it was last year with injury and people kind of forget what he did for us last year through the first three quarters of the season. He's a talented guy and he always surprises me with his strength, because he's got that low center of gravity. He's hard to tackle, on that ball we flipped to him, he ran through three or four guys, it was actually Rhett [Ellison] who I think tackled him, grabbed his facemask on that little toss play.
Q: Just to clarify, did you tell the chew joke in a production meeting with the Fox broadcast crew?
A: It wasn't a joke and it wasn't a non-joke, it was kind of off the cuff kind of remark, like that's probably what happened. I did tell it I think in the production meeting, I'm not sure. To me, it's a lot about nothing. Obviously, to someone else it might be more important.
Q: As coaches do you notice the guys who stay after practice and does that impact their playing time?
A: Well, I think they're trying to have it effect playing time. Our deal is obviously based on performance. If those things help them perform better, that's why they're doing it.
*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
Another tough road game against another divisional opponent. Guys are getting focused in on what we're trying to get accomplished this week and handle the mismatches and all of the things that they do offensively. They're a good offensive football team, really have got to pay attention to the details of the different things that they're trying to expose. Questions?
Q: How do you account for Sharrif Floyd potentially missing some time?
A: We've rotated guys in. Tom [Johnson] has really stepped up, done a nice job for us inside. [Kenrick] Ellis has really stepped up. He came in last week – didn't play a lot of plays – but he filled in and played some plays for us inside, so we kind of use a three-man rotation inside with those guys. The more that he picks up – and I think he'll be able to pick up more of what we're doing defensively this week – should be able to help us a little bit more as far as reps inside.
Q: Have you seen Tom Johnson grow these last few weeks?
A: No doubt about it. Just even from last year, production he was able to put in last year. His time has increased, he played a lot in the preseason and that's something that carried over. We've repped him probably more reps per game than we did last year. I think he's used to it, he stepped in and did a nice job for us last week and we look forward to him just keep continuing to progress.
Q: How do you prepare for a guy like Matt Forte who hardly ever leaves the field?
A: He's exceptional. He's good with the ball in his hands whether it's a running play or whether he's catching it coming out of the backfield. They'll put him out in the slot, yards after the catch he's excellent in. Last year I think he led everybody in the league as far as catches. He's someone we definitely have got to pay attention to and be disciplined as far as leverage of the coverages that we're playing on him and just the different aspects of what he brings to the ballgame.
Q: Did you guys draft Eric Kendricks thinking he would have this immediate success?
A: Well, we liked the skillset that we saw on tape with him coming out of college. We knew it's an adjustment coming into this league, but we talked about it. He's been able to handle what we've thrown at him and from that aspect of it, he's gotten better each week. He learns from his mistakes, he does a good job of studying and transferring from the classroom to the field, so we're glad he is where he is. But, we also realize it's a team sport and I think he'll tell you that he's got a lot of good veterans around him that have helped him and that's a big part of who we are on defense is everybody working together to accomplish the goal that set out for each week.
*Q: Can you elaborate on him working with the veterans around him specifically in the nickel package? *
A: Every team is different each week offensively and you've got to sort of come in each week and turn the page, the different matchups that they create, the different formations, motions, adjustments, what we're doing to try to take away what they're doing, plus attacking protections whether it's passing off coverages underneath. So, I think as a whole, I think everybody has done a good job of communicating and working through those things and knowing where everybody has got to be. We talk about accountability to each other and that's one thing I think we've done a pretty decent job of here starting out.
Q: Does the relationship he had with Anthony Barr from college play a big part?
A: I think it does. I think it's helped him feel more comfortable quicker because he's got somebody in-house that he does know. But I give him the credit of coming in with his work habits and all those things that make him the player that he is. He's done a great job of studying. Adam Zimmer has done a great job of preparing him each week, so I think he's got a good understanding of what we're trying to do schematically and how we're trying to use him and the different things that we're trying to take away from week to week.
Q: What did Chad Greenway's sack (the first of seven) do for the team last Sunday?
A: I think Chad – he was an add-on – he did a nice job coming and he saw the open lane and it triggered, he didn't even think a second about it. It was a great reaction by him, and from there, I think the different packages and the different things that they were doing that we were able to take advantage of schematically what we had planned for them in the ballgame.
Q: Does Brian Robison do a good job of taking up offensive linemen? You blitzed a lot from his side.
A: Well, I don't think it's that. I think it's a part of what we had game-planned for that specific team. Now we're on to a different team and it'll be totally different this week. I don't think it was aimed at a specific person. I think it goes back to every guy within the call was doing their job and we can't tell who is going to come free, but they were doing their job and it was able for all of us to be successful on it.
Q: How nice was it to see the defense settle in after trailing early and not give up a lot of points?
A: It was very good. Absolutely, very good. They were ahead of us, 14 [points] in a hurry. And kind of after they got out of 15 [first quarter], things sort of settled down. Guys recognized these are the new things that we're seeing this week, these are the new things that we have to adjust to and they did a nice job with that. And that can happen from week to week. We go in thinking we're going to get one thing and something shows up that we really hadn't seen.
Q: How much more effective is Linval Joseph this season?
A: I think he's been very consistent in everything we've asked him to do. He's definitely a big cog inside, he's excellent in the run-game, he's getting push in the pocket in the pass game. I think we're elated with where he is right now and just look for him to continue to keep getting better and improve. He's somebody that's definitely accountable from day-to-day, week-to-week that you can count on and don't have to worry about anything as far as him doing his job. So I think he's stepped it up coming from last year to this year. I think you can see the improvement. I know he missed a lot of time last year with injuries and those things, but he's been more than solid this year. He's had an exceptional first half of the season.
Q: How has Trae Waynes been progressing so far?
A: He's been progressing good. We're getting him better from week-to-week. Just depending on the matchups and playing him through the matchups and those kind of things from week-to-week, but he's another one. He's still grinding, we're still working with him, he's improving and we've just got to keep working with him. From week-to-week, we never know which matchup or what's the best skillsets to get out there and stop what an offense is trying to do to us, so we're just asking him to keep working the fundamentals of the techniques that we're doing and he's been doing a good job of that.
Q: Is there ever any pressure to get him more involved with the amount of playing time the other rookies are getting?
A: Right now, our biggest thing is we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to win and from week-to-week, it's going to be different and guys are going to come to practice, they're going to compete. We're going to use their different skillsets and the different packages and our biggest thing is to get the best people out there to help us win.
*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *
Going to Chicago, road game in our division. Very difficult to win on the road as everybody in this room knows, especially in the NFC North. We're going back outdoors, their grass is a little bit thicker than the grass we have here at Winter Park, but we've played there before, we know what we have to do. Big challenge ahead of us there. Their special teams had a couple hiccups early in the season, but they're playing extremely well. Their coverage teams are much better, they've got an outstanding returner in Marc Mariani, their field goal kicker and punter are doing extremely well, so we've got our work cut out for us.
Q: What's it mean to have a head coach that is so all about special teams?
A: That's huge. Most of the coaches that I've coached for have supported special teams and when you have one that doesn't – either doesn't understand or doesn't support it – it kind of permeates throughout the whole team. Coach Zimmer does such a great job in believing of what we're doing and supporting our special teams. It makes my job a little bit easier and again, it goes throughout the whole team. Our guys have bought in, we've got the right guys, we draft the right guys, we're bringing the right guys in. They have great attitudes, they enjoy playing special teams until it's their turn on offense or defense. We know and our guys realize what a huge and important part of that game, or any game is, special teams.
Q: Does Coach Zimmer get involved much in the special teams game-planning?
A: The way he gets involved is that he says, "Here is our objectives for this week. What do we need to do? This is the type of team that we're playing, we're on the road, it could be windy, it could be whatever the case" – it's Chicago, it's always windy. But he basically says, "Here is what we need, here is our objectives for our football team," and then I take that upon myself and our game plan to prepare our team as per his wishes so to speak.
Q: How big was it for Blair Walsh to not have his missed extra point affect the rest of his day? He converted four field goals in a row after his missed PAT.
A: Yeah, he did a great job. He bounced back and he's typically a guy since he's been here that does a good job bouncing back and obviously we can't have those misses, especially a PAT, especially indoors, but the way he kicked the rest of the game, kicking field goals and kicking off for us was a huge part of our victory.
Q: What is he doing different as opposed to the preseason and earlier in the regular season?
A: I think more of it's confidence. He's still hitting the ball pretty much the same. We tweaked a couple things here and there and we continue to work on stuff to help him become more consistent or be most consistent as a placekicker. But to him, it's more of a confidence thing because he's got all the ability in the world. I think he's one of the top kickoff/field goal guys in our league, but when he's a confident kicker, he's a really good kicker and he showed that on Sunday.
Q: Did you see anything different from him after that bye week?
A: Yeah, I think he came back with maybe not a different focus, but maybe re-focused on the things that we've been talking about since he's been here. And he's worked really hard on it – his mental approach to the game – and that's helped him a lot because as you mature, and physically I think he's stronger than he's ever been, and as he matures mentally, he'll become a most consistent, more confident kicker.
Q: What do those 50-yard field goals do for his confidence?
A: I think any kicker, that's huge. I know they were indoors, but that 53-yard kick he had was probably the best field goal he's had since he's been here. He drilled it right down the middle – snap was good, hold was good, the protection was outstanding. A lot of people don't understand, it's not just Blair [Walsh], it's Kevin [McDermott], it's Jeff [Locke], it's our protection team, our offensive linemen, we're got a defensive lineman in there, we've got a couple tight ends. Our guys have done a nice job all year there.
Q: Blair Walsh said during the bye week that he went down to Georgia and kicked by himself, is that something you knew he was going to do?
A: It was kind of spur of the moment, but he told me he was going to do it.
Q: How much does it help playing at TCF Bank Stadium when you go on the road to a place like Chicago?
A: Obviously, the turf is different but the winds, Blair [Walsh] has kicked there before, Jeff [Locke] has punted there before. It won't be totally new. It's supposed to be a nice day, I think they're supposed to have some rain on Saturday and then Sunday it's supposed to be a little bit of wind and a nice day. We always talk about preparing for the elements for an outdoor game, whether it's Chicago or anywhere else. But Chicago is a tough place to play at times and hopefully it won't be that bad.
Q: Why do you think that the extra point is more difficult to adjust to?
A: Instead of a 20-yard field goal, it's a 33-yard field goal. I mean, I know it's only 13 yards and people don't understand that there are no chip-shots in this league with people blocking kicks and putting pressure on the kicker and then the protection team. I don't know if it's more of a mental thing or not, but it's still a 33-yard field goal. Should they make it? Sure, of course they should, they're NFL kickers, but you're going to have people that miss them at times. Unfortunately, we've had two and hopefully that will be it for the year.
Q: Did you expect the transition to the longer PAT to take as long as it has?
A: I didn't think a whole lot about it because we're trying to approach every kick the same. Obviously, it has been a little bit of a transition. I think it's good for the league. I'm glad the owners kept this play in the game, it's an important part of our game. Hopefully we'll keep it in for a long, long time.
Q: What went into the decision to choose the left-hash for the PAT kick?
A: It's just the way he swings his leg though. I think he'll go middle or right if the winds are a little bit different, depending on field conditions. Maybe that part of the field in Chicago might be torn up and we'll just move it over to the middle or right-hash. He shouldn't have a problem anywhere, at either hash. He feels more comfortable on the left-hash.* *
Q: Is it hard for a punter to get into a rhythm when they're not being used?
A: Well, he didn't have a chance really to get into a rhythm. The way we talked about going into Detroit last week, was we wanted to win every punt situation. We talked about that in the meeting. We had the field punt where we netted 41, we punted and covered it well, we had the 50 punt where we pinned them at the 11 and then we took a safety. To me, all three situations we won and were a big part of our game.* *
Q: Do you have him do stretches to stay loose since you can't really practice punting on the sideline?
A: Well he punts into the net. He keeps loose throughout the game. It was easier indoors, obviously. If it was cold, it might be a different deal for him. He understands how to stay loose throughout the whole game. I don't monitor that, I've got enough going on.
Q: Was the intentional safety originated by you or was that Coach Zimmer?
A: We've talked about that before in that situation. We've practiced it before, we practiced it in the spring, in training camp, two weeks ago we practiced it or the week before the Detroit game I believe it was, we practiced it. It's something that Coach Zimmer always has in his back pocket and it was a perfect time to call it.