*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur *
Q: How different is the offense that Teddy Bridgewater will be walking into and eventually play in?
A: It won't appear different to him because he's been involved in what we've been doing behind the scenes. It'll feel not new in terms of being able to go out and execute.
Q: How different is it from what he used to play in?
A: It's a similar foundation. We've kind of veered left a little bit in terms of some of the things that we're doing more now that he didn't do in the past. But there's a lot things that'll be very familiar to him.
Q: Describe how you continue to establish the run game after the bye week.
A: I believe it's always about the players and not the plays. And in terms of the run game it starts up front. Certainly the guys are blocking their guys well and they're working well together. And then the runners are doing a good job of playing with vision, hitting the hole, and getting positive yardage. You just keep working on it. We certainly have a core set of runs that we run and then every game we have a few game plan runs that we try and employ. We just keep trying to do the things we do well and then every week kind of put a couple wrinkles in.
Q: Can you talk about how helpful it was for Teddy Bridgewater to stick around and do his rehab here?
A: Yes, it's what I'm used to seeing from guys that are injured, especially a guy like Teddy who's into it. He was into it in terms of his rehab. He's been into it in terms of knowing the schemes and the concepts we're trying to run each week. He's into being a football player and it's sort of been normal to see him around and Teddy's an abnormal guy in a lot of ways. He's a very tough, competitive guy, and I'm sure at whatever point he's on the field he's going to be looking forward to it.
Q: Washington has been really stingy in the first quarter, what are your thoughts on that?
A: I don't know. I think for us, we obviously want to start fast and finish strong and keep scoring all the way in the middle. I think that's the challenge. They are a fast starting team and we're aware of that and we just got to do all the right things early to try and put points on the board.
*Q: They have good edge rushers but they seem to bring pressure from a couple of different spots too. *
A: They're a good team and every week we talk about how good the defense is we're playing. We're not fibbing when we say this is a really, really fine team. The two marquee players are probably the edge rushers, but inside they're very fundamental. Their scheme is good – they can pressure the quarterback when you throw it, but yet, they're all in the right spots fitting the gaps in the run game. And then they cover well in the back end. They're a team that doesn't mind playing man-to-man, which means they trust their guys in coverage, so it's going to be a challenge for us.
*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
Going to Washington D.C., tough opponent in Washington. Offensively, they're pretty good. It looks like they're going to get some of their offensive linemen back. They're coming off a hell of a win going out to Seattle and beating those guys in their home was a big win for them. We'll have our work cut out for us this week. Just looking forward to the opportunity to coming back and getting off to a fast start.
Q: What is the most dangerous thing Washington does on offense?
A: When they can run the ball and their play-action is working, their play-action game is pretty tough. We've got to do a good job of hopefully stopping the run and being able to do a good job of leveraging them in the coverage down the field.
Q: Is throwing the ball to Chris Thompson been a big piece of their offense?
A: Yes, no doubt about it. He is their leading receiver right now. He does an excellent job of getting out in the routes, and does an excellent job of running in the open field. He makes a lot of guys miss. When guys are in a position to tackle, his yards after the catch have been pretty impressive during the first half of the season.
Q: Is keeping running back receptions or receiving yards to a minimum part of how you want to get better as a defense this year?
A: Yes, there's no doubt. We have to do a good job of leveraging these guys in the open field. When you start talking about situational defense, whether it's the third down or whether it's down in the red zone, these guys are able to catch the ball. When you go to cover something, then all of a sudden they're breaking tackles and being able to get extra yards.
Q: Last week was low scoring all the way through with Washington and Seattle, with both teams scoring touchdowns in the final three minutes?
A: He [Kirk Cousins] made some great throws at the end of that game in the fourth quarter. One on both sidelines. He hit one on Seattle's bench and then came right back and hit one on the other side of the field. Those were big plays that led to that score. He's got confidence in his receivers. He'll let it go and they do a good job of getting open down the field.
Q: Washington is really spreading the ball around as well?
A: They really are. When you look at their leading catchers, they're pretty impressive. Especially with the matchups on the tight ends, the backs, and then also their receivers. You get 80 in the slot. We'll have our work cut out for us this weekend.
Q: Terrence Newman has 41 career picks and Deangelo Hall has 43, and together you barely break Paul Krause's record. Is that one of the most unbreakable numbers?
A: It is a tough number to beat. It really is a tough number to beat. We just keep plugging away at it. Getting turnovers this week will be huge. That's one thing hopefully we will be able to go in to the game and be able to force some turnovers and locate the ball. This team fumbles the ball a lot but they have not thrown a lot of interceptions. He [Kirk Cousins] has only thrown four on the year. We'll have our work cut out for us. Between the rush, coverage, leverage and all those things all tying together. We'll have our work cut out for us.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: What do you think of Kai Forbath having had him on the team for about a full year now?
A: Obviously, field goal wise, you can look at the numbers, he's done a phenomenal job for us. He's made some big kicks for us, he's made a lot of kicks for us. He's kept us in games, he's helped us win games. So, I'm very pleased with where he is at field goal wise. Obviously, the PATs, it's uncanny how many PATS we've missed here in the last three years since they changed the rule. We've got to correct that and not miss anymore. That could come down and bite us towards the end of the season. Every game is close, you know that, so every point counts. Kickoff wise, I think he's kicked off better than a lot of people give him credit for. I really thought going out of last year at the end of last year, he's a better kickoff specialist than people think he is. He's done a pretty good job overall this year for us. There's been a few line drive kicks or a couple missed hits that we've got to correct. I think we're covering, other than two, we've covered kickoffs very, very well. We've covered punts well all season.
Q: How big of a challenge is it for an unemployed kicker to be working out and not be able to simulate an in-game situation?
A: It's like that for guys all the time. In fact, Marshall Koehn, he was just signed in Cincinnati for a week or two, however long until Randy Bullock comes back from injury. It's like that for all the kickers, punters, snappers, different positions. Those guys are always working out, always prepared, always ready for any type of workout that could help them make a team down the line. You can tell the guys when they come to workouts if they haven't been working out a lot lately because they just don't go out and perform very well. Especially kicking and punting, even snapping too, it's like golf, it's like any kind of specialty type of sport. You've got to do it a lot. You have to continually work on that if you're going to be good at. Especially for like a workout, you might get called on a Monday for a workout on Tuesday.
Q: Is the PAT thing a mental block?
A: It might be. I wish I had a book on that one, I'd probably sell a lot of copies. At the end of the day, it's a 33-yard field goal and that's kind of the way we've approached it. Going down the stretch here, that's how we're going to continue to approach it. Just relax. Kai has moved from the middle of the field over to the right hash to make him more comfortable. Especially indoors, outdoors it might be depending on the wind, but indoors he likes the right hash and we're going to keep doing that and hopefully he'll just continue hitting extra points like he hits field goals.
Q: Some of his kicks have a natural slice to them, is it possible some of his missed PATs could have been successful from a further distance?
A: It just depends. If he hits a true ball, he should hit them all right down the middle, to be honest with you. Especially with our snapper and holder, overall our protection has been good other than the one play against Cleveland and that was a combination of poor protection and a little bit lower kick, another thing we have to correct. Bye week, last week, went back and did a lot of self-scouting and looked at everything that we're doing and the things we have to continue to get better at. The things that we have to build on that we're doing well. So, I'm excited about the next eight games. We've got a big one this weekend. I think Washington is outstanding, they're well coached. They've got outstanding special teams. They've got a great young kicker that filled in, he was a guy that filled in for a hurt guy. [Dustin] Hopkins got hurt and [Nick] Rose has come in and done a nice job. So, we have our work cut out for us and one week at a time. We've got to go get this one.
Q: Who is your emergency kicker?
A: It would be Ryan Quigley, he is the emergency kicker and then Kai would be the emergency punter. They both work on that a little bit on the side. We don't do a lot of team work with it. We would have to prepare them on the sideline, obviously, if something happened then you've got to go out and do that. Something you want to avoid, obviously, it's not a great situation for your team. I think Jeff Heath was the guy in Dallas, he did a pretty good job, made a couple PATs.
Q: Do you have a nuclear option, in case you lost both Ryan and Kai, for a position player to kick?
A: I'd probably ask on the sideline before the second guy goes down, 'has anybody done it before?' And everybody has kicked and punted, everybody has been the running back in high school, everybody can throw the football. We get that a lot. I get that all the time, 'hey coach, I could be a punter.' Okay, sure.
Q: When you did take a look at the stats mid-season, were there a few you took pride in and a few you wanted to improve?
A: Punt coverage, I think our net punt is in the bottom half of the league stats, but I'm not really worried about that. I'm more concerned about the opportunities we're not giving our opponents. We've given up, I think, 43 total return yards and one of the returns was 25, so 18 yards in another 11 or 12 returns, that's outstanding. I think Ryan Quigley has done a good job of directionally punting for us. He's done the things that we've asked him to do. So, I take a lot of pride in that. I think the other one is just the two kickoff coverages, I'm really disappointed. The one against Tampa and the one against Cleveland, just losing leverage and not doing what we're supposed to do. We've got to play within our scheme. Our schemes aren't difficult, we just do things that keep people off balance. When we do that, we're really good and when guys do their job they're really good. So, at the end of the day, if we just keep doing what we're doing, playing sound, keep protecting the punts like we're protecting them and do the little things better than our opponent we've got a chance to help our team win a lot of games.