*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
It's good to be back in town for a home game this weekend after traveling the last month. Hopefully we can get back on track. Cincinnati is coming in with a very similar system defensively. Offensively, their quarterback [Andy Dalton] is doing a good job for them this year, even though people have been able to sack him and hit him. Of course it's a tough matchup outside with A.J. [Green] and the running back situation we'll have to go through during the course of the week.
Q: What have you seen out of Andy Dalton and their offense?
A: I think they're doing a better job protection-wise. Up front, I think they're doing a better job protection-wise. I think he's getting rid of the ball. He is getting rid of the ball on the count. The ball is coming out quick so that is something that we have to be conscious of this week.
Q: How do you keep your linemen patient when offenses keep getting the ball out?
A: We all have a job to do. We anticipate what it is and they understand. Our coverages, along with our blitzes, along with our rush, they're all tied together. Everybody understands they're counting on each other for us to get it executed, especially in the situations in third down or red zone where people are trying to get the ball out quicker on us.
Q: How is Danielle Hunter still having an impact in those pass rush situations?
A: They're still making the quarterback have to make quick decisions, which helps us on the coverage end of it. So they understand that it's all tied together. Just rushing up the field, opening up lanes and opening up throwing lanes. They understand the concept that we're doing and we approach each week and understand their importance of their role in that. Whether they're getting chipped or not getting chipped, hats off to those guys. They're not selfish guys. They're going to do the rush plan that week to make sure the quarterbacks still keep getting the ball out.
Q: How has Everson Griffen fought through getting double-teamed chipped, especially where he's been with his foot injury and everything he's gone through since the bye?
A: I think at the start of this year, it's kind of been going on all year. We anticipated that was going to happen. Last year, having the good year that he had, it kind of surprised him from week to week. Now we've seen it every game pretty much. From that aspect of it, he understands what is going to happen. He understands he has got some tools in his toolbox to help him. And also, we can try to help him in certain areas with things that we do pressure-wise and those kind of things to hopefully create some one-on-ones.
Q: What have been the keys for your defense this year to shut down these big receivers for the majority?
A: I think it comes back to the game plan that we go in with and guys going out and executing that plan. They understand who the threats are from week to week and what we're asking them to do. They do a good job paying attention to the details of what we're trying to get accomplished. Again, it goes back to the quarterback getting the rid of the ball, the routes not being able to get down the field quite as far, him having to throw it quicker than he really wants to. All of those things are a combination of all of those guys going out and executing.
*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur *
Q: How much has the offensive line this year compared to last year helped you able to do more and what flexibility has it given you?
A: It's imperative that guys up front block and block well and do it over the course of the season. These guys have done a good job of certainly blocking their guys individually, but working together. You've seen we've had to move some guys in and out this year. Much fewer combinations than a year ago, but the guys that have gotten in there have functioned well and so we anticipate it will continue.
Q: What is the situation at tight end with two of the guys out there right now?
A: We'll see how it finally plays out on Sunday. But again, we'll put the guys in there that are healthy and ready to go. We'll make the adjustments as we need to personnel-wise.
Q: Stepping in that lead role, what do you think of David Morgan being more involved in the offense?
A: David is ready to go. He's played a lot of football for us in really all of the groupings. He's played in a single tight end sets, double tight end and three tight end sets, so he knows what to do.
Q: What is the biggest aspect of growth you've seen with Rashod Hill over the last five games?
A: I think he's improved each game. We knew he was a good player, but the time that he spent playing is going to serve him well as he goes through his career. He's done a really good job for us. He's an outstanding pass protector, he's getting better in the run game. As I just mentioned, I just feel like each week and with each exposure he gets better and better.
Q: With the need to revamp the offensive line in the offseason, how much of that is just beyond the five starting guys with the depth and that quality depth at both those spots?
A: It is a good question and observation. The guys that have gotten in there, even the ones that were here a year ago that are not new, are improved. Rashod [Hill] is one of those guys. We've gotten good reps out of [Jeremiah] Sirles. Jeremiah has done a good job for us. Everybody that has gone in there has done well and we anticipate it will continue that way.
Q: I know all the players do a good job about having the next man up mentality, but for you, as a coordinator, when these injuries happen in the middle of the game, how do you deal with that or what is your approach?
A: I'm glad the players feel that way because it's more than a cliché, it's real. And in December in the NFL it's kind of attrition and so the guys that are up have to go in and have to play. And nobody feels good this time of year. I'm glad they feel that, you heard me say it before, but we try not to make injuries part of our daily conversation. We've got NFL football players on our roster, we expect them to go in there and perform and they expect that of themselves and, so it's a credit to players when they're saying that because that's really how we feel.
Q: What'd you think of the few drops on Sunday? I'm sure they stuck out because of the few drops you've had all season.
A: Yes, that was uncommon for us. We have a receiving crew, tight end crew, running back crew, that catches the ball extremely well. I don't see that being a trend and we'll get back going this week.
Q: Based on the speed and what Jeremiah Sirles had to do on Sunday, was there anything more difficult about going from right guard to left tackle?
A: That's tough to go from an inside player to an outside player on the opposite side, yes that's pretty tough. Moving from New York to LA, I guess. Well, it'd be more like Detroit to LA, inside to outside. But, he handled it well. He's played a lot of snaps at multiple positions and that's part of the value of Sirles is his ability to play multiple positions and he did a good job for us.
Q: With moving from right tackle to left, is it just reversing everything?
A: Sort of, but you have to play out a different stance and you're blocking different type players. And all the communication is different, so calls that tell you to go right tell you to do one thing, when I say go right you do another and it does take more than just being able to block your guy.
*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *
Q: You mentioned last week you felt it was a better special teams performance. How did you feel about this past week?
A: I think the last two weeks we played much better. We've covered a lot better. We got our punt return game going a little bit there against Carolina. It wasn't enough, we still need to be productive. We gave one rep away there, the first one there, we didn't do a good enough job. Kickoff coverage was good, punt coverage was good – we pinned them at the 2-yard line. It was a huge play for us. I think the things we have to do a better job of on K.O.R. (kickoff return), with the opportunities that we have to get a kickoff return game going. The 54-yarder [FG] they're always hard to make, we had a little wind behind us and we took the wind in the fourth quarter. Coach took the wind for that very reason we have to do a better job, give ourselves a chance of making that kick. So, I think the last two weeks we played much better and we need to keep that going as we go down the stretch.
Q: What does getting back home do for all of your guys?
A: Playing in front of our fans is the best, we have the best fans in the NFL. They're a lot of fun. They understand special teams. They get juiced up anytime we get a big play on even kickoff and punt. Obviously, the return game is easy to get fired up. I think they understand the game better than most fans. But, the other thing is that obviously indoors is great. We're back in our confines. Specialist went down there on Wednesday and got some work in there again to kind of get back into it – it's been awhile. It's been about a month, I guess. We're looking forward to doing that and getting down there and getting after it.
Q: When you talk about getting the return game going, does that come from the players decisions themselves or coverage?
A: We've got to block better. We've got to be more effective finishing our blocks. I think the decisions were pretty good. I know one at the end of the game is when we were trying to make a play, a 1:47 to go, we're down by a touchdown. We were one block away from making a big play there, but the difference between the 22 and 25 is not that big of a deal. But, we did take some time off the clock and I think that's what hurt us a little bit. But, no, I think Marcus [Sherels] is doing a good job in his decision making. He was much more aggressive in his punt return game than he was a week ago in Atlanta and it really showed. It really helped us with field position all day long.
Q: What have you seen out of the Bengals special teams group?
A: Outstanding punter and they've got an outstanding kicker, that I thought was a really good kicker Randy [Bullock], coming out of A&M a few years ago. The returner Alex Erickson, is a Wisconsin kid and he's done a really nice job on punts and kickoffs. He can break tackles. He's got quickness, great vision, he runs hard. They've got a guy, 42 [Clayton Fejedelem], I can't pronounce his name – one of the best special teams players we've faced all year. He's really good in punt and kickoff coverage and they're well coached and they're disciplined. We've got a big challenge, like we normally do in the NFL, but I think these guys are particularly good on special teams.