Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur
Q: I know it doesn't matter to you that Harrison Smith did not make the Pro Bowl, but when you see a safety that can line up everywhere, what kind of challenges does that bring for you?
A: You're talking about Harrison Smith? Yes, playing against him would be a challenge because he's good in the backend, he's got excellent ball skills, so on those tipped balls and over throws he can finish the play with the ball in his hands. He's an excellent tackler and then when he plays man-to-man he's a matchup problem because of his size on your tight ends. Certainly he's a tough one to go against.
Q: As a quarterback, would he be the first guy you try to find as you get to line of scrimmage?
A: Well, you have to know where everybody is, but certainly. We need to know if he's in the quarters, in the half, or in the middle of the field. And in Harry's case, a lot of times he's down low, certainly. That's part of the quarterback's checklist, to check the cushion of the corners and location of the safeties, so our eyes would be on him.
Q: How does the cold effect offense? Can it effect a game plan?
A: It's just handling the football. We had too good days of practicing in the cold, which is good. Case is actually throwing the ball pretty well and that's a good thing. But, otherwise it's just a matter of handling the ball. You see late in the year, especially in cold weather games, where ball security is really at a premium. We've been pretty good about securing the football most of the year in most of our games and we've got to continue to do that.
Q: Do you sense some confusion from other teams in the red zone, because every time Kyle Rudolph has scored it's come from a different look…
A: We have different types of plays and we certainly try to utilize him down there, because he's a size problem for smaller safeties, as we've been talking about, or linebackers. Then we have some concepts that can pop him free. It was kind of a goal set this past week, where it was a hard play action and they really struggled to cover any of the guys.
Q: Well, they had Jeremiah Sirles covered.
A: Well, he said they did and on further review I think they were just kind of standing there waiting for him.
Q: How does Kyle Rudolph manage to come free?
A: Down there, if you talk to linebackers they'll tell you, they're going to do what they can from running the ball in and it was a hard play-action fake, so you trick their eyes and you get them close to the line of scrimmage and that can happen.
Q: What does Green Bay do best defensively?
A: I think they play well in the two-shell, so they'll play two deep and they'll stop the run and pressure the quarterback by doing that. A lot of teams can't do that, so I think they do a good job there. They do a good job getting pressure on the quarterback. They've got some outstanding players on the inside and the outside. I like way they're inside linebackers are playing. They're pretty instinctive guys, so we're going to have to be on our game, both run and pass.
Q: Your name keeps being brought up about positions for head coach, do you have any thoughts on that?
A: Not really. I try and stay in the moment. I fortunately have had that opportunity in the past and learned a lot from it. But, you just stay in the moment. I think what we've done here to win the division is very hard to do and we want to take this thing as far as we can and that's certainly my focus.
*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
In preparation right now. Preparing for a tough divisional game. Going to Green Bay so we know we got our work cut out for us preparing for these guys. We got to do a good job here the rest of the week in our preparation getting ready for this game.
*Q: What goes into it preparing for the first outdoor cold game this year? *
A: I mean we pretty much take the same approach. As you've seen we practiced outside yesterday and today (doors open) it's still a little chilly in here. I think our guys understand that it'll be what it is and no matter where we are, we have to go out, and we've got to perform.
Q: With them not being in the playoffs, what kind of atmosphere do you expect?
A: Every time we've been up there it's always been loud. It's a divisional rivalry type game, so we know we've got to put our best foot forward effort wise, pay attention to the details to be able to have a chance to win this game.
Q: I know it doesn't matter to whether Harrison Smith makes the Pro Bowl or not, but can you explain what it is that makes him one of the top safeties in the league?
A: Harry pays attention to the details of everything, from week-to-week. Understanding number one what we're trying to do. Understanding what teams are going to try to do to us. Does a great job of communication, helping us get lined up, and different pass offs and coverages and those kind of things. He's a heck of a player around the line of scrimmage and he does an excellent job on the backend for us. In our opinion he's a really good player for us.
Q: How many safeties are that good at the line of scrimmage? It seems like his versatility is a major part of why he's so good.
A: There's no doubt about it. Most guys are probably better at doing one or the other, but he has the ability and athleticism to do both.
Q: What do you think of Danielle Hunter this season? Coach Zimmer says he's thinking less and as a result playing faster, have you seen that from him?
A: Yes, I think the more experience he's gotten, he's gotten a lot more comfortable with what teams are trying to do to us schematically, what they're trying to do to him on an individual basis, as far as the pass rush. I think he's grown a lot. I think last was probably his one of his best games. He came off the ball pretty much all game and kind of reacted to things and wasn't thinking too much, so I thought last week he really exploded off the football.
*Q: Has defending the tight end gotten tougher as the position has evolved? *
A: Yes, they have because so many of them now coming out of college are more like receivers. They're more spread out. They're used to playing in space and doing those types of deals, but yes, it has. You look around the league now and every team has that guy. I mean they have that tight end that's a tough match for a linebacker in coverage consistently. That has become a tough position for us to match each week.
Q: Kyle Rudolph has the tendency to line up just about anywhere. Do you see that in a lot of the top tight ends that you face?
A: Yes, you do. You look around the league and you'll see them out there at one a lot. That's the number one receiver removed from the core and then having the ability to come inside and run all the slot routes, so the versatility of that position has grown a lot over the last 20 years I've been in this league.
Q: What kind of difficulties does it present when an offense can throw out so many different personnel packages?
A: What it does is, it forces guys to have to think. It tries to cut down on the reaction time and having to think about alignment on assignments and those types of deals. The versatility, I mean Green Bay does the exact same thing, they've got so many different personnel groupings and they're usually there at the line of scrimmage. They sub, they get lined up quickly, and try to get out and execute. But, that's essentially what it does is try and cut down on your reaction time, defensively.
Q: How have you seen Brett Hundley progress since he was thrown in during the previous matchup?
A: I think he's gotten a lot more comfortable. I mean you look at his production since he came into our game. He looks a lot more comfortable in his mannerisms, operating what they're trying to get accomplished offensively, his communication, and getting them in the right matches and people in the right plays, the right protection, all of those things. It looks like he's a lot more comfortable with what they're asking him to do.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
I thought our guys did a good job on Sunday against Cincinnati, played well, played hard against a good team, good special teams unit. A little bit bittersweet for my daughter who works for the Cincinnati Bengals, my daughter Samantha, who is always cheering for her father. But it was tough on her because he coworkers had a tough day. She was happy we won but a little bit sad that they lost too. She's back at work this week and hopefully they'll get to win their last couple games.
Q: What does your daughter do for the Bengals?
A: She works as a partnership activation coordinator and then she works with community service, wears a lot of different hats. Works really hard and I'm real proud of her.
Q: Was she at the game?
A: Oh yeah, she was there. She was there wearing neutral colors. She didn't wear purple or orange.
Q: How does weather affect situational decisions on special teams?
A: It absolutely plays into all of those decisions. How we kickoff, where we kickoff, is it going to be directional, are we going to try to drive it as far as we can, are we going to hang it up there so the wind can take it. Field goal wise, what's the distance going one way or the other way. Which hash is better than the other way depending on the cross wind. A lot of those things we'll figure out during pregame. A lot of them I've already got figured out based on film study. Based off of what Mason Crosby and his opponents have done, the opposing kickers and punters have been done. So, there's a lot of decisions to be made. Much more difficult, obviously, than an indoor game.
Q: How have you seen the field goal unit respond to their tough game in Detroit?
A: Yeah, they've done a good job. They've always had a sense of urgency, they're a bunch of tough guys in there. We've got the right guys in there. We've made a couple changes, because Kyle had an ankle [injury] so we took him off. Then Danielle Hunter went in for the first time last Sunday, he did a great job for us. He'll do whatever he's coached to do. We've got a bunch of great guys. We had a couple of unfortunate plays against Detroit that we've corrected, hopefully we won't have that problem again.
Q: Is Ryan Quigley getting dialed in?
A: He's been dialed in all year. At one point, I think after eight games, we'd given up maybe 10 return yards total. That's kind of what we're doing. I know his numbers aren't great. His gross numbers are low, his net numbers are probably in the bottom half of the league. But, we're not concerned about that because we're limiting the opportunities that our opponent punt returners are getting. That's really huge for us. There's some great returners in this league and the teams that we play, we're trying to limit the opportunities for those guys to get big plays.
Q: How has Jayron Kearse done?
A: He's done a great job. He's a unique athlete because he's stronger than you think he is because he's so thin. But, he's also faster than you think he is because he's so long, you think he's not traveling as fast as he is when he really is fast. He's done a great job for us in, really, all four core phases. He's getting better in the punt return and kickoff return game, which is much more difficult for a guy his size to do that. As long as you match him up against the right guys, he's done a nice job for us. I think he likes his role, he's having fun with his role. Like a lot of those guys that are kind of biding their time, waiting their time to become a starter on offense or defense. That's what we try to do here, try to develop those young guys. Tell those offensive and defensive coaches that we're developing them for those guys for them for the future. He's done a real nice job for us.
Q: Do you like how emotional of a player he is?
A: I'm an emotional guy, I think we have a lot of emotional guys. Marcus Sherels is probably the one guy that isn't emotional. It's very important to him, he kind of approaches things differently than most people. I tell Marcus, I wish I was more like him, when it comes to that type of thing. We have a lot of guys that play with a lot of emotion. I told them Saturday night before the game, you cannot be a good special teams player unless you love the game of football. You should play with emotion and you should show that emotion. So, Jayron fits that bill, he's done a good job with that.
Q: Has Kai Forbath been calling his bank shots on these field goals?
A: He didn't call bank but I'm sure glad it went in. I saw it fading a little bit left and I said, 'Oh Lord, please let it go in.' The last one, he was mad at me I didn't recommend that we try the 55 yarder, I thought it was in the 56 area, maybe even 57. It was 27-0, late third quarter, our defense was playing great. Pin them down there, Quigley's done a great job all year of pinning people inside the 15, 10, 5, yard line. I thought that was a great decision by coach to do that. Although, Kai was mad at me for not recommending kicking a field goal there. He'll be ready for the next one.
Q: Has your opportunity from last year to be the head coach for a game had any impact on you this year?
A: I learned a lot from that experience, like I've said before many times. It was an honor to do that, to represent the organization that way. It was unfortunate circumstances that I did that. I was hoping that someday I'll have that opportunity. I think it's overall made me appreciate what the head coach does on game day because it's much different than I do. Although I try to stay ahead of the game in terms of situations and time on the clock and time management, player management and that sort of thing that I do as a special teams coordinator. Which I hope will prepare me for that next step. For right now, I'm just trying to grow every single day. Trying to get better every day to put our players in position to win the next game.
Q: Is being a head coach a long-term plan of yours?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think any coach that loves the game like I do, that loves being a leader of men like I do. The training that I've had and the experiences that I've had would help that. But, at the end of the day, I'm the special teams coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. That's my job, I love my job, I hope we continue to help our team win games.