*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner *
Q: How has Ronnie Hillman looked?
A: I think he's getting more and more comfortable with our offense. When you come in like he did you, he's inactive a couple weeks. You get a certain amount of reps. Now that he's active he's getting more reps. I think he has a good understanding of what we're doing. We know he's had success as a runner. I think he's getting to where he can contribute more.
Q: Is pass protection the hardest thing for a running back in a new system?
A: With backs like Ronnie, you don't want him to be your lead pass protecting back. You'd like to get him out of the backfield and moving. But whoever the back is, the pass protection is a big part of it.
Q: Why haven't you been able to have the same success in the run game without Adrian Peterson as you were able to a few years ago?
A: We've had a lot of changes up front. I'm not saying it as an excuse, that's the facts. The other day I thought we ran the ball pretty well. I thought we had more consistency in the running game. We got in a game where we were down and we weren't able to. I think if we had managed it in the early part of the game we probably would have ended up having a good day running the football. I expect us to continue to get better running the ball. As you know and we all saw, that line has moved around quite a bit. A big part of being successful is the offensive line and having continuity running the ball, that's a big part of it.
Q: What are the challenges of running the ball out of the shotgun?
A: Well we've got guys that are very comfortable running the ball out of the shotgun and we had success running the ball out of the shotgun the last couple games. Some of it depends on who you're playing and what you're trying to get done.
Q: How is Jake Long coming along?
A: Well there's no question, last week and then getting in game and coming back and being evaluated, getting a full week of practice and a good practice yesterday in pads, his second padded practice. That's what you expect and I think he's getting more and more comfortable.
Q: Do you want to continue to work him in?
A: Well that's a question for Coach Zimmer. We're going to get those guys ready and get them all ready to play.
Q: So Coach Zimmer made the call to put him in the game?
A: Well I mean, everyone has input into those discussions. We're all in on those discussions. Obviously someone is going to make the final decision and that's usually the head coach.
Q: How do the run-pass option plays create an advantage for the offense?
A: Im not sure what you mean by run-pass option plays. If you're talking about plays where we're reading it and we're going to run it or throw it. Or are you talking about plays where we change the play at the line of scrimmage. We have a mix and I think that's helped us in the shotgun running game. We mix in our screens out of that, our wide receivers screens. We mix in play-action pass out of that. So I think it's been good for us.
Q: What does the offense miss if Jerick McKinnon can't play this week?
A: He has given, he hasn't had the opportunity yet but he has given us big play ability. Last year when we beat Chicago here he had a crossing route where he went for about 30 yards and he had a screen where he went for about 30 yards. So he had 70 yards receiving. He hasn't had that game yet like he did a year ago but we know he is capable.
Q: Do you think Laquon Treadwell could help in the red zone?
A: I think Coach talked about it yesterday, he's getting better. The red zone, it always ends up coming down to thinking that you need a big receiver. We false started. We gave up a sack, tackle got beat quick, we gave up a sack. Those things we have to fix before we have to worry about who is running the routes. If you false start on the one and give up a sack on the five you're not going to be as good down there as you'd like to be.
Q: Do you think that Jake Long's struggles were due to getting used to game speed or not understanding his assignments?
A: I think it's getting used to game speed.
Q: Do the Bears use a similar outside pass rush as the Eagles?
A: Each team is different. We are getting ready for the Bears and they have good pass rushers. We are very familiar, we've played them. We've had to deal with those guys. When we've played them, we've had a good plan for them so we have to do that.
*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
Good week of work. We've got a tough division opponent this week. Always going up there and playing in Chicago with that atmosphere is a tough contest. With it in the division and them getting (Jay) Cutler back. It'll be a true test for us defensively.
Q: How much of a difference does it make having Cutler back?
A: Well I think it does offensively for them. He's been in that system over last year and the start of this year until he ended up injuring his thumb. But, I'm sure they feel comfortable in being able to execute their game plan with him in the game and being in those different situations that come up during the course of the game. He's proven over the test of time that he's been good with.
Q: Is it hard to gameplan for a quarterback who takes a lot of risk outside of the scheme?
A: The thing about (Jay) Cutler is he can move around in the pocket. He can read the coverages well. He can get the ball down the field. He can make all of the throws. So, he's always a tough opponent when we play him, especially up there. From that aspect of it, we're going to have to do a good job with the leverage and the coverage. Then understand concept-wise what they're trying to do to us and be smart in our rush lanes because he does enable himself to move around in the pocket and be able to extend plays down the field.
Q: How different is the running game with Jeremy Langford back?
A: They've sort of got it in a running back by committee. 33 he's coming back. (Jeremy) Langford's back this week, so it'll be a tough test for us in the run game. They're all a little bit different, two of them are the same, one of them is a little bit different and he's kind of a scat guy. But, we're going to have to do a good guy of understanding who's in the game and what they try to do offensively with the different backs in the game. Which running plays they like to run, the play-action protections and all that types of deals. So, we'll definitely have to be aware of that this week.
Q: How similar is the offense from this year to last year?
A: A lot of similar concepts. There's definitely some familiarity from last year to this year in what they're doing. But, I think systematically I don't think it's been a whole lot of change. They've got tough matchups on offense. I mean all of their receivers are good receivers down the field. (Alshon) Jeffrey has been a good receiver for them, the tight end (Zach) Miller does a good job of leveraging down the field and getting in and out of cuts and whichever back is in the game. It'll be a good test for us to be able to maintain our leverage, understand our rush lanes and how all of that comes together.
Q: How do you feel your unit performed against Philadelphia?
A: Bottom line is we lost the game and that's the biggest thing for us. That's how we look at it. We know going into a game that coach has a plan for what it's going to take to win the game and that's all that matters at the end of the day. We don't get into what play does whatever. At the end of the day we lost the game. We're moved on to this week and concentrating on what we've got to get done this week to try to win this game.
Q: Jeffrey has gotten a lot of yards, but no touchdowns.
A: They've struggled some in the red zone and we know with (Jay) Cutler that's one of his favorite guys. We'll see as we get down there. You know last year when we played them here, he ended up catching a pass on us this end zone. So, we're preparing as we go through the week and working through the different situations that'll come up in the course of a game. He's definitely a point of attention for us this week.
Q: How would you assess Anthony Barr overall?
A: I think Anthony's done a great job of what we've asked him to do from week-to-week. I think he's been effective in games. I think communication-wise and getting us lined up and executing what we're asking him to execute. There's certain things that happen during the course of the game whether it's protection-wise or something like that where he's not involved in it. But, what we've asked him do and what he brings to us defensively, we're pleased with where he's at and we've got an unselfish group. Everybody understands it takes all of us to go out and perform at its highest level and he's been doing that every week. It helps everybody, so where he's at now those things will come as he keeps progressing through the season.
Q: Are you surprised he hasn't gotten to the quarterback more this season?
A: I think teams are well aware of his blitz ability and doing things to prohibit him from coming back and hitting the quarterback with matchups, those kinds of things and protections. From that aspect of it again, I think he's doing what we're asking him to do. He's just going to keep working and keep grinding it and those numbers are going to come as we progress through the course of the season.
Q: What's your assessment for Xavier Rhodes?
A: I think he's done a good job of what we've asked him to do through the course of the season thus far. We're excited of where he's at and hopefully he'll continue to just keep getting better as the season progresses. It looks like he feels comfortable in what we're asking him to do from a technique and fundamental part of it. He's been very productive for us thus far. So, we're excited moving forward with him and we just look for him to keep progressing.
Q: What's one thing you want to see him get better at?
A: I think just making sure from week-to-week as we change different things schematically, involving him in different packages and just making sure he stays on top of those things, which he's done a good job of thus far. So, just continuing to keep growing and understanding when to take chances and when not to take chances and those types of deals. That's just going to go as he keeps getting experience and keeps working throughout the process.
Q: With Sendejo banged up, what have you seen from Jayron Kearse?
A: I think he came in recognized what we were doing last week. He kind of got thrown into the fire. He had an early injury to (Andrew) Sendejo, so this week he's working. We tell everybody next man's up and you've got to prepare like you're going to be the next guy. He did that, so this week is no different. He's preparing and getting ready to go play. We're pleased with where he's at. There's definitely a lot of things from an experience standpoint that he's learning from within us systematically. Just looking forward to going out there and play full speed with the technique and fundamentals that we've asked him to do.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
This is, obviously, a great matchup for us. We didn't play well last Sunday. We didn't play well enough to win. We hurt our football team. That has been an emphasis for us all week. We're going to emphasis the positives. Obviously, we did some really good things, and we've done some good things all year. The first five games, we've been a big contributor on the wins, but we didn't do anything anywhere near enough to win last Sunday. And so, that has been our emphasis, like I said, and we're going to get after these guys as best we can and hopefully win this game Monday night.
Q: When you have a resume through the first give games of playing well and helping the team win, then you have one like that, how do you treat it during the week? Is it a blip on the radar, or how do you balance the good with the bad?
A: I think, like anything else, if you have something positive happen, you want to build on that; you've got a good foundation. Anything negative that happens, you need to correct it quickly and then kind of move on. Although we've been talking about the mistake that we made, I think the guys have moved on from it, and when you game plan for your next opponent or you know that your opponent is watching that tape, you've got to prepare for the things that hurt you. And we need to take away the things that hurt us and kind of move on from there, if that makes sense.* *
Q: Can you describe the breakdown in the kickoff return?
A: We just didn't execute. They blocked it very well. They executed it; we didn't. It was a good kick, because we wanted to challenge our kickoff return team. If you noticed, they didn't challenge ours. They kicked it out of the end zone. I guess they were worried about our kick return game, but at the end of the day, I don't blame them. Maybe I'm too competitive. Maybe I'm … I don't know if I'm cocky or arrogant or whatever, but I do believe in our kickoff team. I think we're better than we showed last Sunday, and going forward, I don't want to be the type of guy that's just going to kick touchbacks all the time. So, we're going to challenge our guys to get better, to improve, and we need to move on from there.
Q: That's a cognizant decision to kick it shorter to try to pin them down deeper, instead of kicking it out of the back of the end zone?
A: Usually, yeah. When we do kick if short, it's obviously to get a tackle inside the 20-[yard line]. We've only had two of those this year. Now, we haven't had a ton of opportunities, in terms of we have some kicks, some touchbacks, as well, but going forward, I think we want to be an aggressive football team; and we are aggressive. We're not going to coach scared, and I've never coached scared. I'm not going to do it, and if we don't cover kicks better, then the head coach is going to say, 'Hey, kick them out of the end zone when you can,' and obviously, I've got to do that, we've got to do that. But, we're an aggressive football team. We want to challenge people whenever we can, because I think we're pretty good, but we can't make mistakes like that and hurt our football team.
Q: What has allowed the Eagles to be a consistent threat in the return game?
A: I think they have good players. They play hard. They believe they're going to score every time they go out there, just like our guys do, and they're well coached. They do a really good job. They have good schemes, they keep people off balance and they're a good football team.
Q: League wide, are you surprised to see the kickoff return touchdowns are down, or is this kind of what you anticipated?
A: No, I thought it would be like usual, and I know teams are … I think there are more returns this year. So, if you have more returns, you should have more touchdowns, but it has been unusual. They have been pretty good kickoff coverage for the most part all year long.* *
Q: How do the higher, directional kicks affect the returner?
A: They affect everything. They affect the returner. They affect how you block. That's what you've got to prepare for. It makes the coverage team more aggressive in terms of squeezing to the ball and kind of cuts the field in half.
Q: What happened with Marcus Sherels and that one he dropped?
A: I think what happened is he tweaked his wrist a little bit early on in the game, and I think when he tried to grab the ball, he didn't have the strength that he normally does. We practice those all the times. It's called a 'Peter return.' We go, 'Peter! Peter! Ball's on the ground,' and we grab it and go. And that time in the game, I think it was 18-3, early fourth quarter, maybe, we have an opportunity to make a big play there, and he was trying to make a big play, like he has done all year. So, I wish he would have held on to it. Obviously, ball possession is the number one thing we talk about before and after every meeting that we have on punt return, and kickoff return for that matter. So, it was a mistake that's hopefully a one-time deal for the year.
*Q: What do you see from Chicago's returners? For years, you worried about Devin Hester. Obviously, he's not there anymore. What do you see? *
A: Thank goodness. I think [Deonte] Thomason, number 14, is phenomenal. He's strong, he's fast, he's quick, he has got good vision. I think he's a very, very good kickoff returner, and Eddie Royal, whom I coached in Denver, has been their punt return. I'm not sure if he's going to play, but when Eddie's back there, he's always a threat to score. He has already got a touchdown this year.
Q: How concerned are you with Both Marcus Sherels and Cordarrelle Patterson banged up this week?
A: Like anything else, like any other position, [it's] the next man up. We've got other guys that are trained to be the returners, and if they can't go, then someone else is going to be in their spot. And I'm going to expect them to do just as good as Marcus and Cordarrelle. I think we're pretty good. Across the board, we do have some talented guys that are backing them up.
Q: Would Adam Thielen be the next guy at both spots?
A: That remains to be seen. I don't want to give anything away to Chicago.