Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur
Q: How are you planning to use Latavius Murray?
A: He's going to play and he's hopefully going to play a great deal. But, we're going to mix in Jerick [McKinnon], obviously, as well. One man down, next man up in terms of the role. He's going to have to take a little bigger role than he's had.
Q: How do you replace the explosive play ability that Dalvin Cook brought?
A: The guys on the field have to create them. I think it starts up front. The guys up front can give the runner air, like they've been doing the last few weeks, then they'll find it. Certainly the same can be said about the passing game. If we have time to throw the ball, which we've been given some time here which has been great. You can see we've been able to create some plays down the field. As well as plays that are quick completions that have catch-and-run capabilities.
Q: How does Michael Floyd being around the building the last month change how much you can utilize him this week?
A: There's no change. He's been behind the scenes, he's been involved every day. Other than, really, it's probably more obvious to the people that have been watching the games that he's not out there. He's ready to go and he's getting the work he needs. We'll just see how much we can use him.
Q: What does his size bring to the offense?
A: It really, in a total passing game, Mike is a little faster than people will give him credit for. That's sort of what I factored in after watching him here in the training sessions. He's a pro and so, he can catch a contested ball because he's a big, strong man. He's played a lot of football and he's made a lot of plays. There's elements to his game that will help us.
Q: What goes into the decision to activate four or five receivers?
A: Well, we have to see, that's really a team decision. You've got to factor in what they're doing on offense, the matchups on defense for the defensive side of the ball. Obviously, special teams. That's usually an end of the week deal. So, we'll figure that out as we go.
Q: How important is it to have the offensive line play nearly every snap together?
A: I think it helps, it helps. What they do individually blocking their guy is certainly important. But, what's most important is how they play as a unit. So, the longer the unit can play together, the better they have a feel and really, the more efficient they can become. I think there's some benefit to that. The first quarter of the season we've been able to play the same five guys.
Q: Do you think those five guys have similar personalities?
A: Yeah, they're similar in a lot of ways because they're lineman. That's a gritty, hard job but they embrace it because basically you're coming in here blocking somebody on every play. I like their personality, I like their mindset. I think Tony [Sparano] and Andrew [Janocko] do a great job of coaching them and directing them. I think Pat [Elflein], as a young center, he's not fazed by much. It's like I told him, he played in front of larger crowds when he was at Ohio State. He's done a really good job. It starts in there and then you've got a bunch of veterans in there that are just playing new spots and they're playing hard. It's not that we don't get beat once in a while. But, these guys are gritty fighters and I think it's helping us.
Q: What do you like about Stevan Ridley?
A: We worked him out, we really certainly don't know as much about him as a guy that we've had during the training sessions. He's a productive pro. When we worked him out, we got a chance to just see him yesterday in practice and you can tell he's got an instinct for running the football. It appears like he can catch the ball. For him, if he was going to be involved, he's got to catch up quickly. We like what he's done in the past and we were impressed with the short exposure we've had to him.
Q: How much was Sam Bradford able to do yesterday?
A: He got the work he needed, so, he was out there. Again, he's really involved in everything that goes on behind the scenes. We feel like he got the work he needed yesterday.
Q: Do you expect him to practice today?
A: He should be out there.
Q: Does Jerick McKinnon's role change much with Cook out?
A: Yeah, I think he's going to have to get a little bit more as well. When Dalvin's gone, then the next two guys have got to take a little bigger role. That'll be pretty obvious.
*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
Getting ready for another tough contest, division rival in Chicago. We are really going to have to do a good job of stopping the run with this team. They do a very good job of running the football and play-action pass off of that and situations within the game. We've got our work cut out for us as we are working through this week in preparation for the game.
Q: How do you feel like facing some other good running backs catching out of the backfield like last week has helped you prepare for Tarik Cohen?
A: Well it seems like every week we are facing some type of seatback that can get out and he's a tough match up for the linebackers and safeties. From that aspect, it looks like week to week everyone seems to have one of those guys where it's third down or in this case, they use [Cohen] first and second down just as much. We've faced it throughout the course of the season and it looks like it's something that is trending. We'll definitely have to keep working it from week to week.
Q: What has been the main key for some of Chicago's big plays and how do they have kept that going?
A: I think the biggest thing is just tackling. You have to do a good job of tackling. I know the big run we gave up in the first ball game last year, it boiled down to we didn't take good angles. We didn't tackle. [Jordan Howard] was able to see us. He has great vision with cutback and he's a very strong runner. Having one guy to attempt the tackle, we have to get a lot of guys around the football and get there to get him on the ground.
Q: How critical is the interior part of their line in establishing that run?
A: They do a very nice job of getting to the second level. [Kyle] Long is back in there now. Their center and the backside there, number 71 [Josh Sitton], they do a great job of not only attacking and doubling off a three or a two, and then be able to chip up and get to the second level. It's the timing of the plays, [Cohen] has done a good job with his vision of being able to cut back and the timing of the plays. The guys getting off the block and making plays. So that has been a big emphasis for us this far.
Q: You've only allowed 3.1 yards-per-carry so far. How much does that speak to what Linval Joseph has been able to do?
A: Linval is definitely a true pro inside and has been a big cog for us inside. To single-block him is kind of tough for someone, the centers to single-block him. He does a good job even though the double teams with his contact balance. Just his awareness of block awareness inside of what people are trying to do to us. I think the linebackers would say it's been a big plus playing behind him that a lot of times he is able to hold those and doesn't give ground and can reestablish the line of scrimmage on their side of the ball. He is definitely a big part of our run game and what we try to do on our side at the nose.
Q: There can't be that many nose tackles in the league that can chase down a guy after a screen play?
A: I agree, wholeheartedly. I agree wholeheartedly. It's an attest to him and his ability and his sureness that no matter where the ball is, you'll see him come out of the stack running to go get the football. He and Shamar [Stephen] both do a great job of that inside, as well as Tom [Johnson].
Q: Xavier Rhodes is now covering guys in the slot. How big of a development is that for him?
A: From week to week, we try to look at matchups and different things people try to do to us. Just depending on from week to week, what we think is the best matchup. He has really come a long way over the course of the years that we've been here. This is our fourth year and you can just tell his attention to detail of what we are asking him to do form week to week. He's really done a good job with that and has been able to carry over to the games.
Q: What is it going to take or what did you need to see form Rhodes to say we can extend this into the slot?
A: Again, it is just going to boil down to the matchups from week to week. Also, our other players, how involved they're into it and the mental aspect and just different adjustments and things like that we face from week to week. It's all a game planning thing. It's all about which packages we take into the game and how we are matching up for that week.
Q: Are you able to get an idea of what Mitch Trubisky is going to do from any preseason film or is he still kind of a mystery?
A: He played what, 120 snaps in the preseason, so we had a look at those. He played in various quarters. He played early in some of the games, he played later in some of the games. We have a good feel for what we think he is. Systematically, we think they are going to do a lot of the similar things. But when you have a guy like him, you have to do things that cater to his abilities and what it is he is able to do. Some things we feel pretty good about, what they are offensively. Other things, we'll probably have to adjust to or see how they are using him in the different situations throughout the game.
Q: Last week there was a big focus keeping Matt Stafford from running around. Is it the same thing with Trubisky?
A: He is. They put him on the move quite a bit with boots, waggles and sprint-outs and things like that throughout the preseason. So he seemed to be able to move around pretty good in the pocket. We'll definitely have to be smart to try and keep him in the pocket and hopefully be able to cover up his reads. It's all tied together how we can stay as tight as we can in the coverages and being able to not let him manipulate us by not moving around in the pocket.
Q: Who stands out to you now among their wide receivers now that they don't have Alshon Jeffery anymore?
A: I mean [Joshua] Bellamy and [Kendall] Wright. Wright is probably the guy he can go to and has made some big plays. Plays in the slot a lot of the time when they're in a three-wide receiver sets. Those two guys are able to get down the field and stretch the field. Good route runners and being able to go up and catch the ball. Just looking at Wright, he was in there with Trubisky in the preseason and he ran a dig route and he banged it in there. They seem to have a good timing for what they're trying to get accomplished in their passing game. Also, their tight ends have been good. He is a tough match inside just like the backs are. We'll have our work cut out for us in the coverage end and how it all matches up.
*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *
Q: Punt coverage is number one in terms of return yards. What do you think that's a result of?
A: I think Ryan [Quigley] is doing a really good job of directional punting for us. We're doing a good job protecting, we're going a good of covering, our gunners are getting down field, forcing some fair catches. We're not trying to out kick our coverage, like it will occur sometimes. It's easier to control that indoors obviously. So going outside has been a big emphasis for Ryan. Yesterday he had a real good day. Tomorrow we'll punt him again and that'll be the emphasis. This returner we're facing number 29 for Chicago [Tarik Cohen] he's really good. He's quick, he's fast, he's strong, breaks tackles. He'll keep me up Sunday night, Monday all day long I'll be worried about him, but if we can control the direction and control the distance and hang of our punts then obviously we can cover him a lot better and that's what we've done so far.
Q: Looking at the excellence in directional punting, is Ryan Quigley ahead of most guys in the past?
A: Yes, I think so and when we brought him in here back in the spring and when we signed him that was the direction we wanted to go. We've used some of that gunner motion now too. I think you can only do that if you have a good directional punter, so we can sprinkle that in at times and get our gunners free. I think that'll really help us as well.
Q: Do you practice a missed field goal return play?
A: We practice it in the spring. We practice it during training camp. It's hard to find time to practice it all the time, but we talk about it every week. We have a 10-minute field goal block slash defense day type meeting normally every Friday. We'll have it obviously this week on Saturday. That is the last thing we talk about with our field goal block unit; where the direction of the rush is coming from and then the direction of the return. We do cover that every week, but you don't get a lot of time to practice it. The guys are ready for it. I figured if we had finished the block on 72 [Brian Mihalik], the young man who made the play, he made a great play for a big offensive lineman, he's a good athlete too, he made a good play for them. I think that would have been a big difference maker for our game.
Q: What did you see from Jerick McKinnon on Sunday?
A: Good. The real nice one that he had at the 39-yard line, he probably could have let it go out of bounds, but the thing with him is he knew he had a chance to return it and he's an aggressive guy and he came up on the seven yard line. We got out to about the 39. We were about three feet shorter than if we had let it go out of bounds. He runs hard. We had another one go out to about the 27 that was one block away from making a big play. Then we had on that was tackled inside the 20. We didn't do a very good job blocking that on the inside and you got to bounce it outside which you don't want to do. It was a middle return. We're making strides and he's continually getting better. The more experience he gets the better I think that he'll be.
*Q: How much of it is Jerick McKinnon verse the blocking unit? *
A: Probably a little bit of both, a little bit of both. We're trying to keep our scheme simple so we can get Jerick to run downhill. We'll sprinkle a counter and bounce in there, or maybe even a reverse to keep people off balance to make sure that they're sound so they can't cheat on our directional returns, like some teams try do against us. Jerick's done a nice job. He's going to continue to grow and make good decisions. And our guys, the more confidence they have in Jerick, the more confidence Jerick has in our guys blocking, I think we'll be better as the year goes on.
*Q: Is there a moment of consideration to kick the long field goal and then maybe try an onside kick? *
A: I think down seven, I think you have to go. I think if down maybe nine you probably do that. If you're down one score I think have to keep going, unless it's fourth and forever to be honest with you. It's always a consideration. It always goes through in my mind and those are the discussions I would have with Zimmer. But I think down one score right there, the time of the game with how many timeouts we had left, where the two-minute warning was and all of that sort thing. I think we made the right decision to go for the touchdown. I think you have to.
Q: With Kai Forbath missing on Sunday what do you say to him?
A: Right afterwards? I don't say anything to him to be honest with you. As you know Ben, I'm kind of an emotional guy so I typically don't want to talk to my guys after they make a mistake. We analyzed it briefly. We know what we did wrong. He didn't finish through towards his target like we talk about all the time and he went out yesterday and went outside actually. It wasn't very windy, it was a nice day. He was 20 for 21 yesterday. He made a 61-yarder. He's just got to get his confidence back and I think he has his confidence. I think he had his confidence in pre-game. He had a good pre-game. He hit the ball well on the first PAT. We've just got to be more consistent and he knows that and that's the only way we're going to win games. We got to make those field goals.