Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: How do you evaluate Teddy Bridgewater through eight games this season?
A: We're 6-2 and that's to me the evaluation that matters. I think Teddy has had a lot to do with that record. I think he's an opportunistic guy. I think he's making very few negative plays, he's not making plays that cost us games and obviously in the most critical situations when we've been behind, whether it be early in the fourth quarter or late in the fourth quarter, he's put together drives, he's put together plays that have given us a chance to win. As Coach [Zimmer] says, we're still growing in the passing game and when you're not having the kind of success that you want or having the kind of numbers that you want, obviously it always goes back to the quarterback. But for us to continue to get better in the passing game as Coach Zimmer says, we've got to do all of the little things in all areas, whether it be protection, route running, getting the right plays called at the right time, all of those things.
Q: Have you ever seen a quarterback take a hit like Teddy Bridgewater took [vs. St. Louis] and then get gun-shy about making plays with their legs again?
A: No, I think guys grow up knowing how to play and I don't think that changes based on one play.
Q: Coach Zimmer mentioned the other day that Teddy Bridgewater needs to take the mentality he has late in the game towards the entire game, do you agree?
A: We talk a lot about that and the things that Coach Zimmer talks to you about, he and I talk a lot about. You've just got to again go back through the eight games that we've played as we were asked about it. Our first two road games, we took seven sacks in both games. We struggled to protect, we struggled to get the ball out, there were a number of things. I think we learned from those games and I think we're doing the things we need to do to win and I think the plays Coach Zimmer is talking about will come. We've had some opportunities we've not made, but when you're playing the game the way we're playing, you don't get the luxury of running a play and you don't make a play, then it's not, "Ok, we're coming back to it in three plays," because in three plays we're probably giving the ball to Adrian [Peterson]. Having Adrian is a big bonus for our offensive team, but it does make at times the quarterback position a little more difficult because you don't get as many chances. I think Teddy is making most of the chances that he's getting and we're going to continue to get more consistent and better, so when we have opportunities to make big plays, we'll do it.
Q: Does it get to a point at all where you need to lean on Teddy Bridgewater a little more on offense?
A: Well, we leaned on him pretty good in that fourth quarter in Chicago and I think there's four or five times in the second half this year when we've been behind or tied where we've driven for a touchdown. And the games are different and I always tell the guys, "I don't care if the score is 10-7 and it's in the fourth quarter, or it's 38-35 and it's in the fourth quarter. It's the same deal, you've got to find a way to go make plays to help you win and we're fortunate right now and it's for a good reason. We're awfully good on defense, we've played some teams that struggled to move the ball against us and I think we've contributed to that because we run the ball, we play the field position game as well as any team I've been around in a long time – a combination of running the ball, getting first downs, punting the ball down in there, our special teams were playing great. Other teams' offenses don't start in very good field position against us.
Q: Why do you think the production from Mike Wallace hasn't quite been there?
A: We haven't been giving him enough opportunities, that's what I'm talking about. I looked at the production that the Pittsburgh guys had, they threw the ball 50 times. We're throwing the ball 24 times. We've been close on a couple plays, he's been running free three or four times where either the protection or the play didn't take it to him. I think his production will go up when we need it to.
Q: What impact does he have beyond the box score that some don't see?
A: Production is the effect you have on a game, but people are aware of him and it's shocking – two or three of the long runs that Adrian has had this year, they've been playing cover-2. It happened in Detroit, it happened two weeks ago in Chicago, they're doubling our two outside receivers and some people say, "Why would you do that?" We have made enough plays where people are aware of it and they don't want to give up big plays in the passing game and they're kind of rolling the dice playing coverage. We ran the ball, I think against Chicago it was a 20-yard run obviously and in Detroit it was a 75-yard run.
Q: How has Charles Johnson handled his role change?
A: I think he's been outstanding. It's not easy for any of these guys, they all want to play, they all want to be starters, but he got hurt and obviously [Stefon] Diggs has had great production. We tell him his time is going to come. He made a big play in Chicago, he had a big catch last week on one of our touchdown drives, so I just keep telling these guys, no matter who you are, we have six receivers dressed and they all need to be ready to play.
Q: Is using the shotgun less these past few weeks a product of the game flow?
A: It's been the games we've been in. Early in the year I think we were in some games where we were in the gun more and we threw it. Against St. Louis with their edge rushers, their defensive people, I don't know that it was in our best interest being in shotgun.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Preparing this week to go out west and play a very tough schematic offensive team. The Raiders, offensively, are doing an excellent job as far as getting rid of the football, a running game that is complementary to it. They're making plays in the redzone, they're making big plays down the field with their receivers. We've got our work cut out for us this week
Q: What has allowed Amari Cooper to be so productive this early in his career?
A: There's a lot of different things when you look at him – from how he's running routes, from stemming, to double-moves in his routes, being able to go up, locate the ball and be able to come down with it. He's having an excellent first year. Their scheme, they're getting throws to him, complementary, all of their receivers are really making plays. From that aspect of it, I think he's bought in and done a nice job of adding the tools that he brought into their system and has caught on in the league pretty easy.
Q: What do you tell your defensive backs with the threat of double-moves?
A:* *The biggest thing for us is we have to be disciplined in the technique and fundamentals that we're playing, disciplined with our eyes, disciplined with the techniques. That's what we're primarily working on this week.
Q: How are Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks doing injury-wise?
A:* *We'll work through the week and see how it goes. We've got practice today, we'll see how it goes today and just keep progressing it through the week and see if they're able to continue to improve. We'll just have to go through the week and see how it goes.
Q: How confident are you in Edmond Robinson?
A:* *We preach it all the time. We've been preparing him now for the last couple of weeks. He's been going into the games, we've been preparing him each week, getting ready for games. We expect him, if his number is called, to be able to step in and be able to execute what it is we've got planned.
Q: Has Brandon Watts been more game ready than Edmond Robinson?
A:* *From week-to-week, like I've said, it's sort of a best matchup - what we're going to defensively, package-wise. There's a lot of things that encompass us making that decision from week-to-week.
Q: Where does Josh Robinson fit into the mix?
A:* *He's been practicing now for a while, we've been able to work him in. He's been paying attention in the meetings, he's able to transfer stuff over to the field. Right now, we're in the process of continuing to work with him through the week in practice and see where we're at, what packages we're using different guys in and what the best matchups are.
Q: What did you think of Trae Waynes filling in for Terence Newman?
A: I thought he did some good things. I think he's continuing to get better, he's paying attention to the details. I think he's got a lot better feel for what it is we're asking out of him, just look forward to him continuing to get better as we move down the road.
Q: Do you think on the penalty he's still trying to learn what he can do and what he can away with?
A: I think so. I think it was frustrating, I think he realized he didn't have to put his hands on him because he was really in good shape as far as the technique and the fundamentals, the leverage that he had on the coverage. I think as he keeps getting experience he's just going to continue to get better.* *
Q: Did you see improvement in him from the last time Trae Waynes saw extensive defensive snaps?
A:* *I think the more experience that he gets, I think the more practice time that he has he's going to continue to get better in the different packages that we use and what we're asking him to do. I think he has a good understanding of that and I think that's what you see carrying over into the game. He's come in and done a nice job when he's been in there.
Q: How much of a luxury is it to have Trae Waynes and Josh Robinson as reserves?
A:* *Any time the teams that we're playing, as far as matching up with receivers and those kind of things, it's a plus to have guys that can go out and compete and matchup with those type of guys. We're excited to have him back and like I said, we'll just keep continuing to work with him and see how it goes here towards the end of the week, of what packages we're finalizing, who's up for the game and that kind of thing.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
We're headed to Oakland a day early, which I think is great for our team's preparation, but on a personal level it's tough for me because it's my youngest daughter's 17th birthday tomorrow, so I'm not going to be there for her unfortunately. So Katie, happy birthday one day early, I'll be thinking about you tomorrow. I'm sorry I'm going to miss your day, but I will make it up to you. Any questions?
Q: Is the reason for going out there a day early have anything to do with what happened last time you went out west?
A: Coach Zimmer, you'd have to ask him that, but I believe he may have made that decision beforehand. Going out there early for a Monday night game may not have been productive. It probably didn't have anything to do with us losing that game [at San Francisco]. But I think it's a good idea because you get out there, it's a long flight, guys get two good night's rest, we kind of go through our normal routine on Saturday morning with the meetings and the walk-thru and having some time off in the afternoon and meetings at night again, so I think it's a good idea and hopefully it will help us in our preparation. I think it will and we'll go from there.
Q: What have you seen from Oakland's special teams?
A: [Sebastian] Janikowski is a great kicker, he's been a great kicker in this league for a long, long time; I think 16 years, first round draft pick back in 2000. You may have been in what – third grade back then? Sebastian is a great kicker, kicks off well still. His field goals, he's done a great job of that as well. Marquette King is an outstanding punter because when he gets a hold of one, he can really, really boom it. Like any young punter, he's a little bit inconsistent, but he's a very, very solid punter and very talented. Return-wise they just signed Marcus Thigpen, who is an outstanding returner. He's got three touchdowns, two punt return career touchdowns and one kickoff return career touchdown, so we've got our work cut out for us. They play hard, they're very well-coached, they have the best kickoff cover team in the NFL right now, I was telling our guys today about that in the meeting. So we're going to have to bring our A-game and play hard and fast and get after them.
Q: Do you think a team will ever spend a first round pick again on a kicker?
A: I can't say whether or not. I think it would be hard for most teams nowadays to draft a kicker in the first round because everybody has got needs, but I'm sure they had needs back then too. That draft class also had Shane Lechler, Oakland drafted Shane as a punter in the fifth round, so it was a crazy class and obviously it worked out well for both of them and Shane is still punting in Houston.
Q: Do you see a good opportunity for the punt return team with Marquette King having a big leg and possibly out-kicking his coverage?
A: Sometimes they can out-kick their coverage, other times it's so high and deep that we have to do a great job on their gunners to get them slowed down. The problem with Oakland, they're just so fast across the board that if we don't hold their interior guys – the gunners alone are fast- but if we can't do a great job on the interior players, then we won't have a chance, so it just depends on the height of the kick as well.
Q: What did you think of Coach Zimmer's decision to go with the wind to start overtime?
A: Well, because we were playing so well on defense, because the winds were a big factor, I thought it was a great decision. It worked out well for us. I figured we'd get a touchback and I knew the defense, the way we were playing, we had the possibility of getting a three-and-out. Marcus [Sherels] came up with a big punt return and guys did a good job of blocking for him, we got out to midfield and our offense and field goal team did the rest.
Q: Is part of turning TCF Bank Stadium into a home field advantage knowing the winds as well as you do?
A: Yeah, I think so. That's a good point. It still makes it tough sometimes. Blair [Walsh] didn't have to kickoff or kick any field goals or PATs into the wind. Jeff [Locke] had to kick several punts into the wind, even though we know what the winds are doing, we have still got to go out there and perform. Jeff performed admirably, he did the best he could. He had a couple that were very difficult. I think the winds were gusting up to over 20-25 miles per hour, at times both punters didn't have great punts into the wind and then other times they did. Both punters had decent punts into the wind. I think it is something that we're used to, especially for Blair and kicking field goals and kicking off there.
Q: What was Blair Walsh's range in overtime?
A: The overtime kick, I think in order to get a 1st down we had to get to the 41-yard line and we ended up getting the 1st down there. 41, 42-yard line would have been a 59, 60-yard field goal and we had talked about the possibility of kicking it from there. I think if he kicks a true ball like he had all day, he really had a great pregame and had a lot of confidence, he's got a lot of confidence now. You have to weigh that with – if you don't make it, they get the ball at the 50 with a chance to go down and kick a field goal to win the game. That was in discussion, fortunately we made the first down, got a little bit closer and made the field goal.
Q: How do you decide when to pressure punts rather than set up a return?
A: Depending on what our game plan is, depending what we think are their weaknesses or strengths, depending on the time of the game, the score of the game, the situation we're in, down and distance, where they are on the field – all of those are the factors that we think about before we make a decision.
Q: Is it a decision you make right before sending the special teams unit on the field?
A: No. I start thinking about it as soon as we kick off or punt and the opposing team has it, I go by field position. I start thinking about it on 1st down, if we stop them here, here are the winds, what are the calls, what have we done successfully today or if it's the first punt return of the game, what's my game plan going in, especially with the way that the winds are going? That's why I have a massive headache after every game because I have to think every play because you have got to kind of think out of the box a little bit and put yourself in the situation as we move down the field or when we pin them deep.
Q: Do you think you have the TCF Bank Stadium winds figured out or are there new wrinkles?
A: I mentioned it after the game, that that was the game, we usually have cross-winds going towards our bench or going towards the opposing team's bench. This was the game the last two years that had the most tail wind and head wind, so that was kind of a new wrinkle for us. It was something we had to adjust to. It pretty much stayed the same that it was in pregame. We came out at halftime and the wind had died down a little bit and then it picked right back again. But the tail wind and head wind factor were more than we've had to deal with so far.