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Transcript: Coordinators Addressed the Media Thursday

*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner  *

Q: When you look at the Packers defense, their pass rush was still pretty affective against Detroit despite not having a sack, is their pressure something to be concerned about?

A: They're really an outstanding defense. I see them very much as we saw a year ago, as they've played over the last few years, they're very talented in all areas, very multiple in their scheme, they present a lot of problems in preparation and then want you to identify who and where and how you have to go about blocking them and protecting the quarterback against them. Then you've got to do it physically because they're very talented.

Q: Are they tougher than usual to identify compared to other teams?

A: I'd say they're very multiple. Every week presents a different challenge and that's one that they present.

Q: What do you think of Brandon Fusco's development halfway through the season on the left side?

A: I thought he had his best game [last week]. Coach [Zimmer] gave him a game ball – he and the center and right guard. This is a week-to-week league. I think he's playing more comfortably at left guard, sometimes it's a matchup, sometimes it's a scheme, but he played well last week.

Q: What do you think Brandon Fusco still needs to improve on the most?

A: I think all players are looking for consistency. If you can go play good a play and then put two or three together in a row and then put 10 together and then go through an entire game and not have a major negative play, I think that's what you're trying to do at all positions.

Q: Was it just the center and two guards exerting their will on the defense, which earned them the game balls?

A: I think every game comes up different and sometimes it comes down to opportunities, sometimes it comes down to the way the game goes. We had opportunities to run the ball, particularly in the fourth quarter. We made key plays in the passing game to give us opportunities to keep the ball and run the ball – everything I think how it fits together.

Q: Do you and Coach Zimmer talk before every play call on offense or does he give you free reign there?

A: You should ask him about that. I think we have a good system in terms of how we do things, whether it be through the week or before the game Saturdays and Sundays and then throughout the game. If he wants to share that information with you, I'd ask him. 

Q: Are you happy with the progress on the offensive line as a whole?

A: Yeah, we're making progress. We all know we're playing with a very young guy at right tackle and he's had his ups and downs. We do a lot to help him or protect for him. Some teams don't allow you to do that. When he's played well, he's played real well. But I think we're making progress in the offensive line.

Q: What stands out that you like about T.J. Clemmings?

A: He's very competitive and you see a big upside. He's a good athlete, he's improved dramatically in his run blocking and that's a big part of what we're doing right now.

Q: Would you say you're using three tight end sets more often than in past seasons?

A: We've always had the package and when we've had three good tight ends, it's been something that we've been willing to do. Some of it as I said last week, there are certain teams that handle it better than others, so you get a team that struggles to handle it, then we're going to us more of it. 

Q: Is it rare to have three tight ends that can all block and all be involved in the passing game as well?

A: I've been involved a number of times, so I wouldn't say it's rare, but it's a bonus to have three guys like that.

Q: Did you think it was a matter of time before Chase Ford got picked up?

A: Yeah, he was a productive player last year for us when he got an opportunity to play. Yeah, I think teams are looking for guys like him.

Q: Since Mike Zimmer is a defensive guy, did that make it attractive to come here as an offensive guy?

A: It's fine to get into all that stuff, we've talked it many times. This was a good opportunity and I like the style with which Coach Zimmer does things. 

Q: How does Adrian Peterson remind you of LaDainian Tomlinson, both at age 30?

A: When you start comparting the best of the best – and both those guys are – it's just a matter of style. They're both great competitors, great vision, the more they touch the ball, the better they get. Adrian is so strong and so physical and he's fresh right now. Obviously, he played in one game last year, so that's a hard comparison for me.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards

It's good to be back home this weekend, playing against our division opponent. We're working hard right now to try to handle the situations they're going to try to get us in. We're working through the week and working with the guys during the week just trying to get them acclimated to what we're going to see defensively. We're excited about the opportunity and look forward to keep preparing through the rest of the week.

Q: Did Detroit do anything different in coverage against the Packers than they had in previous games?

A: I think if you look at Detroit defensively throughout the course of the year, they have played tight coverage. They do a good job of matching the routes underneath, the different coverages that they run against them. They pretty much just played their defense but I think they were aggressive underneath on the coverage, they were doubling at certain times, they were playing different pattern matches and did a nice job against them and did a nice job with their rush plan against them. From that aspect of it, I think they were able to take advantage of those things last week.

Q: How did Aaron Rodgers look to you in the game last week against Detroit?

A: There is no doubt the respect that we have for this guy and his ability. He can make every throw and the thing that's so impressive about him is his mobility in the pocket, where he can run it or throw it. He's still getting the ball at the point. Some things I guess happened last week, where I don't know if he got frustrated with their rush plan or whatever. There was some overthrows, which are going to happen. There were some dropped balls. There were all kinds of things that I'm sure that they're trying to do. For us, we know what type of quarterback and respect we have going in for the game with the things he's able to do. Whether he's moving in the pocket to throw it or whether he decides if you're matched up in coverage, we've got to do a good job as far as our rush lanes, knowing exactly what our rush plan is this week.

Q: How much does the absence of Jordy Nelson impact your game plan?

A: I think anytime you lose a receiver that's had that kind of production, I think you'll miss him. They've got capable receivers, [Randall] Cobb is doing a nice job for them, the tight ends have caught quite a few passes for them. They're using different guys in and out of areas, 88 [Ty Montgomery] comes back this week, Montgomery. From that aspect of it, I think they're working the guys that they have and keep preparing their game plan from week-to-week.* *

Q: How important is it to keep Aaron Rodgers contained in the pocket?

A: It's very critical that we be disciplined as far as our rush plan this week. Our guys have done a good job of that. Quarterbacks that get the ball out quick and guys that like to move around in the pocket. We're trying to get them to understand how we're going to attack them this week as far as our rush plan and just as we keep progressing during the week, keep working on those things, hopefully it will become a factor Sunday.

Q: How do you evaluate their running game and what can you take away from last year's Thursday night contest?

A: They have two very good backs. Both backs are capable of breaking the long run. Like you said, last year was last year. We understand the importance of stopping the run and they are very capable of running the football. They are very good up front with their offensive line and executing the schemes that they use, as far as their flat-zone schemes. They do have some power attack in there. At the end of the day, both running backs, you've got to do a good job of coming off blocks and make plays. [Eddie] Lacy is a very big back, he can hit north and south but also has the speed, once he gets to the second level is a tough guy to tackle. 44 [James Starks] is another back, that he can break it at any time, has great vision, great job of cutting back, when he gets to the second level he can take it the distance. We've got to do a good job of maintaining gap integrity, playing good fundamentals and techniques, getting on and off blocks, but we've got to do an excellent job of tackling this week.  

Q: What is the biggest difference between your run defense now versus when you went to Green Bay last year?

A: I think we're in year two, I think guys understand exactly what we're trying to do technique and fundamental-wise. I think they're working their craft, they're working their tool box. They're understanding all of the things and philosophies that we have, as far as the technique and fundamentals of what we're doing schematically from week-to-week. I think you just see them building on that. I think they're very confident in the techniques and fundamentals now that we're working. Whereas when we started off last year, we were still evolving, still learning. As we got through the course of the season you saw us get better at it. I think we've started off better this year at it.

Q: What kind of coach was Dom Capers when you worked with him in Miami?

A: Dom [Capers] was very detailed, very organized. He's going to answer all of the questions. I really enjoyed my time with him. I have the utmost respect for what he's accomplished in this league, the longevity he's worked in this league. He's not going to leave any stone unturned.

Q: Has Dom Capers always had an aggressive defense?

A: Yes, pretty much so. If you look back at all of the defenses back to even when he was with the Saints, they've always been aggressive and gotten after quarterbacks and done a good job in the coverage as far as the leverage and understanding what they do schematically.

Q: How impressed have you been with Chad Greenway's versatility?

A: We've always thought of Chad [Greenway] as a true pro and him being able to play multiple positions, he's done it from day one since we've been here. We know the player that he's capable of being and going out and executing from week-to-week, as far as limited reps or more reps. We're just excited and glad we have him on our football team.

 

*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer  *

Obviously, every game is a big game, but coming back to TCF [Bank Stadium] in front of our home crowd. Our fans have done a great job supporting us this year; it's going to be huge. Division game against Green Bay at home, it's going to be a lot of fun. We have our work cut out for us, but we're looking forward to it.

Q: What does it say about the mentality of Adam Thielen, who injures his shoulder and then comes right back in and plays well?

A: I think he only missed a couple plays on special teams. They said he was good to go and we just put him back in there. He's a tough kid, like a lot of our guys. It's important to him, they want to be out there, they want to help us win the game and he did that. He had an unbelievable block on the touchdown return by Cordarrelle [Patterson]. He had a great block on the L2, it was a crucial block right at the point of attack and he was already hurt by then. He did a great job for us. 

Q: Do you think the shoulder might have hindered Adam Thielen from stretching out full for that punt he almost blocked?

A: I would hope not, because he was right there. I don't know how he missed it. If you look at the TV copy, it was unbelievable. It was a great effort by him. We call if a snapper pick and Scott Crichton did a great job, as well, to open up the hole for him, but I thought he had a block. It was close.

Q: Do you feel you are on the verge of finally getting home on a blocked punt?

A: I hope so. That's important to us, pressuring the punter because the punters that we play, some of them are so good. Marquette King is one of them and when you give them time back there, a lot these good punters – Johnny Hekker, same thing, the Colquitt brothers – you give those good punters time to get the ball off and they're going to hurt you. Our mentality is to put pressure on the punter, take away fakes and get good returns as well, so we kind have got a good mixture in there and guys are buying and doing a good job for us, so hopefully, we'll get home.

Q: What do the Packers do best on special teams?

A: I think Micah Hyde is outstanding. I think Ty Montgomery, I had him rated as the number one returner coming out of college ball this past draft class. They make me really nervous, I won't sleep well Saturday night because of those two guys. [Mason] Crosby is back to being Crosby. I know he had a tough miss the other day, but that was tough conditions and he's having a good year. It seems like every time Tim Masthay punts against us, he's at a Pro Bowl level. I think Tim is a very good punter. They're well-coached, Coach Zook does a great job. They're sound, they play hard, they play really hard and I know what they're preaching to them all week, "We have got to get after Minnesota at home." So we have to rise to that challenge, that's what I'm telling our guys.

Q: What do you see from their kickoff team after surrendering a 104-yard return last week?

A: Well, that really is the biggest play they've given up – obviously that's a big play for any team, but they've been pretty sound in coverage – punt and kickoff coverage the whole year up until that point, that was one bad play. I think a guy lost leverage, another guy was on the ground and they gave up a big play. But I said before we played Detroit, Ameer Abdullah is a pretty darn good returner. He was the second best returner coming out of the draft class in my opinion and I'm glad we don't have to play him again this year.

Q: When there is a squib kick like last week, does that change the blocking scheme for your kickoff return team?

A: A little bit. It depends on how deep the kick goes, but a little bit it does. Our guys reacted really, really well to that play obviously.

Q: What else did you like about the Cordarrelle Patterson return?

A: Yeah, we scored. It was wonderful, it was great. The biggest thing about that play – and we talk to our kickoff return team all the time about being the momentum answer team. The kickoff team is the momentum team. We just scored or it's the start of the half, we've got to keep the momentum going. When we receive a kickoff, obviously, it's the start of the half or the opposing team just scored and we answered the call when we really needed to. They had just taken the lead, their crowd was into it, it was towards the end of the first half, we were up 13-0, now we're down by a point. It was a big, big play for us and I'm glad Cordarrelle and the rest of the guys came through.

Q: What were you thinking when Cordarrelle took a right-hand turn towards the field before crossing the end zone?

A: To be honest with you, I didn't see it because once he got past, all I'm looking for is for yellow flags on the ground. I didn't see any of those, so I went to Coach Zimmer to see if we were going to go for one or two, he said one, I was getting the field goal team out there and then I was concerned about the kickoff after that because you're always concerned about that because a lot guys that are on the kickoff return unit are also on the kickoff team, so you've got to go cover them the next play. 

Q: Is it unusual to have a punt returner be such a good gunner like Marcus Sherels?

A: Yeah, it's probably pretty rare. There's been guys in this league that have done it, but yeah, he's pretty special. You and I have talked about that. I know I've talked to this room about it several times about the type of player he is on kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return and field goal block for that matter, he's a threat on the field goal block, as well.

Q: Why do you think that is unusual for more punt returners to be good gunners?

A: A lot of the good punt returners, the Antonio Brown's of the world, they're also very good receivers. Marcus can play defensive back as well. A couple of years ago we had to take him off of punt and kickoff because he was playing so much defense. Well, he's not playing as much defense now, so that makes him a little more fresh and a little more affective as a cover guy as well. 

Q: Was there a moment in practice that clicked recently on your kickoff return unit?

A: Well, I think the guys that are out there are gaining more experience, they're gaining more confidence. As long as we keep those same blockers out there, we'll have a better chance because they're gaining that experience and the techniques that they're using in practice, although it's not game speed, when they get reps at game speed it really helps them with their technique, if that makes sense, because they're doing a good job in practice, but games are a whole other animal. So the more opportunities they get in games, I think the more experience they'll get and the better they'll get at those techniques.

Q: Is there a lot of players on both punt return and kickoff return?

A: Some of the guys are out there and the good thing is that the backups on punt return, some of those guys are starters on kickoff return and vice versa and they've all bought in to what we're preaching and coaching them up on and they've done a really nice job this year.

Q: When you score a special teams touchdown, what percentage do you think that team goes on to win the game?

A: I don't know what the studies are. I know here if we scored once, we lost, if we scored twice we won. This year we scored the one time and won, so that's always been a concern of mine. That's why that next kickoff coverage is so very, very important. You remember a couple years ago, we scored against Chicago and then [Devin] Hester ran one back about 85 yards to the 15 and set up a touchdown. You never relax. There was 10 seconds to go in the game the other day and I had the hands team ready just in case they scored. It's 60 minutes of a headache, to be honest with you, in a good way, so you've just got to stay on top of those things, but I don't know what the stats are; I've never really researched it.

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