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Transcript: Coordinators Addressed the Media Thursday

*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner  *

Shout out to our friends at Spoon and Stable restaurant downtown, they just got restaurant of the year in Minneapolis, it's a great place. My wife and I enjoy going there after wins.

Q: Why do you think Teddy Bridgewater looked as comfortable as he did on Thursday night?

A: I'm just not as zoned in on one game. I think he's looked comfortable most of the season. I go back to the Atlanta game, he's 14-of-21 for 130 yards in the first half, we have a good mix of run, pass. The Raiders game in the first half we drive for touchdowns the first two drives. All of the way back to the Detroit game where he throws for 270 yards when we struggle to run the ball. Every game presents a different situation, I think Teddy played the way he's played most of the time. Instead of throwing 18 or 24 passes we threw 36 passes, you get more opportunities, you get chances to make more plays. I thought our guys who were involved in it responded and made plays.

Q: Do you think Teddy Bridgewater was getting the ball out quicker against Arizona?

A: Again, every team is different and this team is a very aggressive team. We were able to get some misdirection going, we were able to get some quick passes going. We've played a number of teams that play a coverage style that they want us to have to hold the ball so they can take advantage of the rush. Every game just comes up different.

Q: What was the thought process with Adrian Peterson's increased role in 3rd downs against Arizona?

A: If you guys remember after the Seattle game there were some questions on how much activity he had, how many carries he had so he was probably pretty fresh, we thought we'd take advantage of that situation. He's capable of doing all of it. We've tried to manage it the best we could in terms of making sure he's fresh throughout the entire game. Obviously it shows up with how he's been able to carry the football in the 4th-quarter when we've had leads or small leads and being able to finish off games. Obviously, this game, the Thursday night game, it was an opportunity for us to make a move and we wanted him in the game.

Q: Is that something you want to do more of going forward?

A: Every game is different. There's things that we want to do with him, we want him to get his opportunities to affect the game.

Q: Do you think Adrian Peterson being in the game helped the passing game?

A: I don't think it had anything to do with it in the passing game. I think the first 3rd down, it was Matt Asiata and he gets a 20-yard completion, if we can get them to bust a coverage every time and get the ball out that quick, it would be awesome. They turned him loose, I think every situation is different. I think that when we fake to him and throw the screen, yeah it helps. It's just depending on, I would say, the play. I think you all try to make too much out of it. I think it's about going out and executing, performing and everyone doing their job.

Q: Making too much of what?

A: If [Adrian Peterson] he's in the game or not in the game, if it affects how the secondary plays or doesn't play or whatever those things that you ask me about.

Q: Why wasn't there a play for Teddy Bridgewater to check out of on the final play of the Arizona game?

A: First of all, we've got a lot of sideline plays. This is one that's worked for us last year, it's worked for us in the past. We never have a sideline play where we don't have a quick outlet, Adrian [Peterson] was the quick outlet, the way the defended the play, if we had it to do over again we would have thrown the ball over Adrian's head and kicked the field goal. They defended the play real well. Obviously, we're getting ready for the Bears. My only thing I'd say, I think everyone will learn from that play.

Q: Was that something where you wanted to just run a play for communication issues?

A: It's a good play. There was no reason to check out of it.

Q: What do you attribute Kyle Rudolph's increased catches to?

A: I think there's two things – I think it's who we're playing and the situations that we're in and number two, would be Teddy is throwing the ball to him when he's covered more than he was early. Kyle is not a guy that's going to get great separation, but he's a big-body presence. He's thrown the ball where, we had one on the sideline, 3rd down, the defender almost got a hand on the ball, Teddy put it out in front, he's a big man he went up and got it and ran down the sideline.

Q: How does cold weather impact play calling?

A: The biggest thing that affects play calling is the team that we're playing. We've played in the cold last year in December. I'd go back and look at the play calling we had there and see if there's something that was different. 

Q: In what ways do you see opposing defenses giving more attention to Stefon Diggs?

A: Well, particularly this last game, they put a really good player on him and contained him pretty well.

Q: What's going on with Charles Johnson, it seems like he's been phased out of the offense?

A: He's not been phased out. The same thing I'm talking about, you get in a game and you get in a rhythm and you're playing and you're playing fast. It's the least of your worries at that point, 'can we get this guy involved, can we not get this involved?' The thing I get, obviously, is if when we visit, and I haven't had a chance to visit with you, but if Kyle is getting more passes, someone wants to know why this guy isn't, if Adrian is getting the runs they want to know why we threw this ball, if we threw for 300 yards, why isn't Adrian successful? We went all of the way back to Detroit and struggled to run the ball, we broke off one long run, Teddy throws for 270 yards and it's why couldn't we run? The guys that are playing are playing, if something happens to someone CJ [Charles Johnson] will be ready.* *

Q: Are wide receiver screens something you see as a weapon?

A: We've used them a lot, it's just that things that you do a lot, teams tend to concentrate on and it kind of goes in cycles. We got a wide receiver screen, the big screens, we obviously gotten two or three times to Rhett [Ellison], we caught them in the right coverage and we got a screen to Rhett. I think in the game we got a wide receiver screen to [Stefon] Diggs. Those are good plays against teams that are blitzing, that are over playing the run, those are things that are nice change-ups.

Q: How much did the offensive line injuries impact your ability to pass the ball downfield early in the season?

A: It has nothing to do with the start of the season or now, it's just who we are and what we are right now. We're trying to make it work and be productive offensively. I still go back to when we had a game in Atlanta and we were as productive in terms of moving the ball as you can be. We were productive in moving the ball against Arizona. We played two real good defenses in Green Bay and Seattle and struggled to move the ball.

Q: How much more comfortable is the offensive line now?

A: They've been comfortable with one another from the beginning. Obviously, what we have is managing matchups. A team that has one really strong defensive player, you can manage that and you can say, 'Okay, we're going to concentrate on him, we're going to help, we're going to do this.' You play a team that has four across, you can't manage and help on every single guy. That's why you game plan and that's why you do different things to try and help those guys.

*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards  *

It's good to be back, home game, tough divisional opponent that really has lost a lot of close ballgames here in the last couple of weeks. Good football team that's going to be a big challenge for us this week, but we're excited about it heading in, guys are working hard this week, paying attention to the details of what we're trying to get done. Questions?

Q: Why did you decide to start Edmond Robinson at outside linebacker in place of the injured Anthony Barr?

A: He's been practicing there all year. That's the position he had been playing primarily through training camp, all through the offseason, so he's a guy that has really stepped up and paid attention to the details. We thought that he warranted the position to give him a try there and he played pretty decent for us there this past game.

Q: How has Sharrif Floyd done filling in at nose tackle?

A: I think Sharrif has done a good job, paying attention to the details of that position compared to a three technique, he brings some things there, he's been good with his contact balance and those kind of things inside because those guys get a lot of double-teams and he's been able to get push in the pocket versus the pass. I think our guys have accepted the roles that we've got to get our best 11 out there from situations that we play in the game, from package to package, and understand his role and understand the guy next to him and what we're trying to get accomplished. He's embraced it and we're diligently when we ask him to do it.

Q: In colder weather games, how do you see the offenses' play calls differ?

A: The wind affects it as much as anything. I think depending on how much the wind is blowing that day, it will affect decisions whether they're throwing with the wind or against the wind. So we kind of take all of those things into consideration as we're going through play-calling and also preparation for the week and how we're going to attack things and matchups and those kind of things.

Q: Do you tend to see more running plays?

A: You can. It just depends on who you're playing that week and how effective the quarterback if throwing the ball, whether it's a short passing game, whether they're throwing the ball down the field more so. There's a lot of different factors that come into it – their success running the ball, playing field position as far as our special teams versus their special teams, so there's a lot of different factors that come into play.

Q: Why do you think Tom Johnson has been able contribute and be such a good fit on the defensive line?

A: I'll tell you what, last year he came in and sort of took the bull by the horns and studied, understood what it was we were trying to accomplish, got a lot of push inside the pocket last year. After evaluating last year and the things that we were asking him to improve on this offseason, he really has done a tremendous job, especially in the run game as far as playing the three-technique with all of the double-teams that he faces in there and just understanding schematically overall what it is we're trying to get accomplished. He really has done a good job of paying attention to the details of what we're asking at the position. I think Coach [Andre] Patterson has done a great job getting him to understand that. He's embraced it and worked right through it. 

Q: Is it fair to characterize him as a late bloomer?

A: I think when you look at different players in different schemes and what they're asked to do and the attention to the detail that's put in it, I think that's a bearing on it, where you can't really worry about what the guy did before. You see a skillset and where you can utilize his skillset within the schematics of what you're trying to get accomplished.

Q: What have you seen from Jay Cutler and what is he doing differently than in year's past?

A: I think he's playing as good as I've seen him play. His decision-making has been very consistent throughout the course of the year. His focus and understanding of what teams are trying to do against him, how he's attacking and utilizing the weapons that they have at receiver, getting help out of the running backs, whether it's in the run game or the passing game. I think they're both effective in bulk. I think he's utilizing the most of his abilities, coupled with the skillsets of the players he has around him.

Q: Has he been a little more cautious this season?

A: I wouldn't say cautious. I think he's making good decisions and understanding where he wants to go with the football from game to game.

Q: How does Brian Robison sliding down to play some defensive tackle help you guys on defense?

A: With Brian, he has a good skillset and like you said, you put him inside on the guard sometime, it's a little bit more push in the pocket. He's got a little bit more space to work on a guy that really is not an offensive tackle that's going to widen you outside. We've been able to take his skillset, he's embraced it and worked inside, created more space inside for himself, getting more push in the pocket, so I think that not only helps us, but I think that also helps him. He's done a tremendous job at it and continues to work at it, so hopefully we'll keep reaping dividends out of it.

Q: How did the absence of Harrison Smith last week affect your play-calling on defense?

A: I think we go through each week and understand what it is we're trying to ask different guys to do. Harrison is a tremendous player, of course, and the skillset that he brings to the table is a big bonus for us. But the guys that stepped in, we approach it that way each week and we expect those guys to be able to step up and play what it is that we're asking to play, be able to communicate the calls, be able to communicate the adjustments. I think guys did a pretty decent job of that last week as we ask them to go through the season.

Q: What adjustments do you need to make to slow down Alshon Jeffery in this game after catching 10 passes in the first contest?

A: I think us understanding what it is that they're doing. He's been very successful here over the course of the game. I know he missed a lot of games early. He's definitely one of their primary targets, he does a great job of locating the ball in the air, he's a big body outside that can jump and catch the ball over guys. I think the awareness of us and what we're trying to get accomplished this week is going to be critical to us outside at the corner.

*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *

Obviously huge game. Divisional game at home. In front of our fans. It's going to be exciting. The preparation this week has been fun. The guys are working hard. We had an extra day of practice on Tuesday, coming off of last week's game. The attitude has been good. The effort has been good. Attention span has been good in the meetings so we're ready to roll.

Q: On that last play at Arizona, what role as a special teams coordinator did you have? Did you talk to coach Zimmer about Blair Walsh's range? Did you want to be closer in field goal range?

A: It's obviously not my decision but coach Zimmer did ask me what his range was. We talked about the range. I'm all for getting him closer because you know in the NFL, none of these are easy to make. I know the weather was good. The dome was open. It was a beautiful night. Blair (Walsh) had a great pregame. He kicked the ball well during the game. He had two nice field goals and the extra points he kicked through. It would have been a 49-yard field goal, so obviously those are not easy to make. Anytime you can get a little bit closer when you have the time, it is a smart idea and we did have the time. I supported that decision 100%.

Q: How does the cold weather affect special teams play?

A: I think it affects everything. It affects the range for your field goal kicker. It's going to affect how you call your kickoff return game if they are kicking into the wind or kicking with the wind. How we call our kickoffs, whether we're kicking deep, mortar kick, line kick and obviously punts you're going to directional kick left or right. Which way do we want to return the ball? Which way do we think they're going to kick the ball? Whether we pressure that side or not, that type of thing. So there is a lot that goes into it to be honest with you.

Q: Which is more difficult to play in for special teams, cold, wind or rain?

A: Probably rain, because of the slickness of the ball. With the wind, we have Kevin (McDermott) aim a little more inside toward Jeff (Locke) on the field goal snaps so it makes it easier for Jeff to handle if the wind does affect it. We practice that a lot with the cold weather. Obviously of late it's been pretty nice but we had enough cold and windy weather to practice that technique. There are some things that we do a little bit differently but for the most part it's about the same.

Q: With Chicago's kicker Robbie Gould struggling as of late, is there a way to do something different this week for him to keep struggling?

A: Robbie is a pro. He has been doing this a long time. He has been in slumps before. He's fought through them. I hope he has one more week of a slump, which be great for us. There is nothing we can do differently besides to pressure, just like we would normally do anyway. Being a pro that he is, I'm sure he is fighting through it this week. I have gotten to know him a lot over the years. He is a guy that cares a lot about his production and what he does for his football team. Like I said, Robbie if you're listening, let's do it one more week.

Q: Do you consider the wind at Chicago's Soldier Field the same as it is at TCF Bank Stadium?

A: The winds are different at every stadium. I think TCF poses it owns challenges because it has the open end, where Chicago really doesn't have that as much. We sent Blair (Walsh), Jeff (Locke) and Kevin (McDermott) down to TCF yesterday. They had a great workout. We filmed all of it. They get a lot out of too so all three of them had good work yesterday. It wasn't really windy but it was more wet than anything, but anytime you go down there and get some confidence it really helps.

Q: Cordarrelle Patterson has been able to return a couple kickoffs for touchdowns in recent weeks, is that because of more opportunity with the weather affecting the kicking game?

A: Yeah I think so. Earlier in the year we really couldn't get into a groove. Right now I think Cordarrelle is doing a really nice job. The guys blocking for him are doing a good job. We've had more of a consistent group blocking for him for the most part. Even the young guys that have stepped up, have more experience under their belt. They have really worked hard on their techniques. Even in the walkthrough today, we're still working on technique. We're always talking about blocking with your feet first. Moving your feet when the guys are trying to run around your blocks. The guys have worked hard. Cordarrelle is working harder, not that he hasn't before, but you can just see that he is running harder with a lot more confidence. 

Q: Is Cordarelle running with more confidence because of the guys blocking for him have been more consistent?

A: That's probably part of it. With new guys every year that you have blocking for you, once he realizes that these guys are doing a pretty good job for him. When the seams are there, he is going to hit them a thousand miles an hour and that's what he did the other night too. 

Q: How have the injuries impacted your depth on special teams, as a lot of your guys are being called up to play more defense of offense?

A: A little bit, like it does every year. That's part of the challenge of doing what I do for a living. I kind of relish that challenge. That's why back in May we started to try and get these guys ready because you never know. The guys that are on our practice squad earlier in the year are now playing on special teams for us now. The guys that take it seriously, the guys that pay attention, you have to try and keep them motivated when they're on the practice squad. When they are on the scout team, I tell them I watch your tape too and I correct their technique on the scout team. It's important because sooner or later they're going to be playing for you.* *

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