Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Transcript: Coordinators Addressed the Media Thursday

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner

Good morning everybody. I guess, today we probably have some meaningful questions you might want to ask.

Q: The last two years haven't been meaningful?

A: Well, I didn't want to say it that way, but I think the inference might have been there.

Q: Where do you see Sam Bradford right now in his absorbing of the playbook?

A: Yeah, I think he has really done well. He got here Saturday night, I guess it was, and Sunday. He has spent almost every hour we've had available with Scott (Turner) and putting the system in and learning the parts of the system he needs to know to be able to function. This is a benefit that we had a lot of the game plan done before he got here, so he can start learning parts of the game plan, and I think he has really done a good job with it. I thought he was a lot more comfortable yesterday than he was on Monday in practice.  

Q: When a guy is coming in to learn a new system, what is biggest challenge? Is it just learning different languages, verbiage?

A: There are two things, to me. The verbiage, and a lot of people run a lot of the same plays, so it's the verbiage and knowing which words go with which play. But, then getting on the field, then our guys might do things – it might be the same play – but our guys may do it differently than where he has been before. So, it's getting caught up with our personnel more than anything else. I think the verbiage part of it, because he's an experienced veteran, and learning the system and learning the plays is the easier part than getting in sync with the guys on the field on a play-to-play basis.

Q: If it is Sam that is going on Sunday, would it fair to say it's going to be a pared-down menu for him?

A: Yeah, we've got to do things he's comfortable with, and there are things we're doing here that he did in Philadelphia. He has got to learn our code names and that type of thing, but I think we've found a way to run our offense. When Adrian (Peterson) is going and playing, we do know that it starts with him, then we build plays off of that. So, that's the approach we're going to take, whether it's Shaun (Hill) or Sam.

Q: Everyone always says a strong running game is a rookie quarterback's best friend. Is that the same scenario for Sam?

A: Yeah, it is, but the thing is, when you have a guy play – and again, whether it's going to be Shaun, whether it's going to be Sam – you've got to go play a game. And we know what are important things in a game. Being able to run the ball, obviously, is critical. Converting third downs is critical. Playing great in the red zone is critical. So, it's more than just running the ball. You've got to be ready to go play however the game comes up, but it is true, that if you're going to run the ball, it helps you.* *

Q: What's the typical numbers of plays you enter a game with, and what would be your goal for Sam?

A: It's hard, because we break it down by situations, and you've got a group of plays that are first- and second-down plays. You have your third-down package. You have a red zone package. You have a group of plays that you're going to run when you're backed up in a four-minute (situation). So, what we've tried to do is pare that down in each of those areas, and certainly, (there) were things that, number one, Sam is comfortable with if he goes in and pays, and number two, that he has had a chance to practice on the field. So, to me, it's hard to give you an exact number, but the thing we're going to do for both Shaun and Sam is give them enough plays so that they can be successful.

Q: Is it also pared down is if it's Shaun?

A: I don't know if I understand, I guess, your responses to me. Shaun has run every third-down play we have in our package since two years ago, so not only the play going in, the speed of the third-down situation, the play getting called, lining up, the defense giving you (different looks). Tennessee is a multiple-look defense; they give you a lot of different looks. So, there a lot of things that are being processed that Shaun has been doing for two years, and Sam has been doing for four days. So, that would be a big part of it.* *

Q: Throughout the offseason, you talked about a more balanced approach. Does that take a backseat without Teddy, at least initially?

A: I think we have to do what gives you the best chance to win, and the things that we've been able to do is use a lot of different guys to create plays, whether it be in our screen game, whether it be in our check game, whether it be in different things we do. So, we've got to find a way to utilize all our players and take advantage of what they're doing, and I think we'll have enough in what we're doing to have a good balance and a good mix.

Q: This could have been more of a difficult situation. You have Shaun, who already knows Sam, and Shaun, who is used to being the backup but also a good guy. Shaun can help explain the verbiage; that definitely came into play, I'm sure?

A: It has been really good, and initially – and through most of this – it has been Scott (Turner) and Sam meeting one on one. But, then when we get our normal installations and normal periods, everyone is in there. Well, all the quarterbacks are in there, and I know Sam has leaned heavily on Shaun.

Q: It has been a while now, but take us back to when Teddy went down and the initial days. You were instrumental in getting him drafted here. Just on a personal note, what was that like to see him go down and go through that?

A: That's the hardest thing about being involved in this sport. The guys do have injuries, and guys do end up in tough situations. The one positive I will tell you, I've been with a number of guys who have had similar injuries and who came back stronger than when they got hurt. I've been with a number of guys who have had those type of (injuries), very serious knee surgeries, and I thought when they came back and played, they were stronger, quicker, better when they were when they got hurt, so that's what I'm hoping for.* *

Q: I know that you have spent a number of years in the league, and you have been able to play against Dick Lebeau a number of times. Can you just speak to the longevity he has been able to have in the league and the level of respect that comes with that?

A: He's outstanding, and to me, it always starts with the personnel. And they've done a good job with their defense, with their personnel and putting together a type of group Dick likes to coach. They're very physical up front. They're big, strong and can run. They're they type of guys he had when he was at Pittsburgh, and then you add the scheme to it; that's what we were talking about. You have to be very, very sharp on third down. They're going to give you some very unique looks, and they've had, obviously, all summer to prepare to attack us and attack our protections. But, I've got great respect for Dick.

Q: What kind of input has Pat Shurmur had this week with his history with Sam?

A: I think it has been very good. This has been a group deal, and with Coach (Mike) Zimmer and Scott (Turner) and Pat and myself, I think we have communicated extremely well and worked real hard to get Sam to where he is right now. We've got a couple more days of practice where we want to keep him moving in terms of his acceleration, and I think Pat helped in terms of the plays that we have that were similar to Philadelphia, transferring, 'OK, Philly calls it this, we call it this.' Those type of things. 

Q: What is the quickest turnaround you've had to bring in a quarterback and have him start?

A: I've been in this situation a couple times. My first year in Dallas, we traded for Steve Beuerlein on Tuesday, and he was prepared to be a backup. We brought Bernie Kosar in on a Tuesday night, and he didn't start; he ended up playing a lot of the game. We played Arizona, and Troy Aikman had a pulled hamstring and missed a couple games. Bernie handled it great – very similar to this. He's a veteran player who had been involved in different systems and picked it up pretty quick.

Q: If Sam were to start Sunday, that would be the quickest you've brought a guy in and started him?

A: Yeah, whichever way it goes. I think the situations could be very similar to what I've been through in the past, but as Coach (Zimmer) has said, we're getting both of these guys ready to start.

Q: How different is the verbiage between what you call a play and what he would have run with Pat in Philly or St. Louis?

A: It's pretty different. Yeah, it's pretty different, and it ends up being words. Words have different meanings, and we were laughing about it. We call something, we named it three years ago, because a certain player was here or a certain coach was here, and you have to explain. Sometimes when you explain the background of why it got called that, it helps you retain it a little bit.

Q: Knowing how much Rick Spielman values high draft picks, do you view it as a vote of confidence that he give up two high draft picks in order to bring in Sam, just kind of speaking to where this team could go?

A: Yeah, I think it was a boost for everybody. I think Coach Zimmer was very involved with it with Rick (Spielman) and the process they went through. I think it was bold, but it's very positive. * *

Q: How involved were you in bringing Sam in?

A: I think we all go through the evaluation process, and you tell people what you think. You go through the process of how long the preparation will be and all those things, and then, I think it really boiled down to Rick and Coach Zimmer, and obviously, the ownership.

Q: How would you say Sam is picking it up? Faster than you thought he would, about right or slower?

A: He is a veteran guy that knows how to prepare. He has been through a number of different systems, and he has been outstanding.

Q: Have you talked to Teddy? I know he's having his surgery today. Do you guys plan to go visit him after practice?

A: Well, I don't know that the details are out on that. I've been seeing Teddy. He has been in the locker room. I've seen him a couple times. We stay in touch, we're communicating with our cell phone, text messages and all that. He's a big part of our organization and a big part of what we do, so there will be constant communication.

*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *

We're preparing this week for our first contest. Really excited about it, think our guys are focused in on what we're trying to get accomplished day-to-day. Studying our opponent and hopefully we'll have some success this weekend.

Q: What is difficult about facing a mobile quarterback like Marcus Mariota?

A: Well, the big thing is he can run to throw it, he's very accurate throwing the ball on the move and he's also very athletic enough to gain yards as he scrambles. So we have to do a good job at being disciplined in our pass rush. We also have to do a good job of being disciplined in our coverages. It always tied hand in hand. Good pass rush and good coverage are always tied hand in hand. I think our guys understand that and understand the plan that we have for this week.   

Q: What kind of test do DeMarco Murray and Derick Henry provide?

A: I'll tell you what, they really are both physical runners. We know we're going to have to do a good job of coming off of blocks and tackling. Throughout the preseason and just looking at those guys towards the end of last year, they really do a good job of straining. Whether it's receivers blocking down field or guys around piles and those kind of things. We've got to do a good job of block protection. Not only that - holding our responsibility - but we've got to be violent in getting off blocks and making plays.

Q: What kind of boost will having Eric Kendricks and Sharrif Floyd back bring?

A: Well we're looking forward to it. They missed some time but they have been back at practice for a while now. I know they haven't really played in a lot of preseason games but I think from what we've seen we're looking forward to those guys going into this game.

Q: Is there much tape on the Titans wide receivers?

A: Throughout the preseason you get a chance to see them. I know they allocated a kid from Chicago here last week who has been in the system before. So we feel pretty good about our preparation and understanding of who they have at receiver and what routes and things like that that they're trying to accomplish.

Q: Does Andre Johnson still have the capability to do all the things he did in Houston?

A: Yeah, he's a big receiver, a big target, he understands route running very well and he's a very competitive receiver. So he's still an effective receiver with what they're doing offensively and what they're doing gameplan-wise, route-wise, those kind of things.

Q: What have you seen from Tajae Sharpe?

A: Really fast, been impressive throughout the preseason. I know he's just learning their system but they have had plays where they've tried to use him. Our biggest thing is to recognize him when he's in those situations. We've been doing a lot preparation wise as far as situationally defensively and just realizing what they're trying to accomplish offensively and combat it.

Q: Did the coaching staff talk to the team at all about last year's rough start?

A: No, not a lot. I mean, it was so bad that I think we all kind of remember it. We've really just been focusing on right now, this team. Because like you said, it's a whole new year, a whole new group of guys. We're just trying to focus on day-to-day preparation for what we need to get done against Tennessee.   

Q: How do you see the defensive line unit gelling?

A: I think that's the biggest thing, they've been together. They understand the techniques, they understand what we're trying to accomplish from them as a group. They really lean on one another. They really work well together. They work hard, these guys come out here and they work hard every day. Understanding what we're trying to do from a rush plan, understanding what we're trying to do against the run. It kind of starts with them up front. They do a great job of taking pride with that and approaching it that way every day, not just on Sunday. So that kind of starts right there with them and they realize that. They've kind of taken that and used it to their advantage and understanding that and coming out every day to just keep improving their toolbox. Whether it's in the rush game or understanding what teams are trying to do to attack us in the run game.

Q: Do you give them less freedom when facing a mobile quarterback like Mariota?

A: Again, I think all of our guys, all 11 guys on the field, understand what we're trying to get accomplished from call-to-call and how indicative it is that everybody is on the same page. We can't bust things, we can't turn guys loose. Because this guy is mobile enough that he can stay alive and deliver the ball down the field. So from that aspect of it, I think it's a combination of them understanding what we expect as far as a rush plan from them and different things that we're trying to do to put pressure on him.

Q: Has Trae Waynes showed you enough to start?

A: I think Trae Waynes has had a very good offseason and a very productive preseason. We don't get caught up that much in who is starting. Our biggest thing is we have different packages for different situations throughout the course of a game. Whether it's two-minute, whether it's third down, whatever it is. We use a lot of different guys and use their skill set. From that aspect of it, we see his skill set and look forward to him continuing to progress and be able to help us throughout the course of the season.  

Q: Are there times where Waynes will go in and Terence Newman come out?

A: Again, right now we substitute a lot during the course of a game.  Some teams allow us to substitute some teams don't allow us to substitute. Some teams go no huddle and won't let us do it. We've got different defensive packages, it just depends on what we're in as far as the situation of the game and we still approach it that way

Q: Is there a point where you want to get him more game experience?

A: I think it's been valuable, he got valuable game experience last year. I think when his opportunities come up that we expect him to go out there and play and continue to show us the progress that he has made.

Q: What kind of challenge does Delanie Walker pose?

A: He's really good in and out of the breaks. He's a very integral part of their passing game. We realize that situationally he shows up in about every situation. He's a tough match, we've got to be very disciplined with our eyes. We've got to be very disciplined as far as the route progressions and understand what they're trying to use him in in different situations.

Q: Is there a tight end that he reminds you of?

A: He's kind of a jack of all trades. He's an excellent receiver, he understands getting body position underneath and using head fakes and things like that underneath. There's been a lot of good tight ends that have been receiving tight ends, especially in the last couple years in the league. He's right in there with the mix of all those guys.

Q: Is the time Eric Kendricks missed going to affect him at all?

A: I think the one thing he's done throughout the offseason is been consistent as far as when he's had his opportunities, other than when he's been injured. He's come back to practice and it seems like he's in a good place, mentally, with what we're trying to do and execution wise he's done a good job with what we've seen thus far.

Q: Could his tackling be rusty?

A: It could and it couldn't. The biggest thing is, like I said, out here at practice when we've got opportunities he's taking good angles, he understands leverage, those types of deals. So from that aspect of it, we're looking for him to progress and continue on like we've seen throughout the offseason and throughout the preseason.

*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *

So obviously it's an exciting week here at Winter Park for our team, city, state and organization as we head into Week One of the 2016 season. We are ready to roll.

Q: How did you feel the kickoff team covered short kicks by Blair Walsh?

A: You know we weren't really trying to make them short. We were trying to put them around the goal line with the best hang time that we could get. I think Blair handled it pretty well for the most part. I don't think we covered kicks as well as I want to during the season. We had a couple last Thursday against L.A. (Rams) that were run out to the 40 or 42 yard line. That's unacceptable for whatever it was. We had some young guys out there, but that's no excuse they had young players out there too. We need to cover kickoffs better if we are to use this rule to our advantage. Then if we have to kick them into the end zone, we'll take the touchbacks. I'd rather have the tackles inside the 20 than give a good offense the ball at the 25 yard line anytime. 

Q: How has Jayron Kearse been on special teams so far?

A: Jayron's made a lot of strides. I'm proud of where he's come from. Back in the spring obviously this was brand new to him. I don't think he played in many special teams units at Clemson. I think he and several other rookies have made a lot of strides, but him in particular I'm really proud of the way he's advanced. He made some big plays the other night. That was good for his confidence and good for our football team. 

Q: What can a player with that size and length do on special teams?

A: Well I've got him playing on the wing on punts. He plays the two on kickoffs. He can play on the front line of kickoff returns, which is brand new technique for him. He's never done that before. On punt returns he can play inside or outside. You know put him in the vice. He's got length, he's got speed and he's smart. He can see a lot obviously because he's tall, so you can say he has a lot of vision especially on the kickoff part of it. But a lot of these young guys are going to have to step up and play well for us on Sunday.

Q: Do you have a few newer faces on this unit?

A: I think it changes every year. At the end of day I think some of these starters that play on special teams for us like Andrew Sendejo and Danielle Hunter will play more defense for us this year, so I'll have to spell them a little bit on special teams. That's where the young guys come in. That's why we put pressure on them in preseason to be prepared for the regular season and the young guys are going to have to step up and replace some of the veterans that are playing more defense or they are no longer here. One way or another.

Q: Are you looking for more decision making from Jayron?

A: Yes and its more experience. The more he sees things the better off he'll be. The opening kickoff against the Rams he lost contain as the backside two and that can never happen. It should never happen to us. That's when Mackensie (Alexander) had to save the day and ended up getting a penalty. He did save a touchdown on that play, but that's the experience and the decision making on the type of plays that he's going to have to make for us in near the future.

Q: Is blocking new to him?

A: Yes, it's very foreign. It's like a receiver coming into the pros and being asked to play kickoffs or punt coverage, so now they have to tackle. It's the same concept.  

Q: Have you seen a difference in Blair Walsh's mental strength?

A: I think anytime you go through something like that and you have the support from the organization, his teammates and coaching staff that he's had here, it's going to help him with his confidence going forward. I just kind of feel what you feel and there's more maturity there with him and that's the self-confidence, the maturing. He made a tough mistake and it hurt our football team, but at the end of the day he's still a great kicker. We're going to rely on him going forward to help us win some footballs and he's going to have to have that mentality going into games that he is a weapon for us on kickoffs and with PATs and field goals. That's the way he has to approach it and I think that's the way he has approached it.

Q: How much has Jeff Locke progressed?

A: I think Jeff has had a pretty good preseason. You know he's had his moments like any punter in this league during the preseason. I think he's had eight or nine punts downed within the 20-yard line. I hope punting indoors will help to make him more of a directional punter especially at U.S. Bank Stadium. I'm excited about his progress and he's a very very good holder, so Blair has a lot of confidence in him. I think his confidence has grown too. He's much stronger than he was. That was his mission, to comeback stronger than he ever was before and he's did that. 

Q: How has the punt coverage unit looked because they struggled on that one return against Cincinnati?

A: I think we had at least five or six missed tackles. I was going to say 12 missed tackles because I would've missed him too down the sideline. That was a good return by that young man and I think he (Alex Erickson) actually made their team, so he did a good job as a college free agent. You know at the end of the day the guys that we have covering punts are extremely important. I still think that's the most important phase of our football team. It's after an offensive drive stalled and we have to flip the field for our defense. Then it's always going to come down to net punt. Always. I told Jeff that on that touchdown he out kicked his coverage. He probably had a 56-or 57-yard punt with about 4.5 hang time. That's unacceptable. We need the 48 yard punt with a 4.8 or 4.9 hang time. That's acceptable for the way we cover here. My goal is to always net what you punt. If you punt it 48 yards, then you want to net 48 yards and if you punt it 43 yards, then you want to net 43 yards. That's going to help our cover team going forward.

Q: Is Locke becoming a directional punter through natural progression or U.S. Bank Stadium?

A: I would say both and then at TCF Bank Stadium it was almost impossible to be a directional punter. The winds were too crazy, but we're indoors, obviously and at the NFL-type stadiums you're going to be able to directional punt more often.

Q: Are you getting comfortable with U.S. Bank Stadium?

A: We're getting there. We're going to do what we did the last couple of years when were at TCF Bank Stadium. We're going to go down during the week and let them get their work in. Anytime we have a home game we're going to go down on Wednesdays and get some work in.

Q: What makes a good gunner?

A: Having a plan, sticking with the plan and believing in the plan. We need to do a lot of technique with those guys. You have to either be small and quick like Marcus Sherels or a bigger faster guy. You know, Trae Waynes is a very good gunner as well. You have to be able to tackle. You have to be able to find the football. There's a lot of repetition work, but there's some guys who can just go out there. Everson Griffen was a gunner when I was first here. He's a different type of guy than obviously Marcus Sherels or Trae Waynes. I think at the end of the day you have to be able to find the ball and be able to tackle.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.