*Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner *
Q: What's stood out to you about Sam Bradford in his time here?
A: I think there's a number of things, but if you get right down to it it's his experiences in the past. You're not dealing with a young guy who's seeing things for the first time. When we get ready to play somebody and start looking at their defense, he's very comfortable understanding what people are trying to do and how they're trying to do it. He understands attacking personnel rather than just running plays. He's an experienced player. Then obviously you tie that together with his really, really good talent. He's been unbelievably accurate and he gets the ball out of his hands real quick. I think it's been a good match for our group.
Q: Is there one touchdown completion from Sam Bradford that really demonstrates his accuracy?
A: In my mind there's no question because it's a highlight reel and it's as good of a throw as I've been around. That touchdown to (Stefon) Diggs in the Green Bay game off of the play-action the corner actually undercuts it and Sam's getting hit as he throws it, you can't throw a more perfect pass than that. It's not an eight-yard pass, it's a 30-yard pass down the field to the back of the end zone. So, it was a pretty incredible play and those plays end up being the difference in winning and losing.
Q: How many times do you say a perfect pass is executed in the game?
A: I'm not one for superlatives, so to me that was as good as it gets. A lot of throws that you make and you should make when a guy is running free and then there's those special plays that very few people can make. You're getting pressured, you're getting hit, its tight coverage and you manage to complete it and you obviously don't put your team at risk.
Q: What is the origin of the run-pass option plays you've been running?
A: Most of the things that we are running, we've been running for a long time. There's no question. The combination that we lean on everybody from the offensive staff. The things that Pat (Shurmur) has brought from Philly and things that Tony (Sparano) has brought from his background. Kevin Stefanski is really good with our short yardage, inside the red zone running game. So, I think this is a total group effort. You want to the have the flexibility to attack a defense and that's one thing I'll tell you with Sam, we've given him a lot because he can handle it.
Q: Are you a fan of the wildcat?
A: I'm a fan of anything that gives the defense problems and ends up being productive. If its things that give the defense problems and you don't execute well, I'm not a big fan of. In whatever you're doing whether it's empty, no huddle, its gun, its wildcat, it's up to the players. If they execute it right, then it's good football. I know part of it is Coach Zimmer's input. He knows certain things that are headaches to prepare for, so we're trying to do those things too.
Q: What did you think of Taylor Heinicke returning to practice and do you expect him to make the 53-man roster?
A: Every time Taylor comes out and gets going he's impressive and the players really take to him because they see him throw the ball and he throws the ball extremely well. The other part of the question, obviously, has to do with how our roster is shaped and then Coach Zimmer's decisions in terms of how we're going to go with that.
Q: Did he look rusty?
A: The throws he's making are against air or he's being Philadelphia's quarterback. I don't spend a lot of time evaluating rust or non-rust. But, he can throw the football and he's extremely accurate and he's a lucky guy to be here with Shaun (Hill) and be here with Sam (Bradford). You grow from being around guys like that. I can't explain how valuable that opportunity is for a young quarterback.
Q: Anything about Adam Thielen's development that surprises you?
A: No, like I've said when Adam's gotten opportunities he's been productive all the way back to two years ago. He's grown and become a lot more consistent player. He's a great example of why the guys do the offseason work and do all of the lifting, running and conditioning in-season because he's gotten stronger, he's gotten quicker and he's gotten faster. I attribute that to the offseason program, the way he's committed to it and the way he works.
Q: How do you divvy up the receiver work load?
A: I think it's really a compliment to our receivers because I don't think we go into a game saying this guy is going to be the guy. I think they all know they have to be ready and when your number is called be productive with it. Obviously, Adam's (Thielen) big day came because (Stefon) Diggs couldn't play. He played the role of Diggs and he played it pretty good. Kyle's (Rudolph) had a couple big days and that's where we've gotten people to back off a little bit and play coverage because we're making plays on the outside.
Q: How much of a difference do you think it would be to get Diggs back this week?
A: It's, I think – we were just talking about it – it's a big difference. He's, obviously, a very good player, and he attracts attention. If a team decides to put an emphasis on him or put their best player on him, it opens things for everyone else, and obviously, when he gets singled up, he has had very good production.
Q: How often would you say he gets singled up?
A: Well, he got singled up when he had the big game a lot against the Giants, and then to be me, after that, it's how a team is going to play you. He missed the Houston game; he might have gotten more attention in that game. So, we'll see as we go forward.
*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *
I know everyone knows about my situation from the spring. I just want to say publicly, as I've done privately, I apologize to our organization, our owners, our coaches, our players, everybody involved in this organization for any negative light that has been shined upon them because of this poor decision that I made. It was definitely my responsibility. It was a poor decision on my part and I've taken the steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Alright, Philly this week poses a good test for us again this week. Offensively, I think they're like 10th in the league right now, as far as scoring points a game, which is 24. They're number eight in rushing, and they've only – other than last week – they gave up five sacks. Other than that, they had only given up seven sacks coming into the year. They haven't turned the ball over. They've got two turnovers on the year. So, this will be a true, big test for us this week. They have a rookie quarterback who has done an exceptional job thus far, and last week he, due to some pressure and those types of deals, he got sacked five times. But, for the most part as a rookie quarterback, he has done an exceptional job of getting the ball out quick, understanding what people are trying to do to him, and it'll be a big test for us this week.
Q: Coach Mike Zimmer mentioned a significant fine. What are some of the other steps or other things you have done since the arrest?
A: Since then, I've followed the protocol. I notified the team right away, notified Coach [Zimmer] of it, followed the protocol and went through the steps that were necessary to be at this point right now. I have been, since that point in time, been making sure that I have taken care of everything that they had asked me to take care of, I have put it behind me to ensure that it doesn't happen again and focused on what we've got to get done now.
Q: Was there a donation made somewhere?
A: A part of what I was required to do was to pay a fine.
Q: Do you think this is just a one-time deal, or have there been other issues?
A: I don't think that it's a one-time deal. I know it's a one-time deal.
Q: How often would you say you create a situation where a quarterback has to make a perfect throw?
A: Coverage goes hand-in-hand with pass rush. That's the one thing we believe in, the one thing we teach, and our players understand it. They've done a great job of it thus far this year. So, for us, it's understanding what we need to do leverage-wise in coverage to give them time to get to the quarterback. Our rushers understand what's happening protection-wise. So, it all kind of ties hand-in-hand. You look at the success we've had hitting some of the quarterbacks we've faced thus far, that's what it has been a combination of, and I think our guys are on the same page and understand that it's all tied hand-in-hand. We don't want to give up big plays, big throws down the field. So, we have to be disciplined in the leverage of the coverage, and we've got to be able to understand what they're doing protection-wise to be able to get into good rush lanes for the quarterback. This kid [Wentz] can move around in the pocket. He has done it. He has bought time in the pocket. He likes to step up to throw the ball down the field, to try to buy time, and those are thing we've been working on this week. The other thing he'll do, is he's really good at getting a read, getting the ball out quick right now. So, that has been a big part of what we've tried to stress.
Q: Is pressure the key on a young quarterback like Carson Wentz?
A: I think that's part of it, that and being able to have good leverage on the routes down the field. With a West Coast offense, that ball is coming out quick, and they do a great job of getting five people out in a route and those types of deals. So, we're going to have to be very disciplined as far as leverage of our coverage, whether that's underneath with the linebackers or safeties being down in the box or whether we're back in deep-half coverage underneath. They're going to try to isolate us one on one underneath, so that'll be a big thing for us this week in preparation for the game.
Q: Since Coach Mike Zimmer has gotten here, the Vikings were I think 2-8 on the road. Since then, you've won like seven of eight road games. Obviously, the team has gotten better, but what are some of the keys to playing better on the road?
A: I think Coach Zimmer has done a great job since he has been here talking about situational football, and no matter where we're at, no matter what the situations are – whether it's the crowd noise or whatever – we try to have them prepared for that before we go into that situation. They know going in exactly what we've got to get accomplished, how we're going to have to accomplish it, and being able to adjust once you get into the game when something goes differently. So, I think Coach has emphasized that with our team and understanding what's offensively, defensively, on special teams the formula of what it's going to take to go win the game. And I think our guys know that going into a game, and then being able to adjust once we get into the game, to those situations if something changes or how the course of the game is going.
Q: How tough does Darren Sproles make things, just as far as his versatility?
A: I've coached against him for a lot of year. He's a very versatile back, does an excellent job in the route running, receiving the football, run after catch. He's illusive in the open field. It'll be a true test with him this weekend, and to do it at the level he has done it for as long as he has done it, it'll take a lot of concentration and focus on what we've got to get done to take him out of it.
Q: Do you think you can try to match him up one on one with a linebacker? He's kind of a unique guy.
A: He is a unique guy – but not to get into the game plan or what we've got planned this weekend – but he's definitely someone we'll be paying attention to.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Got a big opportunity this weekend. Going on the road, playing a very good football team. I've been telling our guys all week staring on Monday when they came in for practice that we're playing quite possibly the best special teams unit across the board that we've faced so far this year. They're very, very good. Very talented at a lot of different spots. They're very well coached. We've got our work cut out for us like we normally do, even more so this week.
Q: Do you try to avoid Darren Sproles?
A: Darren has been giving me issues since I was with Kansas City and Denver. When he was in San Diego I had to face him twice a year. He's not only an outstanding football player, I don't know him very well but I know he's a great person. He works hard, it's important to him. He's battled back from some injuries earlier in his career. He's just an outstanding returner and yes, I don't like facing him. I hope we don't have to punt at all on Sunday. If we do, we hope we can limit the damage and kick them high and short and net what you punt. That's kind of what you want to do against a good returner like Darren.
Q: Is he a similar mold to Marcus Sherels?
A: He's a little different than Marcus in that he's probably thicker so he's going to break more tackles. Very quick like Marcus, you're right. He does a great job with that first step making people miss. He also does a good job when he plants his foot and hits that seam like Marcus does. He can hit that seam full speed. That's what makes him so hard, you think you've got him wrapped up, you think you've got him corralled and the next thing you know he finds a tiny seam and he can hit it. We're harping on that all week. We've got to go out and punt the ball well, protect the punter, have great plays from our gunners and let's go to work.
Q: Was the bye week good for Blair Walsh?
A: I think the bye week is good for everybody to be quite honest with you. Blair is no different. I thought he played really well against Houston. It's always nice sometimes to maybe keep that momentum going in the right direction. But he hit the ball well. I know he kicked once on his own during the bye week. He came back Monday and had a good session. He kicked well yesterday. We've got a field goal session today. Just kind of build that momentum. Get him refreshed. Like Coach Zimmer said, we're 0-0 and we're going to need Blair down the stretch and need him to play well for us and hopefully that's what he'll do.
Q: Will you know when he has put his struggles behind him?
A: I think because he's been around here, I know him quite well. I think he is past the bad things that have happened to him not only last year but this year as well. He's learned from it. The good thing about Blair is he might miss one but he's going to come back and normally he'll make the next one. We've just got to be more consistent and limit the times where he doesn't make them. He's got to help us win games. That's how we're built. We're built for good defense, good special teams, ball control offense and making big plays when we can. He's got to make those field goals for us when we're in the range.
Q: How has Laquon Treadwell handled his special teams duties?
A: It was new for him during training camp and he was a guy that was working so hard to become a very good receiver, and he's still working hard to be a good receiver, but he was running so much that we kind of took him off some special teams early on. I didn't get quite a good enough look at him in training camp and in the preseason games. But because he's not been used a whole lot on offense this far, he's too good of an athlete to be standing next to me on the sideline, and that's what I told him that. He's had a great attitude. He played a couple reps at gunner last game against Houston. He had a key block on Marcus' touchdown on punt return and filled in for Adam Thielen on kickoff return as well. Got a great attitude, he's smart, he understands the game. He just needs reps. He needs to learn how to play those spots which he doesn't know how to do quite yet. He's getting there.
Q: Is the attitude the biggest adjustment for young guys on special teams?
A: Not since I've been here. The guys that Rick [Spielman] and Coach Zim draft are guys that love the game of football. When you love the game of football it's pretty easy to look around and say, 'You know what, I'd like to be out there. If I'm not starting on offense, not starting on defense, I want to contribute.' Our locker room helps that too. We've talked about our locker room and what a great bunch of guys that we have. That understand the importance of special teams. The guys know, even Andrew Sendejo has been starting for two years at safety, he still starts on two phases. Adam Thielen is still starting on a phase. Once the young guys look around and say, 'Wow, these starters are contributing on special teams, I want to be a part of that.' That's how Laquon has handled it, like a lot of the young guys.