Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur
Q: Was there an effort to make the offensive line lighter and quicker?
A: Definitely not lighter. But, I think it's important for all the positions to be able to move. What you saw in there was they can move around. They did a good job. They were active, for the most part, on Monday night. You could see their ability to move and it helps us in some ways.
Q: How does the communication on the offensive staff work?
A: I think it takes a village. I told the players, I tell them on a regular basis, and the same can be said for the staff, this is the Minnesota Vikings offense and we as coaches, if you have a good idea, you bring it to the table in the pre-planning. When we put the plan together, it's all stuff that we feel good about. During the game we have an idea the direction we want to go calling the plays. That's certainly my responsibility. But, along the way there's really good suggestions that come from all areas because we have an open line of communication. 'Pat, we need to get to this.' 'Or, the last time we lined up this way, they did this. What do you think about this? Hey, that'd be great.' So, I'm assuming that's what Coach Zimmer is talking about.
Q: How did Laquon Treadwell play?
A: I thought Laquon played really well. He played an extended amount of snaps. He blocked extremely well. Unfortunately, the ball only went his way once and he made his catch. That's what you need to do. We've said this throughout the offseason and through training camp, except that little time he was injured, he's made huge progress. In order for us to be a really good offense, he has to play well. We felt like he had a good game.
Q: What impressed you most with the way Dalvin Cook handled pass protection?
A: I think I expected that from him after watching him work the last few months. I told him after the game, 'You're no longer a rookie, you got your first live action in a regular season game.' You can just tell, there's certain players that it's not too big for them. I think he was out there, he was in the flow of the game, he was comfortable with what he was doing. He had production running the ball and doing all the other things. He was struggling with the lights a little bit. I think which affected him catching it, so we've got to work on that.
Q: What was the catalyst to getting the passing game started late in the second quarter?
A: Well, we hit a string of long passes there. That's not always the design. A lot of the routes have a deep route in them that you sort of get to organically if they give it to you. Sam made a nice check on one. Sam knows what he's looking for and he knows when he sees it. If there's a play, that I like to say is maybe a good play, but he thinks there's one that's better, then he can get us into that. That was certainly the case on a couple. That's a credit to them as players to be able to execute it.
Q: What worked so well on the three-play touchdown drive?
A: I think what was displayed there, there was some accurate throws. Sam made a couple really accurate throws. There was elements of offensive football throughout that. Then we certainly surprised them on the last one with a tempo that they didn't cover. If it's one-on-one we've got to complete all of those.
Q: What does turning up the tempo give you?
A: I don't know, I think using tempo became part of my DNA when I was with Chip [Kelly] in Philadelphia. We did it a lot there. We never huddled but sometimes we didn't go extremely fast, sometimes we did. We kind of just played with the throttle, we just weren't in the huddle. I think used strategically it's good. We had a couple other ones that weren't quite as successful but we hit on one.
Q: How do you go about rotating the running backs?
A: Well, we sort of put them out there and they all can run the ball, we saw that the other night. They all can catch the ball and they're all good in pass protection. So, we put one of them in the game and then it's easy as the play caller. It becomes restrictive as a play caller when you put a runner out there that can only do one or two of those three things. We're fortunate here that we have a stable of backs that we trust. Then the flow of the game kind of dictates a little bit.
Q: Do you expect Dalvin Cook to get a similar work load?
A: Yeah, I mean, he had what, 22 carries? Yeah, he's a really good player so we want him to touch the ball. It's hard to say, the flow of the game dictates sometimes how things go. We'd certainly like to get Latavius [Murray] a little bit more work, if we can. You saw there, we have a role for Jerick [McKinnon] as well.
Q: How does Dalvin Cook and the other rookies avoid the 'rookie wall' late in the season?
A: This has always been part of what we've done as coaches and I certainly think it's important. You have to educate the rookies throughout the season about what's going to happen when they get into November and December. Obviously, they need to train, they need to rest, they need to get their sleep. They've got to put their devices away at night and go to bed. They've got to do those things so we're constantly educating them so that so-called 'rookie wall' is less challenging. In terms of playing on the field, he's not a rookie anymore. So, he's got to go play.
Q: Do you see any of that changing with the college game changing?
A: No, it's real. This is a very strenuous routine starting all the way back [in offseason program]. Much more strenuous, in my opinion, than college. Even though the length of the season may increase, the demands on their time when they're in this building are pretty intense. I think it's still real.
Q: Are you seeing a trend coming out of college of pass rushers versus pass protectors?
A: I don't know that, I just know that it's very hard at this level to stand back there and hold the ball against any defensive front. There are some tremendous pass rushers coming out of college football. My boy [Vanderbilt QB Kyle Shurmur] plays in the SEC and I watch it every week. I watch what's going after him every week. Typically those guys are here a year later. There's some tremendous pass rushers. I do think, because of the rules of training here in the offseason that we have now, there really is no contact, per se. That's how an offensive lineman needs to work, he needs to be engaged with somebody. This may be a long answer to say, I don't know.
Q: Do you have to take Pittsburgh's seven sacks from last week with a grain of salt with them facing a rookie quarterback?
A: I don't know, I think they're a tremendous defense. They've always put pressure on the quarterback. Played them, seems like every year, my years in Philadelphia. We'd play them in the preseason if we didn't play them in the regular season. So, I've got a lot of experience with them. Then certainly being in Cleveland, I played them twice two years in a row. If you stand there and hold the ball, they're going to get after you. Doesn't really matter the level or the skill and ability of the quarterback.
Q: How will Riley Reiff respond to this week's pass rush?
A: Well, he's a tough player and he understands his matchups. We're detailing what he's got to do. We trust that he's going to block his guy. Really, what you want is the offensive line in general to get kudos for doing well. Which I think they did. Because you build on that. Each week it's a different challenge. Riley is a pro and we know he'll be ready to play.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Preparation on a tough opponent this week. They pose a lot of problems for us. Offensively they do a very good job of matching up people in the different personnel groupings that they use. We're in our second day of preparation trying to work and get ready for them.
*Q: How would you describe the difference of preparing for Ben Roethlisberger compared to other quarterbacks? *
A: I mean he does a lot a good things. He's got great pocket presence. He's not a big scrambler but he does scramble. But he's got a great feel in the pocket to hang in there, to move to the right, step up, and get the ball down the field. He's tough to bring down. I mean over the years he's been really tough to bring down. You do see him step up and run on certain occasions. He does a great job understanding what they're trying to do schematically. The receivers do a great job of getting open down the field as he does start to move around in the pocket, so we've got our work cut out for us.
Q: How do you approach the fact that he's tough to bring down?
A: We've got our rush plan going into the game that we're working this week and our guys are paying attention to the details of what he likes to do in the pocket, and people have had success versus him. We're just working on rush plan and the plan that we've got going into the game to get him on the ground.
Q: Are you seeing any trends in the draft that defensive linemen progress faster than offensive linemen?
A: I think it's a lot different probably for offensive linemen coming into the league with the different protections that they use in college, as compared to when you get into the NFL. But also, with defensive linemen what they're asking them to do, it's a different game in college where the ball is being thrown out on the perimeter a whole more than we do see. Every situation is different. Every defensive linemen is different, just depending on what they're exposed to coming into the league I think.
Q: Are the pass rushers becoming more plentiful?
A: Well, it's definitely a lot more passing going on in the college game. I think guys are exposed more to the passing concepts and rush lanes in college coming out. I think there is more guys because most of the time they are in some type of spread, opened up offense where guys are rushing probably 85% of the game, as opposed to when you get into the NFL it's not quite as much. I think from that aspect guys are exposed to it a little bit quicker defensively, as opposed to an offensive linemen coming into the league and all of a sudden having to learn the different protections from the different looks and things that we do on this level.
Q: The way they move Antonio Brown around how does that impact your defense?
A: He's a tough match. He's a great receiver. Makes big plays whether he's on the left, whether he's on the right, whether he's at the 'X', whether he's at the 'Z', whether he's inside at the slot. They move him all over the place and do a good job of getting him the ball with their route concepts down the field. It'll be a tough test for us this week. We're really going to have to work diligently to make sure we handle the leverage and the coverage on him as they move him around.
Q: Does an offense do that to make it tougher to shadow a guy?
A: Well, I think what they find out if a guy has the ability to move around in the different formations it kind of changes how you have to match up with him in coverage concepts they're trying to use him in.
Q: How much did Terrence Newman help by being able to play inside and outside with his rotation on Monday?
A: I think he's been a big plus, a true professional. He's played all three positions in our secondary and anytime we've asked him to step in, in that role he's been able to do it. He's good to have in the meeting room, he's good to have on the field. He's a good player that brings a lot to the table for us, the flexibility at the position.
Q: Where is Tramaine Brock coming along this week?
A: Coming along well. We're preparing him just like we did last week. We're preparing him as if he's going to play and he's working diligently to get everything that we're trying to do schematically as far as the game plan this week.
Q: Is there a certain type that you're looking for at the defensive end position?
A: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of similarities technique and fundamental wise. What we're looking for, I mean you look at our guys the length that they play with and the awareness that they play with, those are all critical factors for the position.
Q: Is Le'Veon Bell the most patient runner in the league?
A: He fits what they do with their offensive line to a 'T'. He's got great vison and he's got great patience when he hits the hole to wait until they are able to come off and get to the second level and he's able to make a lot of people miss, whether it's in line, outside on the perimeter, whether it's getting to the second level. He's very explosive when he gets his hands on the ball. We'll have our work cut out for us in the running game trying to defend him this weekend.
Q: What do you think is the hardest part of matching up with Antonio Brown?
A: I think it's a combination of everything. You can tell he's a very hard worker, he's a very tough competitor. A play may break down but he's still working to get open. We really have to be disciplined in our coverages of keeping leverage on him as he works through that route progression. They do a good job, like I said before, of moving him around to the different receiver positons to try and out leverage you with different motions and things like that. We'll have our work cut out for us to make sure we maintain leverage on him whether the quarterback is getting rid of the ball quickly as they move him or whether he's scrambling and he gets open down the field.
*Q: Is there something Antonio Brown does that allows him to always be open? *
A: He does a great job with his releases. Whether a guy is pressed or whether a guy is off he's shown the ability to create space in the opening five yards he does a good job of that which allows him to get further down the field. Like I said, again, technically we'll have our work cut out for us wherever they put him as far as the location of their formations.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Just wanted to say, I appreciated our crowd on Monday night was phenomenal. It was loud, they were excited and that's a big part of us winning games. I was really, really pleased to see how much fun they had. Obviously, we put a good showing as a team and got the win. I really appreciate what our fans bring to the game.
Q: What did you think of Ryan Quigley's performance?
A: We just had the two opportunities to punt the ball because our offense did so well. I thought he did a great job. His first punt was phenomenal. It was a great hang time, outside the numbers. Jayron did a nice job coming around the corner, gave him time to get down there, beat the double team. They had a safety drop from the box and he made a real nice play. It was a 52-yard net so that was a big play for us. Anytime we can be a weapon for our football team, that's going to be huge for us. I thought Ryan did a good job. His other one, it was a shorter punt but it was inside the 20. I think they fair caught it at the 11-yard line. Both his punts were outstanding.
Q: When Jerick McKinnon takes those deep kicks out of the endzone, do you have to take the good with the bad with some short returns and some long?
A: Yeah, I think the first kickoff return of the game he brought out, which I was happy with. He just needed to stay, it was a middle return, he's got to stay with the middle. He didn't trust it. That's a learning process for him. In that regard yea we'll take the good with the bad. The one decision he made to bring the ball out that was real deep going to his right coming back to the left. I've got to do a better job of prepping him for that. He's an aggressive guy and I'm an aggressive guy. Sometimes I've got to tone it down. I've got to be the adult in that situation and tone him down a little bit. He'll get better every week, I'm really excited because he runs hard. The one, he was one block away. The guy we were doubling comes off the block and makes the paly. We might've had a big return there. It was still solid. The one to open up the second half was outstanding. That gave us not only good field position but it gave us momentum. The sideline got juiced up and our offense did a great job, went down and I think we kicked a field goal on that drive. I don't think we did a great job overall but there was a couple good plays out there. You've got to keep learning from the bad plays and correct those and move on.
Q: What did you see on Kai Forbath's missed PAT?
A: He pushed it, he pushed it right. He didn't have confidence in his swing for some reason. He had a great week, a good pregame, he was confident going in. As he and I have discussed, those are unacceptable so we've got to make those. Those are 33-yard field goals. We've got to make those every time.
Q: Even if a kick is good, are there still things to correct sometimes?
A: There is with Kai because he's a perfectionist. During the game, I try to have him not think about it so much. If there's some kind of adjustment he has to make based off his approach or especially outdoors like this week, if it's a windy setting. Yeah, those are things that we will discuss. When he makes them, those are things I think we can correct after the game. Those small little adjustments. He knew exactly what he did on every kick. He's very smart and understands his craft. I just don't want him overthinking it. He's just got to go out and be confident, when he's confident, he'll be fine. I thought he kicked off great, he really helped us with field position there. Those are the positives. The 45-yarder he kicked at the end of the game was the best kick of the day for him. We need to kind of build on that one and go from there.
Q: Does Heinz Field present some difficulties with wind?
A: I haven't been there in awhile but it is a difficult venue to kick in if it's a windy day. I don't know what the weather is going to be, I don't pay attention really until Sunday morning when I look out my window at the hotel to see what the weather looks like. We should have an opportunity to get some returns if there's a little bit of wind. [Chris] Boswell, their kicker, has a big time leg but kicking into the wind, anybody is going to struggle a little bit trying to kick touchbacks. We'll hopefully continue to be aggressive and take our opportunities when they arise.
Q: Do you want to take any credit for the Cleveland Indians 21-game win streak?
A: I will take zero credit, but as a fan, I'm pretty excited obviously. Really, at the end of the day, if they win the championship is really that's all that matters. But this has kind of been a fun ride.
Q: Have they lost since they visited practice?
A: They haven't lost since August 23rd, I don't remember what day it was. I'm taking zero credit.