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Transcript: Coordinators Addressed the Media Thursday

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur

Q: Do you feel like Dalvin is a running back that gets better as the game goes on?

A: Well, I thought he was efficient running the ball throughout the game. Certainly earlier in the game the score was closer. We had some efficient runs to start the game. Unfortunately, we penalized ourselves which took ourselves out of being able to stick with it through maybe the latter parts of the first half. Later in the game I thought he ran the ball efficiently. He had an explosive run. He's in shape, he's durable, and we feel like he can have good runs start to finish.

Q: When look at how Tampa Bay attacks things with their front seven, do you think it will open it up for some explosive plays?

A: I don't know about that. I think they're a good defense and they're very aggressive and they do a good job stopping the run. It's going to be a challenge for us. We felt the same way last week against Pittsburgh and we did find a way to make some yardage there. I mean it's going to be a challenge. It's a challenge every week. I think you look around the league most teams have a pretty formidable front that you got to block and you got to just fight and carve out yards the way you can.

Q: Did you do anything special with Dalvin on ball security?

A: We work on ball security with all the players every day. It's like shaving, if you don't it eventually you don't look good. I think it's something that we work on and every player that touches the ball needs to finish the down with it.

Q: What was the difference between the offensive line from the first game to the second? Did the quality of the opponent's defense play a part?

A: No, I think with what we were presented with and they really didn't do much different than what we had thought. Pittsburgh is a team that pressures and plays kind of a loose zone behind it. Thought our guys picked up the pressures pretty well. We only had two scenarios where we threw the ball hot and the ball got out both times. One we had a chance to make a play on. I think each team presents a different problem and it is certainly was different from the week before. I thought they all sort of knew where they were going and did a pretty good job. We just got to do a better job executing the pass part of it.

Q: What are the challenges from your end about not knowing who your starter is?

A: Well, the challenge is to put together a plan that can attack the defense that you're facing and then within that plan trying to utilize the plays that fit the skillset of the quarterback playing. That's pretty much it.

Q: How much did the penalties or negative plays hamper the offense by being in second and long?

A: You don't like to be in those situations because you'll have to go to different types of plays than if it's second and four. You can't get to some of the things that you were normally would like to. What we need to do, lets put Pittsburgh in the rear-view mirror, what we need to do is make sure we don't put ourselves in those longer yard situations. We need to stay on schedule so that we can call the plays that might get us an explosive gain. That makes it a little bit easier on ourselves. That allows you to get the ball down the field, so you can get in the scoring zone and score points.

Q: How much do you like hearing how aggressive your head coach is?

A: I think as a head coach and I sat in his chair, it's important that you maintain an aggressive approach and I think Coach Zimmer has always done that. There's things that we do and we try like heck to score as many points as we can, and certainly one more than our opponent. Games play out differently, sometimes you get way ahead and how you do it changes. Sometimes you get behind and how you do it changes. I think our players know that Coach Zimmer has an aggressive mentality and he's going to do whatever he can on that day to help us win the game and we trust his judgement.

Q: What do you think makes Adam Thielen so good down the field?

A: I think he's good in all areas. The one thing about Adam [Thielen], he's a little bit like an outfielder. I think he can judge the ball well and some receivers don't have that skill, so when the ball is in the air down the field and you've seen at times where he doesn't have separation, which sometimes you don't know matter how good a receiver you are, he has a way of being able to judge the ball and aggressively attack it with his hands. He's got a strong physic. That allows him to finish usually the plays with a catch. 

*Q: How do you think Adam Thielen compares speed wise to other receivers? *

A: I don't know. That's probably not a question for me. I think he can run all the routes that we want him to run.

Q: Do you think speed is an accurate gauge when judging a receiver being able to make plays down the field?

A: I don't think it's always accurate. There's extremes, obviously, on both sides. There's certain receivers that can run by any coverage that's presented and then there's other receivers that, when you're presented with a one-on-one match up, can find a way behind the defense, if they're not behind the defense, be able to execute the play or make the play in tight coverage.

Q: You haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver in eight years, do you think if Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs stay healthy will you finally get one?

A: I don't know. I don't know if that's how you measure a winning season. We're very fortunate here. We've got a lot of targets out there that you just throw it to whoever is open. I'm hopeful that what we do on offense will help us win football games. I think if you ask those guys the same question, all that gets talked about in February, March, and all that, but I think those guys' focus is to get ready to play Tampa Bay and help us win games.

Q: Have you talked to Sam Bradford?

A: Yes, I talked to him today. I talk to him every day, every night. He got what he needed yesterday and he'll do the same today.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards

Good morning. We're in the second day of preparation for Tampa Bay. Offensively, they've got some really good skill sets as far as their receivers, they've got running back by committee, good tight end, so there's a lot of matchups we're going to have to work diligently on this week to get prepared to go out and compete against them on Sunday. Questions?

Q: Are these two of the more opposite type of receivers?

A: Yeah, their skill sets are definitely different but they both are able to go get the ball. One can take the top off the coverage and the other can jump off the top off the coverage. For us this week, we've got to do a good job with what they're doing with their players and how they're matching them up with different formations and different situations throughout the game.

Q: With DeSean Jackson, is it straight speed that scares you the most about him?

A: His speed is probably as good as anybody in the league, but he does a good job of running routes. He does a good job of stemming at the top of the routes so we'll have to be disciplined in what we're trying to get accomplished when we're guarding him this weekend.

Q: What do you like with what you've seen from Mackensie Alexander through two games?

A: I think he's really been working diligently and he's been consistent in his work habits. The experience has been valuable for him with the experience he's gotten in the first two games. We're just looking for him to keep competing and keep getting better each and every day as we work through the week of preparation and get to the games and be able to show what we've practiced during the week. Thus far he's done a pretty decent job of it.

Q: How has Ben Gedeon looked in his first couple games as a pro?

A: He's been doing good. The one thing about him is that he's been consistent in whatever we've asked him to do. He's been productive, he's shown good instincts and awareness when he's in the football game. We're pleased where he's at right now. He's been doing good.

Q: In term of Trae Waynes, he obviously struggled a bit last Sunday, what do you have to do to get him going again?

A: We just have to keep working the fundamentals and the techniques of the position. Keep paying attention to the details and not grab at the top of the route so that's what we're working on this week and we get ready for the game.

Q: Is Tramaine Brock close to helping you guys?

A: Yeah, I mean he's done a good job of preparation last week and we felt good with his preparation last week going into last week's game. He's in the process of doing the same thing this week. The one thing you can see is that he's a lot more familiar with what we're trying to do technique, fundamental-wise, call and communication-wise. He's done a good job and we look forward as we keep going through the week as far as what the best matchups are going into the game.

Q: How far back did you go looking at tape of Jameis Winston and what is he getting better at?

A: With his decision-making, he wants to make all the throws. I think, the one thing he's tried to do when you look at him through the preseason compared to last year, you can see him being a little bit more protective as far as the decisions he's making as far as throwing the ball. He can make all the throws and he's got the arm strength to make all the throws. He's got a good feel in the pocket and is very elusive to step up or roll out in the pocket and keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball. We'll have to do a good job as far as our rush plan on him and have to do a good job as far as covering the routes down the field. 

Q: They have two games or tape on you and you only have one of them. Does that make any difference?

A: It's no different than if you have an open date during the course of the season. You have one less breakdown but we have a body of work that they did last year. It's not all the same guys, all the same components, but very similar concepts with what it is they're doing.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer

Q: What do you say to Kai Forbath to work him through this extra point slump?

A: Well, considering he does a pretty good job on field goals, we just tell him it's a 33-yard field goal. We're trying that and trying to get it in his head a little bit. It's crazy, it really is. First miss against New Orleans he pushed it and this one he yanked it. Those are unacceptable, he knows that. Our football team needs every single point we can get so hopefully he'll get himself straightened out this week and we'll go from there.   

Q: Do you think he overcorrected after the New Orleans miss?

A: I don't think so because he had a great week of practice last week. He hit the ball well yesterday, we hit a bunch of field goals. We're going to hit more today. We work on that PAT, that 33-yard field goal, more than any other spot on the field. Typically, he makes every one of them. I would think, since training camp started he may have missed one in practice. We've got to have that same mentality in the ball game as well. I don't think it's a lack of focus, he knows how important it is. At the end of the day, he knows he's got to make those kicks for us. 

Q: Do you see any technical issues playing a factor?

A: No, I mean, on the one he pulled the other day it was technically not exactly how you want it. But, pregame was great, the 42-yarder he drilled. First game, the three field goals he hit were technically outstanding. It's just one of those things, you've got to do it over and over and over again. Every time he goes out there it involves points. I tell that to the field goal protection team, I tell that to the snapper, the holder, and the kicker. He knows he's got to make those. 

Q: Are you worried at all that you might be going down a similar path that you went down with Blair Walsh?

A: well, I think, he's a different personality. I think every kicker has a different personality. I don't want to compare him to Blair or anybody else. I think he's a mentally strong kid. Kai will be just fine. He's kicking off well for us, he's doing the things we're asking him to do. We're doing a good job of pinning people deep for the most part. I just hope that he can straighten himself out and have a great week for us.

Q: Who decides whether or not Jerick McKinnon takes a kick out from the endzone?

A: Well, I'll be honest, as you know, we're aggressive and we needed a spark. Our football team, we felt, needed a spark. So normally we had him about five-deep early in the game and we backed him up to seven. He didn't realize he was back at nine, he just drifted back a couple yards and took it out. That one was probably, the decision probably should have been made to keep it and take a knee. The other one, he went to his right a little bit and caught it right at about seven. It was a line drive kick too, we just didn't block it very well, to be honest with you. Overall, that decision is my coaching, it's got to be on me. Head coach has allowed us to be aggressive and I don't want us to make those mistakes or get to a point where coach looks at me and says, 'Hey, just take a knee when we're in the endzone.' Because I think we've been too good of a kickoff return unit since I've been here. We've had good returners, we've had good blocking. At the end of the day, we've got to execute better, even if he catches it seven or eight yards deep. 

Q: Do you anticipate dialing that back a bit?

A: Again, it always depends on the situation. If it's a tight game and we need field position, we'll take a knee if it's seven or eight deep. But, if it's a line drive kick and he backs up a yard or two and it's a 3.5 hang time kick and we think we can get our timing right. That's the big thing, the timing is the key. Jerick, because of his inexperience, doesn't understand as much of the timing. That's my job to make sure he does understand that. In terms of if it's really high and deep, the timing of the whole return is different because they're another five yards closer. Where if it's a 3.5 hang time, six or seven deep, we can still get the timing we want based off of our wedge and where our blockers are based off where their coverage people are. It's not that complicated but at the end of the day we've got to make decisions that are going to help our football team. That starts with me.

Q: Does Jerick have to have an internal clock to judge the hang time?

A: Yeah, I think so, probably. With experience, he'll be better at that. At the end of the day, he'll be better at that because of his reps. He doesn't have a lot of reps, to be honest with you. I'm not making excuses for him or for me or for anybody else. We've got to make better decisions at certain parts in the game. We're still going to be aggressive and we're going to make some big plays on kickoff returns. I think if you just take a knee every time it goes four or five deep than you're not going to have a chance to make a big play.

Q: What exactly is the rule on the covering of the center on place kicks and what did they penalize you for last week?

A: I thought we were okay. It was tough, it was a tough deal. His arm may have been covering part of the leg. That's a big emphasis now for the officials so it's my job to make sure that we, what I always say, we're not going to give the official an excuse to throw the flag. We probably gave him an excuse to throw a flag there by just being maybe that close, that much closer than we were on the rep before. I thought it was a tough call. But, they called it and there's a reason why they called it and we're going to make sure that doesn't get called again.

Q: Is that one that they typically let go?

A: Well, in years past he would've been fine. It's been a big emphasis this year and we knew that going in. Tom [Johnson], god bless him, he knew it going in. He wasn't trying to get a penalty. I think our field goal block team has a bunch of conscientious guys on there and a bunch of defensive starters. They know how important that play is. We've made an impact over the years. We've just got to make sure we're lined up correctly and still bring as much pressure as we can. 

Q: What do you look for in a gunner?

A: I think you're going to have different guys. You've got Marcus [Sherels] out there and Jayron [Kearse] out there. We had Marcus last year and Cordarrelle Patterson out there. So, a guy like Jayron is a bigger, stronger, more explosive guy off the line that's maybe easier to block if his technique is not right. He's going to use speed and power. Whereas Marcus is going to use his quickness. He's going to use some counter type moves. He's going to use his speed and athleticism. But at the end of the day, they both have to be productive for us. No matter what type of gunner you have, they have to be productive for us.

Q: When you look at the full roster what types of players do you identify as potential gunners?

A: As you know, we've used different body types. Everson Griffen was a gunner when I first got here. We made him a gunner and he was a really good one because he wasn't playing as much on defense. We've had Cordarrelle [Patterson], we've had Jamarca Sanford, Marcus [Sherels] has been a gunner for us since I've been here. He's gotten better every year. The thing with Marcus is his savvy. He understands, he studies a lot of tape on how they attack in a vice, how they attack in a single-press. How he's going to beat guys whether he loses ground or uses a counter attack or just a speed release. We work on technique a lot, a lot with our gunners. We've got different ways of beating guys based on who the opponent is and also what type of athlete that we're using out there. We're going to use anybody. Jerick McKinnon has been out there as a backup. We could play Jerick as the personal protector, we could play Jerick at a wing on punt team and as a gunner because that's the type of athlete he is.

Q: On the fake punt, did the Steelers just make a good play to squash it?

A: Yeah, I was kind of in coach's ear about running it in the first half to provide a spark for our football team. It's a good fake, I like the scheme. They played it well, I will tip my hat to them, they played it well. The guy did a hold-up technique, we've practiced against that. In practice we were getting away a little bit better, a little bit more effectively. He did a good job of holding us up. There is no pass interference on a fake punt like that from a punt formation. They're never going to call that so it was a good play by them. We just need to execute it better.

Q: Do you think the linebacker knew that penalty couldn't be called?

A: Well, you can still call holding. He can chuck him or block him, he's allowed to block him. As long as it's a legal block, he's okay. We felt that going in there we could catch him by surprise. I think initially we caught them by surprise but they reacted really well and they played it well. 

Q: Do you think Blake Bell got held?

A: No, I don't think so. I think it was legal. I think they played it well, we didn't execute it. Like I said, my hats off to them.

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