Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
*Good morning. Nice to be down here, nice to be back at work. *
Q: What's the best backup quarterback situation you've experienced?
A: This one, probably. I don't know. I like our backup situation. I have trouble remembering where I was yesterday – my age is getting there. I like our backup quarterback situation and I think it's a positive in a lot of ways.
Q: In your second year the offense continues to develop. Is the offense where you want it to be right now, and where can it still improve?
A: I'll tell you this, if you ask the players that have been around me, they'll tell you that it's never where I want it to be. It's never going to be where I want it to be. We have a lot better understanding of what we're doing. We practice faster. We're a lot more efficient. We're not real good right now, but we have a chance to be. We just have a lot of work to do.
Q: What are you looking forward to from Teddy Bridgewater in year two?
A: I don't break it down year one, year two. I break it down in terms of his normal progression, the way he went through the season, we saw him improve dramatically as the season went on. At the quarterback position, there's always going to be ups and downs. I think the strength Teddy has, he has the mentality, the approach, the demeanor, that he doesn't get affected too greatly by the highs and he doesn't get affected too greatly by the lows. There's going to be a game somewhere early in the season where we struggle and, "Oh, he just played good last year." We went to Buffalo last year against a real good defense and he didn't play real well, we didn't play real well at all. They all asked, "What's wrong with Teddy?" And six weeks later, Green Bay went there and Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the year and it was because of Buffalo's great defense. We're not going to be phased by those things. I just want to see Teddy continue to grow in his understanding and his physical skills and going out and playing.
Q: What do you think about Teddy Bridgewater's standings in quarterback rankings?
A: You try not to pay attention to those things or see them. I see some of the rankings and none of them matters because, obviously, how he plays is the key. I have not been around very many guys, there is only four or five guys I would trust in talking and talking to and evaluating quarterbacks because I don't think there are many guys that understand what you're trying to do at the position and understand the evaluation process. That really makes those evaluations less meaningful. The one evaluation we care about is ours and I think based on where we got to last year and where we think we're going, I think we have a top flight quarterback.
Q: What impact do you think having guys like Mike Wallace and Adrian Peterson will have on the growth of this offense?
A: Still, I don't look at it in those terms. I think what you need to do is you need to get 11 really good players on the field if you're going to be a good team. I always talk to our guys, and we want to have 15 or 16 starters so we have a lot of guys that contribute. If you have a big time, one of the best players I've ever been around, and certainly one of the best running backs, a runner like Adrian, to me, the number one thing he brings is production, and he's hard to tackle and he's going to run for yards and he's going to score a touchdown so that's going to help our team. Obviously, are there are residual benefits for Teddy? Yeah. But that's not the issue, the issue is how do we help our offense? [Mike] Wallace is a big play receiver, he's a guy that matched up, singled up. He should be productive. I think the production is where I look, and it's not based on does it help Teddy or not help Teddy, does it help the left tackle, does it help the right guard? Every good player you have helps everyone.
Q: Mike Wallace said he wants to be a better leader. What does he have to do to become a better leader?
A: To me, the most important part about leadership, and I'll say this about every position, I've heard people talk about how Teddy's leadership ability has improved. To me, the only thing that matters is how you play when you step on the field, and I want Wallace to make plays. If he makes plays, he does the things we want him to do, he works hard in practice, he sets an example in his actions in terms of the way he approaches preparation, then that's leadership. What guys say is very meaningless to me; it's obviously what they do.
Q: An offensive line tends to be a proud unit, how much redemption do you think they want coming into this season?
A: We're capable of being a very good offensive line, we just have a lot of work to do. Obviously, we've got a change at left guard, we're searching at right guard, we got a guy coming off of a season-ending injury at right tackle, so we have a lot of uncertainty. We have, like everyone else, we have training camp to get those guys ready to play. I don't see why we wouldn't be a real good offensive line, but we have a lot of work to do.
Q: How valuable can it be practicing every day against the playmakers on the defensive side of the ball?
A: It's good. Competition makes everyone better and this will be a very, very competitive camp. We get to prepare for the looks that our defense gives; we have to work hard when we're not going against our defense, preparing for the looks that we see from other teams. We play nine teams, that play a 3-4 defense and we don't get to see it in practice. The competition is great; training camp is just a lot of things that we've got to accomplish.
Q: When it comes to backup quarterbacks, is there one key ingredient you would like to see from that player?
A: I still think it's about knowing how to play and that's obviously very general, but when you coach a guy for a little while and you see him handle situations, see him make decisions, you see him consistently make good decisions, then you're talking about a guy that knows how to play the game. I think it was very obvious to us, first of all, watching Teddy's college tape, then getting him here and watching him here and how he grew and got comfortable in playing. He's got great vision, he understands what we're trying to do, he's very disciplined and I think guys lose sight of that. You talked about quarterback rankings - I think some of these guys go out and evaluate quarterbacks, if a guy can't throw a ball through the wall, his value goes down. Well, we don't like guys who throw it through a wall. We like guys who have a good feel for playing and Teddy certainty does have a great feel for playing the game.
Q: Where there times last season where you ever felt limited in implementing your offense?
A: No, I mean there were times obviously in the middle where we struggled. We played some really good defenses and when I look at tape and see some good offenses struggle against the same defenses, I have a better understanding of why. I think we did the things we wanted to do with the group we had. I didn't feel limited, I thought we had a good chance to win when we went out and played during the second half of the season. We won games on the last play for the game. We won games in the last two minutes. We lost a couple of games in the last two minutes. In that last seven-game stretch, we were certainly competitive.
Q: Is Adrian Peterson caught up with everybody in the scheme or does he have some catching up to do?
A: I'm glad you brought up the scheme. When he comes out and I watch him, he's way ahead of everybody else. This scheme thing, to me, it's overrated. I know it's different for Adrian, so there are some things that caught him off guard, but he's very comfortable in what we're doing. He and Kirby Wilson spent a lot of extra time getting him back and caught up on what things are different. We're going to do the things he does best and the things he does best, he's been doing a long time. Some of that can get overrated. The hardest thing for any back, is that in this day and age, in any system, is pass-protection and he's worked real hard at that.
Q: What does Cordarrelle Patterson need to do to see more snaps this year?
A: I think he's going to get his share of snaps. He needs to just continue to do with what he started off yesterday, everyday go out and do the little things right and work hard to get better.
Q: Are you happy with Brandon Fusco there something about the left guard position is more important that you opened up the right guard position to secure the left guard?
A: It fit our guys. I think we felt Brandon would be able to handle going to left guard and I think he and Matt [Kalil] over there have known each other a long time. The communication over there is good. The guys that we have here that are an option at right guard are more comfortable and a lot more prepared to play right guard than left.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
I just want to start off. It's great being back here in Mankato. It's a great facility and it seems like we've got our bearings here in the second year. It's a lot easier for us to get adjusted and systematically it's really the same thing. I think our guys for the first day have come out and done a good job of picking up things and we are just looking forward to keep working and progressing through them.
Q: How important are tweaking and making adjustments in the second year or are you just focused on executing what you went over last year?
A: I think it is a combination of things that we identified with certain skill sets or certain players that we are going to try to use a little bit more, but we are definitely going to make sure we are honed in on the fundamentals and the techniques of things that we are teaching defensively. That'll be our main focus and then as we get going later towards the preseason and regular season, we will work on some of the things that we talked about this offseason.
Q: How do you sort through the defensive ends you guys have? You brought in some players who fit the mold of what Zimmer likes like Caesar Rayford, Leon Mackey and Danielle Hunter. How do you sort through that?
A: It'll sort itself out. That's why we brought in guys that are going to compete and that's what we want, competition at each position. The big thing is we've got guys in here that sort of fit the mold of what we are looking for and the biggest thing is that we are going to go out and compete. That's why we are here at training camp to sift through them. We will get pads here tomorrow, so I look forward to that and it'll work itself out as we work through it.
Q: Why is the size and length important for what you guys want?
A: I think a big part of it is – with everything as an exception – the big thing of it with length, you are going to get more separation which is going to create space for you, whether it is pass rushing, whether it is block protection in the run game where you are going to be able to shed and get off blocks and be able to make plays.
Q: What role do you see the rookies playing in the defensive scheme this year?
A: Well I think they're just like anybody else – Coach will tell you – whether it's a 10 year vet or a rookie coming in here, our biggest thing is getting the position, you're going to compete, have an opportunity to play and we work through that as we work through training camp. Those things will work itself out.
Q: How has Trae Waynes been taking to maybe playing the slot role?
A: We worked with him a lot this offseason, which is really the first time he has done it. Yesterday we got him back in there working him again on it, so again it's just a progression as we keep going through training camp to see his skill set in that position and just keep working him through.
Q: Is that a role you could really see him playing or is just something you want to see what he might do?
A: Well we know he is a good cover guy, we know he is a good cover corner, those kinds of things. So we are trying to get the best players on the field and he's got the skill set that allows us to be able to work him in there, so from that aspect of it we are just going to progress him through training camp and see how it goes.
Q: With the linebackers, I know that Anthony Barr had a year with Chad Greenway but how important can Chad be with a guy like Eric Kendricks in terms of just being that mentor?
A: Chad Greenway, I'll say that again, you wish you had a team full of those guys, with his work ethic, all of the things that he brings to the table as a professional as far as an athlete on and off the field. Those things are valuable to us and if I'm a young guy I'm going to watch his lead, see what he does to prepare and all of those things. For that we appreciate everything that Chad brings to the table and that's a credit to him. He's always been that type of player and he brings a lot to the table for us.
Q: Is there a player or a couple of players that you are excited about having now in your second year, now that you've sort of built them up in the last year?
A: Yeah, we were talking about it yesterday. You can tell the difference from our first day here last year. Just the recall that guys have after going through this for a season. So we're excited about seeing a lot of them. They're a lot more comfortable. You can see what we're asking them to do. They're not thinking quite as much. But then some of the younger guys there, this is really their third time through a system, so they're having to think. But it helps having a veteran guy out there just with calls, communications, all those things. So, we're excited about the guys that we've got returning and the new guys coming in and just seeing what they can adjust to as we keep flowing down the road.
Q Any names in specific for you that you're glad to have back?
A: Really, right now we're in a stage where we're excited to have them all back. Everson (Griffen) up front, with B-Rob (Brian Robison) coming back from missing the offseason, to linebackers inside, the competition we've got there. Out at corner having Terence Newman in here who has been in the system. We're excited to have all our guys back and we look forward to seeing them compete as we work through this training camp.
Q: How can Terence (Newman) shape the secondary?
A: I think he's another one, he's a true pro. He's going to come in, you know what you're getting every day. Consistency is a big deal for us, especially on defense. Knowing what you're going to get every day, play in and play out. Recognition, communication, all those things. And he comes in familiar with the system and understands what we're trying to get accomplished put on that with his ability to go out and cover. So from that aspect of it, I think he adds a lot to that group.
Q: Sharrif Floyd seemed to really turn it it on in the second half of the year last year. What do you need to do in order to sustain that level of play?
A: Well, I think the biggest thing is now, he kind of caught on to exactly what we're expecting out of him. He wasn't thinking as much. He was able to use more of his athleticism. The more as we worked through the course of the season, I think you saw him get better. He had a real good offseason and we're off to a good start right now. So again, I'll wait until we get into pads and you can see the consistencies and all those things as we go through training camp. But, we're excited where he's at right now and look for him to keep continuing to grow.
Q: How much does your defense benefit from having guys like Mike Wallace and Adrian Peterson added back into the mix, and practicing against those guys day in and day out?
A: It's invaluable for us, because that's what we want. Not only competition amongst ourselves, but also who we're going against. That's a great test for us every day to come out here and compete against those guys, those caliber of players that you know when you line up, you better be going 100 miles an hour because they're going to practice at a good speed and tempo and they're just as good competitors as you are. So anytime you've got good competitors going against each other, especially with good ability, then you're headed down the right direction.
Q: How valuable have guys like Chad Greenway and Brian Robison been for this defense, guys that have been around this team for almost 10 years?
A: I think they're part of the foundation of what we're looking for, the type of caliber players we're looking for. Not only, again, not just on the field but also off the field. Those guys are both true professionals and they'll do whatever you ask them to do and they're going to come to work every day, they're going to pay attention at meetings, they can transfer it from meetings on to the field and then when you're off the field, the preparation and things that they do to get ready. So that helps us in a big way.
Q: What are the keys to your defensive unit being successful this season?
A: I think the biggest thing for us to do is take the next step. We've identified the things we want to get better at as far as the run game, as far as our tackling and our angling. The biggest thing is we want to show improvement. We want to come out here, and that's going to happen through competition. To compete and improve every day.
Q: How are some of these veteran players dealing with being pushed by rookies for maybe a starting job like Newman and Waynes, and then Greenway and Kendricks?
A: Like I said, we just started this process yesterday. They're competitors within their own right. So, I know they're going to come out and compete every day. That's what makes it fun to come out here at training camp and do those things every day.
Q: Is it hard for veteran players to kind of balance the act of you want to teach the younger guys, but at the same time, you don't want them to take your role?
A: I think that's all in the makeup of the player. Fortunately for me, I've been around a lot of good ones that realize in order for us to get better as a team, they're not looking at it selfishly. They're worried about us being better as a team. If we succeed as a team, then everybody is going to be better.