Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Q: Are you foreseeing that Everson Griffen plays this week?
A: I don’t know. We are just going to see how he comes back. Really, that’s not the focus right now. The focus is just seeing how he’s doing, work him in a little bit and then we’ll decide at the end of the week.
Q: How does he look physically?
A: Good. He’s been working out.
Q: How do you go about the team’s plan to integrate him into team activities?
A: We have a plan as far as what we are going to give him today and tomorrow and all the things he has to do.
Q: Are you saying he will practice today?
Q: Does his return give the team him a little bit of a lift knowing that he is back and how they care for him?
A: Well they really care for him and they like him. They are glad he is doing much better. He came in and saw me yesterday and he was in good spirits. I haven’t seen him around the rest of the players other than meetings and there’s not much talking going on there.
Q: Was that the first time you’ve seen or talked to him in about a month?
Q: Can you share any details about how it went?
A: No, I can’t share any details. Just a normal talk.
Q: What does it mean to see everything he’s tried to work through to this point?
A: He’s done a lot of work. We’ve been in contact with the doctor constantly and talking to him about the things that he’s done and accomplished while he’s been there, things he has to do in the future and all that. It’s good.
Q: Is there a chance he can play this week?
A: I don’t know. I haven’t’ seen him in a month.
Q: What kind of support have you received in learning how to work through this and support Everson in the way that he needs?
A: I don’t want to get into too much but I bet you there is people in this room that have had to deal with these kind of issues as well. Everybody in life has probably had to deal with some kind of these different types of issues that go on and aren’t necessarily hamstrings. I know people that I have dealt with in the past. I know people, the doctors, the medical experts, they all help with these situations. I don’t think this is as unique as what we are making it out to be. This is an illness and he’s done a good job of helping to get better and continues to try to get better. He’s probably going to have to continue to do that. Just like we all have to do in life. We all have to try to improve and work on the things we’re working on and getting better at.
Q: It doesn’t seem like there is too much scoring in the red zone. Is that because you haven’t needed them?
A: It’s been week to week. I think last week we were two out of four in the red zone maybe. It’s a point of emphasis for us. We have to do better in the red zone when we get in there. We’d like to be 100 percent. We’ve been fairly good defensively in the red zone. That is one of our areas that we are always working on with the entire football team. The offensive touchdown percentage and third down conversions in the red zone and same thing consequently with the defense as well. We need to do better in there. I wouldn’t say we don’t need them.
Q: It just seems odd, because you do score a lot of points.
A: We’ve had some long touchdowns. Kirk [Cousins] throws a really good deep ball, and that helps. The thing that happens when you get in the red zone, everything gets condensed. The passing lanes get tighter, everything gets tighter, and so the better that you can run the football in those areas makes it more difficult to defend. Otherwise most teams nowadays are getting into no-backs and spreads, things like that where they can try to create some space to throw the football.
Q: Drew Brees struggled in the first half of last year’s playoff game before turning in the complete opposite in the second. What happened?
A: I don’t really think that’s unusual. In the fourth quarter they’re the number one scoring team in the league right now, by a large margin, averaging almost 14 points a game. He had a couple short fields, we had a punt blocked, we had an interception. Things happen.
Q: What do you remember most about Stefon Diggs’ touchdown?
A: I think I’ve gone through this a hundred times, but I think I was trying to tell him to get out of bounds, honestly.
Q: What do you think about what Stephen Weatherly has done in place of Everson Griffen in the last few games?
A: He’s done a nice job. A lot of times you see the improvement kind of toward the third year, and I think he’s worked real hard at it and he’s playing a lot more confidently right now. Some of the things that were keeping him from progressing, especially in the pass rush game, he’s been able to, and knock on wood so far, fix. We’re still working at things like that with him.
Q: Have just the opportunities to play in-game been productive for him?
A: The good thing is that he’s been effective when he’s been in there. That part has I think helped. If he’s gone in there and hadn’t been productive, then the experience wouldn’t have been any good. He’s done a nice job for us.
Q: How do you feel about the resiliency of the offensive line, only giving up one sack last week despite multiple injuries?
A: We got tough fighters in there. I think Kirk does a good job and Flip [John DeFilippo] does a good job of helping guys when they need it. Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of fighters in there, and that’s what the mentality has to be with the offensive and defensive lines with this football team.
Q: Why is Drew Brees so good in the fourth quarter?
A: Number one, he’s a great competitor. Number two, I think as the game goes on he gets a much better feel of what the defense is trying to do throughout the course of the ballgame with him. A guy like him who has seen everything, he sees everything anyway, but he’s seen so many different looks that he can kind of decipher things quickly on the move. I think that’s part of it, and he’s got good players too. Michael Thomas is good, [Alvin] Kamara is good, [Mike] Ingram is good. They have a lot of good players.
Q: How do you think the way the Saints use Alvin Kamara has changed since you played him in Week 1 last season?
A: It hasn’t changed much since the playoff game. It obviously changed some from the beginning of the year, just because they were using him more as a scat-back receiver kind of thing. But he’s a good runner. He reminds me of Eric Dickerson in the way he runs. He’s got a little bit of an upright lean, but he’s physical, catches the ball well out of the backfield, and has got the good stop and starts. None of our players know who Eric Dickerson is, but I do.
Q: What do you think is the signature of a Sean Payton offense?
Q: Just going to anybody at any time?
A: Call anything at any time. Call anything. Second and one, he might be in no backs. Play action shots on first and possession, it doesn’t matter. Formations, movements, personnel groupings, he doesn’t care. I don’t think he cares about down and distance.
Q: Does that make him one of the more difficult guys to plan for?
A: Yes. Sean’s good. Sean is a good coach. He’s a good friend of mine. I know we went against each other a lot of times when we were in Dallas – we didn’t really go against each other in Dallas, practice all the time. He’s innovative, he’s smart, and he finds good matchups. He uses players in great ways. Their tempo, they’ll spring four guys on the field and they’ll get to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball. They want to take the defense’s breath away is really what they want to do.
Q: You said on Monday that the Saints will come in with a chip on their shoulder because that is who they are. Is that because of him?
A: Yeah, he’s got a chip on his shoulder too. So does [Drew] Brees.
Q: What made Holton Hill a priority after the draft? Was it due to the history of injuries around the league?
A: Probably not, but we really liked him in the draft. We thought he had length and characteristics were looking for in a corner. He’s a tough guy, tackles well, can run, has physicality, can get in and out of breaks. Corners always get hurt it seems like. You don’t go through the season with the same two corners every single ball game, typically, and so that’s why everybody laughs at me “we need one more corner”, but it’s kind of proving out now.
Q: How have you seen the work Terence Newman has put in with Holton Hill pay off so far?
A: Yeah, Terence spends a lot of time with not only him, but a lot of these young guys. I know they were in the office early today they were talking about certain things, talking about another set of eyes, another way to help him decipher a lot of things the offense is doing, trying to work with technique on him.
Q: What are you worried about most having a young guy go against Drew Brees?
A: I’m not really worried about this guy as far as the game being too big for him or anything like that. If he has to play I feel like he’s a competitor. He’s going to get in some matchups that may not be great. I like this kid.
Q: Who does Taysum Hill remind you of?
A: They use him in all different ways sometimes he’s the tight end, sometimes receiver, sometimes the running back, sometimes the quarterback. I don’t know, what’s that dudes name that got the Heisman from Colgate or wherever it was. Didn’t he do a bunch of stuff? Holy Cross. Holy Cross, I don’t know. There probably hasn’t been very many guys like him in the NFL that he runs fake punts, he runs the option, he blocks like a tight end, catches the ball like a receiver. I mean I don’t know.
Q: What are the chances that you’ll have Anthony Barr and/or Xavier Rhodes on Sunday?
A: Pretty good.
Q: Can you talk about the impact Teddy Bridgewater had on this team last year despite not playing and coming back from injury?
A: Yeah, he’s a guy that everybody gravitates to. Teddy’s a winner, a great competitor, unbelievable person. I think the team saw how hard he worked to get back from that injury from how bad it was. I’ve got nothing but praise for him. Like I’ve said a million times, I thought he’d be the quarterback for the rest of my career. I love the kid, I love his nature, competitiveness, everything about him.
Q: Can you say where things stand with Dalvin Cook?
A: Yeah, he’s doing pretty good.
Q: Any chance for this week?
A: We’ll see. There’s a chance, there’s always a chance.
Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen
First off I want to take full responsibility for my actions that went on in September. I’ve had a lot of support from my family, the Minnesota Vikings, the doctors, my teammates, and the fans. I want to give my apologies to the people I impacted, I’m sorry if I affected them in any type of way. Just excited to get back here with my team and get back to the grind of things. It’s been hard to be away, but I’m happy to be back and it’s a good feeling right now. I’m taking it one day at a time, one thing at a time to get things back on track.
Q: What did you learn over the last five weeks? What’s different about you?
A: I learned a lot about the man outside of football. I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and where I want to go and the decisions I made, and I just want to get better with some of my decisions that I made and improve on them.
Q: What was it like coming back into the facility this morning?
A: It felt great, it felt great to see my guys. I love each and every one of my teammates, and it was just good to see the smiles on their faces, and they welcomed me with open arms. They want me to be the wild man, and I want to be that wild man, but I’m just taking it one day at a time and just processing everything and getting everything back on track.
Q: What kind of things did you do the last four weeks to now feel ready to rejoin the team?
A: I’m not comfortable answering that question right now, but in the future I’ll be able to.
Q: You’ve said that this is an ongoing work in progress, that coming back doesn’t mean everything is done and over with?
A: This is bigger than football, this is part of the process. We got a team, we got a good group of individuals, the Minnesota Vikings, the doctors, myself, my family, and we got a plan in place and we’re going to execute that plan day-in and day-out, and we’re going to stay on top of it. That’s our goal. This is bigger than football, and it’s part of the plan. I’m excited to be back.
Q: You’ve talked about someday telling your story. Do you know when that will be?
A: We have a plan in place, but we’re going to take it one day at a time. We’re not going to place an expectation on the outcome, we’re just going to keep it day-by-day and do the right things and stay on top of improving each and every day.
Q: Was there anything in particular you feel led to your troubles in September?
A: I’m not ready to get into that right now, but eventually I will be able to. Everything is going as planned, and like I said, we’re taking it one day at a time, one thing at a time. I’m just excited to be back. It was good to have some time to myself and figure out some of my things that I need to handle. I had a lot of support, a lot of fan support, and even a lot of support from you guys, the media. It feels good to see the love and the fan base that was there.
Q: You said your teammates want to see you be the wild man on the field. Can you still do that after getting a handle in your personal life?
A: Of course, but that’s in due time. Like I said I’m trying to keep it simple in my life and keep it simple and go day-by-day and just do the right things day-in and day-out – on and off the field.
Q: Do you feel physically ready to play?
A: Yeah, I feel good. I feel good. I was working out. I was able to work out and do the things I have to do, but playing this game of football it requires more than just working out. You got to push somebody, hit somebody, get your timing back. It’s more to go on the football just in running and training by myself. I’m able to play football, but I still have to got to get back in the pass rush flow and my run flow and stuff like that.
Q: When you stepped away from the team, did you know that was the right thing for you?
A: It was the right thing for me, completely.
Q: Did you know that right away?
A: 100 percent.
Q: Are you playing on Sunday?
A: Coach Zimmer can answer that question for you.
Q: Did you consider taking this year off?
A: Our doctors, our coaching staff, the Vikings, my family we just had a plan and I executed the plan and we took it day-by-day, step-by-step and it led up to this point. We made the decision that I was ready to come back and now I’m back.
Q: Does football feel like a comfort zone for you?
A: Absolutely. I live for this each and every day, but I also live for my family too. You got to have that balance in life and that’s what I’m working towards, having that balance each and every day.
Q: Do you have a message for anyone that might be going through anything similar to what you are?
A: If you are you need to ask for help. You need to go out there and find a good support team and do the right things to be able to be able to take care of yourself. That’s what it’s all about, taking care of yourself and taking care of your actions and doing the right things.
Q: Do you feel like you have a platform to affect millions of people, whenever you are able to share your story?
A: 100 percent. That’s the plan, 100 percent. I just want to be able to do it at the right time, the right place, and the right opportunity. It’s just right now is not the place, not the time, and I just got to focus on the right things and the right things are my family, finding that balance and getting back to work, and just executing my plan that we have in place.
Q: Was it ever difficult to stay patient when you were waiting and watching the games?
A: I was patient in my first four years in playing in the NFL sitting behind Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams. Patience came early to me at a young age. It was hard watching my guys play, but I learned patience and being humble and waiting your time. I feel like everything happens for a reason and I needed this. I needed this to figure out myself and it was a good thing.
Q: Are you proud of the way they played?
A: Yeah, they’re playing awesome right now. We’re playing like a team, a blue collar team, a tough team, a team that is smart, a team that is physical, and a team that Coach Zimmer sees that we can be day-in-and-day-out. It was tough for the first few games, but it got easier for me. They did an excellent job.
Q: What was it like taking your chair back in the defensive line room?
A: It was awesome, man. Just getting back into life in general – driving my car, doing all the little things. You got to appreciate the little things in life and I appreciate the little things in life. I’m not taking any day, every day is a blessing. You got to be grateful and I’m just excited to back here. Once again, I apologize if I affected anybody, impacted anybody. I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m excited to be back and get the ball rolling.
Q: Was the NFL and players association supportive of you throughout the process?
A: Yeah, everybody. We had a good support cast. My family was a big support cast, the Minnesota Vikings family was a big support cast, the doctors. We did a good job putting a plan in place and we executed the plan. It was, like I said, it was a time and place where I needed this in my life and I’m happy that it was a right time and it was perfect timing for me.
Q: How difficult is it to ask for help?
A: Yeah, you got to put your pride aside. Sometimes you just got to put your pride aside and know when enough is enough. Sometimes you got to take it upon yourself and know when enough is enough and when you can’t handle it – when life is too much and you can’t find that balance. That’s all I tried to do is find that balance and work towards my health and wellness in not just football. It’s bigger than football. It’s my life, my family, my kids.
*Q: Do you feel like you’re feeling ready? *
A: I feel good. It’s a day-by-day progress. I’m feeling great. My first day back and I feel good. Got to knock a little rust off. Haven’t played football in five weeks, but that comes with practice being deliberate in my practice and just doing it day-in-and-day-out.