*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Q: Who is your starting quarterback on Sunday?
A: I thought we'd run the single wing this week.
Q: When do you hope to make that announcement? Will you even announce it?
A: I won't announce it, no.
Q: We'll just have to show up Sunday?
A: Or you could watch it on TV.
Q: Is there a point when you want to tell the team when the starter it?
A: Yeah, when I decide. So, you can get your moles out.
Q: In general, as you go into Week One after the preseason, how good of a feel do you think you have for the team that you have, both offensively and defensively? And how much of that do you have to wait and see as the regular season gets going?
A: That's a good question. I think I have a pretty good idea of what the team is, but the first game every year, is it really what you thought? How they go out and play, do they play together? We've got some new guys in the offensive line. So, I don't know that anyone is ever really for sure what you have.
Q: Are you only going to start Sam Bradford if he's fully ready? Is there a risk if he's not 100 percent ready?
A: We're just trying to win the game. We don't care about how. We're just going to try to figure out the best way to do it. So, if it's (Sam) Bradford, it's Bradford. If it's Shaun (Hill), it's Shaun.
Q: Will it basically come down to how much Bradford has been able to pick up throughout the week?
A: Not really. We've got three more days of practice. I have to watch practice. I have to see what he's comfortable with. There's a lot involved with this decision.
Q: If it is Bradford, do you expect a pared-down menu for him?
A: Well, we're going to do what he can do, but that's no different than any other position. We're going to do things guys can do.
Q: In Week One, how good of a feel do you have for your opponent? It's typically not a division opponent.
A: Not as good as you would have in Week Six or Seven, but first games are always – especially with basically new staffs – they're always a little bit concerning, because what you've seen on tape may not necessarily be what you see in the game.* *
Q: What would you say their strengths are from what you've seen?
A: Well, offensively, the two backs are excellent – (Derrick) Henry and DeMarco Murray. They're very strong at the tight end position. (Anthony) Fasano was in Dallas when I was there a long time ago. (Marcus) Mariota is a very accurate thrower with the ability to run. They've got two top-11 tackles on the offensive line. The offense is different than what it was a year ago. As far as personnel, it's completely different. Defensively, they're stout upfront. Coach (Dick) LeBeau has really taken over the play calling now. So, if he goes by what he has done in the past, he is going to be a heavy-pressure guy. The corners are both good. They added a safety from Arizona, but they're going to be a physical front seven, and then they'll be a physical front offensive line, too, with their tight ends and the movements and the things they'll do.
Q: In terms of those two backs, how do you go about preparing for those guys when you haven't seen them in this system much outside of the preseason?
A: You just kind of have to prepare for the system, and then you go back and look at things that they've done in the past and how do try to attack them.
Q: Is Derrick Henry someone you had a healthy opinion of during the draft process?
A: Yeah, I think everybody in the league had a healthy opinion on him. He's a good player.
Q: Are there any examples you can draw upon of a quarterback being ready to play when he joins a new team in a week? Do you have anything to draw upon when it has worked out well, and when did it happen?
A: I don't know off the top of my head. I honestly don't know. I've gotten linebackers and safeties and guys ready in a week. So, I'm sure it's … You spend a lot of extra time with him. We had a little extra time, though, this week.
Q: In terms of your run defense, how did you evaluate it through the preseason, and what kind of evaluation can you make without Eric Kendricks or Sharrif Floyd in there?
A: I think it was OK. It is hard to evaluate when, number one, you're not game planning, and number two, you're missing some guys. (Eric) Kendricks probably would make a big difference in a lot of those things, and some of it's just perimeter run support. The things you can evaluate in the preseason game, to me, are tackling, techniques that you're guys are playing, stuff like that. That's kind of how we try to evaluate it. We don't necessarily look at … Because a lot of times guys aren't playing. You can statistically look at the first group, which was minus three guys in the first group for most of the preseason.
Q: Do you think they're ready to handle this tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry?
A: I don't know. We'll find out. I know that they've had a great preseason of rushing the football. They've had some long runs and Murray has had some long runs. Then the quarterback is going to add some rushing yards I'm sure.
Q: What have you seen from your offensive line that you like the best?
A: Really everything. I think pass protection they've improved quite a bit. The run blocking we've been working really hard on that trying to make sure that we use the proper techniques because we've changed up quite a few things. * *
Q: Do you anticipate this being a throwback game by the nature of which both teams run the ball?
A: It's hard to really anticipate that and you know we always have ideas of what we think it's going to be. Those things generally change in about three or four plays. You just figure it out and each week is like that. You think you know what they're going to do. They'll have their bread and butter plays, we'll have our bread and butter plays and it's always going to be some kind of wrinkle. They run two statue of liberty plays in the preseason. They ran a flea flicker in the preseason, so there's all kinds of things that you can anticipate and see.
Q: Did Dick LeBeau change the way defenses blitz?
A: He really did, but there was a lot of guys that did too. There was Buddy Ryan that changed a lot of it. But Dick LeBeau is like the grandfather, I guess you could say, of the zone blitz package where you got defensive ends dropping, nose tackles dropping at times and bringing the linebackers. Really what I think he tried to do when he was at Cincinnati, they had this big safety David Fulcher who used to blitz a lot because that's what his ability was. That's kind of how all this stuff works. You figure out what guys can do and figure out how to cover someone.
Q: Do coaches spend a lot of time looking at these things, or is it the evolution of players?
A: I think it's both. You look at what players can do. You look at how you can affect schemes and how you can affect protections and within that how you can get some of your better guys on some of their lesser guys. Just things like that.
Q: Is the safety – linebacker hybrid something the coaches are doing?
A: Well, I think some of it honestly is the way college football is now. It's so spread out so linebackers are used to covering. The league is starting to become a spread out league for the most part. So, you find these safeties that become linebackers. They're playing a lot of nickel in college now. Some of it is that. You get a big old box safety, what they used to call a box safety. He cant be in the box very often. I think that's part of it as well. Finding ways to do things. Linebackers are different in college now than they have been.
Q: What kind of step forward do you think Harrison Smith can take?
A: I don't know what kind of step. All I know is that he comes out and works every day, he's the same guy every day. He's kind of what you're looking for to be. He's always trying to improve his game however it is. Whether it's in coverage, or blitzing, or playing the run, fitting in the right place, his disguising, reading the quarterback, all those things. He works on everything every day.
Q: Is Adrian Peterson excited to get out there and see some game action?
A: I don't know, I haven't talked to him about that. I'm sure he'll be lathered up.
Q: What are you hoping Sharrif Floyd can do this year?
A: One of the things is to continue to stay healthy. He's been nicked a little bit. He has to be able to do everything that three-techniques can do. They've got to have some pass rush ability and be able to slither and make some plays in the run game and be stout on the double teams.