*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
First of all, I want to set the record straight on an erroneous report that I feel like attacked my character and my reputation. I've got about 10 pages of things here. *Mike Zimmer mass slaughtering of stuffed animals... Motivational tactic didn't help... Failed to motivate Vikings with bloody stuffed animals... Weird motivational techniques... Slaughtered a bunch of stuffed animals... Violent stuffed animal message didn't help Vikings in loss... Commits stuffed animal genocide… Staging a stuffed animal massacre... Stuffed animal slaughter karma turns on Vikings... Slitting the throats of animals is not enough to motivate... * I had nothing to do with that. And actually, the stuffed animals that I did have here were given to charity to Toys for Tots. It just goes to show you that when one thing gets out there, and it was updated correctly that I had nothing to do with it. But unfortunately, the headlines still keep coming out and it bothers me. Okay, want to talk about Chicago? Let's go. I just want to make sure we get the record straight because my foundation website is getting things saying, 'Your dad is crazy.' Blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. I do a lot of crazy stuff but I'll admit it when I do it.
Q: What were you doing with the stuffed animals?
A: I'm done talking about it, let's just talk about Chicago.
Q: Why are the Bears so bad?
A: I don't think they're bad, honestly. What I do think is they've moved the ball offensively but they haven't scored very many touchdowns and very many points. They've had the lead in three out of the six losses in the fourth quarter and didn't finish the game. Like a lot of young teams and programs, I think they're trying to figure out how to finish games.
Q: How do you pivot from shaming guys to reinforcing what they're good at?
A: We already have. We've moved on and we're talking about Chicago. I know how this football team reacts to adversity and the way that they have done things. I anticipate that we will come out and play a lot better this week. You never know with each team but if you go back throughout the three years I've been here after some bad losses we usually play pretty good the next week. We might not have won, but we played pretty good.
Q: What does Sam Bradford need to do to hold on to the ball better?
A: It's a combination of things. Number one, you've got to have two hands on the ball. There was a couple times where he was throwing and the ball came out. There's not much there but being a little more aware in the pocket, being able to step up into it and also having two hands on the ball and us protecting better.
Q: What do you think of the Bears pass rush?
A: They're good and they're getting [Pernell] McPhee back. They got him back last week and he's an all-day affair as well. They've got three guys that are pretty good. Willie Young has six sacks, he's a long, athletic, powerful guy. Used to be in Detroit, has had a good year, really a good couple years in Chicago. McPhee is a guy that was in Baltimore that has done a nice job as well as they drafted (Leonard) Floyd early and he's come on as of late. They're athletic, they're long and they're physical.
Q: What do you think of them lining up on one side?
A: They do that quite a bit. They'll put three guys on one side and one guy on the other.
Q: Is that effective?
A: I think they're trying to get some one-on-one matchups and when you typically do that you get them.
Q: Is there more of an emphasis to getting off to a hot start and if so, would you consider not deferring on the kickoff?
A: I don't know, we'll see about the deferring and things like that. It's kind of early in the week to decide that. Weather conditions play a part, a lot of different factors. We always want to run the ball.
Q: What do you think of the quality of play in the current NFL?
A: I don't know, I can only speak for my team. I'm trying not to make a quote here that is going to go all over the internet again. A lot of guys that are analysts that used to play, the good old days were always better in a lot of ways. Whatever it is, it is now and that's how we just have to go about it. Try and get better doing what we're doing. I don't try to reminisce and think about what it was like. I don't think about the future. I'm trying to think about how to beat the Bears.
Q: Do you feel like you're close to getting the run game going?
A: Well, I think we're getting better. Again, the negative plays is really what's hurting our average if you go back through the number of negative yardage runs we've had, that's been an issue. And we haven't broken any big ones, so that tends to keep your average down. I'm sure that everybody goes into games saying, 'Hey, we're going to not let them throw the football and make them run the ball.' That's kind of the evolution of our offensive football team from what it was at the beginning of the year and last year to what it is now. If that's the way they decide to do it then we're going to have to make them pay.
Q: Is the run blocking to your satisfaction?
A: Actually the run blocking has been pretty good. I was telling someone this before, obviously going into the season one of the things was to shore up the pass protection and things like that. I thought we did a good job. Now we've got some guys hurt, pass protection hasn't been nearly as good as it has been. The run blocking actually has kind of flipped. Beginning of the preseason, the run blocking was not very good I think because of some of the new things we've been doing. So now it's flipped a little bit. So now we just have to continue to work and continue to try and do some things. Last week we had I think four plays a 3rd-and-one and a 4th-and-one and the same thing on the goal line that ended up being no yards on. So that's going to hurt your average as well.
Q: How much of a priority was it to win on the road in the division when you were first hired?
A: To be honest with you, I've never really talked about, I mean now I talk about it more, but when I first got here I just talked about winning this game. It didn't matter if it was on the road or division or whatever. We're just trying to win as many games as we can. Obviously, I know the division a lot better now and what's at stake with everything. To me, it's still about trying to win this week and then whoever we play next week, we'll worry about that one.
Q: Were you surprised by Bradford's tough outing against Philadelphia and what are some of the other things he has to do now?
A: No, I think he'll perform well.
Q: Was any part of you surprised because he was playing so well before?
A: No, what I was surprised with was how poorly we played. But, last week's over. I don't really need to talk about that anymore.
Q: What do you think separates Jay Cutler from other quarterbacks when he's really on?
A: Obviously, he's got a great arm. They've got some very excellent receivers. He moves in the pocket well and scrambles well. He can make the throws from pretty much anywhere. He's not afraid to throw it into tight places. I think he understands the strengths of his receivers really good. You know the things that they can do and the matchups that they have. He's always been an impressive quarterback to me.
Q: What's more important for pass protection? Is it technique or being able to know where the rush is coming from?
A: Technically, it's both because a lot of times things change based on where the pressure is coming from. Based on calls, the line might have to go from going to the right or going to the left or vice versa or whatever. So, part of it is that. Part of it is back knowing where the line is going and where he's blocking. When it's just basic rush, a lot of it is about technique and getting your hands off first. You know, not being pushed back into the quarterback. You know, making sure the quarterback has a clean pocket. It really gets complicated.
Q: With Illinois being your home area does it mean more to coach in Chicago?
Q: Do you judge how your team responds to you during the week at practice or just on game day?
A: Obviously, I want to see how they practice, but for us everything that we do, all year long, is for 16 Sundays. That is really the proof in the pudding. All of the weights that we lift, the conditioning in the offseason, the studying, everything that we do is for one day a week. That's those three hours that we get the opportunity to go out and play. I know I wasn't happy with our team last week, but I believe in this football team. I believe that this team still has a lot of great people on it. They want to be good. I think they are focused on the task at hand all of the time. The way they work. I wouldn't want to coach any other football team.
Q: Is your hope to get Jake Long some more time with the expectation being that with more time, he'll feel more comfortable?
A: Part of that is practice this week, seeing how things go this week. So, we'll just see how it goes.
Q: You mentioned the close games the Bears have had. With Jay Cutler's return, does that totally change the dynamic regardless of their record?
A: We don't really look at the record. I look at what's on tape and the things that I see that they do really good, but I do think that Cutler will give them a lift coming back. He's a big-time arm talent. I think that we're going to have to play very well in order to win.
Quarterback Sam Bradford
Q: When you look at the last game, do you think you could have gotten the ball out quicker, or do you think it was the whole offense having issues?
A: I think, obviously, there were times I could have gotten it out quicker. I think when you look at it, it's all of us. I've got to find ways to get the ball out. We've got to find different schemes to get it out. We've got to get open out wide quicker, and sometimes protection has to be a little bit better up front. But I think we all have a hand in it, and this week, going out to practice, I think we realize that we all have to do our jobs to solve the problems that showed up on Sunday.
Q: Can you just talk about the four fumbles, and do you think, after looking at the film, you could have held onto some of them?
A: Yeah, I think, probably, the ones in the second half, definitely could have tried to hold on to those – can be better with two hands on it, especially in traffic. At that point in the game, I realize that we had seen quite a bit of pressure in the middle. So, yeah, I do have to be better. I have to be more aware of my surrounding, keeping two hands on it and making sure that it's secure when I'm in the pocket.
Q: Do you feel that the Eagles found the proverbial blueprint on how to beat this offense, and if so, what are the challenges you face to countering that week after week?
A: I think we just realized that we've got a lot of work to do, but when you look at the film and you look at the things, the mistakes that we made on Sunday, they're all fixable. A lot of them were just mental mistakes. They're things that we have done correctly the previous five weeks and just failed to execute or failed to do them correctly on Sunday. So, we've just got to get back on track and go out there and be the offense we know we can be.
Q: Do you anticipate similar approaches and game defensive game plans, or was it just a good fit for the Eagles personnel?
A: As for as what? *(Reporter: As far as the blitzes that they used and just the different pressures.) *I think each defense is different, but obviously, I'm sure Chicago is looking at what they did and what they had success with. And I'm sure we'll see some carryover, so we've got to be prepared to see some of that.
Q: When you run a run-pass option play, how does that create an advantage for the offense?
A: As far as what? *(Reporter: Why do you use them? What kind of stress does that put on the defense when you have the plays when you have the option to either hand it off to the running back or maybe throw a bubble screen or something like that?) *You just try to get the numbers in your favor. Obviously, instead of having to kill a play from a run to a pass, when you have those options, whether they be the outside wide receiver screens or bubble screens. If you get a bad number count in the box, you can deal it out there and hopefully come up with something positive.
Q: Is most of the processing with those happening before the snap, or do you have to do a lot of processing after you take the snap?
A: It just depends on the look that you're getting. Sometimes, if they line up in it, then you know what you're look it pre-snap, but if you get a late rotation or a late pressure, then it's something you have to see on the snap.
Q: Is that a new thing the Eagles were doing when they were blitzing that corner? They had a guy filling in to take away the bubble screen. Have you guys seen it played that way before?
A: They were just playing man [coverage] behind it, but we probably hadn't seen them get down there quite as early to take away. They did a nice job with that.
Q: How do you feel about the up and down nature of the NFL in regards to the last week for you? Last week, you're mid-season MVP and riding high, this week it's kind of 'What's wrong with Sam Bradford?' Is that just the nature of the NFL?
A: That's pretty much why I don't pay attention to it. Whether things are going good, things are going bad, I'm usually the same person. I'm going to be the same person after a win, after a loss, and I think, like I said, we all realize we have a lot of work to do. We need to go out and have three good practices, get ready to go out and play Chicago, and it all starts with me. I've got to go out on the practice field this week, be sharp and lead these guys.
Q: This is the first time you've lost here, so what did you glean from the offense in terms of how they'll be able to pivot back to getting things in order?
A: I think it has been good. Obviously, we haven't gotten onto the practice field yet, but I thought we just had a really good walkthrough. I thought that everyone was in tuned to what we were doing. I thought we were crisp. I thought the energy was good, and we'll just look to carry that over to the practice field and just make sure that we're doing all of the things that we need to do to correct the mistakes from last week.
Q: What do you think about the Bears in general and the two outside linebackers, Willie Young and Leonard Floyd in particular?
A:. Obviously, they create some problems. They're front seven is playing really good right now, similar to the defense we faced last week, and they're strength was, kind of, the middle of the defense and the front. So, we're going to have to handle their front, handle their interior linebackers and make sure that we have a good handle on them.
Q: When they got that strip and the touchdown against the Packers, they had them both lined up on the same side of the defense. Have they shown that before, or is that something new?
A: Obviously, they can move those guys around how they feel. I'd really have to go back and look at it to give you a more accurate count of how many times they've done that.
Q: When you see those type of pass rushers on the side, what goes through your mind?
A: Not a lot, to be honest.
Q: How much do you think an improved running game would help the offense overall?
A: I think there's no doubt it would help. I think I've said it; I think we're best when we're balanced. You look at the game on Sunday, and we had to throw the ball 41 times. Usually, when you're having to throw the ball 40, 50 times, things aren't going well on offense. So, for us to stay balanced, we've got to come out, play well early in the game, get a lead, and then we can maintain that balance.
Q: How about the rotation of offensive tackles, do you feel like there were communication issues there?
A: I don't think there were any communication issues there. You'd have to ask those guys how they felt about coming in and out.
Q: It has been a while since you've played in Chicago. What stands out?
A: I honestly don't remember much about the last time we were there. So, not much.* *
Q: Nothing about the fans, the crowd?
A: Obviously, any time you go on the road on Monday night, you're expecting a loud atmosphere. We know going in there, it's something we're going to have to deal with. I think it's important for us to go in and start fast this week.