Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We're getting ready and excited to prepare for New Orleans on Monday night. It's going to be important that our crowd helps us out, loud. They've got a fast-break offense. Drew [Brees] does a lot of thigs at the line of scrimmage. Hopefully we'll start tailgating early because the game is at six this week. We've got to get going here and get ready to get U.S. Bank Stadium rocking.
Q: Does Drew Brees do anything differently now than he did early in his career?A: He's awfully good, he's really good. Extremely accurate, I think one of the things, he's got an unbelievable arm, too, but one of the things that sets him apart, I think, is he's so quick getting rid of the football, knowing where to go to the different spots. He really is a hall of fame kind of quarterback. Obviously, one of the best in the NFL and one of the best that's ever played.
Q: With all the hype surrounding this game, have you talked to your team about staying focused?A: I talk to the team about a lot of things but I'm not going to discuss them here. * *
Q: Is Brees' quick release what makes him so hard to sack and pressure?A: Yeah, if he doesn't pull the ball down, if you don't make him pull the ball down, he's going to get it out and he's not going to get sacked.
Q: Is three rookies starting for you a statement on today's NFL or just the talent you were able to get?A: I think it's both. I think, obviously except for Brees and Terence Newman, the NFL is getting younger most of the time. I do believe our scouts did a nice job with the guys in the draft and the guys who we brought in.
Q: Is it hard to fool Brees with him being in the league so long?A: He is really hard to fool. He's seen so many different things. He's a great competitor. Part of it is just doing what we do. Will we change up some? Sure. So will they. They try to keep you off balance, we'll try to keep them off balance and we'll go to work.* *
Q: How hard is it to know what to expect from the Saints defense with so many new faces?A: Yeah, they've got a lot of new guys. They are talented, they've got I think I counted five or six of the first rounder's with their group. That's the unknown about a first game, you never know, really. I have seen some change from last year to this year in the preseason on some of the things they're doing defensively. So yeah, it can present a problem. * *
Q: What were your impressions of Marshon Lattimore heading into the draft?A: Same impressions now, really good corner, good coverage skills. Gets in and out of the breaks, good hands. * *
Q: What made you keep Eric Kendricks as the MLB?A: Well, we had Chad [Greenway] before and I figured to get the best three on the field that was the best way to go. This year, Kendricks played so well a year ago, he's so comfortable doing that position. I talked to him a little bit, he didn't really want to move and I didn't really want to move him.
Q: What have you learned about Sam Bradford as you've gotten to know him better?A: Well, he's really knowledgeable. Maybe some of the things I know more now are personal things. Things that are going on, things he likes to do outside of football, that stuff. As far as football wise, most of the times our conversations are about football. A lot of times he asks what I see. I ask him about what did he see there, be alert for this or that.
Q: How has Eric Kendricks leadership evolved?A: He's just more comfortable in everything he does. I think the guys really respect him because he's a playmaker. He plays real hard. He's a tough kid. As far as the leadership part, Eric to me is who he is. He's going to lead by example, he makes the calls, he gets the calls out. He takes accountability for his actions. * *
Q: Is he the same quiet kind of guy on the field as he is off?A: He's the same, he's the same as he is during practice. He's focused, intense. He's always been an intense guy. He understands and if he makes a mistake, he owns up to it.
Q: Is he a good example of the modern day defender?A: Yeah, it is a little bit. The way the NFL is evolving into more of a spread offense kind of a thing. Yeah, I would say that's true. You have to have linebackers that can cover nowadays I believe, just because of the way the league is.
Q: Can Latavius Murray be the kind of guy that you brought him in here to be?A: Yeah, I think so. The things I've seen, he's explosive to the hole, good vision. He carries his pads forward. I think he can be a good, physical runner. * *
Q: Dalvin Cook said that he wanted to come in her and just be quiet and let his work do the talking, have you seen that?A: That's pretty much what he's done. He stays quiet. He's a positive, confident person. But he likes to go around and high-five the offensive lineman and the rest of the offensive players. So, he's got a little energy that way. He's been quiet like he said he was going to be. He's been detailed about his work. Pretty much what he said, that's what he's done.* *
Q: Do you expect Anthony Barr to be more of a playmaker this year?
A: A lot of times that depends on the game. Its like, I expect Everson [Griffen] to be a playmaker all the time but if they put two or three guys on him, things happen. It's the same thing with Barr. But yeah, I think he's going to have a good year. He's worked really hard this offseason. He's improved on a lot of things that he needed to improve on. But, each game is going to be different based on what other teams decide they want to do. Then we have to attack in other ways.* *
Q: How much have you looked at how the Saints are going to use their different running backs?A: Well, they do have different skill sets, that's true. But, their offense hasn't changed in a number of years, so they're going to run their offense. Whether it's [Alvin] Kamara or 22 [Mark Ingram] and they're in their behind the center, that's what they're going to do. That part, I don't think, isn't going to change much. They'll use each guy a little differently, like they always do. They do have a little bit different skill sets, all three of them. Offensively, they've been really good on offense for a long, long time. So, I wouldn't expect them to go to the wishbone.
Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford
Q: At the beginning of training camp you talked about more explosive plays. How do you think that went in preseason?
A: Well, I think that we got some good work throughout training camp with those. I think a lot of it starts with us being able to run the football and being able to utilize our play action to push it down there. But I feel like with the package that we have this year, I like that package, I like what we're able to do with it. Hopefully when we take the field on Monday night a couple of those will show up.
Q: Last year you were sacked 37 times, are you confident that the new line can protect you better than last year?
A: Yeah. Like I've said all throughout training camp, we've worked a number of different combinations with those guys in there. I feel very comfortable with the guys we have on our roster right now, with the guys that we have starting, guys that have to come in off the bench, I think those guys have done a great job just working through those different combinations, working through the communication process, but I'm very confident in their ability to go out there and play well. Not only protect me but open up holes in the running game.
Q: For you what's the difference between Pat Elflein and Nick Easton at center?
A: Honestly, there is not a whole lot of difference, for me. You could probably ask Tony [Sparano] or you could ask those guys, but I felt like with both of those guys we had good communication. Obviously, I think Nick having played the last several games last year, early on in training camp, or during the spring I was probably a little bit more comfortable with him, but obviously Pat's gotten a ton of work. I think he's come a long ways and I feel very comfortable with him at center. I think he'd done a great job grasping our system, grasping protections and what we're asking him to do.
Q: You had your own ups and downs in the past. Do you feel like you're coming into your own now as a quarterback?
A: I think it's definitely been interesting. I think this year is only the second time in my career where I haven't been rehabbing an injury and I have the same offensive coordinator and been able to kind of fine tune an offense, so that's been really enjoyable for me this offseason. To really be able to focus on what we're doing on offense, to be able to dedicate my time to that, to not be rehabbing, to not be learning a new system – where you're kind of starting from the ground level and trying to build it. I feel like after Pat took over last year and some of the things we were able to do, we went back and looked at what we did well, things that we felt that we could improve, and just kind of took it from there. It was nice to not really have to start over this offseason.
Q: Does Pat Elflein seem wise beyond his years?
A: Yeah. Obviously for him to come in and for our coaches to have the trust in him or myself to have the trust in him to gout there and play that positon and really lead those five guys up front, I think it says a lot about him. Like you said, it's a tough position to come in as a rookie and to start opening day. I think it's a credit to him and what he's been able to do since he's been here. So, I think we're excited about having Pat at the position.
*Q: Tony Dungy thinks cornerback is the hardest position to play. What's your opinion? *
A: Quarterback, for sure. Honestly, I think if you ask anyone they're probably going to tell you the position they play is the hardest and then make up some reason for it. I think obviously every position is asked to do different things. There's different hurdles mentally and physically to play every position. I don't think any position is easy. But, obviously being a quarterback, it's the only position I know and there's a lot on our plate, both physically and mentally; To be able to go out there and know what everyone's doing, to operate an offense. But like I said, every position has its challenges.
Q: What do you think would be second?
A: I don't even think I could give you an answer to that one. I mean I don't know.
Q: How's your preparation been for the Saints with them having a new defense?
A: I think they obviously have a new group of guys, so you go back and watch last year's tape and you realize there are going to be some different faces out there, but I think regardless of who you're playing it always seems like the opener it's always a little bit tricky because you're not really sure what they're going to do. You're not really sure if what they showed in the preseason is what they're going to come out and play. Obviously they go back and they look at last year and how they played and what they did well and what they struggled with and they'll come out with some new wrinkles. I think the biggest thing going into this week is making sure we're all on top of what we're doing. Having the answers for what they present us, making sure we're comfortable with our game plan, comfortable with our plays, so that no matter what they throw at us we're able to go out there play fast and just be the aggressors.
Q: Now that you've looked at the film, why do you think the first team offense only managed three points?
A: Well, we only kicked one field goal, so we scored three points.
Q: Were you holding some stuff back? Were you displeased with some of the efficiency?
A: I think anytime you go out there and only score three points, you're probably a little bit disappointed in the efficiency. I think a lot of it was self-inflected wounds. We shot ourselves in the foot, whether it be penalties, taking sacks, getting ourselves behind the chains, not converting on third down. You can typically look at those areas in any offense that doesn't score, those are the reasons they're not scoring.
Q: Does Dalvin Cook remind you of anybody?
A: I really try not to compare guys and their styles. I think everyone is their own player, their own individual. I think Dalvin, he's shown an ability to do everything for us, to be in there first, second, third down with his ability to run the ball, his ability in the pass game to be used as a wide receiver or coming out of the backfield. Also, for a young guy I think he does a great job in protection. Who that reminds me of I'm not really sure, but I know that we really like him.
Q: What's Pat Shurmur's concept of offense? What's his signature?
A: Pat, I think he grew up in the West Coast. But if you look at his offense I think the great thing about Pat is he's had his core offense, but if I look back at what we were doing in Saint Louis, what we were doing in Philly, what we were doing now I think there's bits and pieces of all of those offenses. I think we're multiple, I think we throw a lot of different looks at defenses, and Pat's not afraid to change which is really why I like working with him.
Q: Do you have more input going into the week and at the line of scrimmage?
A: yeah, I'm just very comfortable with Pat. I've said this before, I think him knowing me as well as he does. He knows what I see well, he knows what I like, he knows things that we've had success with in the past, and he can kind of draw on that. And the same being I know what Pat's trying to do with certain calls, I know how we're trying to attack defenses. I think our conversations during the game and having been together we've got a pretty good feel on what we're seeing out there on the field and what we want to get to, so it makes it easy for me to come up to him with ideas. It's easy for me to understand when he comes to me with something, 'Hey I want to get to this player, I want to get to this player', I usually have a pretty good understanding of why he wants to do that.
Q: Do you have more input than last year?
A: I think I've always had input with him or like I said, I think one of the greatest things about him is his willingness to adapt, his willingness to listen. If I have a good idea and I take it to him and he likes it, he's going to put it in, we're going to look at it during the week. I don't know if it's any more this year than it has been in the past.
Q: Do you have to take more responsibility with protections considering the line?
A: Probably a little bit. Like I said, I have a lot of confidence in Pat. He's done a great job understanding our protections, understanding our schemes, and how we're trying to block things. But at the end of the day he still is young and if I can help or I see something that I need to change then obviously I'll do so.