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Transcript: Zimmer and Bradford Addressed the Media Wednesday

*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *

Q: Can you just talk about the decision to release Blair Walsh and bring in Kai Forbath?

A: Yeah, it was just something we felt like we needed to do, kind of move forward. We're all accountable for the things we have to get done, and I think we gave him a lot of opportunities. Although, Blair's a great kid, and it was hard to do. It's just part of the business.

Q: Do you feel like teammates' confidence in him was kind of starting to wane, too? Did that have anything to do with it?

A: I don't know. I can't really speak for the teammates' confidence. It just comes down to doing your job.

Q: How much of a distraction was it? The Seattle miss and then anytime he missed, it was brought up again.

A: I don't know. It wasn't a distraction for me.

Q: What do you like about Kai Forbath that made you want to sign him as his replacement?

A: He has been accurate. He has kicked before, and then he had a UCLA connection with the snapper [Kevin McDermott] and the holder [Jeff Locke].

Q: When you look at the Cardinals, are they one of the more balanced teams? I know their record is .500, but their offense and defense seem to be in pretty good balance.

A: Yeah, defensively, they're second in the league, but they've got good players at, really, every level. They've got Chandler Jones, who is a terrific pass rusher, Calais Campbell, who's really good. [Kevin] Minter is a very good linebacker, [Deone] Bucannon, a guy who was a safety, Patrick Peterson – they've got really good players there on the defense, and they do a good job with their scheme. And then, offensively, they've got a lot of weapons, as well. David Johnson's playing really well. Obviously, Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is really a good player, and somebody was asking me about him today. If I had to pick a Hall of Fame guy, I'd pick him every single time. The way he runs routes, catches, does all the dirty stuff, blocking, getting up after hits and then just taps them on the butt and goes back to the huddle. Obviously, Carson [Palmer], I've been with him. He can make every throw there is. [He is] tremendously accurate, big-time arm, and they've got speed on the outside. [Jermaine] Gresham was a tight end when I was in Cincinnati, so I know him a little bit. So, yeah, they're very talented.

Q: When you know that Patrick Peterson is going to be on Stefon Diggs, does that matter? You know where he's going to be, but he's such a good player, does that cancel out knowing how they're going to play him?

A: Well, there are different ways of matching up and different ways of getting guys off of guys, too. So, we'll have to do a good job of doing that if that's what they decide to do. They play a lot of single-high defense, anyway, so whether it's man to man or it's some kind of zone.

Q: You said Monday you would know more Wednesday. Do you know what direction you're going to go as far as starting left tackle?

A: Probably, yes.

Q: Are you going to reveal that, or is that going to come out Sunday?

A: [It will] come out Sunday.

Q: Back to the shadowing question, if indeed that's what they're going to do, what challenges does that provide as a defense if you know that you've got one guy following someone around?

A: Well, it's not too hard: man-to-man. You can find guys in man-to-man. It's when they're zones. That makes it a little bit more difficult. I remember when I was in Dallas, and we were trying to get Deion [Sanders] on Jerry Rice all the time, and then, in the zones, he could find where to go, but the rest of the … A linebacker might be on a wide receiver or something like that. Sometimes in the zones, it's a little tougher.

Q: Why has there been such a connection between Sam Bradford and Stefon Diggs recently? Is Stefon just the primary read on a lot of these plays?

A: Not necessarily. There are a lot of different combination reads with it. I don't know. You'd have to ask him about his comfort level with him. I don't think Sam has a problem throwing the ball to, really, anywhere – [Kyle] Rudolph or Charles Johnson or any of the situations.

Q: Schematically, have you guys done things to try to get Diggs better opportunities?

A: Each play is kind of designed a little bit different, so certain plays for certain guys sometimes.

Q: A couple weeks into Pat Shurmur as Interim Offensive Coordinator, what have you seen that are the overall, general changes that he has made?

A: I can get complicated with it, but I think Pat's just trying to do whatever he can do to move the football. That's all. I don't think it's any rocket science stuff. It's just trying to continue to get better and move the football.

Q: Has he had a chance to implement some of his own plays and incorporate those?

A: Sure. Sure. Yeah.

Q: How much would you say?

A: Percentage-wise, I don't know. There's a fair amount.

Q: You mentioned after the Detroit game the way that the team played, you thought it sort of brought back some confidence despite the loss. Do you feel like that's still there a week later?

A: Yeah. Yeah, I do. We've been fortunate with some of the other things that have happened in the league that we're still in a good place. We can go out and win. I know everybody thinks I'm crazy, but my goal is to win the division. So, go out and get some wins and get going again. That's all. The last two ball games have been [close and], honestly, could go either way. We didn't win them, so we just need to get a couple of these either-way games and win. That's kind of what happened at the beginning of the season. So, it's a seven-game season now.

Q: Has it been difficult to manage the message changed over the last four weeks?

A: No, I don't believe so. I typically have a message for them of what we try to do. They asked me in the Arizona phone call today, 'How do I keep the team mentally stable?' I said, 'Well, I have to worry about myself first.' This is what the NFL is, it's not one of those for the faint of hearts. You've got to fight for 16 weeks. You've got to grind. You've got to keep going. The weak-minded typically don't make it very far. We're going to continue to stay strong-minded. I remind myself that we have good football players that will do good things. When we get the opportunities, we're going to win games. Don't know when it is but that's our plan and that's our mission.* *

Q: Do you try to change things up during a losing streak?

A: It depends a little bit on the week, honestly. I'm a pretty much stay-the-course guy but there's times when you need to change and change things up, try different things. Honestly, it depends on the week. Like I said before, our team is not used to losing, so this is a different deal for them. So, we're just going to put our head down and fight.

Q: Will you be changing the practice schedule at all this week with the back-to-back Thursday games coming up?

A: Yeah, I've changed it a little bit.

Q: Have you been changing any part of your routine?

A: Well, I've talked to Coach Parcells many times but I was doing that when we win too. Probably work harder, come to work earlier, that's it.   

Q: How early is early?

A: 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, somewhere in there. 

Q: What did you see that you liked from Rashod Hill that lead to his signing?

A: Well, he's a young guy. He's got good feet, good size, long arms. He was active for one game this year. He's a guy that we'll take a look at and see. 

Q: Has Willie Beavers been progressing in practice?

A: He is progressing in practice. He's doing better at tackle than he has been at guard for whatever reason, probably because he played there in college. He's done a lot better there than at guard. But he is progressing, he's getting better, yes.

Q: At both tackle spots?

A: Yeah, he's working both tackles, yeah.

Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford

Q: Do you just shake your head at all the injuries on the offensive line?

A: We've definitely been a little bit unfortunate as far as some of the injuries that we've had up front. But like we've done in the past, we just have to keep moving forward. Obviously, [Jeremiah] Sirles and TJ [Clemmings] – they started a couple of games together so we feel confident in them because they've been out there, they've done it before. They've played a lot of football. As bad as this is to continue to lose guys you've just got to try to stay positive and just keep moving forward.

Q: Have you talked to Jake Long?

A: I talked to him a little bit after the game on the plane ride home. I haven't spoken to him in the past couple days. Obviously, I know what he is going through. I think me and him have both kind of gone through…we've had to deal with injuries. It's something that he's had to do quite a bit of. Obviously, I thought he was playing really well, especially the past two weeks. I thought he had really come on, he was playing great for us. I know he was just excited to be out there playing football again so to have another injury, I know how tough that is.

Q: Is there a season you've been through that had this many injuries up front?

A: We went through a little bit of this probably my second year, in 2011. I'd have to go back and look at the numbers but we went through quite a few guys up front. We lost quite a few guys to injury. Unfortunately, I have kind of seen this before.

Q: What is the challenge for you with a constantly changing line?

A: I don't think I can let that affect me. Like I said, I've got confidence in those guys up front. They're going to go out there, they're going to play hard. They're going to play great, I know that. I think if anything it's probably more on those guys just the communication, obviously, when there is a new guy in there every week. I think you look at guys and if you have the same five guys in there every week and they're communicating and they're on the same page then I think it makes it easier for them. When there's a constant rotation I think it makes it a little bit more difficult for those guys up front.  

Q: Do you have to deliver a message to the team to stay positive?

A: I think everyone has done a great job here so far, like I said. I think we've all gone through things like this in our career. Obviously, we want to win. It's not easy losing games. I think the fight that we've shown, the attitude that we've had, just coming in the building every day and practicing, coming out to walk-through, being sharp, being crisp. I think it's been great. I think everyone still realizes that there's a lot ahead of us. We still control our own destiny. I think the attitude on the team has been great.

Q: What are your thoughts on the release of Blair Walsh?

A: Obviously, it's tough any time you see one of your teammates get let go. Obviously, coach made that decision. To be honest, I don't know a lot about our new kicker.* *

Q: Statistically speaking, this is the best season of your career, does it feel like it is?

A: I feel comfortable out there. I think just being with Pat, I've said it before, I think we think alike. I think we're on the same page. I feel good with what we're doing offensively, I think I'm more concerned with getting wins than any of that stuff. That's really been my focus and until we starting winning, it's going to be pretty tough.

Q: Is it easier or harder to make those quick passes compared to down the field?

A: Yeah, I'm not sure if it's that much different. Obviously, you have to make decisions really quickly and make sure the ball is accurate. But, I wouldn't say it's any more or less difficult than.  

Q: How does one cornerback shadowing a wide receiver affect your progressions?

A: Obviously, Patrick (Peterson) is a great player. He's one of the best cornerbacks in the league, but I think (Stefon) Diggs is a really good receiver as well. So, when a team does choose to match their best cover corner against our best receiver then I think it's going to be a great matchup. It's going to be fun to watch. As a quarterback I don't think you can let it affect your progressions too much. I think if you go out there and say, *hey Patrick's on Diggs. We're not going to throw his way. *Then you're already behind the eight ball. So, you really can't let it affect you.

Q: What are the challenges that you face against this defense?

A: They're really good. They're good in about every area. Upfront they're solid. They're great against the run. You know they do a good job of rushing the quarterback. Then obviously with some of the guys they've got on the back end, they're great in coverage as well. So, I think this is going to be one of our biggest challenges of the year. Probably the best group that we've faced. So, I think it's important that we have a great week of practice and get ourselves ready to go.  

Q: Why do you think the chemistry between you and Stefon Diggs has been so good, especially these past two weeks? Is it because he's your first read or that he finds the open areas?

A: Probably a little bit of both. I think schematically we've done some things to try get him involved and try to get him the ball where he is the primary read. But, like I've said in the past couple of games. I think Diggs is great at finding soft spots in zones. He's great at just finding seams in there. You know, getting open and making sure that he presents himself to me.

Q: Has Mike Zimmer's message changed at all?

A: Yeah, I think Zim's done a great job of keeping us motivated, keeping us positive. I think we all feed off of that. I think he's been great for us. I think we all expect that out of him and he's been real positive for the guys.   

Q: What do you see that can happen in the running game to give you a more consistent presence?

A: If I knew that, then I think we'd probably be running the ball a little bit better than we are right now. But, like I said we're going to stay committed to it. We're going to try and run the football whether it's trying to do some things different schematically like last week with some of the wildcat stuff or a couple of weeks ago with the reverse to (Stefon) Diggs. You know we've just got to find ways to generate positive plays in the running game.   

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