Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Q: Is on the road against Pittsburgh a good challenge for this team after their performance last week?
A: Pittsburgh's a really good football team. They've perennially very, very good. They've got a great quarterback, great runner, great receiver. Their defense played really well last week with seven sacks. So, it'll be a tough environment for us to go in to, should be fun.
Q: How has Antonio Brown changed since the last time you faced him?
A: He's pretty much the same guy. I mean, he's amazing. Gets open, finds ways to get open, tough. Gets the ball in space. He's tough to tackle. He's a big play waiting to happen.
Q: What are the challenges the offensive line will face this week?
A: They're a different type of crew. They're thicker, more powerful kind of guys. So, that's a little bit of an issue. Obviously, the scheme change is different. They've got a lot of fire zones, zone blitzes and things like that. So, those are all issues we're going to have to get acclimated to in a hurry.
Q: What stood out about Pat Elflein's performance?
A: No, all I'm doing is thinking about Pittsburgh. We're done with that last game.
Q: What has allowed him to make the transition to the NFL so quickly?
A: He's smart and tough. He played in a lot of big games in college. So, I think all of that stuff. He's done a great job since he's been here.
Q: What about Pat Shurmur's resume stood out to you when you hired him?
A: I had gone against him in the past. He was the head coach in Cleveland. I thought he did a good job when he was in Philadelphia.
Q: What has stood out when working with Tony Sparano?
A: Well, I used to be with Tony in Dallas. He did a great job there with the offensive line. I know the type of person that he is, how hard a worker he is, his personality. I just felt like it was a good fit.
Q: What's the distinguishing quality of Mike Tomlin's teams over the past decade?
A: Well, they win, number one. They're physical, they're tough. They play physical, aggressive defense. They've always been able to be really physical in the running game as well. The physicality, they've got huge guys up front on the offensive line. Especially with [Ben] Roethlisberger, he's always been able to take those shots down the field and scramble, move around in the pocket and hold the ball. He's a tough guy that is going to stand in there and take his shots.
Q: Have you gotten a feel for where Tramaine Brock is?
A: I don't know, we haven't practiced yet this week.
Q: Is health the only thing holding him back?
A: Well, you've got to get on the field. I've got to see it.
Q: Do you think Le'Veon Bell's performance from last week was due to missing offseason time?
A: Cleveland did a good job as far as attacking them, a lot of different looks. He's probably trying to get his timing down a little bit, I don't know.
Q: What worked in shutting New Orleans run game down that can also work against Pittsburgh?
A: Playing in the right gaps, winning one-on-one blocks. It's not magic, just doing what we're supposed to do.
Q: What kind of edge can you get when you face a team twice a year versus once every few years?
A: I don't know, I haven't played them in a long time. They probably have a bigger edge, they play Cincinnati's defense every year twice a year. So, I think they probably have an edge that way. I don't know, a lot of the guys I know their personnel, they've been there for awhile but that's about it.
Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford
Q: What has made your relationship with Pat Shurmur work well?
A: Like any relationship, I think just time and communication. Having been with him everywhere I've been and spending time with him on the practice field, in the meeting room, having conversations on the field, off the field. It's just about how I see things, how he sees things. I think over time that relationship just continues to get better. I think the better relationship you have with the coordinator, the person calling the plays, the easier it is on game day for them to understand what I like and what I see well and what to get to.
Q: Do you think it's more personality driven than what is in the playbook?
A: A little bit, yeah.
Q: How do you feel being voted the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week?
A: I don't know, obviously it's cool. I think if you get named that you played well and helped your team win, but I think the win and starting the season 1-0 that was biggest thing of the week.
Q: Other than winning, is it your hope to have your name in the discussion as one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL?
A: Kind of my approach, like I've told you guys, is to come in here each day try and get better, try and be the best teammate I can be, the best leader I can be, figure out how to help us win. I think that's really what it's all about. If we find ways to win then hopefully everything else takes care of itself. My goal is to try and figure out everything I can do to help us win each week.
Q: Is this as comfortable in an offense that you've been in your career and if so, how does that translate on the field?
A: I think looking back it's really the second time in my career where I've really been able to have the same offensive coordinator and haven't been injured. I think also getting older and having played as many games as I had I think I'm just more comfortable with my preparation during the week and what I need to do to get ready and feel like I'm ready to go on Sundays. With Pat [Shurmur] and this offense I would say it's probably about as comfortable that I've felt, just given the fact that we've been together in St. Louis and Philly and here. I think that allows you to just go out there and just play. It eliminates some of the thinking where you just go out there and you react. I think when you're doing that you're able to play fast, you're able to play quick and it frees you up a little bit.
Q: Was it recently that you were given more freedom to change calls?
A: Pat's always given me freedom to do things at the line of scrimmage. I think just going back to my comfort level. I think being more comfortable in an offense, recognizing when a called play might not be against the defense that we're seeing or the defense they're playing might present an opportunity to get to another play. I think it just allows me to recognize things a little bit quicker and get to some of those things if we need to.
Q: How many times do you change a play call?
A: Very rare. Honestly, you hope that you call the right play, that's why you watch film, that's why you prepare, that's why you game plan, you feel like what we're calling is going to work. If for some reason they throw something unexpected at us or we get a look that is going to take away the primary concept and that's when you get to something. The goal is not to go up there and change every play. That's going to slow you down. The goal is to only have to do it when you need to.
Q: Do you have an idea of what plays to change to if you need to?
A: Usually you have a few ideas going into the week of just a handful of concepts that 'hey if we see this coverage this play would be good, if we see this coverage this play would be good'. I think if you go into it and you don't really have an idea and you're just like, 'I'll just figure it out at the line' and pick from something in the play book. I think that's just a little bit difficult. Sometimes I like to just have a couple ideas for each coverage.
Q: How do you feel about being named captain?
A: I think that's something I actually take a lot of pride in. To be named a captain and know that I'm one of the leaders in this locker room and on this football team, it means a lot and I take a lot of pride in it. I think there's a lot of responsibility that comes with that and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure to live up to that.
Q: How has your leadership evolved since last year?
A: Kind of going back to the relationships, I think having been here for a year with our guys and just building those relationships I think it makes it easier to be more vocal. I think they're more comfortable with me now, I'm more comfortable with them, so whether it be at practice or in a game if I see something or feel like we need to talk about something I'm a lot more comfortable going up to everyone and making sure it gets communicated. As opposed to last year, I was really just trying to figure out what I was doing and making sure I wasn't messing everything up.* *
Q: When was the last time you were captain?
A: Probably my last year in St. Louis.
Q: When did it seem like Pat Elflein was a veteran out there?
A: Really the whole game. I thought Pat did a great job. His communication at the line was great. I don't think he missed a call all night. I thought his tempo getting us in and out of the huddle was great and so for him to go out and play the way that he did Week One I think it was really impressive by him.
Q: What is it about Pat Elflein starting so soon?
A: He's just a really good player. I think he works extremely hard. I think he's gifted both physically and mentally. I think mentally his ability to grasp our offense and what we're trying to do I think has been one of the things that has really stood out to me. I feel like during OTAs, during training camp if he made a mistake rarely would he ever make that mistake again. He would learn from it, he would kind of put that in his memory bank and the defense wouldn't be able to fool him again. I think having a guy like that who is able to learn very quickly, I think that's one of the reasons, obviously he was able to start Week One and play the way he did.
Q: How would you describe the challenge of going into Pittsburg and going against that defense?
A: It's definitely going to be a challenge for us. Obviously, they are a very good football team, very good defense, their home opener. I'm sure it's going to be a pretty rowdy environment. Just from watching some tape they're pretty multiple in their looks. They throw a lot at you. We're going to have to be able to recognize a lot. I think this week will definitely be challenge for us.
Q: What's the key to the third down success?
A: I think those guys up front they did a great job of giving me time back there. They did a great job in their blitz pickup, keeping the pocket clean, and then the guys outside won. It all started with those guys up front. They just gave me time to evaluate things and we were able to convert quite a few of them.
Q: You had a 21-yard pass to Jarius Wright. Could you take me through what you saw on that play?
A: It was man and that's a play that we put in for that coverage. It's a route that we feel that Jarius runs really well. If there's deep twos or something that he's gotten open quite frequently when he runs, so we got the look we wanted and Jarius did a great job winning and made a nice catch.
Q: Is that a window you think you can throw into 10 out 10 times?
A: Honestly, in a game you see it, you react, and you throw it. That's just how it goes.
Q: What did you learn about the offensive line after finally being on the field with them?
A: They played great. Like I said after the game they deserved the game ball. They kept me clean all night. They opened holes in the run game, Dalvin went over 100. Those guys just really came together. Like I said I think there's been a lot of talk outside this building about that group and about those guys, but inside this building I know we've got nothing but confidence in them. We've seen it during OTAs. We've seen it during training camp. Those guys have the ability to play well and to be a really good offensive line and they showed it the other night.
Q: What stands out about the Steelers defense?
A: They're a really good group. You look at them and there's not a lot of weaknesses on that group. They're very multiple in their pressures, in their coverages. They throw a lot of different fronts at you. I think being on the road it's going to be loud. Our communication is going to be key this week, just making sure everything is identified correctly and we're all on the same page.
Q: Who got the game ball?
A: I think we're about to find out.
Q: So, you nominated the offensive line?
A: Absolutely, my vote goes to them.