*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
We start preparation here for Detroit. Josh Robinson will return to practice today and so it'll be good to get him out here. We'll get ready to go. Questions?
Q: When you're playing a team like Detroit for the second time in a month, do you have to guard against changing too much?
A: Yeah, I think everybody has their different philosophies with that. It's good to have some change, so everything is not the same. The issue that you get into is that they'll probably change some, you'll probably change some and it ends up being a lot of change. The biggest part about it to me is the different types of injuries that each team has that change how you use your personnel a little bit, that change how you can use your guys a little bit differently against their guys and so on.
Q: What happened to Shamar Stephen and what is his injury?
A: We placed him on I.R. [Injured Reserve]. He's got a foot injury.
Q: Did he break it?
A: I guess.
Q: Is he definitely out for the rest of the year?
A: Yeah, he's on I.R.
Q: But was there a chance he could have returned this season before you placed him on Injured Reserve?
A: It would have been a long time. Eight weeks probably.
Q: Do you have a few weeks before a roster move is made for Josh Robinson?
A: We have three, yes.
Q: What are your expectations for him after being out so long?
A: He comes to all of the meetings, pays attention and all that stuff. I don't know, we'll just have to see how it goes today as we get going and this week. It's different when you're watching and when you're covering somebody. That'll be a little bit different I'm sure.
Q: How important is to your scheme to have athletic and versatile guys like Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks?
A: I always tell him the more you can do, the better you have a chance to stay. When you've got guys who can rush and cover and play the run, those are all important. But even the defensive ends, with game day rosters at 46, the more things you can do – you can move an end to tackle and vice versa, linebacker to an end if you have to. It's all important. Corners playing nickel, safeties playing corner, playing nickel.
Q: When you're divvying up snaps for the running backs in a game, how much of that is scripted and how much is just based on game flow?
A: Most of it is scripted, most of it is scripted. As you get into the game, things change sometimes. Sometimes this series, someone else is going to have this series and then depending on the number of runs you get or this personnel group might be scripted when we have it all scripted and then however it unfolds throughout the game. You may not stick with the script the entire game. We've got a large number of plays, but you tend to because of the things that they change as you go in.
Q: Do you have an approximate snap count for Adrian Peterson going into a game?
A: Yeah, we do have a number in mind and a number of plays we want him to play, yeah.
Q: How much are you trying to break tendencies that you may have studied during the bye week? Is that a focus for you or not really?
A: Some. The biggest focus for us is always correcting things that have become issues. Then the next part is as you say, we have tendencies with this formation or we have tendencies on this down and distance or we have tendencies to try and change that. But the first thing is always correcting us and then trying to figure out the tendency part after that.
Q: By correcting, do you mean the players or the coaches?
A: It could be both, but it's typically how we're playing a certain play or how we're blocking a certain look, things like that. Sometimes this play has been hurting us and maybe we need to widen the end out a little bit or we widen the tackle out a little bit or walk the linebackers up closer like Kansas City did last week, things like that.
Q: Do you ever change the good plays?
A: Yeah, we do. You change looks but you don't necessarily change the play. We call it formatting it differently.
Q: Can you overthink things like that?
A: Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes. Sometimes if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Q: If that happens, who steps in and says we're overthinking this?
A: Mostly me, yeah. Mostly me. Sometimes I think too much too.
Q: Were you surprised that Adrian Peterson struggled so much last Sunday coming off the bye week?
A: I was surprised our run game wasn't as good. I don't know, but yeah.
Q: Is Everson Griffen fully healthy?
A: He's finishing up some tests today. We anticipate that everything will finish good. I don't know that he'll be at practice today.
Q: Why is Brian Robison playing better against the run and as a pass rusher compared to last year?
A: Brian works really hard and I think in the offseason, we sat down with him and talked to him about a lot of things and [Defensive Line Coach] Andre [Patterson] showed him a lot more things. As you get comfortable with the scheme, now you can work on the intricacy part of the game and I think even though he's a veteran guy, he's learning a lot of things now, understanding the way guys set, in the way that we're trying to do it.
Q: Monday you touched on the 3rd and 15 late in the 4th quarter. When you go back and watch the film what did you specifically like about that play?
A: I think the big thing was Teddy [Bridgewater] knew it was a 3-man rush. He avoided a little bit, kind of bought some time. And then the receivers, actually [Stefon] Diggs looked for open areas, but all of them did in a kind of scramble drill that we do. Instead of worrying about taking the check-down, he made a good, safe throw in the middle of the field and converted.
Q: When you look at Detroit's offense, what do you think of all their turnovers that they've had?
A: Yeah, they've had a bunch. Some of it is has been tipped balls, some have been fumbles – the ball has come out a few times, so we can never plan on that obviously. It's a focus to get some turnovers and I think that's always a big key in all of these games. But some of it has been tipped balls and honestly there was about three guys that made great plays on the ball, so hopefully they continue.
Q: Can you summarize Shamar Stephen's season until he got hurt?
A: He had a good year up until this point. I thought he played well when he was in there. He's a nice kid, he's a good kid.
Q: What do you see in Kenrick Ellis?
A: Big, strong, similar to Shamar, more of a run defender. He's been with a couple different schemes. I think our scheme will fit a little bit with what we want him to do.
Q: How much of an emphasis have you put on Xavier Rhodes and making him less grabby in coverage these past few weeks?
A: Yeah, what happened on the penalty he got last week, he thought it was a run and the tight end came out and kind of hit him and he threw him down; he thought it was a run. He's been working really hard on that, he talked to me again this week about some of the technique things he needs to continue to work on. He's conscious of it and there's a point where I don't want penalties obviously, but I do think aggressive penalties are better than non-aggressive penalties I guess.
Q: You said in the offseason you wanted to get Matt Asiata involved more. When you have injuries on the offensive line, does he become even more valuable with what you're trying to do?
A: I don't know that the offensive line has anything to do with it. I think Asiata is a good tough runner that has good feet, I think he does a lot of good things for this football team and not just running the ball – pass protection. But when he's in, he usually has positive yards when he's rushing. That's the biggest thing.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Another divisional game, on the road. We know how important it is to win games, especially divisional games. We want to just continue to play the way were playing at home on the road and become a better football team on the road. Detroit is a good defensive team, those guys are trying to get things turned around there, we know that we're going to get their best.
Q: For you personally, what's the difference between road games and home games?
A: We just have to remain poised on the road and do the things that we're doing at home. It's all about execution. When we don't execute well, it shows. We have to treat this game like any other game and just go in there focused, with one thing in mind, to come out with a victory.
Q: What do you think you learned from close losses last year at Chicago and at Detroit?
A: We've learned a lot. We lost in some important areas in the stat column. You look at turnovers, we had two interceptions last year versus Detroit's zero interceptions. They sacked us four times for 81 yards, so negative plays like those. We missed three field goals last year against Detroit. It's things like that, that keep you and prevent you from winning the ballgame.
Q: Is balance in the running and passing game something you're striving for?
A: Yeah, definitely. We're trying to be a balanced team around here. We also know that we have one of the best running backs to ever play this game, so we would love to get that guy going. He works extremely hard. To be able to be physical upfront, get the run game going, that's our identity, a physical team that's just going to beat you at the line of scrimmage.
Q: How do you control your passes and not allow the ball to sail?
A: Just continue to work at it. Each week you come to practice, you just strive to get better. Fix those areas of weakness and try to make them strengths.
Q: Does the coaching staff point out mechanical issues you can fix?
A: No, it's just me, just over-throwing guys.
Q: Overall what's your level of satisfaction with your ball security?
A: I'm very satisfied with the way we're taking care of the football around here. We take pride in that, we want to be in the top of that category of least turnovers at the end of the season. That's an area we work hard on, Coach Zimmer stresses it a lot, ball security. It changes the outcome of the game. I'm pretty satisfied the way we're protecting the football, we can also be better.
Q: On the interception where you overthrew Kyle Rudolph, were you trying to get too much out of something that wasn't there?
A: Yeah, I could have just, should have just thrown the ball out the back of the endzone. Kansas City had covered the play well, I should have just thrown the ball out the back of the endzone and kicked the field goal the next play.
Q: Do situations like that have to happen a few times to prevent those type of plays?
A: No. It's something that could be prevented. It's one of those situations where, like I said, I take pride in taking care of the football. It just wasn't a smart decision.
Q: Looking at the film, on the 3rd-and-15 play, how did that develop?
A: Kansas City was just playing the pass, they had dropped guys into coverage. I knew that I had some time to try to keep the play alive. The offensive line did a great job of just giving me time to maneuver throughout the pocket and I stepped up, [Stefon] Diggs was in the open area on the field and he made a play. That's what we expect from those guys, to come through in the clutch in situations like those.* *
Q: Do you feel comfortable scrambling and finding open receivers down field?
A: Definitely. I just feel comfortable being in the position that I'm in right now, being the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, having command of the huddle out there, being in charge of this team.
Q: When you're scrambling, when do you decide you want to throw the ball?
A: It's all just instincts, you react off of instincts and you react to what you see. In that situation I knew Kansas City had eight guys in coverage, so I knew that I could buy some time. If I probably ran, those guys would swarm and try to make the tackle before the sticks. So in a situation like that, you just react and that's what happened on Sunday.
Q: Is there anything you can pinpoint as to why you've been sacked more on the road?
A: Like I said, it's just execution. We do some things well and then when we don't do those things well, it shows. We know that we can continue to get better in all areas, that's something we're going to continue to work on.
Q: It seems that Adrian Peterson runs better out of I-formation, do you prefer being under center or in shotgun?
A: I'm comfortable with everything. That's the thing about this coaching staff, they call plays that fits our skillsets, call plays that we're comfortable running. We rep the plays throughout the week in practice. If we don't like something, the coaches won't hesitate to throw it out. Just being able to just execute, do what you're comfortable doing, that satisfies me.
Q: How important is it for you to score on your first drive?
A: It's very important, you want to set the tempo of the game. We always talk about starting fast and we want to be a team that just comes out and jumps right on you from the time the ball is kicked off. We know how important it is to get points on every drive, but to start the game, especially, you can take the momentum early.
Q: How much more comfortable do you feel having Matt Asiata in pass protection?
A: I'm comfortable with all of those guys. Those guys work extremely hard in the run game and pass protection and getting out in the passing game, being a check down, being in the right place at the right time. Those guys are doing some great things for this team. We're going to continue to just work through those guys.
Q: What makes Matt Asiata so efficient for you as a pass protector?
A: Like I said, all of those guys are special. Matt, he understands passing protection, passing routes, Adrian [Peterson] does also, Jerick [McKinnon] does the same. All of those guys are special and we're glad to have them.
Q: Do you enjoy the risk reward or being blitzed or would just rather just face a four-man rush?
A: I'm fine with either way the game comes. Because at the end of the day you have to react to what you see. Whether we've been blitzed a lot and having to react to blitz or guys are just rushing four or three guys, you still have to just react and play football.
Q: What's it been like for you having Stefon Diggs out there?
A: [Stefon] Diggs, he's a guy who works extremely hard. He understand what we're asking of him. It helps him a lot to have the type of guys that he has in that wide receiver room in Mike [Wallace], Cordarrelle [Patterson], Charles [Johnson], Jarius [Wright], Adam [Thielen], those guys set a good example for a young guy like Diggs, it's been showing, it's been paying off for him.
Q: When you look back on the first Detroit game, was passing the ball 18 times an acceptable quarterback performance?
A: At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the wins and losses. We won the football game and that's what is most important.
Q: Do you think the Lions will stack things up more to stop the run game?
A: I'm pretty sure Detroit is going to play us slightly different than they played us the first game. We expect that. We're pretty sure that they're going to watch what Kansas City did and do some of those things, also. We know that each week we're going to get a team's best and nothing in this league stays the same.
Q: How do you become more efficient in the redzone?
A: We just have to score. It's plain and simple, just score touchdowns. We know 16 points won't win many games in this league. We just want to score every chance we get down there.
Q: Is there anything you can do in practice to emphasize redzone scoring?
A: Like I said, we just have to score. Finish drives with touchdowns.