*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Hope you all are getting more sleep than me, this week's a grind, but we're looking forward to it. Arizona is a terrific football team. I think Carson Palmer – I was with him him in Cincinnati for I don't know how many years – he's always been a good player, but I've never seen him play this good. They talk about MVP-caliber guys, he really should be in the talk because he's throwing the heck out of the ball. They do a great job offensively; defensively, they're very good, talented and fast; very good on special teams – probably that's why they're 10-2, so we're going to have to play good to beat them. Questions?
Q: Is there anything you wished the league would consider changing when it comes to Thursday night games?
A: No, I'm just a soldier. If it was up to me, I'd do them Friday's, but it is what it is. Everybody has to do it and honestly, I was in Dallas for 13 years, so I had 13 Thursday games, so I think I've had a Thursday game probably almost every year I've coached.
Q: How dramatically does it alter your preparation compared to a normal week?
A: It's a grind.
Q: What are some things you have to do quicker?
A: It depends. Each team does things differently. You're trying to get the recovery of the players back, you're trying to get the game plan done, sometimes guys will game plan the week before, which can confuse things during that week. Obviously the travel, you go out there on Wednesday, which is unusual. Really the schedule changes quite a bit for the players.
Q: Have you left the building?
A: Yeah, I did go home last night for a little bit. I went to McDonalds on the way home because I was hungry and ordered two cheeseburgers and I only got one. That's the kind of week it's been.
Q: Would it be easier to play a familiar division foe on Thursday nights?
A: You might know the opponent a little bit better, but it didn't help us last year.
Q: You didn't play the "Don't you know who I am?" card when you only got one cheeseburger?
A: They probably did. That's why I got one.
Q: How do manage the pendulum the way it swings in the NFL from week-to-week win or lose and make sure your players don't get too high or too low?
A: That's what I've always said about New England. They don't care if they win by 30 or lose by 30, they're on to the next week. That's kind of what we had to do. We didn't dwell much on the last game, we had to move on and especially in a short week, you have to move on to what you've got to get accomplished. You've got to get the focus back on them and really for us the quickest way is you start talking about the game plan, you start talking about the opponent, showing them tape, it usually gets their attention pretty quick. And I think our guys are smart enough to understand in a short week they've got to spend some extra time studying.
Q: What are your impressions of Cardinals rookie RB David Johnson and did you spend time with him before the draft?
A: Yeah, we did meet with him and he seems like a nice kid. As far as a runner, I think he's pretty good, he catches the ball good out of the backfield. He had a good game last week.
Q: How do you defend Larry Fitzgerald in his new role in the slot, is there any difference in defending him?
A: He's got 90 catches, he's outstanding, he really is. And for a guy, the class of person that he is, he does a lot of dirty work, he blocks an awful lot, he blocks big guys, safeties, whoever, he'll block them. He doesn't complain when he gets a pass interference or somebody holds him or something like that, he doesn't complain. Obviously he's got great hands, runs great routes and he doesn't try to be the center of the game. He tries to be a professional receiver and I have a lot of respect for him. He was raised right, he's phenomenal.
Q: What do you remember about going up against Bruce Arians when he was in Pittsburgh and you were in Cincinnati?
A: We always had great games. He had [Ben] Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace, a lot of guys. He's always been hard to defend. They have a great scheme, he's unpredictable with his calls and like I said before, the big thing right now is Carson [Palmer] is playing unbelievable, MVP level. I'm not just saying that because we're playing them this week. It's not media talk, it's true. He's firing the ball like you wouldn't believe. I wish he would've done that when I was with him in Cincinnati. I think that was the year he hurt his elbow my first year there.
Q: Are you happy with the results you are seeing from your offense right now?
A: We've got to continue to get better and we've got four weeks to go, but no, we're not where we want to be, we want to be better in all phases really.
Q: Anything in particular you want to see from the offense this week versus previous games?
A: I think when we win games, we're efficient with the football, we run the ball good, we make plays in the passing game – they may not be huge numbers but we make plays and usually we protect the quarterback. That's kind of our recipe. Each week is a different week.
*Q: How do you see Teddy Bridgewater deflecting outside criticism recently? *
A: I don't know, you'd have to talk to him about those kind of things. Him and I talked a good amount about a lot of it. I would say he's human, you know what I mean?
Q: Does that indicate that he has heard a little bit of it?
A: I'm sure he hears things and just like I hear things; no one likes [hearing] saying how bad you are or anything like that. I don't know that it affects it, but I think we're all human.
Q: How did you think Sharrif Floyd played moving over to Linval Joseph's spot on the defensive line?
A: He actually did pretty good. He was very active, he told me on the first play, "Whoa, these guys don't mess around in here. I've got to put my big-boy pads on." But he played good after that first play, he played hard and was disruptive, did a nice job.
Q: What has been the key to being resilient and bouncing back from a loss each time this season?
A: I do think this team has a lot of character and has a lot of smart guys that don't like to be embarrassed. I think they like challenges, I think they like to compete and I think when they have a bad outing or we get beat, I think a lot of them take it more personally than anything else. I'm not saying the focus wasn't there before we lose games. I'm just saying that they kind of get back to who we are.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
It's good to get back going, get a quick turnaround. We've just been able to make adjustments, getting ready to fly down to play a pretty good Arizona team – those guys are playing some good football right now. We know it's going to be a challenge for us and we just have to continue to do what we do best and get back to playing Viking football.
Q: With just a few days to prepare, are you narrowing down your focus to one or two things?
A: Yeah, definitely. We know that we have to put the previous week behind us and we have a short week ahead of us to prepare for our next opponent. We don't want to try to overload things, so we're going to keep it pretty simple. The coaching staff has been taking great care of us. Yesterday, just coming out and the tempo of practice, just allowing guys to get their legs back underneath them and things like that. Our approach to this game, we're going to keep it simple.
Q: You had hurt your ankle before that Thursday game last year. How much experience did you get preparing for the game last year?
A: I think I spent most of the week when we got ready to play a Thursday game last year in the training room trying to get healthy so that I could go out there and play. We know that it's a quick turnaround and everyone in the league does it, everyone plays on a Thursday night. We just have to get guys healthy, lock in on the details, lock in on the game plan so that when we fly out there, we're ready to play.
Q: What went wrong with the interception last game?
A: The ball just got away from me and it happens, it happens to everyone. Try to avoid situations like those, especially right before the half, turn the ball over, but it's something that I can learn from.
Q: Did it slip out of your hand? What was the problem?
A: The ball just got away from me and that's what happened.
Q: In your development with the long passes, what are you working the most on?
A: This offense has the capability of being a big play offense. We like to take shots down the field, that's something that I'm continuing to work on. We haven't had many opportunities throughout the course of this season. Throughout the work week, we're out here and we're completing those passes. We're just a few plays away from hitting a big one.
Q: Are you seeing plays develop down the field or are the receivers covered?
A: Teams know Coach [Norv] Turner's history. Teams know that this offense wants to be a big play offense so we like to take shots down the field. Teams are going to take that away from you and they're going to force you to complete the ball underneath the coverage. That's something that Seattle did a great job of doing, covering routes deep down the field, forcing me to just take flat routes and underneath coverage. Teams know that and they're going to try to stop it.
*Q: When Adrian Peterson is taken out of the equation, are you feeling pressure yourself thinking that you might need to win a game? *
A: We know that it's a team effort and it's going to take all 11 guys on the football field to win the game, so whether we're rushing the ball or passing the ball, we're totally confident. We have a group of guys who understand that each week the game plan will change, teams are going to key in on the run or teams are going to come in and tell us, "Hey, we're not going to let you run the ball." We have different opportunities to go out there and win football games, we just have to execute.
Q: Are you feeling pressure?
A: No, not at all. The thing about this offense – we have a bunch of playmakers around me, so all I have to do is get the ball to those guys and allow those guys to make plays.
Q: A Seahawks linebacker said that you were scared on Sunday?
A: I think Bruce [Irvin] said it. Bruce and I are close, we're very close. We talked before the game – we talked about our friend, Stedman Bailey and things like that. We also traded jerseys after the game. I think Bruce was just excited they got the up on us. I was able to defeat Bruce as a freshman in college, so there's a little history behind that. Those guys were talking all game and those guys are a pretty confident group. To hear that is just – that's typical Bruce.
Q: Are you still close with Bruce Irvin after the game?
A: It is a little embarrassing to hear that, but Bruce, he's still a good player. He's a good guy off the field, also.
Q: Do those comments motivate you?
A: Definitely, definitely. I'm going to make sure I remember those words. But I can't lock in and pay too much attention to that. We have a game here in two days and I have to shift my focus to that.
Q: Coach Zimmer said that Norv, he and you had a little meeting, what was said in that?
A: That's something that I'll just keep between the coaches and us. It was a good meeting. I'll leave it at that.
Q: Is it hard to look at Sunday's game and say, 'Hey we're still 8-4 and we're in good position here?'
A: We just have to continue to look forward. Seattle, we can't go back and do anything about it. We have four ballgames left and we have to make the best of each opportunity that we get to go out there and compete. I think Coach Zimmer said that there are only five teams in the league with a better record than us. We still control our own destiny, we can't rely on anyone else to do our dirty work for us. Just have to continue to go out there, execute and take control of what's ours.
Q: Was there a big enough window on the interception to make the throw?
A: Yeah, it was definitely a big enough one. It was an anticipated throw, also.
Q: Was the ball thrown too late?
A: No, the ball was thrown on time, it was early. Like I said, the ball just got away from me.
Q: Do you trade jerseys a lot?
A: Not often. There are some guys who I am very close with in this league, guys who I have grown up with, played high school football with, competed against in college. There are some great relationships formed in this league and that's just something that I did after the game.
Q: Do you typically trade with just guys you know or guys you idolize that you want to get jerseys from?
A: Yeah, it's usually the guys that I have a close relationship with. We reach out to each other, whether it's earlier in the week or after the game and we just make the swap.
Q: What do you do with the Jerseys?
A: You save them. You put them in your basement and things like that, just for memories.