*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Good morning. Fire away, I've got nothing for you today. We've been doing this for 17 weeks or something now so fire away.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest difference for Teddy Bridgewater in the passing attack over the last three weeks?
A: I just think that we have a good understanding of the things that we can attack other teams with. I think he's been more accurate, I think we've protected better for the most part. I don't know, he's just felt more comfortable lately as we got into the season I think.
Q: Is it a good thing that he's played his best football at the end of the season the past two seasons?
A: Yeah, I'd like him to do it the whole year, but yeah, it's always a good time.
Q: Have you ever seen Teddy Bridgewater overtaken by emotions or trying to do too much on the sideline or in a meeting?
A: A couple of times when he's gotten jacked up, there's been times he's tried to do too much, but I think everybody is like that at times. It's not just a big moment for Teddy, I'm hoping it's big for our defensive line and offensive line and really everybody.
*Q: When you have seen that, has it been in bigger games or in the national spotlight? *
A: Sometimes, sometimes it is. You can tell when he's really gunned up for a game and he's played good when he has been, and there's been times where he's maybe tried to do too much. It's kind of like everybody.
Q: Has he moved beyond trying to please and trying to lead a little bit more?
A: Well, he's going to be a pleaser all the time, but I do think he's playing a little bit more free now.
Q: Is Matt Kalil going to be at practice today?
A: We'll get him a little work I think today. Don't quote me on that because sometimes it changes, but I know there's some things we're going to want to work on with him. It may be on the side, but we'll see.
Q: What is it about Teddy Bridgewater that makes him so effective at the hard count?
A: I think he does a good job with his voice inflection. I think some of the things we do offensively help with that as well.
Q: How has Aaron Rodgers looked overall to you? Has he been holding the ball too long sometimes?
A: I don't know, he had a couple turnovers last week, but this guy is really something. He's amazing, the places he can throw the football, the arm strength he has, the vision, accuracy. He's the real deal and whatever his stats say, I don't really care. I just know when I watch him, it's watching a different level guy than you see a lot of times. There's good quarterbacks and there's great ones and this guy is great.
Q: What is it about Lambeau Field that makes it a unique home field advantage in the times you have been there?
A: I just think it's more about the mystique and I've played there four times; I'm probably 2-2 I guess maybe. I don't know, it's just a cool atmosphere really. Their crowd is good and things like that, and usually they have good players. That's part of the problem.
Q: What do you like about what your defense has done since the Seattle game?
A: I think we've been opportunistic as far as getting some turnovers, making some plays. We seem to be playing pretty free. I think we've been doing a pretty good job on third downs for the most part. Each week is different, you just go in and try to do the best you can each week.
Q: From your vantage point what was Harrison Smith's read on his pick-six?
A: It was pretty much he read the quarterback. You can ask him, but he's a kid with great vision – sees things, understands routes. We try to teach him to eliminate routes - what routes can affect him, what routes can't affect him. Then obviously, he's got to be able to read the quarterback and break and take the right angles and catch the ball. I never asked him. You can.
Q: Does a player have to earn the freedom to read and react or do all players have the liberty to make plays like that?
A: Yeah, as long as they do their job. As long as he's in the right place. I told him where to line up last week, pretty much, so he was where I was telling him. A coach's job is to put players in position to win and then it's their job to win. I don't always get them in the right position, I like to, but I try to put them in the best position that they can play to win. Whether it's a corner, a defensive tackle or whoever, and then it's all up to them whether or not they win or not because they're going against someone that's pretty good, too.
Q: How effective was Anthony Barr health-wise and rust-wise in his return to the field?
A: You know, he was pretty good. Actually, there's a big difference when he's in the ballgame because he sees things – sometimes I'm really amazed at a guy that's a second-year linebacker that didn't play behind the line in college, that played two years at defensive end, is basically what he was. Some of the things he can do and see and react to, it's pretty special. I think going forward when he has a full offseason and able to get some strength and some of those things because he's a great athlete but he's also really smart. He sees things fast and that combination in guys and once he continues to develop some more strength and then some of the other things he still needs to work on. There really is no limit for his athletic ability for him because he has the other intangibles besides just being an athlete.
Q: When you scouted Anthony Barr did you see that he would be able to learn things quickly or was that a pleasant surprise?
A: It's been a surprise. You never really know when you bring a guy in how fast he can learn or how fast he can pick things up moving to a new position. He's been above the curve on that for sure.
Q: Eddie Lacy has ran well against you guys, how do you balance trying to get them in second-and-longs while being aware of Aaron Rodgers?
A: First of all, their offensive line does a very good job in blocking. They are very flat with a lot of their blocks, so they try to get you out of position, then when they get you, they don't allow you to get off of blocks. And then he's obviously a good back – he runs hard. [James] Starks is a good back as well, but he's a hard guy to get on the ground, so we will have our work cut out for us.
Q: Was Linval Joseph's return a noticeable impact for you?
A: Yeah, he's doesn't show up like Harrison [Smith] or [Anthony] Barr because of the position that he plays but the things he does helps an awful lot of guys. You see him do really powerful, strong, athletic things that are just different from what you see from when Barr came back and Harrison came back you see their athletic ability, their movement and their open field stuff, he's more like in the phone booth playing.
Q: What is the key to bringing down a big back like Eddie Lacy?
A: You've got to try and make him stop his feet. He gets a head of steam and he can roll you. You've got to do a good job of being in the right place, getting off the blocks and getting more than one guy there. We can't be, "You go make this tackle, I'm going to take care of my spot here." You've got to hit and get off.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
It's good to be back to work this week. Big game in front of us this weekend against the Green Bay Packers, a team that we haven't beat in two years, the two years I've been here, since Coach Zimmer's been here. We know that it's a team that's capable of getting hot around this time of the year so it's going to be a big challenge for us. The good thing is we just need to continue to play the way that we've played these past couple games and continue to have the same intensity, the same focus that we've had and just do the right things. It's a big game but we can't let the game become better than what it is.
Q: Are you looking forward to playing at Lambeau Field for the first time?
A: Definitely. I was there last year on the sideline and the atmosphere was crazy. I'm looking forward to playing there the first time in my career and I'm excited.
Q: What do you mean by not letting the game become bigger than it is?
A: You can't let the game become too big. We know that were playing for a lot right now but at the same point you just have to go out there and be ourselves. Don't have to do anything extra, don't have to put any S's on our chests, capes on our backs. We just have to do our job and do our job well.
Q: What do you think it is about you finding so much success in late December?
A: We've just found ourselves and we've been playing some good football. It's been a team effort. You put the tape on this past Sunday, the defense did the good job of giving us a short field. Special teams did a good job also. So for me, it's just continuing to just understand what's asked of me and doing my job.
Q: What's the chemistry like between you and Jarius Wright, especially on the key third down conversions?
A: Jarius, he's a guy that works extremely hard. He's a detail guy, and his precise route-running, he gets good separation whenever he's out there. He always seems to come up with the big play on third down, and that's something he's been doing since I've arrived here.
Q: What do you think you are doing better as a passer now since the Seattle game?
A: We're just getting the ball out faster. Moving around a little bit, doing different things and it's been working.
Q: Do you think these past three weeks have been some of the best football you've played in the NFL?
A: Coach Zimmer always talks about 'this is when teams become great.' We're trying to do something spectacular around here but we know that it starts with us. I think last year we started finding our identity also around this time of the year. But it's good to get hot right now, get things going, especially around this time of the year with the playoffs approaching. The coaching staff has been calling great gameplans and it's just been allowing me to play fast.
Q: Aaron Rodgers has played in a lot of these big games. What do you think distinguishes him and why has he been so successful in rising to the occasion?
A: He just has that 'it' factor. He's a guy whose been one of the best quarterbacks in this league ever since he started playing in this league. You put the tape on and he's in total control. He's in command of his team out there and he's always poised. He never gets rattled or anything like that so that's what I think contributes to his success. He's also a guy who knows how to get the football out of his hands and keep the football in his playmakers hands and not the opponents hands.
Q: At the beginning of the year, you guys talked about winning a division title this year. How much does it mean to you guys to have that on the line going into the final game?
A: It means a lot. You work all year to get to this point and to be in this position. We just have to continue to embrace the challenge, something that I've talked about the past couple weeks and Coach Zimmer has mentioned, embracing the challenge, and we have to continue to do that. We know what's in front of us and we just can't beat ourselves.
Q: What do you think has allowed you to make those deep throws downfield?
A: It's just trusting your guys. Landing it in an area where only they can get it, come down with the football. We have guys who can make plays and I just have to give those guys a chance and that's something we've been doing these past couple weeks.
Q: You threw an interception in Atlanta that was very similar to last week's touchdown to Kyle Rudolph. What do you think has changed?
A: It's due to the coverage and we liked that matchup. In the Atlanta game, the safety was pretty deep so he had room. I think we were a little tight when we played the call, also, so he was able to make a play but you learn from that experience and not let it happen twice.
Q: How much has it helped you to not necessarily have a standout, number one wide receiver, but being able to have a variety of weapons to spread the ball to?
A: It's great because you keep the defense on their toes. We have seven or eight guys touching the ball each weekend and the fellas don't know who the ball's going to go to. You talk about Jerick [McKinnon] stepping up for us, coming out of the backfield catching passes, rushing the football also. He's a guy whose been making some great plays for us. Just keeping the defense on their toes and using all of our weapons, you want to continue to take advantage of it.
Q: Can you think of a moment where you let the game become bigger than it was?
A: I don't think there's a moment where that happened. I try and remain poised and approach each game with the same mindset and the same focus.
Q: What would it mean to become the first quarterback since Brett Favre to win in Lambeau and win a division title?
A: It would be great. Like I said, you work all year to get to this point, to be in this position. We know that it's not going to be handed to us so we have to continue to work hard, have that same intensity, that same focus. It would be great, but we have to go out there and prove it. We can't talk about it. We're going to have to go out there and do it.
Q: I know you're a team guy, but do you ever take the chance to look at your statistics along with the rest of the league?
A: I'm human, so yeah I do. But I know that the most important stat is the wins and losses, and right now we have 10 wins and playing for a chance to win a division title. That's the stat that stands out more than any touchdown, yardage, completion percentage, anything because you play the game to win. The individual accolades come later but I'm more focused on winning football games.
Q: Do you take a different approach in these games with a lot on the line?
A: No. Since Green Bay's a familiar opponent, they know us well, we know them well, just continue to study and approach the game as if it's the first time you play them. Just have to go out there and focus and play with that same intensity.
Q: Coach Zimmer said you guys have had a different mentality since that Arizona game. Would you agree? And what do you think has been different?
A: Yeah it's definitely a different team. Like I said, it's a group of guys that are focused. It's a group of guys that don't want another Seattle performance to happen again. It was an embarrassment losing like that, especially at home. But you learn from it and try not to let that happen again.
Q: What do you think went wrong that Seattle game?
A: Like I said, it's just something we learned from. It's in the past. We just have to focus on the Green Bay Packers now.