*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
I see you all more than I see my daughters, Marki and Corri [Zimmer], we've got to stop meeting like this. That guy right there [Chad Greenway] is a tremendous guy – great person, great individual, great teammate, good captain. I wish I would have had him 10 years ago, or however many years he's been in the league, he's my kind of guy.
Q: How does it feel to be 8-3?
A: It's alright. We're kind of just trying to get one week at a time and worry about that. I haven't really reflected on it too much, to be honest with you.
Q: What are you seeing from Seattle's offense, it seems to have found its rhythm the last two weeks?
A: Yeah, they've averaged over 30 points per game the last three weeks. They've got a good combination of guys, they had five touchdowns last week. [Doug] Baldwin, they've got [Tyler] Lockett with speed, Russell Wilson is playing at a high level. I think [Thomas] Rawls runs the ball extremely hard, they're offensive line is doing a much better job than they did earlier in the year. It'll be a full-day affair.
Q: What's the biggest challenge that their read option presents?
A: It's just assignment football really, at the end of the day. There's so many things off of it – they've got play actions off of it, they've got the keeps and then they get other guys in the backfield involved, there's a lot of different things. It just keeps you off balance.
Q: Do you think defenses have figured out how to defend the read option?
A: I do think that there's a lot of good coaches in the NFL and each new thing that comes out – whether it be the wildcat or the unbalanced line a few years ago, the zone read now or the double A-gap blitz, guys figure a lot of stuff out. That's why it's always kind of got to stay on top of things and keep trying to invent.
Q: Do you think it's beneficial when some of your younger defenders played against the zone read in college?
A: Yeah, I don't think it hurts.
Q: What have you seen Russell Wilson add to his game as he gains experience in the league?
A: I don't know, he's pretty darn good right now. He throws the ball deep well, throws the quicks good, obviously the bootlegs and the scrambles and things like that. I don't know, he's pretty darn good.
Q: What similarities or differences do you see between Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater?
A: They're different guys.
Q: In which ways?
A: I don't know. They're just totally different to me.
Q: Do you think the change that Seattle made at center helped their pass protection?
A: Well, they're protecting better, I don't know if that was the reason why. This center [Patrick Lewis] seems to be playing pretty good. I think their whole offensive line settled down quite a bit, it might be some of the communication, I don't know why they're doing better, but they had a lot of sacks early and they haven't had very many the last few weeks.
Q: When Linval Joseph is playing at the level that he is are they going to double team him?
A: Well, we always try to look at matchups, yeah. How we can get our matchup better than their matchup. Sometimes with a nose tackle, you're going to get a lot of double teams or combination blocks anyway. He typically is going to get those a lot.
Q: With Thomas Rawls, do those bigger running backs give you any more reason to be more on guard on defense knowing they can run through the defenders?
A: He's a strong runner, but he's also got really good feet and he's got good speed to get to the perimeter. It's kind of like every position, you've got bigger players, they're typically more physical than smaller players, but yeah, you're right.
Q: Do you ever allow yourself to think of what you're building here with a young nucleus and potentially having that consistency that Seattle has found?
A: No, I don't. After the season is when I'll start thinking about how to move forward and how we continue to try to get better, areas that we can really improve on with personnel and things like that. We do have a good young nucleus of players and that's a good thing. It's good for young guys come in and play and hopefully have success.
Q: Do you think Seattle is a good example of how to build a young group?
A: I think that they've done a great job of getting personnel to fit their schemes, really on both sides of the ball. I think their special teams is fast, they do a good job there. They added [Tyler] Lockett as a punt returner and kick returner. But yeah, they are a young ascending team that kind of did like that. I would say yeah.
Q: When you go against a guy like Richard Sherman, how do you balance doing what you do versus giving him respect?
A: You're always looking at matchups and aware of certain guys. It doesn't matter really the position, how you can affect the game, things that you can do to work different areas. I said this earlier, I have a lot of respect for him and really their whole defense. Their defense is really good, but we kind of like how we do things and we just do them. We're not going to back down from a challenge I guess is the best way to say it.
Q: There was moment in Sunday's game when Josh Robinson came in for Xavier Rhodes and lined up across from Julio Jones. Do you even have time in a pre-snap situation like that to adjust what you're doing or is it about trusting your plan?
A: Well, we always have multiple calls if things happen like that to be able to make sure we're taking care of good players. At that particular time, he went in for Xavier [Rhodes], so he's doing what Xavier did. If it would have been a longer term thing, we would have changed some more of the things that we did.
Q: Are you trying something new with the practice schedule?
A: We'll see. I'm just trying to keep our guys fresh. We're getting late in the season and I think it's important that we recover, get their legs back. We've got a good, tough stretch here that we need to play good in and Sunday will be a tough one.
Q: Do you see there being a chance that Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo both miss the game on Sunday?
A: There's a chance if I lose 100 pounds, I could be a jockey. How do I know? I wouldn't know if guys are going to play yet or not.
Q: Did you ever consider that?
A: At being a jockey? I always wanted to be riding those Triple Crown winners, that would be pretty fun.
Q: Was signing a safety to the practice squad yesterday just to give you an extra practice body?
Q: What has been so inspiring about Phil Loadholt's recovery from his injuries that made his teammates elect him the Ed Block Courage winner?
A: Just really the two years that he's been hurt. Phil is a great guy, he's also a guy that does a lot in the community, hospital visits, he's got the bowling thing. He's just really a great representative for us. I think the players have a lot of respect for him. I was waiting for that question, that's why I had that answer all ready. Pretty proud of myself.
Q: You got any other good stock lines?
A: I'll think of some.
Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway
Obviously it's an honor to win this for the third time. It's something that's very important to me and my family, my wife, Jenni, obviously plays an integral part within our foundation. It's something we obviously started when we were young and didn't really know it was going to become, so we're so proud – sort of the grass roots starts and where we've gotten to. First of all, thanks to the media. You guys are always trying to figure out what we're doing with our foundation, put the word out for us, so thanks to you guys – probably the only time I thank you (joking). But really, thank you for coming out to some of the events to spread the word on what we're doing. Obviously it's not about necessarily winning awards, but it is a credit to all of those who put so much work in behind the scenes, at the events and putting the events together because a lot of this stuff is impossible with those types of logistical issues you always have. Just very proud and it's an honor. With our organization, just speaking with what I know here, Brad [Madson] does such a great job of getting everybody involved in our community. I don't care if you've been here a week or you've been here 10 years, he's always giving you new opportunities and giving you new things, so I owe the start to Brad and really the guys who came before me who taught me what it was to immerse yourself within the community. You always hope you have a 10-year career in one place and you can really set your roots and make something bigger, be something more important than just a football player and I've tried to do that, my wife has tried to do that. We're still trying to succeed and push as much as we can. With that, thank you guys and any questions?
Q: How do you compare and contrast with winning an award like this off the field versus winning an award on the field?
A: Well, it's much different just because it obviously doesn't have really anything to do with football. The only thing it has to do with football is you being able to use your notoriety for on the field to kind of get word out and different for whatever it is your foundation, your event is pushing for us. So for us it was always a focus on children. We realize that I think after a few years how important it was to not just put an event on, but to be there and be a part of it and get to know some of the people you're helping out and getting to know some of the families who are affected, get to know the kids, and even ask questions about the disease and really get to know and understand what's going on. Obviously anybody who has children can understand. Within 24 hours things can change within just minutes. You can obviously be that family, that could be your child. I think a lot of that came into perspective for us when we had kids, so this award means a tremendous amount. I would definitely put it up there with any individual award that I've received from football, if not probably a greater award just because it's so much work off the field. It's just about being recognized and doing more than being a football player.
Q: What fueled your passion for helping others?
A: I think initially I just wanted to help, I wanted to do something, I wanted to be in the community and learn about what was going on and learn about some of the issues. My first ever event I did was a Zeta Tau Alpha breast cancer awareness event and I had a chance to speak, and then I was a 22-year old and didn't really know what to say and what to do. I think just as you continue to do more and more events, you just gain this passion of just trying to help people. My parents with the resources they had on the farm, they were always very good about giving back in different ways, especially around the holiday time with food and donating meat to our church and we'd go around and pass around to families who were in need of a meal and I think it kind of starts there. And my wife, the same way, her family in Illinois, they were always giving back in different ways and volunteering. And to think once, you kind of get involved it's almost like something you need to do more of it, it makes you feel so much better to go out and do something for somebody else. I think it's just something that kind of takes shape as you mature.
Q: At what age do you remember your parents doing that?
A: I was in middle school all the way up through high school. I had vivid memories of them doing that and after my dad passed away, there's a guy in particular that we didn't really know as a family back in our home town and he made a point to come and find us and seek us out and just tell us how much he appreciated that and how much that meant to their family at that time, just the hard times they were going through. We all have different types of resources that are at our disposal. How little or menial they are, they can definitely benefit somebody. I just challenge everybody to do a little bit more.
Q: You remember taking meals to families as a kid?
A: Absolutely, yeah. It's such a hard thing to go ask somebody, "Do you need help?" We went through our church because they could always identify the families who were in need and who were either too proud to ask or didn't want to be a burden. Yeah, it was a great thing they did. I think that just starts that idea of again, that was their resource. My parents had that resource and used it.
Q: What is your vision for the foundation after your playing days?
A: I have so many years left to play, I don't know. We've talked about that really at length. Actually at our last board meeting, we had just about what is the vision for the next year, five years and all the way out. Kind of just coinciding with what I said earlier about this becoming something bigger than football. We want this to become our family legacy in some ways. Our daughters are now getting old enough at eight and five to kind of start to understand what we're doing, especially our eight year old to kind of understand what it's like to go visit a children's hospital and see these kids who maybe come in wheelchairs or come in with cancer and getting treatment and to see them and then see them hold up a Nintendo DS and get to go play a game. That seems like a small thing, but to put a smile on a kid's face, I think that means a lot and it's a lesson to my kids to know how precious your health is first of all and what you have. I think it's really become such a great parenting tool and something that you can really teach your children and that's been great and I think we're just going to want to continue to push as far as we can
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Another tough opponent in front of us, a Seattle team that's coming in here that's coming in off of a tough win versus a good Pittsburgh team. We know that it's going to be a challenge for us, they're the two-time defending NFC Champs and they've been to the Super Bowl the past two years, eight returning starters on that defense. Those guys are playing some good football right now, similar to last week's opponent. But I think they're a little more talented, similar schemes, but like I said, they kind of execute it in a better way than Atlanta did. We know that it's going to be a challenge for us, those guys have been playing some good football, they've been playing together for some time now and we're excited.
Q: What is the biggest challenge for you in facing that defense and the way it plays?
A: They have playmakers all across the board. Everyone thinks of the guys on the backend, but upfront, those guys, they've been getting to the quarterback. You put the tape on against Arizona, they were down and they got two sack fumbles for scores to put them back in the ballgame. It's just little things like that that you're aware of. You know that those guys come to play every week.
Q: What are your thoughts on Richard Sherman compared to other cornerbacks?
A: He's a great player, he's a great athlete, he's very smart, he understands routes, he understands concepts. We know that we're going to get his best. He's been playing some great football ever since he arrived in this league. We know it's going to be a challenge for four quarters.
Q: Are you aware of where he's at to try to avoid Richard Sherman or do you trust your reads?
A: You have to aware of where he is when he's out there, because he's a playmaker. Like I said, he understands routes, understands tendencies and things like that. We're going to put together a game plan that's just going to allow us to go out there and play within ourselves.
Q: What are your thoughts on Russell Wilson and what similarities do you have to him?
A: The biggest thing that stands out about Russell [Wilson] is that he's a winner. That's what everyone aims for in this position, you want to be a winner. He's been playing some great football; he's smart with the football, not turning it over, he know how to escape to keep plays alive when things break down. I think that's some of the areas that we're similar, but I could continue to just get better. He's playing at a high level, it's obvious in his playing ability that they've been successful the last couple of years.
Q: Do you think you have a lot of similarities or just a few?
A: I really don't know. We're totally different, different schemes and things like that.
Q: Russel Wilson was a 3rd round pick, you were a late 1st round selection are there any similarities with quieting doubters?
A: That's something I haven't even paid any attention to. I've been focused on the Seattle defense, facing those guys. I'll sit back probably in the offseason and think back about the similarities and things like that. Right now, I'm just totally focused on the Seattle defense.
Q: Does facing Dan Quinn's defense in Atlanta give you a head start on Seattle's defense this week?
A: Like I said, they're similar in schemes, but this Seattle team is much more talented we feel. They have guys who have been playing together since last year; Super Bowl, eight returning starters. We're aware of those things, we know that they execute a little better than Atlanta did, it just shows that they're more comfortable running that scheme.
Q: What is it about Jarius Wright that makes him a friendly target for you on 3rd down?
A: We just put together game plans that allow different guys to make plays. Jarius [Wright] has been doing a great job for us making plays on the 3rd downs, he's always in the right place at the right time, that's what a quarterback asks for.
Q: As you look at DeShawn Shead opposite of Richard Sherman, what are the differences between the two?
A: Those guys are still trying to feel their way around out there. The guy, [DeShawn] Shead, he played a good game last week against Pittsburgh. Those guy are playing some good football as a unit. If they have a weakness, you don't even know it. Those guys carry each other. We have to just continue to execute our game plan, we'll go out there and we'll have some favorable matchups, we're just going to have to make sure we take advantage of them.
Q: Has it been an emphasis trying to draw pass interference penalties down the field?
A: No. We were actually just trying to get a big play. The defender collided with our receiver drawing a pass interference. We're just executing our offense; we know that sometimes defenders are going to be in situations where they can't make a play on the ball so they try to go through the receiver and it draws a flag. We're aware of that, we try to take our shots, try to get big plays down the field. We know that penalties are a part of the risk.
Q: Last weekend Ben Roethlisberger took himself out a game due to a concussion, do you ever imagine taking yourself out of a game in that situation?
A: I don't know what the situation was with Big Ben [Roethlisberger], so I can't speak on that.
Q: Warren Moon spoke highly of you, do you remember anything about his career?
A: I know I got to meet him this past offseason at the Kentucky Derby; he's a great guy, dresses nice, he cleans up well. I'm familiar with everything about Warren Moon, I've heard so much about him. It was an honor to meet him back in the offseason.
Q: Do you know him as a trailblazer for African-American quarterbacks?
A: Yeah, I'm familiar with that, yeah.
Q: Iowa or Michigan State this weekend?
A: I think I'll probably go with Iowa on that one.