Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Transcript: Zimmer, Newman and Griffen Addressed the Media Monday

Vikings Nickel/DBs Coach Terence Newman

Q: Have you thought about coaching for a while?

A: I guess I kind of feel like helping out some of the younger guys is a form of coaching, I guess. I think everybody just assumed that I would do it. I would like to give it a shot and see how I can help impact some young guys and teach them what I know of the game.

Q: How did it all come together with you going from playing to coaching?

A: There's a lot of young guys on the roster on offense and defense and for me it was a deal where I played a long time. At some point you have to be true to yourself and say, "Hey, do I want to keep going forward and have a chance to maybe tear up your back, neck or whatever?"
Some of the younger talent, obviously, you have to either say be selfish and maybe take a roster spot or give somebody else an opportunity to live their dreams. It was pretty easy. Everybody is asking me if I'm okay and I'm like "I'm good". I'm still in football, I still have an opportunity to chase a Super Bowl ring.

Q: Did the decision come Saturday or did you know sometime last week?

A: No. It was pretty much Saturday. That's kind of when I said, "Hey, this is what the deal is, it's cool". It's one of those things where, when roster cuts happen pretty much the worst day as a player because you built a bond with so many people and to see so many guys leave and then there's guys you really want to stay because you know they're good players but [they] might have been bumped out just because another guy they had to keep or whatever. Body still feels good, I have some aches and pains here and there but at the end of the day my body is not what it used to be. Somebody that's younger at whatever position could definitely use that roster spot.

Q: What's your exact name of your title?

A: Just going to help Coach [Jerry] Gray. Assistant DB coach, I think and just work with the nickels.

Q: Have you thought about what it's going to be like on Sunday not running out with the team?

A: I thought about what it's going to be like on the sideline and not having to hit 300-pound men. It's probably going to different the first time not having done it before. Probably one of those things where you have to really experience it to be able to talk about it. I men I don't know what the feeling I'll have or if I'll have a rush of emotions, or be nervous as hell because I can't do anything on the field depending on how the game is going or whatever. That'll be one I just let happen and just go with it.  

Q: Did they go to you or did you go to them about coaching?

A: Coach asked me. Said, "Hey, I'd like to have you coach. If you're willing." Of course that was something that I wanted to do in the first place and see if it was something that I would like to do going forward.

Q: Is it weird for you to come in and go into an office?

A: I would say it's kind of weird. It's more weird being called coach by some of the guys that were my teammates. I don't know if I can get used to that to be honest with you. "Coach Newman", "Hey, coach", that just doesn't sound right. 

Q: How do you go about relating to guys that were just your teammates?

A: I think it's a little bit easier having played for a while, but these guys say the work that you put in. I think at a certain point in time you get respect and people understand, "Hey, this guy is out here after 15 years busting his butt studying." I think when you talk about how do we relate, they know what I've brought to the table as a player and I'm going to bring the same tenacity when helping these guys as well.

Q: Do you feel like you've almost been a coach the last couple of years?

A: Yeah, that's what I was saying in the first question. Having helped younger guys from when I was in Dallas, to Cincinnati, to here I feel like it's kind of like a fraternity of sorts. We play DB it's one of the hardest positions. You're doing something unnatural going backwards while you have a guy running forward at you. I feel like you must pass on knowledge when you can because the position is hard enough and I've played long enough, been in the system long enough. I feel like I can definitely help in different areas.

Q: What are you most proud of looking back at your career?

A: Probably, not having a reconstructed ACL or shoulder or lumbar injuries. Coupled with the fact that I think last year was pretty sweet. That's the furthest I've ever been in my career and I was one game away from the Super Bowl. I think going forward that's what I'm chasing. I'll work as if I was going out to play, but I'll be going out to teach.

Q: How is life going to change for you outside of football now?

A: Well, if the hours are anything like they were yesterday it's going to change drastically. I'm not going to have many friends outside of this building, that's for sure.

Q: How did you feel about Brian Robison being released on Saturday?

A: I talked to Brian and the fact that he was here his whole career I felt extremely bad and we had talked Friday a little bit. Probably why I was so OK with doing what I did. It's tough, but I feel like having experienced so much stuff, met so many people, for me it's not a hard transition. Some people get depressed; they have a hard time leaving the game, but I've loved this game since the day I played it. But it was my time.

Q: Were you surprise when they asked you to coach?

A: No, I mean I was definitely cool with it. It was something that I wanted to try eventually. I figured when's the best time than now. I've been in this defense. I know the players. Pretty simple.

Q: Can you explain the pride that you have when you see players that you've mentored find success, such as Xavier Rhodes?

A: I don't really feel like I mentored them, I think I just passed on a little knowledge to be honest with you. They put in all the hard work, so for me it's just gratifying to see that he got rewarded for his hard work. That's the greatest part about it.

Q: Is there something that coaches did during your career that you'll avoid doing yourself as a coach?

A: Can I use bad words in here? I probably won't call anybody a bad word.

Q: In the event of an injury on the team, would you consider returning to the field this season?

A: I'm glad you asked that because yesterday I was joking around and said, "Man, if anything happens this is going to be the shortest retirement in history." I think it's easy though, I feel comfortable being done.

Q: But if there was an injury and they needed somebody, would you consider returning?

A: I wouldn't have a choice. It would be too hard to just go pick up somebody who hasn't been in the system and just try to plug them in in one week. I think it would be way too hard. I would definitely do it, but I hope I don't have to.

Q: Do you plan on staying in playing shape?

A: Yeah. I still work out, I'm not trying to have a beer belly, none of that.

Q: Is coaching something that you're committing to long term?

A: I think this is more of a trial period. I can come in, do my work, try to help out and see if this is something that I would like to do going forward. It's no pressure, but I feel like a diligent worker and work hard, so if it's something in the future that I can see myself doing after this year then I will definitely do it.

Q: If you had decided that you wanted to keep playing, did you get the sense that there would be a roster spot for you here?

A: Yeah, I mean there was probably more situations where I could have stayed and played. But like I said, at the end of the day my body felt good but I realized that it was time for me to step away. I wanted to be done and not have to worry about if I ever started a family, will I be able to walk or play with my kids, things like that. I didn't have any problems, didn't break down because I was thinking about memories and stuff. I was cool with it and we kept it moving. I was completely content and I still am.

Q: How tough were the contract negotiations? Coaching salaries are a little different than those for players.

A: Yeah, but I still have my lunch money from third grade. The money isn't the issue. My deal is that I got a passion for the guys in this building, the guys that play for this team and the coaches. I just wanted to have an opportunity to do something I've never done, that's the leading motivation. When I come in here that's what motivates me, trying to help out these young guys and win a ring.

Q: Can you talk about the relationship you've built with Jerry Gray?

A: Coach Gray is awesome. He's a great teacher, a great educator, but he's much like a father figure. You get a bunch of young kids here away from their families, and he's just a great human being. He's super smart, he's played the game, I've learned a great deal from him. It's the best situation that I get to help him and work for him and be able to still do some of the things that I love.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Q: Can you talk about letting Brian Robison go? How much did the play of Tashawn Bower and Stephen Weatherly factor in to the decision?

A: It was just an organizational decision. We felt like those two young guys had a chance to be good players, and obviously it's tough about Brian. Since I've been here he's been a great mentor, a good player, worked hard every day. Unfortunately it's part of the NFL.

Q: When did you first get the feeling that Terence Newman would be a good coach?

A: Probably two or three years ago I was talking to somebody, because I've always thought of him [Newman] as a player, and he said that he wanted to try to hire him as a coach. Then I started thinking about it.

Q: How did the decision for Newman to retire and join the coaching staff come together this weekend?

A: I talked to him about a lot of different options. I'm sure you're going to ask him, he's sitting out there.

Q: Are you satisfied with the depth you have on the 53-man roster?

A: In some places you always feel like you're thin, but for the most part I feel like we have good depth in most of the areas.

Q: How do you anticipate the dynamic between Terence and yourself changing as you bring him on to your coaching staff?

A: It won't change. I went in his office this morning and said, "I want you to look at something for me." Then he said, "Hey, have you noticed this." He talked to me about some of the things with their tendencies. It's not going to change much.

Q: Is he strictly going to work with defensive backs?

A: Yeah.

Q: What makes Terence stand out from other players when it comes to his intellect for the game?

A: Just the details that he puts into it. Some guys can tell you about their position, they can tell you about what they did, but he's a guy that can tell you about the big picture of things.

Q: How is preparing for the first game of the season different than preparing for other regular season games?

A: It's different because you don't really know what they're going to do, you don't know how you're going to perform. Every year is a new year, every team is a new team, so the chemistry of the team or the chemistry of the offense or defense may not be where you want it this first week. It's always a work in progress.

Q: What challenges could come from Kirk Cousins having to work with an unfamiliar center this weekend against San Francisco?

A: I don't know. You'll have to ask him.

Q: With Terence retiring, how do you feel about the depth Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes give you at the nickel position?

A: I feel good about them. Mackensie played all last year. I think Hughes is a big up and coming guy. We've also got some other guys working there, so I feel good about that.

Q: What was your reaction waking up Saturday morning to the Khalil Mack news?

A: I probably wished he wouldn't have gone to Chicago, but other than that I didn't have any reaction.

Q: Does it change the dynamic of the NFC North?

A: Obviously the division is really good, but I know that he adds another dimension to their defense, which was already pretty good. They're not going to cancel games, we're going to keep playing.

Q: What did Holton Hill show you that made you want to keep him on the 53-man roster?

A: He did really good in special teams. He's a long, athletic guy that has a lot of good cover skills. He's very intent on learning the techniques and things that we're working on. He's still got a ways to go, but I think he's got a big upside.

Q: With the current situation at center, do you have Kirk Cousins make more protection calls than he normally would?

A: He's always got the ability to trump everything, but we I'm not worried about that. We'll be alright.

Q: What appeals to you about your new punter, Matt Wile?

A: He had a good preseason. He didn't punt today, but he did a nice job holding, so we'll see. His hang time was really good, his average was good. We just didn't feel like we were punting very well in the preseason.

Q: Will Wile also handle some kickoffs?

A: Possibly. It's hard for me to say when I haven't really see him do anything other than hold today.

Q: What is the best thing a position coach can have as an asset?

A: Getting his players to play better is the biggest asset. If you can get guys to play better, if you're a good teacher, if you're good at helping scheme things. For me, that's what is most important.

Q: How big of an asset is Terence's institutional knowledge, having been with you so long?

A: He knows pretty much everything about the scheme. Different than if a new guy came in, he knows all the new things we put in, how we're calling it and the terms we're using, so you don't have to go in there and say, "Hey, this is this, so think of it like that." Yeah, it's big. He's been with me I guess nine or ten years now.

Q: How did Brandon Zylstra separate himself from the competition for the last few spots?

A: I don't know at the end that he separated himself. His issue is that he's been hurt, so at the beginning I thought he looked good at OTAs and through the beginning part of training camp. That was kind of what we had to go on.

Q: What did Brett Jones show you in the final preseason game?

A: I thought he did good. He's a good pass protector, I thought he did a nice job when they had the power runs, the double teams and things like that. I thought he did a good job with those. For coming in in one day and playing, that's impressive.

Q: What went into the decision to keep both Mike Boone and Roc Thomas?

A: We thought both of them have a chance to be good players.

Q: How far has Danny Isidora come along at center?

A: Really far. I think that might be a natural position for him. He's never done it before, and for him to do it in basically a week, I thought it's been impressive. It's been good this week as well.

Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen

First I want to start off saying I would like to send my condolences to Fred Zamberletti's family. He is a legend and will be missed big time.

Q: What was your reaction to Brian Robison being cut?

A: That was a tough one for me. B-Rob [Brian Robison] has been one of my best friends on the team for going on nine years. I was here when Jared [Allen], Kevin [Williams], Pat Williams, Letroy [Guion], Fred Evans, Jayme Mitchell. We go way back. B-Rob was a great dude, a great person, a great man. I looked up to him. He was a good dude to look up to. He did all the right things and that is what you strive for each and every day. He is going to be missed big time. He did a lot of great things here. He has 60 sacks. He did a lot of great things. He will be missed. It was a hard one, though. The guy had an awesome career and he played at a high level. Do I wish he was here? Of course. I miss my brother. But in this league, in this business, the train is going to keep on moving. It is going to keep on going. There are things required out of us to do each and every day. Even though he will be missed, we still have to get ready to play San Francisco. But I love him. That is my dawg. White Chocolate.

Q: How did you hear about the move Saturday? Have you spoken to Brian Robison since then?

A: He is not here. I just said what I had to say about that. I didn't hear about any move. He texted us and that was about it.

Q: Do you have a good feeling about where your defense is headed into the season?

A: I think we are looking better. We are getting better. More sharp, more crisp. I think we are communicating better. We have to get lined up faster. I am talking about myself. We have to do a lot of things better. Today was a good practice I feel like. If you asked Coach [Mike] Zimmer, it was probably ok or it was bad. We went out there and we worked. I know we are getting better each and every day. It's a grind. Finally we are getting in to San Francisco week and get to go out there and do good things. We get to go out there and now it's time to put work in the classroom. Study more. Now I get to go up and go against a different opponent and our team does. It is going to be fun.

Q: Is your leg 100 percent?

A: Yes, I'm good.

Q: Did you learn a lot from the last time you played San Francisco?

A: Yes, it was a learning experience. We played around 9:00 p.m. our time. It was like really late California time. We don't make excuses. We got beat. They ran some good plays and they out-schemed us. We couldn't get them down on the ground. We learned a lot of things. They are a good team. They have [Jimmy] Garoppolo. He's a great player. He is a good quarterback. Won his last five games. They have a good running game. Jet [Jerick McKinnon] tore his ACL. We never want to hear that about a guy. I was really excited to go up against him. I know he was all pumped up and fired up. They have a good team and a good defense. We just have to come out and play our ball. That is Vikings style ball. Run to the ball, be smart, be physical. Do all the right things. 

Q: What's impressed you the most about the young pass rushers?

A: Stephen Weatherly and Tashawn [Bower], they are doing phenomenal. They stepped it up big time. They are coming off the ball well. They're playing the run well. They're reading in there and in the playbook. They are taking the right steps. Using their inside hands, doing all the right things. I feel good about them. I know the coaches do. I tried to help them out as much as possible, anything they need. They're doing good. I can't wait to see them play. Stephen and Tashawn had a phenomenal preseason. I am happy to see those guys step up and take the next step. That is what it's about. That is you're your team becomes good when you have younger guys taking the next step. That is what we're looking for.

Q: Why do so many veterans on this team want to help the younger players?

A: That is how you win. What is it, you're strong as your weakest link? Everybody has to be strong. I feel like the faster you get them groomed up and trained and prepared to play on game day, like Mike Hughes or Holton Hill. Those guys playing on special teams, getting those guys going and running to the ball. Good things can happen and the faster you get them coached up and on the playbook, great things happen. I think that is what we strive for.

Q: Will you be calling Terence Newman, Coach?

A: No, I will call him T-New, T-Money, T-Baby. 

Q: Will it be weird to see Terence Newman as an authority figure?

A: No. You know, yes, a little bit. But I am still going to act the same around him. He is still going to be my dawg. Nothing is going to change. He is going to be a coach, coaching guys up. He's been in the League for 15 years. He's seen everything from slot to going up against slot receivers, playing safety, doing everything. He's doing a great job. He is going to be a good addition to our coaching staff. He loves this game and he wants to win a Super Bowl. That is what we are chasing this year is the Super Bowl.

Q: What stands out about Jimmy Garoppolo?

A: You can bring up some Tom Brady film and watch [Jimmy] Garoppolo and they get the ball out of their hand quick. They are reading, reacting. They are looking at the formations. They are seeing the motions of the safety. They are seeing the linebacker shifts. They know when the blitz is coming. He is getting the ball out quick but we still have to affect him, get around his feet. First and foremost, I feel like we have to stop the run. If you stop the run, you have the privilege to rush the passer. I think that is what we have to do. If we do that, we always have a chance to have success or winning the game.

Q: Is this the most defenders you've seen Mike Zimmer work with different personnel packages to this defense?

A: Yes, I think we added new wrinkles. There is going to be new wrinkles. New wrinkles. Yes, we have a lot of new wrinkles. We are not going to get into that yet. We are going to save it for game day. It is going to be fun. We are excited. I think it is going to give us to use our athletic ability and talent to get the job done. We have some different stuff but we are going to save that for game day.

Q: Do you think Brian Robison is done playing or do you think there is still more for him out there?

A: If I know my dawg, White Chocolate, he is playing. I think he is going to play. He was looking good and playing good ball.

Q: How do you sustain the success you had on 3rd downs again this year?

A: Good question. By doing the same thing again. Rushing. I think just playing good team defense. Rushing the passer. We have great rushes. Add in Sheldon Richardson on third down, quickest path to the quarterback. We have Linval [Joseph] playing nose, Danielle [Hunter], and then you have myself. If the front four can get to the quarterback, I feel like we have a chance. Then you add in our little packages we have. Then we add our little wrinkles here and there and we make it happen. I think it all starts with that execution. You execute and you make it happen.

Q: What are your overall thoughts on the Vikings offensive line?

A: They are looking great. They are looking great. They are competing, they are attacking. My coach [Andre Patterson] always says the offensive line is the best coached group on the field because they have to go up against us each and every day. They have to be in sync, they have to have their timing right. I think the center is the controller. Playing a video game, he is the controller. He is going to control where the MIKE (linebacker) is, where the safety is. Down right, down left. He is making all the checks, whatever checks they have. I think they are doing a great job and they are going to do fine.