Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: It looks like the same 11 guys that started last year will be the starters again this year?
A: I like our offensive players and they know how I feel about it. We're not going to play 11 players, you can only play 11 at a time but I think we have 16, 18 guys that can contribute to what we're doing, guys that can have different skills, different skill sets and it's our job as coaches to put them in a position to use those skills. I think what we've done since our guys started in April, they've got a good understanding. I don't consider it a new offense anymore, it's not new to me, certainly and I don't think the players feel like it's new to them anymore. I think it's shown up enough in preseason that when we do things right we can be an explosive team. We obviously haven't played our best player yet, so I think he'll bring something to the entire package in terms of what we are doing. I look forward to it, I look forward to this game. I'm excited to see a bunch of guys get to extend their playing time that haven't gotten to play a lot and then we will be moving on to the opener and getting ready for the first game.
*Q: How do you envision Adrian Peterson adding to the offense in the regular season? *
A: He's the best running back in football. This is still a game of players not of schemes. You get a guy in there who is hard to tackle and is an explosive runner and obviously has great vision. In all of the things he brings he's going to change it dramatically.
Q: Do you have a number in mind of how much you want to see him carry the ball in the regular season? And passes directed his way?
A: You always have kind of a plan. I always tell people with the running backs I've been around, and obviously I've been around a few, and everybody wants to see those guys get 25 touches and it's kind of a magic number when he gets 20 carries and 5 catches. The only problem with that is if he does that for 16 games, he has 400 touches and you're not going to do that to a guy. I think it's a week-to-week deal and we're going to do everything we can do on a weekly basis to win the game. When I was in Miami and Ricky Williams had 42 rushes and we beat Buffalo, I certainly would not want to do that. The first game I was ever in Dallas, Emmitt (Smith) had 33 carries and 6 catches. I don't think that is what we want to do but we want to win the football game and then move onto the next week. It'll be a week-to-week thing.
Q: Will you look at it as a season-long thing with the potential of a playoff push?
A: That playoff push, obviously, it's week-to-week, win as many as games as you can. I think we started a long time ago referring to it as 16 one-game seasons and if you can win a game, you improve your chances of doing what you're talking about. Adrian is going to be a big part of what we do and we are going to be smart in how we utilize him.
Q: In your mind does the offense still start with him?
A: I think if you say, I obviously said, he's our best player then I think you should start to build around your best player. Now the thing that we've seen in the preseason, it looks to me like we have a number of guys can contribute and obviously, put in the right position, can make big plays. We need to utilize every guy that we've got.
Q: How is Cordarrelle Patterson developing in the middle range passing game?
A: I think he's doing a good job in the entire passing game. He's a young receiver. He didn't play a lot of receiver in college, he played one year. He's got one year here as a rookie. I think he's developing the way you'd expect him to develop but I think he's shown that when given the opportunities he can catch the ball short, he can catch the ball intermediate and he obviously has the ability to get deep.
Q: How do you carve out a role for Jerick McKinnon as the change of pace running back after the success Matt Asiata has had in the preseason?
A: You need them all. You need them all and Matt is so sound and consistent and has a great grasp of what we're doing in protections. I think Jerick has gotten better every week that he's played in the preseason. He certainly got a lot better from the time he got here, he had no experience as a running back. I like the looks we've gotten from those guys and we'll have something for each of them. Whether it gets to the game, a lot of that depends on how the games unfold, but we'll have something in the game plan for each of those guys.
Q: How many tight ends will you end up keeping?
A: They're probably up there talking about it right now. You want to end up keeping offensively, if we keep 24 or 25 players, whatever that number is, you want to keep the best 24 or 25, so if that's an extra tight end and an another position is not as many, I think those are decisions that we're going to have to make. That's the beauty to me of this fourth game. People think it's a throw away game, it's probably the most important preseason game there is because these young guys get a chance to go play and get to show what they've been working on and every year it seems to me a guy in the fourth preseason game does something to distinguish himself and make a case for himself.
Q: When you looked at Kyle Rudolph when you took this job he was coming off an injury, lost some weight and was limited a little bit. Is he different now than prior when you analyzed?
A: I think he felt it was important to lose the weight; I wasn't as concerned about him losing weight. What he really had to do was change his running style. He's a big guy who thought he needed the leverage and collision and bang people and that's not our style. We've gotten him to where he's running full stride and full speed and not worrying about the defenders as much and running the route the way we want it run and he's finding that he can separate away from people using his athleticism, his quickness and his speed.
Q: How would you evaluate Austin Wentworth and what he's been able to do?
A: He's a young player and when you get a young player like him and he's playing tackle, playing guard, doing a lot of things, he's had some good moments, he's had some rough moments but that's normal for a young player. We're working him hard at tackle and he's done a lot of good things there.
*Q: What do you look for from your swing tackles on Thursday? *
A: Obviously, we need to be able to go in and function, we need to be able to go in and handle whatever the defense gives us. It's a challenge to be able to go play both sides.
Q: How would you evaluate Matt Kalil's play this preseason?
A: I think he's been really good. One of the things that people who are trying to evaluate our tape and not knowing what we're doing, it just doesn't make any sense. We're evaluating, we're finding out where we are as a football team, what our guys can do and then when we get in games we have a better understanding of how we have to game plan and when you're on the road in a noisy environment against that player he played against the other night, that's a challenge and we didn't give him any help on purpose. One of the plays where we got pressured was not a good play call, we did not have a good combination route on so we ended up holding the ball too long. I think Matt has gotten better each week and I think he's getting himself ready to have an outstanding year.
*Q: Is there enough time at a new place in the preseason to tell if a player is still developing or if he's plateaued? *
A: I think every guy is still developing. When you put a new system in, you give them opportunities to get better and do things they haven't done before, maybe you can take advantage of some skill set they have that fits what we do. I think the most important part of the NFL is evaluating your own team and I hear people say, "Well they are out there in shorts, you can't evaluate them there and it's spring and it's summer." You watch tape and you watch guys play physical football, so you know they can do that and then you go out there and watch their athleticism and that's the most important part of our job is evaluating them and projecting what they can do. I think we have a lot of guys on our football team that can grow and get a lot better, that's what I'm counting on. I expect us to be a lot better team offensively in November and December than we are right now. One of the guys that I think has improved a great deal, talking about developing players, is Adrian Peterson. He's taken it on himself to do some things a little different and I think it's going to pay off for him.
Q: How is Adrian Peterson doing things differently?
A: I think he's really zeroed in and focused in on what we're trying to do. We've added some different runs, some runs that are a little different in terms of his style. He's taken to them and I think he's getting very comfortable with them. Obviously, some of the things we're doing with him in the passing game. He's worked really hard. Catching the ball, a big part of it is getting in the right position to catch it. He's got a better understanding now than I think he's had that if you do these things right in terms of how you run the route, how you release, where you end up for the play, then it's a lot easier catch than if you do it otherwise. I think the quarterbacks and he have worked hard at getting on the same page and understanding what we're trying to do.
Q: Early in the process a lot of players were talking about how complex this offense was and all of the different variables. Where do things stand now as far as their comprehension and where things stand with the installation?
A: Well the hardest thing for me is obviously, I've been in the system a long time and I see it as very simple. There's a contradiction there. The most important thing for me to do was to get them to where they see it as simple and I think they see it a lot simpler now than they did before. It's a new language, there's a lot more variety but when it comes down to it, they are usually told what to do on every play and it's matter of repetition and doing the same things over and over again. We haven't had any issues in the preseason in terms of busted assignments or wrong routes or poor alignments. I think we've taken one timeout in three games because we had a personnel problem and that was the quarterback, that wasn't anybody else and that's something that's very simple to fix. All of those things have gone much smoother than I anticipated and I'm excited about that. It shows the guys really put the time in to understand what we're doing.
Q: Is the installation complete?
A: Matt (Cassel) said it and he figured me out real fast. This is an ongoing installation and we've put about six or eight new things in yesterday. They'll get a good load of things on Saturday, it's usually something tied in to what we've already been doing but if there's something that we like that looks good that can help us get a play in a game or help us win a game, we're going to get enough reps on it so we can go execute it but it's going to be an ongoing installation and it will be a new set of things, a new game plan, each week we play, 16 weeks. Hopefully there are things that carry over, most of the time it'll carry over but occasionally there will be something that they really have to work hard and get the reps on in a week and be ready to run in a game.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: Where do things stand with the installation process?
A: Concept-wise we've pretty much introduced them to most of the concepts that we will be using. Just like during any season you have to adjust, so there will be things that come up that we will have to adjust to, but we feel we're pretty good where we are with the install phase of things, as far as what we've got accomplished through the preseason thus far and in the training camp.
Q: How do you feel about the pass coverage to this point?
A: That's something we've been working diligently on as far as the techniques and the fundamentals of our secondary and our underneath coverage guys. It's just a continuous process we are going to continue working on. The more you do it, the more habit forming it becomes for them and the more they recognize things and I think they feel more comfortable. Where we are right now, it showed up a little bit more in this past ball game that we were on top of the routes, doing those kinds of things. It seems like we have got a good understanding, but with anything else it boils down to consistency, we've just got to keep working at it every day to keep being consistent at it.
Q: Do you feel comfortable with your depth along the defensive line?
A: We have had some guys miss due to injury, that kind of thing. Guys are working to get back, getting through the preseason, getting a chance to get them evaluated. Where we are right now, we just want to keep building on that, knowing that guys are going to have to step up during the course of the year if somebody has got to miss time, that kind of thing. So from that aspect of it, we've kind of experienced that quite a bit through the preseason. From that aspect of it, it's been a good learning experience for all of them.
Q: Have there been circumstances that have not allowed anyone to capture that strong safety position?
A: Just like we talked to you about all of the offseason and into training camp, this was going to be a competition all of the way through this preseason. I stay true to fact. Guys are still out there competing, we want to see them in different situations, see the different skill sets of guys. We've got a pretty good feel for where we are right now, but we still are just going to keep competing. This will be something we will just continue to keep competing at. Guys are grasping things, they're playing better, they're playing faster and we have just got to make technique and fundamentally different packages, use their skill sets to the most of the ability.
Q: Do you see using a rotation at the strong safety position come Week One?
A: Just like at the linebacker, we're using different guys in different packages, that kind of thing. That could come to fruition if we need to use different positions and different guys in positions in different packages. I could see that, it just depends on from week-to-week who we are playing, the opponent, the different matchups that we get into and what we're expecting to go out and try get executed against.
Q: Do you see Anthony Barr dropping into coverage a lot during the season, or are you trying to get him better at that?
A: We've dropped him since he's been here from day one. That's not something that we haven't worked at, that's something that is going to be a part of his job description no matter what package we are in. Whether he's playing a defensive end and we're pressuring and he ends up dropping or if he's at linebacker of course he's going to be involved in the coverage aspect of it, unless we're pressuring. That is a part of his job title and he feels pretty comfortable moving around in space and matching up on routes.
Q: How has he done so far in pass coverage?
A: He's done a good job. He's grasped what we've been trying to teach matchup-wise. He's been pretty consistent since he's been here, so from that aspect of it, we feel pretty good where he is right now coverage-wise.
Q: What is there to still see on Thursday from the strong safety position?
A: We still wanted to go out. It's still going to be an open competition. Guys are going to go out there in the situation that we put them in, we are going to put them in certain situations, try and create those situations to continue with the evaluation. We have a good feel for where we are right now, it's just a matter of getting another evaluation as guys are going into this last ball game.
Q: When you get Linval Joseph back, what is he going to mean to this defense?
A: The times that he was out there, you could feel his presence. We'll be glad to get him back when we get him back into the fold, start working him whenever that is. From that aspect of it, he's been very attentive in meetings and what we've been trying to accomplish schematically and what we've done in the installs and those kinds of things. Like I've said, he's been a true pro as far as that's concerned. From that aspect of it, we'll be fired up to get him back out here and get him going.
Q: Is his greatest asset his run-stuffing ability?
A: He did a good job of pushing the pocket when he was in there early in the training camp. You could see he was pushing the pocket pretty good in our pass rush. Anytime you get a big guy that can do that, give you that kind of push in the pocket, it's just going to help free some things up on the outside and get the quarterback off his spot.
Q: How much will his pass rush ability up the middle help Brian Robison and Everson Griffen?
A: I think it will truly help, anytime we can get the quarterback not feeling comfortable and worried about getting his footing right and that kind of thing, getting him off of the spot where he's just not comfortable at a five-step or seven-step, getting back there and getting set and just reading it and throwing it. Anytime you can get him off the spot and make him have to move around is a benefit for us.
Q: What do you think the ceiling is for this pass rush unit?
A: I think the one thing that you've seen is that they've gotten better throughout the preseason. Initially, there wasn't as much push up the middle, then we came back and we got good push in the middle. The thing is good consistency with it, we always say good pass coverage and good pass rush go hand-in-hand, you can't do one without the other. As a culmination of all of those things coming together, everybody paying attention to the details of what we're trying to get accomplished, we'll continue to get better at it as guys keep working it.
Q: When you move Brian Robison inside to get Anthony Barr on the edge, what can Robison give you from that inside position?
A: We've worked a couple of guys inside, Everson (Griffen) has been inside. Again, we've just tried guys in different position in different packages to give us the best opportunity to rush the passer in certain schemes that we're using. From that aspect of it, it's a package we worked on, thought we had a good feel for. It will be interesting as we keep building, as we keep working toward the season.
Q: Is there a defensive line combination that has stuck out to you?
A: Again, right now we're not trying to tip our hand to exactly what we're going to do. We're just working different guys in different positions. We will take their skill set and use them to the best of our abilities to help us win a football game.
Q: How has Anthony Barr been from that outside position?
A: He's done a good job. He's picked up on it. It's hard fluctuating all of the positions we've put him in to really work the technique and fundamentals, but you can just see the times that we've gotten him down there and worked the technique he's transferred it to the game. He's got good push, he's got good speed off of the outside edge, he's a good blitzer, so from those aspects of things, we're pleased with where he's at right now and know that we have got to keep refining his technique and fundamentals in his pass rush.
Q: How long did it take you to decide where you wanted certain guys in personnel groupings?
A: You could say quick. For us coming in, all we'd saw is what they'd done in the past. Really, we don't know what they've been told in the past, so until we really got out here and got hands on and seeing them take it from the meeting room to out here on the field, seeing them playing out here under the lights in games. You kind of get a better feel for exactly what their skill set is and exactly what we can ask them to do and what their ability is. From that aspect of it, I think it's just been an evolving process as we work through it.