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Zimmer, Bridgewater Address The Media

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Well, we are getting back to preparations on Buffalo. They've got a terrific defensive line, very good corners, some excellent skill receivers and running backs and so I'm anxious for us to get out and playing like a good football team again. I know it's been a while but we talked about a lot of things in the meeting this morning and hopefully we can get through to them.

Q: Is it fair to compare Buffalo's front to Detroit's?

A: I think Buffalo has a very a good front. The two inside guys, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, are both very good, Mario Williams on the outside, Jerry Hughes is playing really good now. That's the thing that people forget is sometimes some of these young guys like Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes, they start getting better as they get in. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer than you want, and I know we have a lot of young guys and probably takes a little longer than I want at times too, but sometimes patience is a virtue.  

*Q: What kinds of matchups are you guys spotlighting? *

A: Well we've got to block their defensive front, that's a big one. We've got to make sure that we do a better job of getting open with the receivers. They've got Stephon Gilmore, I thought he was a very good corner coming out, I liked him a lot, and they've got [Leodis] McKelvin, Aaron Williams is playing a safety, he was a 2nd-round corner who's playing safety. We're very aware of what they do and then obviously [Sammy] Watkins is a tremendous receiver and [Robert] Woods I think has come a long way, he looks good, he's very competitive. [Scott] Chandler, the tight end, and then obviously the two backs. We've got to get better at what we do.  

Q: How have you seen Teddy Bridgewater respond?

A: He's good, he's fine. He'll be good.    

Q: Will Chad Greenway be able to practice today?

A: Yes.   

Q: Jason Taylor said that with this offensive line and running attack that he thinks Teddy might get shell-shocked being in there and compared him to David Carr's rookie season. Is that a concern for his future?

A: I don't know about Jason Taylor's comments but I do know that I know Teddy and I'm not worried about him. He's got a very tough mindset, he's a great competitor, he's got mobility in the pocket so he can move. I'm not very concerned about that and we're going to block better.

*Q: Is that the A-1 priority now is to protect him better? *

A: No, it's not the A-1. We've got several that we have to do but it is a priority, yes.  

*Q: You talked about patience with young players. What are you seeing in the progress from David Yankey and Scott Crichton even though they might not be active? *

A: Well they are both getting better. Crichton, he's been close a lot to being active. I think he was active for the first week but unfortunately you can only dress 46. And Yankey, he's getting better, we're just trying to get him better with his technique and some of the things he does.   

*Q: Can that be hard for a young guy? *

A: It just takes time. I mean it takes time. I think you've seen a huge progression in Xavier Rhodes this year. Sometimes the maturation process of young players takes a little bit longer. I was thinking about the guys we had in Cincinnati and Carlos Dunlap didn't start until his third year, Geno Atkins, he was a situational pass rusher his first year, [Dre] Kirkpatrick didn't play at all. Sometimes it just takes time and sometimes you've got guys in front of them that are more experienced and more dependable.    

*Q: With Crichton not playing does that make it tough on the other guys in terms of keeping a rotation? *

A: No, I think we had a pretty good rotation last week. I think Shamar Stephen played very well, he got in there quite a bit. [Corey] Wootton got in and played more last week. We're going to continue to try to do that and sometimes you get to dress eight defensive linemen and sometimes you get to dress seven. It just depends on the week and who we got up.

*Q: You told Buffalo media this morning that you'd like to get Matt Asiata a few more carries. What's the thinking there? Is it trying to go back to a two-back situation and go with the guy that gets the hot hand in the game? *

A: No, I just like Asiata. I think he's got some physicality. He's played well this year. He had that one fumble against Green Bay but that was after a 12-yard run. Matt is an extremely dependable guy and I anticipate that when he carries the ball that he's going to get some yardage and that's not a knock on [Jerick] McKinnon at all because I think McKinnon still has the explosiveness. I would just like to see us keep using them both.  

*Q: You talked about Teddy and how he studies hard. After Sunday's game has he been in the facility even more? *

A: Not more. He's been in a lot but I don't know that it's any more.  

Q: Are you concerned about the drops from the wide receivers?

A: I'm concerned about a lot of things. Our guys have good hands so I'll anticipate we'll get out of that thing. We've got to catch them when we have the opportunities and we've got to block guys when we have the opportunity. I have an interesting stat for you, you know I've talked a lot about winning and losing and what causes you to win and what good teams do and what bad teams do, the two games we've won we've had no turnovers and no sacks, the (four) games we've lost we've had 10 turnovers and 20 sacks. It kind of tells you where it's at right there.

Q: What can you do to get more separation with the wide receivers?

A: We've got to keep working on it and there are some other things we can do that we're not going to talk about but we've got a period today where we're going to get going out there again and work on some of those things.

Q: What does a good team need to do against Buffalo's backs?

A: Well [C.J.] Spiller is an excellent big-play guy that has a ton of speed to the perimeter. We've got to be very, very disciplined in where we are there and the receivers do a good job of blocking and with Fred Jackson - I've always thought he was a great back, excellent slash guy, tough guy – he's an extremely good back and same thing with him and then we've got to tackle. We can't be diving at guys, we've got to wrap up.

Q: It seems like Linval Joseph really committed to your technique more against Detroit than Green Bay. Is that a fair way of looking at it?

A: I don't know about committed, I think he understands better. Obviously, he played a ton better. I think all of the guys are committed to what we are trying to do and what we're trying to preach, sometimes we don't get the job done. He played very well last week and he responded to the challenges.

Q: Did you get a chance to see what happened with your former player Vontaze Burfict?

A: I saw very little of it but I've heard about it.

Q: Does that surprise you at all with him?

A: I love Vontaze. He's a good football player and a tough guy, so I can't comment on what he did, but I know he's a good kid and at least around me he was always a good kid.

Q: What have you seen from Kyle Orton since he's taken over as their quarterback?

A: Well he's been pretty proficient with the ball. He had an interception against Detroit for a touchdown but he gets the ball out quick. I think he understands the reads and the protections pretty good as far as where they're going for only being there for a month or so. He's probably not going to be running the zone-read like they did before and I've always thought he throws a great ball every time I've played against him in the past.

*Q: Do you look at other situations as to why some rookie quarterbacks have success and why others don't? *

A: I'm so worried about situation here that I don't worry too much about it.

Q: Do you plan on starting the same five offensive linemen on Sunday?

A: Possibly.

Q: How has McKinnon played? How has he graded out?

A: Good. He missed a protection and there were a couple of times where he had the right guy and got beat physically but for the most part, you've got to consider where he's come from and what the position is he played before and all of the different things that's going on with a running back now days in the NFL. I think he's doing very well.  

Q: Between Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson where do you think…

A: Well they are getting better with their techniques. They've got a tough job when you're out there one-one-one with good receivers all the time it's not an easy job because those guys are terrific athletes and we ask them to do an awful lot. So far they've been good at what they've been doing. You can't be good three-fourths of the time and then one-fourth you give up a first down or a catch here and there. It's no different than I'm trying to preach to the rest of the team – we can't be good three-fourths of the time. The mindset has to be we don't let our guy catch the ball, we don't let our guy make the tackle, we don't let our guy sack the quarterback. It doesn't matter how many times you do good, it's the one time that you do bad that costs the football team. That's kind of always been my mantra with the corners, and people don't realize this and everybody wants to get interceptions, I got that, but there's something to be said about your guy not catching the ball and them having to go somewhere else. To me, that's a big value if my guy isn't catching the ball because I can worry about other things and maybe I'm the only one that thinks that way but I do.

Q: Do you feel like Josh is pushing Captain Munnerlyn for that starting spot?

A: The foreseeable future is pretty far for me so I'm just looking at this week. This week I'm just looking at.

Q: Where is the pass protection with the running backs when you assess the overall running back play? We always think about yards-per-carry and can you catch but how important is pass protection in how much playing time you get?

A: Well if a running back doesn't know, in today's NFL, if a running back does not know who to block in pass protection he is not very good because he's going to get your quarterback killed. I know when I was with [Bill] Parcells he told the team every year at the beginning of camp that he can't put rookies in the game if they don't know how to protect or who to protect because they'll get the quarterback killed.

Q: How much did that factor in to some of the concerns?

A: You know there were a multitude of problems. It wasn't, and I told the team this today, "When you get sacks it's not just the offensive line, it's the receivers not getting open or missing the sight or missing the hot adjustment or the running back missing a blitz or the offensive linemen not blocking their guys or the quarterback holding the ball too long or throwing it at the wrong place or getting the protection redirected the right way." It's a team issue. I know everybody focuses on one part but it's a team issue and we've got to get it fixed.

Q: How good are your running backs at pass blocking?

A: Pretty good. Guys are always, I mean we always try defensively, we're always looking for a matchup that we like and I'm sure other people are no different than us.

Q: Do you expect to see a new team on Sunday?

A: A new team? I expect to see an old team, one that I've saw before. This is not a magical answer but the team that played so good in the preseason, played good in the first game, played good against Atlanta was doing the things I was talking about earlier. Hopefully they'll understand the importance of this to playing winning football.

Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater Q: What do you think the biggest issue was on Sunday?

A: We could have played better. We all could have played better, especially starting with me in the passing game. I need to be much quicker in my decision making and get the ball out of my hand faster. Just get the ball to our playmakers and allow them to make plays.

Q: You said you try not to make the same mistake twice, was there anything you take away from that game that you learned your lesson from?

A: Yeah, just playing faster. The interception in the red zone, you never want to turn the ball over in a football game. Turnovers kill drives, take away points, especially down in the red zone. It was 1st down, ball on the 15-yard line, that was a time where I could have been much smarter in my decision making. I'm just going to continue to learn from the tape and move forward.

Q: What should have you done differently on the first interception?

A: I could have worked the inside guy, I believe it was Greg Jennings. All week in practice, I got reps on just throwing the outside guy, I got a little complacent. That's where I just need to get back to the film room and just prepare for the worst-case scenarios.

Q: Since taking over as the starter how have you tried to develop chemistry with the first-team offense?

A: Things have changed because I'm now in there with the guys who are playing full speed, who have a pretty good grasp for this offense. That's how things have changed for the most part, being able to play with those guys. Before when I was playing, I was playing with a group of the young guys who weren't really getting a chance to execute our offense. Now we're able to just execute this entire system together.

Q: Does playing faster come with more experience and more comfort?

A: That plays a role. Also, I just have to have a plan every play, whenever I'm at the line of scrimmage. Just make sure that I have a plan on where I'm going to go with the ball before the ball is even snapped, that's just a part of my pre-snap reads. I'm just going to continue to work as hard as I can to get better in that aspect.

Q: Did the Lions game stick with you at all or have you put it behind you?

A: After watching the tape, we'll make the corrections. We don't want to dwell on it for too long. It's in the past, now we have to focus on Buffalo. That's the good thing about the NFL, it's a long season. Each week you get a new opportunity to go out there and show what you're worth.

Q: Do you have any concern about playing too soon and hurting your development?

A: Not at all. We have some talented guys on this roster and guy's numbers are going to be called and we are going to ask those guys to make plays for this team. For me, my number was called early and I don't expect anything different from myself. It's just all about getting comfortable in our offense, just playing with one another and playing for one another.


Q: How much confidence do you have in Norv Turner and his ability to turn things around?

A: We have a ton of confidence in Coach Turner. He's one of the best offensive coordinators in the game. We're just going to continue to find different ways to get our playmakers the ball. Just want to get back to winning form.

Q: Have you heard anything about playing in Buffalo?

A: I've heard about the winds and everything. At the end of the day, none of that will matter if we don't get the win.

Q: What are some of the biggest things Coach Turner has talked to you about this week?

A: Just playing fast. He mentioned that Atlanta game how I was just able to make decisions fast. Get the ball out of my hands and allow our guys to make plays. That's going to be the message going into this game in Buffalo. We know that they have a pretty good front seven also. We know that we're going to be up for a challenge, but it's one that we are ready to go against.

Q: What time frame should it be from snap to getting the ball out of your hands?

A: I don't really know the exact time, but you have to have that mental clock in your head. It's usually whenever you take that 5th step, the ball should be gone. You should be allowed to take at least at one hitch to throw to a wide receiver. If you're on your second hitch, moving up in the pocket that means you need to be getting the ball out of your hands to the check down. For me, I can count numerous times where I was taking more than two hitches or more than one hitch, holding onto the ball. I'm just going to continue to work better and try to get better on the field.

Q: Is working better getting through your reads quicker or mechanically speaking?

A: Just getting through my reads quicker. We have plays designed to get the ball out of your hands quick. Like I said, get the ball to the playmakers that we have here. I'm just going to continue to study and try to get better.

Q: How many of the sacks this past Sunday do you feel you could have got the ball out of your hands quicker?

A: Majority of them. Sometimes a defense is just going to cover a play pretty well. There were multiple times on Sunday where I found myself holding onto the ball where a guy was running wide open down the field or running across the field wide open.

Q: How did you feel physically after all of the sacks?

A: I didn't feel too bad. Luckily, we have a good strength and conditioning staff here who help me prepare my body for games like those. You never want to play in those kinds of games, but like I said, we have a great strength and conditioning staff here who allowed me to prepare my body for those kind of games.

Q: Coach Zimmer said it was good you got your worst career game behind you - do you look at it optimistically as well?

A: Yes, sometimes you can't control the outcome of a game. You can't control the outcome of every pass. You're going to have some ups and downs in games, but it's just best to put the worst games behind you and put you the worst plays behind you and move forward.

Q: How do you bounce back from not throwing a touchdown pass?

A: For one, trying to throw the first touchdown, but not trying to do too much. Just playing within the system, whenever those opportunities present themselves we have to take advantage of them. There were numerous times so far this year where I've had an opportunity to throw a touchdown and I just missed out on those opportunities. Just taking advantage when those opportunities present themselves, not trying to force the ball, just playing within the offense.

Q: As you progress as the starting quarterback are you altering the way you prepare?

A: Not at all. When I was the backup I told myself that I was going to prepare as if I was the starter. I still spend numerous hours around the facility, whether it's in the training room, watching film. I'm just trying to be the best that I can be right now. Hopefully, I'm doing a good job.

Q: Is there anything you can do to limit the dropped passes by the receivers?

A: I'm pretty sure I can throw a much better ball. I can have better ball placement. Sometimes, we're asking those guys to make the difficult catches where I'm sometimes throwing the ball behind the wide receiver. I think that I can be better in my ball placement, throwing the ball on time. You think about Sunday, Greg Jennings was able to make a spectacular catch as he was falling to the ground because I had thrown the ball behind him. I'm just going to continue to work to get better at my ball placement, just every little detail.

Q: What kind of player do you think Jerick McKinnon is going to be?

A: McKinnon, he's a very exciting player. He's a do-it-all back. He's very exciting to watch, every time he gets the ball in his hand, he makes something happen. He's going to be a very electrifying player for this team.

Q: Do you think Jerick McKinnon will get more touches in this offense?

A: We're trying to find way to get all of our playmakers the ball. Jerick, he's a guy who has been making plays for this team, we probably can expect to see Jerick get more involved in the offense.

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