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Zimmer, Bridgewater Address The Media

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

We've got nothing really new, we're just moving onto practice today, finished the walk through. Probably be inside today, we're working really hard trying to get our field and Grant Davisson is doing a great job of getting it cleared off but I just don't feel like it's safe at this point. We're going to keep working on some things and hopefully we can get outside tomorrow but it looks like today we will probably be inside.

Q: Do you have any update on the bubble and the heaters?

A: Yeah, November 17th. England, Chris, it's from England.

Q: Does the forecast for Sunday's game make you want to get outside even more?

A: Well I'd just like to get outside. We're going to play in it and I haven't really seen this team in the cold weather before so I'd just like to get out. I don't think it's going to be that bad out in Chicago – 30 degrees and a little bit of wind, but that's not terrible. I guess it's more for my mindset than anybody else. I've got to make sure I can stay warm.

Q: This will be Teddy Bridgewater's first cold-weather NFL game. How important is it for him to have these next couple of practices outside?

A: Well I think it's probably important. He did play at (Connecticut) and it was like 20 degrees that night when he played so it's not the first time he's been in cold weather and it does get cold in Louisville. I'm not concerned about Teddy to be honest with you. 

Q: How do you feel the guys have come back from the bye week? Is the momentum still there?

A: You know I don't know about momentum per se but they seem on top of things, which was my biggest concern. Monday they were pretty sharp on everything we did and so far the walk through today. We'll find out more tomorrow but they seem like they are in a good frame of mind. No different than what we've done before, the games prior to this really don't matter anymore. It's really about how we focus and prepare and do the things we have to do this week.

Q: Are there negatives to watching an opponent's game like Chicago's last outing at Green Bay?

A: Well I've watched every game. When I watch tape I watch the things that they do good and what they've done good in the past. I don't necessarily dwell on bad plays or anything like that. I know that we'll get a good effort from them I and I anticipate that from some of those earlier games. You could say the same thing when we went up to Green Bay on Thursday night. They got after us pretty good too, it was pretty bad. Each week is different and I hope that we play the way we're capable of playing and do the things that we need to do to win.

Q: Did the youth in your secondary present any challenges early on? How have they come together at this point in the season?

A: You know I really don't look at the age of guys. I look that they're our players and we have to figure out how to try and get them better and those things. Typically the veteran players have been around longer and they understand what you're looking for but none of these guys have been around us and what we're trying to do so I think it's all kind of learning and we're still learning. I think all of us are still learning, not so much the techniques but the different things that we're trying to teach to them and educating them about the game of football, not necessarily about their position that they're playing. I guess the second part of the question, I don't know. It's hard to evaluate at this point in time. We're still a work in progress in a lot of areas.

Q: Chicago's defense has given up like 42 points in the past three games each. What do they do well since you said you're focusing on those areas?

A: I think everybody has some bad games and they played two pretty good quarterbacks the last two weeks too. But I think they rush the passer well. Jay Ratliff is a kid that we drafted when I was in Dallas who is a good inside three technique. Stephen Paea is a good nose tackle. The ends, Willie Young is a very good athlete and Jared Allen, I'm sure he'll come in excited to go. [Lance] Briggs is still a good linebacker. I think [Kyle] Fuller is a good young corner that has a chance to be a good player as he keeps progressing. I think they do a good job in a lot of areas and sometimes, I'm not trying to discredit what they did but I've been there so many times when guys have had poor performances and I know when I've had poor performances typically we've come back and we've played well and I don't know, everybody is not happy, including me.

Q: Do guys in Jared Allen's shoes put a little more in to games like these where they face their old teams?

A: Well I think guys really get up to play their old team, yes. I've had several guys that have come from other teams that have played in other places and it's just the nature of the business. I don't know, you'd have to ask him about personal, but when I've played teams that I've coached for before it's never personal. You always want to win and you always want to perform well.

Q: All three of Teddy Bridgewater's wins have been in come-from-behind situations. What are the attributes that allows him to do that?

A: Composure is big. We'd like for him to be ahead a little bit more but I just think that the game is not too big for him. He sits in there and understands what he has to get done and you know there is a heightened sense of urgency and not just with Teddy but with everybody. We'd like to play like that more often than just in the fourth quarter but I know that it's a stat that everybody loves to have and it's important to win the ball games and that's the most important thing. He's done a good job as well as the offense. The offensive line has done a good job and I think we've run the ball well in the fourth quarter. Those are all factors too – caught the ball well, made some great catches.  

Q: Are you showing the tape of the Bears of the past few weeks because of their performances? Or do you just cut it up play by play and do it that way?

A: The players have access to everything so they can watch anything they want. We don't cut out bad plays or good plays. We show them plays and try to prepare them the best we can. Again, I really don't focus on the last two games. I've done this, this is my 21st year in the NFL and I think every week you see teams, I know all of the prognosticators are right all the time but there are a lot of teams that get beat that they don't expect to get beat. For me it's always a week-to-week thing. Nobody really thought we'd beat whoever we beat too I think, St. Louis or any of the other teams.

*Q: Do you make sure that they don't get over confident because of the what they are seeing on that tape? *

A: Our team over-confident? No, I don't think so. We really haven't done enough to get over-confident. I just continue to talk to them about the same things I talked to them when we lost, I guess it was three in a row – hard work, paying attention to detail, doing the things we need to do, trying not to change the message. I know I'm an emotional person but I try not to get too high or too low although Bob [Hagan] hears most of it.

Q: What's your plan for Kyle Rudolph this week with his return to practice and possibly playing?

A: We'll see how he goes today. He's been in the walk through some and practiced a little bit so we just have to see where he's at honestly. If he can play, he'll play.

Q: Is there any chance that the field conditions would play into that?

A: Everything is a possibility. They have a new turf, they put in a brand new turf. Supposedly we are the first people to play on it so I don't think the conditions will be bad. I know that he's chomping at the bit to play and we'd like him to play if he's healthy and he's ready to go. We never want to put anybody out that there that's not healthy enough to be able to do the things they have to do in order to play.

*Q: You are facing Jay Cutler this week who has looked uncomfortable. Will you guys maybe turn the heat up on the defense and maybe play a little more aggressively? *

A: I think their offensive line does a pretty good job in protection really. Kyle Long I think is a heck of a guard – big and physical and strong. Everybody talks about that kind of stuff but his quarterback rating is 92 which is pretty darn good. He's thrown 18 touchdowns and I think 10 interceptions so I mean we always try to affect the quarterback the best we can, we try to stop the run, affect the quarterback and that's a number of different ways whether it's disguise, pressure or coverage. This week won't be any different than any other week honestly.

*Q: It looks like Pat Devlin has come back?  *

A: He's back, he's back.   

*Q: What did he do?  *

A: Yeah, he just strained his back. He's alright.

Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

It feels good to be back after the bye week, got a chance to recharge. We were able to get some guys healthy and we're getting ready to go down this long stretch, the second half of the season. We know that we're facing a hungry Chicago Bears defense and it's going to be a challenge.

Q: Do you feel older and wiser than you did a couple of days ago?

A: Not at all, each day I feel like I'm learning more, though. I am gaining more knowledge, but I don't feel any wiser or anything.

Q: How do you feel about your first cold-weather NFL game?

A: I'm feeling very confident. I've been able to experience some cold games in college, but none like what I'm going to face on this level. I know it's going to be different, but it's all going to be a mental thing. Our coaches are doing a great job of preparing us for these next couple of games down the stretch. I think we'll do pretty good.

Q: Has anybody been giving you any advice about playing in the cold?

A: Not at all. Guys have just been telling me to continue to play your game. The weather, there is a way to block out the weather. You can wear the proper equipment, just block it out and play football.

Q: What is the coldest you played in?

A: In college I think I may have played in the low 20's, Played against the University of Connecticut, but nothing as cold as here.

Q: Is there any way you can simulate playing in the cold like you have done with the wet ball drill you have done?

A: I don't think that I will be affected by it. I've been doing the wet ball drills, if the field is wet from the snow or anything in these upcoming weeks, I think I've prepared myself well to know what to expect. We'll just continue to just get comfortable, whether we're practicing outside or indoors, Coach Zimmer is doing a great job of continuing to develop a physical team and a mentally tough team.

Q: Is there anything that changes physically in throwing the ball in the cold?

A: I don't think so. We have hand warmers and things like that, that allow me to keep my hands warm. I think our equipment staff does a great job of brushing the balls well and preparing for Sundays. I continue to just go out there, wear my gloves and play football.

Q: Is there a difference in your style of play from the first to second half in the Washington game?

A: I think so. I think I just told myself, "Just play football" and the coaching staff continued to remind me. Coach Zimmer told me before the ball was even kicked off, "You don't have to be perfect, just play your game, just play football." I still find myself trying to be perfect throughout the course of the game. I'll continue to just trust what I'm being told, trust the play calling. We have a great group of guys here who have been doing a great job all year, whether it's in the run game or the pass protection or on the outside, our wide receivers are making plays. We have a pretty stout defense here. All I have to do is just play my game and make it easier for our defense.

Q: What are some of the keys to your come-from-behind victories?

A: The biggest key to it is practice, getting a feel for it throughout the course of the week. We practice situational football about three times a week, we try to hit those areas hard because we know that in this league, games can come down to the final two minutes of the game, where you have to go down and kick a field goal to win a game or go down and score a touchdown to tie a game or to go into overtime and win a game. We practice hard each week on those situational football areas and I think it's been showing and paying off on each Sunday.

Q: Do you think you have it in you to become a quarterback with a reputation to go down and win games in the final minutes of play?

A: I think so, but I don't want to be that guy, because that means we're in a dog fight each week. I'd rather us being able to come out in the victory formation to end the game and not have to scramble around and put together a 2-minute drill. Like I said, the coaches are preparing us for those situations and we're ready to answer them.

Q: What do you think makes you so effective in 2-minute situations?

A: For one, I think I'm able to just think less, play football, distribute the ball to the playmakers on the outside and let those guys make plays. I feel so comfortable in those situations, because like I said, we've been practicing them ever since OTAs. I think I just feel comfortable because I have 10 other guys in the huddle with me who know what we need, know the situation and know how to respond.

Q: How do you personally not get too excited to face a team with a struggling pass defense?

A: We can't be blinded by the stats. Chicago is a hungry defense and we know that it's going to be tough going there to win a football game. We're going to have to continue to battle throughout the course of the game. We know that each week we're going to get an opponent's best, and this week, that's what we're expecting from Chicago.

Q: What has started to click for you guys against Washington in the red zone and can you build on that in the second half of the season?

A: We were able to run the ball down there. The offensive line did a great job in the Washington game of protecting and opening holes for the running back. When we got down there, we knew we were able to run the football and Matt (Asiata) and Jerick (McKinnon) did a great job of running behind that big offensive line that we have here. It's just been a huge, overall offensive success.

Q: Were you able to look back at your first six NFL games during the bye and what did you see?

A: I was able to look back and I came away impressed in some areas, I know that I still have a long way to go. I know that there's a ton of improvement needed to be made, there are a ton of adjustments. I'm going to continue to just get better, work hard each week and continue to just trust my teammates.

Q: What are those biggest areas for improvement?

A: Whenever I'm in the passing game, not holding onto the football and feeling it and not seeing it. I have a tendency of wanting to see wide receivers open before I throw the football. Sometimes I have to just feel it and trust that a guy is going to be in the right area at the right time.

Q: Is that a matter of building chemistry and trust with the receiving corps?

A: No, I think it's more just me trying to be right and trying to be perfect. Like I said, I want to see the throw to make sure that I'm going be able to make the perfect throw, instead of throwing an out-cutting route to an area and allowing the wide receiver to run up under the throw and make a catch.

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