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Zimmer, Bridgewater Address The Media

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Getting ready for Green Bay. They present a great test for us. They are extremely explosive offensively as everybody has pointed out. Defensively they have a lot of skill. We didn't play near as good the first time we played them so I'm looking forward to us playing a lot better. I know it's nice to get back home where our fans can get out and get out into the weather. It's not supposed to be too bad but it'll be good to be back playing again and try to forget this last loss.

Q: Did you learn anything about Aaron Rodgers in your first meeting that you didn't already know?

A: No, I've played him a few times in the past. The way he runs, the way he throws, the things he sees, things like that. No, he's pretty steady doing what he does, he's pretty good. 

Q: What did you learn about your personnel in that game?

A: Well we've obviously changed some things since that point in time and played some things differently than what we were playing them.  

Q: How do you think seeing them at full strength the first time helps your prepare the second time?

A: Well it gets our attention for sure. They're explosive. Hopefully the second time you play somebody I think you have a better idea. This is the first time in my go through in this division a little bit. Hopefully it shows.

Q: How is it now knowing that you won't have Adrian Peterson for the rest of the season?

A: Not really much has changed. I still say exactly what I've said before that I support him and his family and he's been great with me but other than that our focus is on Green Bay and we've got to move forward. It's just the way life is.

Q: Have you reached out to him?

A: I'll keep that between me and him.   

Q: You had said before you wished he'd be able to come back. Is there any sense of disappointment now?

A: We've kind of taken this one day at a time as it's gone on so we just go and play the cards that we're dealt and I know we made the statement on it yesterday so I'm going to kind of stick with that mantra.

Q: How do you keep the team focused when other things are going on?

A: I don't know that inside the locker room when they watch the Packers and they watch them offensively and the things they do and the things they do defensively and returning punts and scoring on defense and things like that, it gets your attention pretty quick. This team has been through a lot of things this year and I think for the most part they've stayed focused very well. I think that we just keep pounding the message about what we're trying to do here and what we're trying to accomplish as far as what kind of football team, what kind of an organization that we want to have. The overriding message just keeps going on and on. 

Q: In a game like last Sunday do you still see signs of improvement with Teddy Bridgewater or is that a step back?

A: You know I always see signs of improvement from Teddy. A lot of times it's in practice, the things he's doing in practice and the things he's going for forward. He's getting a lot of different things thrown at him in a short period of time but there are probably some intangible things that you all don't see on gameday that I see during the week in practice. Other parts of the game of helping other guys get lined up now, helping other guys get in the right place, getting the backs in the right position, changing the protections. There are a lot of other things involved other than just throwing the ball and what that looks like. All of these things have been improvements that I see each week. He threw some great deep balls last week in practice. We didn't show up on game. With a young quarterback you keep looking but I have complete faith in this kid. Everything about him is the kind of guy you want. I'm sure I've said before that any of his deficiencies or perceived deficiencies that anybody has, including him, and he's a hard critic on himself too, he will continually work at improving those and being better. A week ago on Tuesday he went out in the weather and was throwing just to get out into the wind and to get out in the things but that's the kind of guy he is. He'll be in here early on Monday and stay late and come in on Tuesday and do extra things that he has to do. All of those types of things gives me belief that this is what this guy is all about.

Q: He said he would embrace being the face of a franchise. As a rookie is he potentially ready for that role?

A: Well I'd be glad to let him do it instead of me. He will be ready. It's hard for a young guy when you come in and you first start playing and you come in in the middle of the year and you start playing but I believe he will be the face of the franchise and he can actually do all of these press conferences from now on. I'd be ecstatic to let him do them instead of me.

*Q: Is there a point with him where trying to be perfect becomes a hindrance?   *

A: Yes and no. I think we all want to try to be the very best we can each and every time but that's Teddy. He does want to be that way and I think as he matures the being perfect starts because he's worked so hard and studied will come a little bit easier and then he'll just play and then kind of like the guy that we're fixing to play this week, he's pretty perfect in everything he does. I think it just comes with maturity, it comes with the belief that everything is going on and as we go that's one of the things I love about him. Not just him but a guy like Harrison Smith wants to be perfect in everything. We've got guys like that – Anthony Barr. We've got a lot of guys like that and those are the kinds of guys you want, guys who want to continually work to get better every day.

Q: What is it that allows Rodgers to just air it out while making such few mistakes?

A: Well he's got such a strong arm that it gets there fast even when you've got guys covered. I think they all have a great command and rapport with each other as far as the offense and where they are supposed to be. He gets the ball out so fast but the receivers know exactly where they are supposed to be and even when things break down he does a great job of moving in the pocket or moving out of the pocket and finding receivers and a lot of bad things happen then too for a defense.  

Q: Is that a product of him being in the same offensive system?

A: Yeah, he's been doing it for a long time. I remember playing him when I was in Cincinnati in a preseason game maybe four years ago and he came out and kind of got flushed a little bit and rolled to his right on the right hash, kind of ducked around and threw about a 40-yard dart to the sideline and it was a rope and I knew back then that this guy was really special. He's obviously got great vision and has great confidence in the things he can do and he's got a great arm too.   

Q: Is it difficult for you when they get Eddie Lacy going too?

A: It's tough. I think their offensive line does a great job. They're physical and Lacy is a physical back, downhill runner who is hard to tackle. You see a lot of people having a lot of trouble with him. When a team is two-dimensional like that and explosive in so many different ways then it makes it more difficult.  

Q: Because of his physicality and the missed tackles last week will you stress tackling this week and maybe even have padded practices?

A: We're going to pad today, yeah.  

*Q: How much will you practice outdoors this week and what's the update on the field heating system from England? *

A: The shipment from England was in Ohio yesterday and should be here today. We get a call every eight hours telling us where we are at. We will probably be indoors this week just because the field conditions are not good enough at this point in time.

Q: Would you like to shorten the game with the way Green Bay's offense is and be able to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline?

A: Well I'd love to keep him on the sideline however we can do that. There are different ways. They want to go up-tempo and we'd definitely like to slow them down. The plan isn't always the same as you get going. What I want us to do is I want us to go out and perform like we can perform. I want us to be specific in everything that we're doing. I want us to be precise in everything – when we're running routes, when we're running the ball, when we're blocking people, when we're playing the running game – that's what I want to see this week, those kinds of things. There is still a lot of this about us and what we're doing here.

*Q: What was the top thing that initially caught your eye with Charles Johnson? *

A: Well Scott [Turner] saw him in college and they had him in Cleveland and so they talked about him – a big guy that can run, a young developing receiver that has good hands – and so we talked about it quite a while ago.   

Q: Obviously you have a lot of trust in Norv Turner but did you watch the tape?  What jumped off the screen because there wasn't a whole lot there.

A: Yeah there wasn't a whole lot there and yes, I do. A lot of it is trust with guys that have been around guys before. I know guys that I've brought in before that have played for me. You know them, you know a lot more about them than just watching the tape but like I said with him he was a big guy that had ability and potential.

Q: He was targeted seven times. Was that because of the way the defense was playing him like Teddy Bridgewater had said?

A: Well a lot of what he said was more about the way defenses rotated, the way he ended up getting open in the routes and I think Teddy has a good trust with him.

Q: What's allowed him to get the opportunity here and separate himself here?

A: Well I think understanding the offense is a little bit because when he was in Cleveland it was the same offense and I think that's part of it as you get going just the comfort level of not having to learn different plays each and every week and the route tree is the same and he still makes mistakes, don't get me wrong, but he has a comfort level.  

Q: Are even some of the veteran guys still getting used to this offense?

A: On occasion, yes. Some of it is because we changed some of the formations each week and the combinations of the routes a little bit so some it is that way, yeah.

*Q: How do you think the running game is coming along? *

A: Well we've got to block people better, we've got to stay on people better. The one run we had on the weakside, but we can keep making excuses about this or that and bottom line is we've got to block people better. We've got to drive them out and pound people and then when we get the opportunity we can't get one yard, we've got to get four or five yards. It's easy to call a game when it's second-and-2 so we've got to do a better job there.  

Q:Do you have any concerns about the kicking game?

A: No, I thought we did better last week for the most part. Could have punted the ball better twice and I have no problem with Blair [Walsh]. He missed the field goal but I've got great confidence in him and [Jeff] Locke had one good one but I'm not concerned about that.  

Q: Will Jarius Wright and Greg Jennings practice?

A: Probably not today. We'll see.

Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

Another week of preparation, glad to be back home, we're pretty excited to prepare for a very talented Green Bay Packers team. They're playing great football right now. We know that it's going to be a challenge for us, but that's why we play this game and we live for these moments.

Q: Have you studied Aaron Rodgers and the way that he plays?

A: Yes, especially since I get to play Aaron Rodgers twice throughout the course of the year. I've spent a lot of time just breaking down film and seeing the things that he does well. I can tell you, he's a great quarterback.

Q: What are you impressed by or try and emulate?

A: He's in total command of his team, and he's in total command of his offense. Those guys gravitate towards him and they go as he goes. He's been playing great football this year. I believe 28 passing touchdowns and only three interceptions, that's pretty outstanding. A passer rating of 120, he's playing great football and his team is playing great football, also.

Q: Is there anything that stood out about that team watching the last game against them on the sidelines?

A: They start fast and once they get out on you, they don't let up. We know that we're going to have to start fast also. We're pretty excited to be playing in this game again. It's a good thing that it's back at home this week, we know that Green Bay has struggled a little playing on the road this year, but we know that they're on a high right now. Like I said, they're playing great football and we know that we're going to get their best.

Q: What did you learn about your team during the first game against Green Bay?

A: I was able to learn that we have a great group of guys here. A group of guys who are going to compete until the clock hits zero. Also, I know how important this rivalry is, learning from the older guys on this team, I know how intense this rivalry can be. I wasn't able to play the first game we played them, but just seeing how the guys prepared throughout the course of the week earlier in the season when we faced Green Bay and seeing how the guys approached that game really stood out to me.

Q: What did you see from the Packers defense and how Christian Ponder handled those situations?

A: Christian (Ponder) and Matt (Cassel), they've been telling me, "Just take completions." They're a very exotic defense, Green Bay. They do a bunch of different things, they have a great front seven and their secondary is playing pretty good also. They just told me, let the game come to me, take those easy completions and move the chains.

Q: What's your reaction to knowing you won't have Adrian Peterson the rest of the season?

A: Adrian is a great guy. We just have to continue to prepare without him, but we would have loved to have him, but that's out of our hands. I think Coach Zimmer would be able to answer that question better than me.

Q: Are you ready to be the face of the franchise as a rookie?

A: I can tell you that I'll embrace the role. We have a group of guys who have established themselves in this league. I know that for me, it's not all about me. We have 52 other guys active on this roster and then we have the practice squad guys who also contribute our success as a team. For me, like I said, I'll embrace the role, but I know it's not all about me. We have other playmakers on this team, Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jerick McKinnon and then you talk about the defensive side of the ball with Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Chad Greenway and those guys. It's an overall team effort. This entire team plays a role in our success.

Q: What are some things Aaron Rodgers does in controlling his team that you want to?

A: For one, I just need to let loose and play football. When I watch Aaron Rodgers play, he's just out there spinning it. If he throws an incompletion or a bad pass, he forgets it and moves on to the next play. It's all about having short-term memory. That's something I'm continuing to work on, forgetting the bad plays and moving on to the great plays.

Q: How does Aaron Rodgers let it loose and keep his interception number down?

A: He's been doing it for a couple of years now. He's been playing in that system for a couple years. When you watch him, he knows where his guys are going to be in the passing game or if the wide receivers aren't there down the field he has tight ends who he can check the ball down to, the running backs. That's something that I'm working towards, also. I know that I have a long way to go still, but we're continuing to make progress throughout the course of the year.

Q: What can you do to keep your team focused with all of the outside distractions?

A: We've won a game with Adrian (Peterson) and we've won some games without him. We just have to continue to prepare and do the things we've been doing throughout the course of the year. We can't have a dark cloud over our facility or over our team. Coach Zimmer, he's been doing a great job of being honest with the guys and telling us everything. It's out of our hands, I'm pretty sure that we would love to have him, but like I said, it's out of our hands.

Q: With the production from Eddie Lacey and Aaron Rodgers, does it make you wonder what you could do with Adrian Peterson?

A: It does, but I still have playmakers back there right now, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, those guys have been doing a great job in the run game and doing everything we've asked them to do throughout the course of the year. Everything is going to fall into place.

Q: What needs to happen to strengthen your connection with Cordarrelle Patterson?

A: Each week we're making improvements. It may not show on Sundays, each week a different playmaker is allowed to make plays for this team. As you saw, Charles Johnson, he stepped up for us Sunday. Throughout the course of the week in practice, whether it's on the deep ball or a route underneath coverage, Cordarrelle and I, we're developing that chemistry and we've been making improvements throughout the course of the year.

Q: What took you to Charles Johnson on some of those plays?

A: It was just part of my progression. In the passing game we have a progression that we go through and Charles was the primary receiver on some of those plays called or he may have been the second progression when I was dropping back. He was a guy who was just spaced up and the defense was uncovering him, so we were just taking those throws.

Q: How many completions was he the first read in your progression?

A: I would say three or four of them. But in the 2-minute situation any receiver can become the primary in that situation. Like I said, Charles did a great job of understanding the situations, understanding the plays that were called and executing.

Q: Which read was he in the other completions when he wasn't the primary target?

A: I can't even tell you right now. We have so many passing plays. We run so many plays that I can't sit here and tell you every play.

Q: But when you came to him he was open?

A: Yes, and he answered every time that we called his number. We're going to continue to expect big things out of him.

Q: Is it Charles Johnson's speed or size that is allowing him to get separation?

A: Like I said, each week a different guy is able to step up for this team. We target different guys each week. This week we had some injuries and Charles stepped in for those guys and made plays.

Q: How much did you get to know Adrian Peterson and have you had contact with him recently?

A: Adrian was a great mentor to me. Throughout OTAs and throughout training camp there were times in training camp where I'd get down on myself because I may have had a bad practice, or didn't like this throw or that throw and he would always come up to me and tell me, "Hey, you're not going to be perfect, you can't control what everyone's saying about you, you can't control every throw. You just have to trust yourself, play football and trust your God-given abilities." Hearing that from Adrian, it just meant a lot because he's a guy who's established himself in this league and one of the best running backs to play this game.

Q: Have you had any contact with him since he has left the team?

A: He's sent text messages out throughout the course of the season. He just told us, "Play each down like it's your last."

Q: What can you do with this offense to change things up and keep a defense honest?

A: We have to take some shots down the field. Teams are going to sit on our routes because we haven't really been pushing the ball down the field this year. When the opportunity presents itself we have to take shots, not only take shots but try and complete them. That's something we are working hard on and we're going to keep making improvements.

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