Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Obviously, as you know, we've got Carolina this week. They present a lot of challenges. The linebackers are really, really good. Inside players are good, their secondary. I think they are well coached on both sides of the ball. Offensively they do a lot of unique and unusual things. They can be explosive so we're going to have to play our best in order to have a win this week. We were going to go outside today but with all of the snow we're going to wait and see about it tomorrow or Friday for sure. The grass under the bubble is great. Where's Chris? Is he lost today? I miss him. The grass is great. The field looks great.
*Q: Has it been a disappointment for you to not be able to get outside and practice? *
A: It's just mindset really. Really and truly it's just about getting out and making sure guys when they're wearing different clothes and different things they have a better feel for how they're going to move and that stuff. And really honestly it's about a mindset to me. We don't care what it's like, we're going.
Q: Is the signing of J'Marcus Webb just for depth or does he have a chance to start?
A: I don't know. He hasn't even practiced yet so we'll see.
Q: Do you get any value out of watching Cam Newton playing Cincinnati where the defense is similar?
A: Well I watch those films quite close when they play someone like that because I know exactly what they're doing defensively but they scored 37 on them so I don't know if it's a real good thing. I try to evaluate because I know how we're telling the nose how to play and know the three technique is and little intricacy things. I don't know if it helps but it gives me an understanding of how the offense is trying to attack it.
Q: How much do you think they play the cat-and-mouse game where they know what you know and react to that?
A: There is no question and I'm sure they'll run a lot of plays that hurt them. I think Newton had 100-some yards rushing that game. I'm sure they're doing the exact same thing.
Q: How does Cam Newton look since that game?
A: I don't know. It's hard for me to comment on someone else's injuries but they are coming off the bye week, I'm sure he'll be ready to roll.
Q: How important is it for the defense to play the run with a quarterback like that and cut off the running lanes?
A: It is. He's really strong in the pocket, too. He's hard to get down once you get your hands on him if you get your hands on him. Honestly they do a good job with their protections of keeping you off balance and the different ways they can protect. It makes it difficult for you.
Q: Have you thought about giving an opportunity to the younger guys in these last five games to build for the future?
A: We're committed to each week, each game and it's got nothing to do with, for me it's way too early to think about next year and things like that. I want to play good for our fans. I'm still trying to build this team the way I want it to be and just because we have some losses doesn't mean we step back and re-evaluate where we are at and what we're doing. I see these guys every day at practice so if I don't have a decent idea of what a lot of them can do then I'm not watching close enough. I'm just not one of those kind of guys where it's the eighth round and I'm throwing the towel in and we're going to put in some other puncher. I'm fighting for 10.
Q: You've talked about developing the team like you've wanted. Is that a season-long progression no matter how the season goes?
A: You never know. As you go in you're trying to, I guess we as coaches are trying to put our stamp on it however we can and we're continually trying to improve what we can do and keep getting better all of the time. You never know how long something is going to take. But it's all about getting wins and that's all I care about is trying to win. I don't care about anything else.
Q: Are you pleased about how it's come around?
A: Ask me at the end of the year. I'll be honest with you at the end of the year what I felt good about. I just don't think evaluating things with five games left is the right time to do it.
Q: Will you look to get Ben Tate III some carries this week to see what he can do?
A: I don't know. We'll see. We'll just see how it goes. Again I'm committed to winning and however we have to win that's what I'm going to do.
Q: Is Matt Asiata able to practice today?
A: I'm going to put out the injury report after practice. I appreciate you guys asking these questions about the injuries all of the time but I think we can get through this a lot quicker. I'll just put the injury report out after if it's okay.
Q: Is it kind of odd that you're preparing for a slightly worse record than you but they are still playing for their division?
A: I don't really look at the records that much. I know what the records are but I don't really look at it. I watch them on tape. They tied Cincinnati in five quarters, 37-37. They played good against Detroit, came back against Chicago. I know that's their mindset but our mindset should be the exact same – we're trying to win. It's important to me that we win this week. It's very important that we win.
Q: Is there a fine line of being critical and pumping a guy up and how that affects his confidence?
A: I think each guy is a little different, their personality. I've never coached everybody the same. Some guys you're a little tougher on than you are other guys. Teddy, when you critique him, he wants to do it right the next time every time and I don't necessarily think that jumping down his throat is the right way to get results from him because I don't think he needs that. There are other guys that I think need that but Teddy has always been very open to criticism and very open to trying to get better and get going. I see him each day doing things better each and every time. I'm sure he can tell you he's had a lot of new experiences this year with everything and he'll continue for the rest of the season. I think that all of these things will continue to help him because he'll put them in his memory bank and he'll work at all of the other things, just running the offense for however many weeks he'll end up running it for 10 or 13 weeks or something like that. I think that will help him in the future, yes.
Q: Have you gotten any insight from Norv Turner on Ron Rivera?
A: A little bit. We talked about Ron of course and it's one good thing about Norv is he's had a lot of assistants so he can tell you a lot about a lot of guys. I know that he has a great deal of respect for Ron as do I. His defenses were always good when he was a coordinator, everywhere he's been, and he's a good guy as a matter of fact. A couple of times this year he's called and just kind of said, "Hang in there," or whatever.
Q: Has he called you or Norv?
Q: Do you not have to jump down Teddy's throat because he's more of a conscientious guy?
A: I believe so, yeah. He is extremely conscientious and you almost have to be careful that you don't say, "Hey this is what you're going to get," because if it doesn't happen well, "Coach told me this." I try to be generic in a lot of things that I tell him and really a lot of times it's, "Just be you, you're good enough. You do things great every day in practice, you do great things at the end of the game." Probably what I need to do is tell him we're behind every series when we go out there and we need to score this series because he's pretty good when he needs to be.
Q: How long does it usually take a quarterback to grow out of the "worrying about what everyone says about them" stage?
A: It's personality I think a little bit, too. I think each guy is different. You see quarterbacks throughout the league, some guys sit for a year or two, some guys come in and they play right away and play real good. I think it's all a little bit of people around them, their personality, how the defense helps them. There's a lot of factors. There's just so many different variables with the quarterback.
Q: How did the development process of Teddy Bridgewater change once he was thrust into the starting role?
A: Never really, it didn't really change. I figured that he would probably be the starter at some point but I didn't know when. The only thing that really changed was he was not getting as many reps in the beginning part of the season, now he's getting almost all of them.
Q: What sticks out to you about Kelvin Benjamin when you watch his tape?
A: He really can go up and get the ball, he's got great range, he's got great hand-eye coordination and he runs good routes for a young guy. They love him in the red-zone and they love him in that area of the field, obviously, he's 6-5. I was actually at Florida State and saw him workout on his pro day and that was impressive that day as well.
Q: Because of Kelvin Benjamin's size, would you play man-to-man matchups with Xavier Rhodes?
A: We might.
Q: When you're building a team and evaluating kickers, how much weight do you place on touchbacks?
A: That helps a lot. Yeah. It's big. If you can keep them starting at the 20, to me that's big. I'd rather do that than try and hope that we catch them at the 18, I mean, two yards to me isn't that big of a deal. A guy like Blair (Walsh), he's been really good at it. Mike (Priefer) will come up and ask me during the game, I say, "Kick it out, don't let this guy return it." There's so many other factors involved, the possibility of injuries on that play, I just think the percentages are, if you kick it out of there and they've got to 80 yards, then I'm good with that.
Q: It seems that the amount of touchbacks has greatly changed with moving the kickoff back what are your thoughts?
A: I think part of it is the League did a study on injuries that occur on some of the kicking game plays and that had a lot to do with it. To have a guy like Blair is really good.
Q: Have you sensed any frustration from Cordarrelle Patterson about his season?
A: I would say he's probably a little frustrated. You'd have to ask him, but I would say that he probably would hope to have more of an impact than what he has, but that's really a good thing to be honest with you. He's not satisfied.
Q: How much do you think missing Sharrif Floyd missed stopping the run on Sunday?
A: I don't know, it's hard to guess. Their guards are pretty good. I don't know. We'll have him this week, how's that? A little injury report there.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Q: Are you getting used to the snow yet?
A: I am, actually. I'm learning how to drive in the snow and everything. Have to drive a little slower, but I'm learning.
Q: Is it odd preparing for a team that has a worse record but still might win their division?
A: It's not odd at all. Because like you said, they're a game out in their division from being in first place. We know that this is the same team that was 12-4 last year. Coach Rivera has a background of being a great defensive coach. We know that this is a team that still has a lot to play for, we do also, because we know that we can continue to get better along the way and keep making improvements down the stretch.
Q: What have you learned from playing in the cold and any adjustments you have to make for a cold, outdoor game?
A: I think you just approach the game the same. Even though the weather is going to be a little colder and sometimes there's more wind factoring into it. You just approach it the same, I've learned to continue to just finish throws and follow through on throws, continue to just play my game.
Q: What do you think led to some of your first half accuracy issues this past Sunday?
A: Just bad ball placement. Those are throws that I hit 9-out-of-10 times in practice. Just in the game I wasn't able to hit some of those throws. Each week we get a chance to just go out there and make improvements and build off of last week's performance.* *
Q: Have you been able to pinpoint why the offense has had some slow starts?
A: When we were at halftime last week against Green Bay, Coach Norv Turner came into the locker room and he told us that for some reason the first 10 minutes of the game we're trying to feel our way through, we're trying to see if we can play with our opponents. That's been the issue, like Coach Turner said, that we're trying to feel our way through on those first couple of possessions, but we just have to go out and bring it to our opponents right away.
Q: What can you do to change that?
A: Like I said, we just come out, start fast. We have to have that mindset, we have to go into each game with confidence and know that it's going to be a long day for our opponents.
Q: What's the number one thing you want to improve during the last five weeks of the season?
A: Just take advantage of those easy completions when they present themselves. There are times in the game where there could be a 5-yard out route, just something that gives you consistency, something that gives you rhythm. Taking every completion and not trying to force throws and being smart with the football.* *
Q: How different will things be with Phil Loadholt going to the injured reserve?
A: Up front, we've been battling some injuries. We've been doing a great job of working with what we have. We're going to expect Mike (Harris) to step up and play big for us this week, he's been doing a great job whenever we ask him throughout the course of the season to step in for guys. We're going to have to continue to just prepare, we can't change our mindset. We get Matt Asiata back, hopefully, he will add that inside force to the run game. We're just going to continue to just work with what we have. This year has been all about overcoming adversity. I think the guys have been doing a great job, the coaching staff has been doing a great job of preparing the guys to handle each obstacle that we've been faced with.