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Zimmer, Bridgewater Address The Media

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Back at it, we got the Jets this week. They've got a lot of explosiveness offensively. I think their offensive line does a great job run blocking. They've really added an extra dimension with [Percy] Harvin. The backs run hard. They've got [Eric] Decker, who played at the University of Minnesota. We'll have our hands full with them. Defensively they've got a strong front seven – [Muhammad] Wilkerson, [Sheldon] Richardson, [Calvin] Pace. They're physical and so we're going to have to do a great job against those guys, their front seven guys.

Q: Do you expect them to be as one dimensional as they were last week when they ran the ball 47 times?

A: You never know. If you get 200 yards rushing in the first half you're probably going to stick to it until you stop it. That will be a good test for us. We haven't played the run as well as I would like to and I'm sure that they see that as well.

Q: Where do you think the run defense is? I think the yards per carry is up to 4.4 on the season.

A: It's not where I want it to be. Sometimes the situations in the game dictate that, the coverages dictate that, you're taking away other areas but still it should be better than that. I don't think we do a good enough job of stopping the backs when we hit them and not falling for three after contact and things like that. I think we've got to do a better job in those areas.

Q: What do you think is the biggest thing with allowing those rushing yards? Is it missing tackles or not hitting the gaps?

A: We've had some quarterbacks run on us too which last week they had 54 yards, [Aaron] Rodgers had 50 yards I bet. Some of it is that and then some of it was like last week on a couple of them we misfitted it. I don't think we had a lot of missed tackles last week, not as many as we did the week before. We're not thumping them enough that when we hit them they go down. Sometimes like I say they get a couple 2 or 3 yards and those add up when you're running the ball 30 times.  

Q: Is there a key to fixing the read-option defense since you'll likely see more of it this week?

A: Yeah, we'll see more of it. I think it'll help us because we saw it again for another week but a little bit of it is understanding exactly where they're trying to go with it.

Q: What kind of impact have you seen from Percy Harvin and the way they use him

A: Well they do everything with him. They put him in the backfield as a back, they run reverses with him, they run screens with him, they run pretty much everything. He's definitely a focal point of what they're doing.

Q: With a guy like that on their offense does it alter your personnel?

A: The other guys, we'll know where he is, it's the other guys making sure we get the right matchups and everything else when they've got – they might have three backs and two receivers in there and he might be lined up as the back. They might have three tight ends and two receivers and he's the back. He could line up anywhere.

Q: Does that make your preparation harder to get defenders to understand different concepts?

A: Yeah, I think so.

Q: Teddy Bridgewater is entering a part of the NFL season that he's not accustomed to – that final four game grind. What differentiates rookies being able to power through that and succeed and others that might slump back some?

A: Most of the young guys I've had, when they're playing they don't really hit that wall. It's the guys that are kind of not playing near as much, those are the kind of guys with the so-called rookie wall that I see. I don't see guys that are playing. These guys just play and he studies and I don't think there will be any issue with that with him.

Q: How has Shamar Stephen handled the extra workload?

A: Good, he's doing good. He actually graded out really well last week. He plays the run good so I'm sure he'll get a good dose again this week.  

Q: What kind of work do you expect from Anthony Barr this week?

A: I don't know. We're seeing how he's going and we'll see more as the week unfolds.

Q: Is having a guy like Shamar more important against a team that runs like the Jets?

A: Yeah, it is important, yeah. It's kind of his specialty, it's not really rushing the quarterback, but that's kind of his specialty.  

Q: Does it add much to your preparation when you face a team with a balanced two-back system?

A: [Chris] Ivory is a downhill, get his shoulders turned, angry runner – he runs angry. [Chris] Johnson is a slasher that has the breakaway speed. You have to be mindful of what guys can do when they are out there, yeah.

Q: Have you been able to find what dictates when they use one back over the other?

A: Not yet.

Q: Is that your biggest focus going in is those two running backs or do you look at Decker and Harvin?

A: They've got a lot of explosive guys. The tight ends are good players and they added Harvin obviously. Our focus is everything really. You always want to stop the run first.* *

Q: Did you recognize Brian Robison when he walked in?

A: I think he's faster. Looks good.

Q: How would you like to settle the running back situation? Would you like two guys to rely on back there?

A: Well I think you have to have three but you'd like to settle with two, yeah. But they have to do a good job in protection. There is more to it than carrying the football. When we all get in the right place and we all do the right things then they'll continue to get more carries.

Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

Pretty excited to get back to work this week, looking forward to one of our final two home games. We want to continue to just finish strong and reward our fans who have been loyal to us all year. We're just looking forward to the New York Jets. We know that we can't be fooled by their record, because on defense they're playing much better than what their record is showing. We have to continue to just work hard and get better.

Q: When you look at film from last Sunday, what stands out to you in your improved accuracy on the deep passes?

A: I was able to make quicker decisions, get the ball out of my hands much faster. Those guys up front, they allowed me to have a clean pocket for the majority of the game. The wide receivers did a great job in our passing game and understanding the routes and what we were asking those guys to do. Everything was just clicking for us on Sunday.

Q: When you compare your tape from now to when you first got in the game, do you see areas that you can be proud of the progress that you've made?

A: I can be proud of the progress that I've made, but I'm more proud of the progress that this entire team has made. As an offensive unit, we've been able to protect the football, not turn the ball over as much as we were doing earlier in the year. Protect the quarterback better. We've been able to score more points and establish the run game. I've been so proud of this offense, because our coaches have challenged us, and each week, we continue to just make improvements.

Q: Is your quicker decision making a product of trusting what you're seeing more or are you getting better at reading coverages?

A:  I say it's more of me just trusting what I'm seeing. I tend to think that I'm in a chess match with the defense, in some cases that's the way it is, but in other cases, I just have to play football. I can't overthink things. At the end of the day, I just have to trust myself, trust my skillset, but more importantly, trust my teammates. Sunday we did a great job of just executing what was asked of us to do.

Q: How do you get to the point of trusting what you're seeing from a defense?

A: It's all about developing some consistency, whether it's consistency winning games, your performance, or just your work habits. For me, I just have to just put everything behind me, at the end of the day, like I always say, just play football. When I'm out there on the field, I have 10 other guys in that huddle with me. Those guys are trusting me and they trust that I'm going to do my job, so I continue to trust that those guys are going to do their job. Each week you just gain more confidence and more confidence as you play. Throughout the course of the game, that happens also. You start out with great field position, our special teams did a great job of setting us up with great field position all game, so when you're able to start with great field position, then you know that there are easy completions out there. It just allows you to have more confidence as the game goes on.

Q: How do you put into context your first start and setting the bar high to where you currently are and the process it has taken to get to where you are now?

A: It was pretty cool. Like you said, I set the bar pretty high, but at the same time, there are no limits to what we're capable of doing around here, we just have to continue to work and get to that performance that we had in the Atlanta game. It wasn't just me, our running game did a great job that day, the wide receivers did a great job. Like I said, each week we are trying to make progress and continue to move forward. We have four games left this year, we're going to make the best of them.

Q: Have you paid attention to what any of the other rookie quarterbacks are doing when you get some down time?

A: I haven't been paying much attention to them. This season has been a real grind, mentally and physically. As much time as I can spend, whether it's in the training room or watching some extra film, I've been doing that. I'm happy to see that Johnny (Manziel) played on Sunday. I've been hearing about Blake (Bortels) and Derek (Carr), it's a pretty talented class, it's one that I'm glad to be a part of.

Q: Some people talk about the rookie wall, where are you at?

A: This year has been fun for me. It's been a grind, like I said, mentally and physically. We have a group of veterans here who have been mentoring me and telling me the little secrets to withstand and maintain your body, your health throughout the entire course of a season, whether it's spending as much time as I can in the training room or the hot tub or the cold tub, just taking care of my body. We have a group of guys who set a good example for us young guys, so I've been able to remain healthy for the majority of the season, besides the ankle injury. For the most part, I've been able to just play, been having fun on this journey.

Q: What has been more of a grind, the physical or mental part of an NFL season?

A: I would say the physical. If you think about it, in college, the college regular season just ended this past weekend, then you have the conference championship game. For me, my college season would be over right now, so to have to play four more games, you have to be mentally and physically strong. Like I said, our group of veterans have set the bar and set a good example for us young guys and have been telling us what to expect.

Q: Would you talk about Charles Johnson and the traits that he possesses from his non-traditional path to the NFL?

A: Charles (Johnson) is a special guy. We have a group of guys here, not only Charles, but you talk about Adam Thielen, a guy who has taken a different journey, also, from some of us here. But those guys have been working hard, and they're competitors. They have a chip on their shoulders because they were overlooked. Those guys have been playing great football for us, everything that we've asked those guys to do, they've been doing it. They've just exceeded expectations, so we're going to continue to just find different ways to get those guys involved, whether it's in the kicking game like Adam this Sunday when he blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown, or with Charles, as you can see in the Green Bay game, he was able to be physical and come up with some big catches for us. Those guys have been working hard and the coaches have taken notice of it and so have the teammates.

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