Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Alright, Teddy said it all, I don't have anything else to say. No, really we're getting ready to play a really good football team this week. The Lions are very talented on both sides of the ball. We didn't play near as well as I had hoped the first time we played them. It'll be a great test, good division game on the road. We're going to have to play good in order to have an opportunity to win this football game.
Q: Teddy Bridgewater mentioned you read the team some stats from the first game against the Lions. Was that painful to read those things?
A: If we do it again it'll be painful. I just tell them things we need to do to win, that's all.
*Q: Can you talk about the eight sacks that occurred in that game? *
A: Well it wasn't just the eight sacks, we had 3 turnovers as well, we fumbled the ball, we had nine penalties and they had four. Obviously we have to not do those things. I know you want me to tell you what we're going to do but I'm not going to.
Q: What do you see in Teddy Bridgewater's demeanor that will allow him to take on more of a leadership role?
A: There are so many different types of leaders. I would consider myself a leader but I'm way different than a lot of other head coaches are that are leaders. I just want him to be himself but I think he understands how he continues to play, how he continues to develop, how he continues to go, people will matriculate to him and kind of follow him, that kind of leader. It doesn't necessarily have to be a rah-rah guy or grab somebody by the throat kind of guy, it's just that way.
Q: Do you see him being looser around teammates and being more comfortable interacting with them as the year has gone on?
A: I do. I see a lot of things like that as we get going - the joking around, the communication, really everything. It's a natural process that I'm sure he's gone through.
*Q: Who does he gravitate to on the team? *
A: Well, you know, the quarterbacks quite a bit and the receivers. I read the quote that Teddy said about, "Well this is Vlad [Ducasse's] team as well." That's the kind of guy he is. He wants to deflect recognition to everybody on the football team and he wants it to be part of, kind of the same way that I've been talking about for a long, long time about team, not so much I or me. So he gravitates to everybody really and vice versa.
Q: How do you prepare for the reality of Calvin Johnson on Sunday?
A: Well it's a big test. He's a great, great receiver. He made a great play against me a year ago, two great plays actually, but went up over three guys and caught a big pass. We're going to have to make sure that we're paying attention to him but Golden Tate, if he's not leading the league in receiving he's up there, and he's a good player. [Reggie] Bush, [Joique] Bell is a heck of a running back and [Matthew} Stafford, he does a lot of good things. He can get the ball delivered in a lot of different ways moving in the pocket. We're going to have our hands full. We'll have to play really good in order to take care of them.
Q: How much has Teddy grown since that last Lions game?
A: I don't know that, was what Week 6. I kind of see him growing each week so it's hard for me to say he's come this far in this long. I think he's taken a lot of big steps in the last three or four weeks maybe, four weeks, just things that he's doing. He's growing, he continually grows.
*Q: Have you seen Jarius Wright grow or is it just a matter of him getting more opportunities? *
A: Well he's getting more opportunities and he's taking advantage of them but he also is doing things correctly, working hard. He's another kid that's always got a smile on his face, always relishes the moment that he has, the opportunity to be here in the NFL, and to be with the Vikings. I remember when I first got here and they were out running routes and he was talking about, "I'll do anything to make the team," and now he's become a big part of a lot of things that we're doing, but he's taking advantages of these opportunities and he's worked really hard to do it. He's been catching the ball good, running good routes, blocking. Receivers got to block and they're doing a good job that way.
*Q: What would it mean for you to get your first divisional win as a head coach? *
A: You know I kind of equate it to this and the fact that in order for us to get to where we have to get to we have to beat teams in our division. We have to get to their level at some point in time and so that's really what it means to me is that we're starting to move in the right direction of where we have to go. It's not so much about me or anything else; it's about where we are and where we have to go to. We've got another one a couple of weeks later.
Q: What do Joe Banyard and Ben Tate III have to do in order to get in the mix like you want them to?
A: Well, Joe just needs to make sure that he stays up on the protection parts of things. Ben, when he gets the opportunity, keep showing what he can do as far as that. One of the things we've done great, or I think we've done great at least recently, is we've had great ball security and so we've got to make sure that we're securing the football and not turning the ball over like we did last week, or last time we played these guys. We've been pretty solid in that area for quite a while now and that's been big, making sure they're doing that.
Q: What made you put Michael Mauti on injured reserve?
A: He had a [knee] scope.
*Q: What are your concerns with the Lions defensive line given some of the injuries you've had on the offensive line? *
A: Yeah, it's a concern. They're pretty darn good. They've got four rushers that are all good, physical, fast. It's not going to be an easy test.
Q: Is there anything that stands out about their secondary?
A: They're playing more different coverages than what I've seen them play in the past. They're much more aggressive in the way that they're playing the coverages as far as covering receivers and it's not so much soft zones, they're on guys pretty close. That combined with the pass rush makes it difficult.
Q: Were any of Michael Mauti's previous knee injuries related to this?
A: No. It's kind of like my kidney stones – it's minor to someone else. It was more of, I think, a clean out kind of thing.
Q: Do you look at all at the playoff picture and who is in the hunt or is it all about Detroit?
A: I honestly don't know the records of a lot of teams. It's more about just Detroit. I know that people have told me if we win these and these people lose and this, this and that. I don't want to get sentimental here but we've come from a long, long way this year from all of the things that have happened, all of the things that we've overcame from even before the St. Louis game to the opportunities that we have now for the last three weeks, I think that's a pretty good testament to our football team and how they work and how they do the things that we ask them to and really the coaches too. The coaches have done really a great job and trying to figure out what we can do, how we can win, how we can get to an opportunity that we have.
Q: Do you expect to have Charlie Johnson back this week?
A: I don't know.
Q: How do you think Vlad Ducasse performed on Sunday?
A: Did alright, yeah, he did alright. The Jets guys knew him a little bit better so he had a couple where he didn't do as good but he did pretty good. It's nice to have a veteran guy to be able to go in there that has started a couple of games and now that we've got both of the guards out.
Q: How do you think Andrew Sendejo played when replacing Robert Blanton? Is there a chance for him to maybe play even if Blanton comes back?
A: You know I think he did well and there's always a chance. If guys play good, they have more of an opportunity. Nothing is set in stone.
Q: Can you talk about the play of Xavier Rhodes over the past couple of weeks?
A: Xav keeps doing a lot of good things. Probably the thing that I like about it the most right now is the way he competes, he's competing. I think he's starting to develop the mindset that don't let you guy catch the ball and to me that's important. I know everybody wants to get interceptions but it's very important if your guy never catches the ball too and he's been doing that quite a bit. He's learning so much more about being a professional cornerback this year than he ever has. He was, in a lot of ways he's still a rookie in my mind. I know he's a second-year guy but his progression and the progress that he's made has been really, really good.
Q: What needs to happen for Cordarrelle Patterson to become more involved?
A: Same thing – consistency. It's being in the right place, doing the right things, running the right routes, blocking the right people, lining up in the right place, that's it. Again, I want this guy to be a great player. I really do. I want him to be a great player. I don't know when it'll happen and I'm hoping like crazy it does because I want him to be a great player.* *
Q: Will Anthony Barr be available?
A: I don't know. He's feeling better so we'll just see as the week goes on.
Q: How do defensive backs prepare mentally to go up against a guy like Calvin Johnson?
A: Well if you don't have a lot of compete in you then you're going to get embarrassed with this guy because this guy can go and get the football. He can run great routes, he can manhandle you because of his size. You've got to have a little bit of toughness to go in there and compete. He's going to catch some balls. It's the same thing with Teddy, I know everybody is kind of on the Teddy bandwagon but he is a rookie and he's going to have some ups and downs as we get going here but we hope more ups than downs. This guy is going to catch some balls on our guys and the most important thing is the next ball, the next ball that comes, not so much the one he just caught, it's how are we going to keep him from getting the next one.
Q: Why is he successful coming across the field when some guys don't like going in that area?
A: Well, number one, he's physical and he's going to fight to get his way to get into the middle, he doesn't really care if he gets hit I don't believe. They run some routes where he's running a glance, an inside skinny post, they run a lot of double moves where he's starting to the outside and back to the middle and Stafford chucks it deep and sometimes they'll line him up in the slot and they'll throw him the ball there. Really Stafford does a really nice job of if the defender is on top of him, Calvin will come back like a back-shoulder fade to the middle of the field. They have a good rapport in those things. I think the biggest thing with that is the physicality and his toughness.
Q: Do you have an update on Charlie Johnson?
A: I don't. We'll see how it goes this week.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Looking forward to playing against Detroit again for the second time this year, we know how tough it is going to be to win on the road, in that dome. We know that they have a lot to play for, so do we. We know it's going to be a challenge, very stout defense. We're just going to look forward to this challenge.
Q: What do you remember from the last time you played them and what do you have to do to avoid being sacked eight times?
A: That's the one thing that stands out. Coach Zimmer read some stats to us this morning, I think we probably only converted three or two 3rd-down conversions, we had three turnovers and we got sacked eight times. We just have to correct those mistakes that we made from the first time we played them. That's what stands out. They're a very stout defense. Their front-seven, those guys do a great job of applying pressure and getting to the quarterback. We know that it's not going to be easy, but we're up for this challenge.
Q: That was only your second start, how different do you feel now than you did at that point?
A: I feel very confident. Each week this offense has been playing better, each week we've been gaining more and more confidence playing with each other. We're feeling confident heading into this ballgame and we're going continue to just try to get better.
Q: What was the problem handling Detroit in the first game?
A: They just out-played us. We didn't do enough to win that game. Like I said, we turned the ball over three times, you get sacked eight times and you don't convert 3rd downs, your chances to win the game are very slim. Those are the things that stood out, and that was the challenge that week. We're going to continue to work hard in those areas and try to get better.
Q: What did you start to do differently after being sacked eight times that week?
A: I had a talk with Coach Norv Turner and he just told me, "Hey, it's not about you getting the ball out quicker, its more about you making quicker decisions." So, after that game I just told myself that I want to continue to just make quicker decisions, because once you make those fast decisions, the ball is going to come out faster. We've been battling some injuries up front, but for the most part, we've asked Joe (Berger), Vlad (Ducasse) and Mike (Harris) to do some great things for us and those guys have been playing great football for us this far. On my part, I just have to continue to just make quicker decisions.
Q: Sunday you will tie Fran Tarkenton's record for starts by a rookie quarterback, what does that mean to you?
A: It means a lot, but I'm more into just trying to get better each week. As I look back throughout the course of the season from that first start, yeah, I was able to set the bar pretty high for myself. I've been able to just make improvements and this team has made improvements. I'm glad to be able start for this franchise and continue to play each week with these guys in that locker room.
Q: Have things slowed down for you now?
A: Things are beginning to slow down, but it's also due to the fact that I'm just playing football now and not thinking too much. As I stated earlier in the year, as a young guy, I tend to overthink things and wanted to be perfect, always wanted to be in the right position at the right time. I just have to remind myself, and the coaching staff did a great job of reminding me, that you just have to go out there and play football. You get for a feel as the game goes on and each week, I've been able to just get a chance to make improvements and so has this offense.
Q: Is there an art to drawing a defense off with a hard count?
A: You just have to be very aggressive. You have to change up your snap counts. In that situation, we just wanted to try to take a shot down the field. We knew that if we could get them to jump offside, that we had a free play. There's no art to it or anything, we rep it, when that situation came up, we used it.
Q: Is there anything that stands out to you about the Lions secondary?
A: They're a very smart group of guys. Those guys do a great job of understanding route concepts, reading route concepts and knowing tendencies. We have to do a great job of changing up our looks. Those guys will sit on routes and everything. We just have to continue to do a great job of just playing pitch-and-catch.
Q: What do you remember about the interception in the red zone you threw against them in the last game?
A: That game is in the past. You never want to turn the ball over in the red zone, though. The guy, (Glover) Quin, he made a great play, he did a great job of reading my eyes. It's been a couple of weeks now since we've played those guys, we just want to try to get better and disguise things and do different things.
Q: This is the first time you will face the same team twice in a season, does that give you an opportunity to measure your progress?
A: It gives us a chance to see what they're doing differently from the first time we played them. It gives us a chance to have a feel for what to expect since this is our second time playing those guys. We've been studying film very hard, trying to find out the little tendencies about these guys, it's going to be great playing these guys for the second time in that dome.
Q: On the flip-side, this is their second time playing you. How different are you now from where you were in the first game?
A: I say I'm very different. I say this offense is very different and this team is very different. We have a group of guys who continue to just play for one another each week. We show that whenever our backs are against the wall, we're going to answer. I love playing with this group of guys each Sunday and it's going to be another fun game this Sunday.
Q: Do you feel like each week you have to accept more responsiblity?
A: It comes with the territory. Playing this position, it's like you're assigned leadership and everything. For me, the guys have just continued to just not add any more pressure to me. They continue to tell me, "stay within your character." Guys continue to just gravitate towards me and my personality. That comes from the leadership from above. You talk about Greg Jennings, Chad Greenway, Brian Robison, Linval Joseph, those guys set a great example for a young guy like myself. I'm just glad to have them as teammates.
Q: What goes into being successful with screen passes?
A: The guys just do a great job. The offensive line did a great job of getting out front and setting up a running lane for the receivers. It's an easy throw for me. The wide outs and the offensive line do all of the work.
Q: How much more comfortable do you feel stepping up into that leadership role?
A: I feel very comfortable. Whether it was Pop Warner football, high school football or college football, I always wanted to be the leader. Right now, I just feel that I just have to continue to just do the right things, not try to do too much. Things are just going to fall in place.
Q: Is it difficult getting teammates to trust you in your first year?
A: I don't think so. I think for me being a young guy, I just have to continue to show that I know my job, I know my assignment, I know what the team is asking me to do and not try to do too much, not try to be something that I'm not.
Q: Would you talk about the job that Joe Berger has done since stepping in as a starter?
A: Joe (Berger), he's been doing a great job this year. We've asked him to do some crazy things for this team and he's been answering the challenge from the coaching staff and also from this team. Whether it's Joe, Mike (Harris), or Vlad (Ducasse), those guys are doing a great job of filling in for the guys that we lost.
Q: What does being a leader by example type of guy look like for you?
A: I just continue to, like you said, lead by example. I'm glad that the guys are gaining confidence in me. I've always wanted, like I said, to be in the position that I'm in now. For me, it's a blessing, but at the same time, I just have to continue to do the right things.
Q: How you ever been more of a vocal type of leader?
A: I can be. I've had some moments at the University of Louisville. Like I said, I just lead within my character, but if I have to get on a guy, I won't hesitate.
Q: Are you more confident in what you're seeing out of defenses now?
A: Yeah, I'm gaining more and more confidence. The coaching staff is doing a great job of coaching me up. Scott Turner, he's a great coach and he does a great job of coaching all of the quarterbacks in the room and preparing us throughout the course of the week to what to expect on Sunday.
Q: Does being able to make those pre-snap reads give you an advantage over the defense?
A: Yeah, like you said, the more looks I get to see, it allows me to make quicker decisions. Like you said, with the pre-snap reads and everything, if I see a look, I may determine where I'm going with the football before it's even snapped. The more and more reps I get, the more and more games I play in, the more and more comfortable I will get.