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Zimmer, Bridgewater Address The Media on Wednesday

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Alright we're excited to get back and play at home again, get in front of our home fans. We're expecting them to get out and get behind us and lead us on. The Redskins are a very good football team. We got a chance to watch them Monday night against the Cowboys and they played really well on all three phases. We're going to have to be on our toes to have a really good game here.

Q: How difficult is that blitz package that the Redskins bring?

A: Well they do a great job, Jim Haslett has always done a good job with his blitz package. He's got a lot of overload, a lot of trap blitzes and so we'll have to do a good job with our protections.

Q: Do you see more of that with Teddy Bridgewater than you might have with Matt Cassel earlier in the season?

A: In different situations yes and no. I think most teams will continually do what they do. Not every team has done that, no.

Q: Did they give you enough of a sample size of Colt McCoy?

A: He's played some earlier and he was in Cleveland for a couple of years when I was in Cincinnati. I've always respected Colt a lot. He's got good movement in the pocket, throws a nice ball. I think he's a good quarterback  

Q: What does Jay Gruden bring to their offense? And what does your familiarity with him help?

A: Well I coached with him for two years so I'm pretty familiar but he's pretty familiar with me as well. He's done a great job when he was in Cincinnati with me, he did a great job with the young quarterbacks, he did a great job with the offense and the skill guys, especially. He's very innovative, changes a lot from week to week from what they do, tries to use the players to the best of their abilities. What was the rest of your question?  

Q: Just how does your familiarity with his offense help defend it?

A: I don't know. He's pretty familiar with me too.

Q: Did you guys talk at all when both of you were going through the process of vying for head coaching jobs?

A: He was on one side of the hallway and I was on the other so we talked a little bit but we just kind of did our things.  

Q: Is it better to know the guy or more concerning that he knows you? How do you account for changing things because you might overthink it and change too much?

A: Yeah, what you don't want to do is mess up your players. That's the most important thing is your players, you're coaching the players to do what they know how to do and you always change a little bit from week to week it just depends on how much the players can handle and somebody asked me this the other day, I honestly don't like going against my friends just because at the end of the day one of us is going to be upset. It is what it is and so I'm sure he'll have his team ready to play and hopefully I'll have mine ready to play.  

Q: Did you feel like you guys were competing for the same jobs?

A: No, not really. I mean Jay is a good football coach. Certain places look for certain things – offensive coaches, defensive coaches, this personality, that personality. It really wasn't about that. I'm sure he tried to do the very best job he could and I tried to do the very best job I could.  

Q: Did you ever talk about the Minnesota job?

A: In passing we talked about all of the different scenarios but I mean it wasn't anything real serious, just joking around about this or that.  

Q: What have you seen from Teddy and those two-minute situations, end of the half situations?

A: Really the same things that we've seen all along from him and even in training camp, the two-minute drills, and taking the team down to score. He's always been very good in those things but he's composed, nothing rattles him and that's part of why he's good in the two-minute drill, I believe.

Q: Do you think that in the no-huddle he seems to be thinking a little less?

A: I don't know if thinking a little less is the right thing but maybe because he has more time to dissect what's going on, maybe, I don't know. You'd have to ask him that.

Q: How would you say he did moving around the pocket and going through his progressions?

A: I thought he did well. He came off of several throws and went to other places so I thought he did well.

*Q: The pass defense numbers are higher than they've been in a while but there are also some breakdowns as well. Do you feel like you guys are playing well in that area? *

A: I don't really look at it that way honestly. I mean I expect us to play better pass defense than what we've been playing but that's always been my expectation. As far as the breakdowns in the fourth quarter, I know that everybody is making a big deal about that, but I don't understand the difference between if they went down and scored in the second quarter or the fourth quarter. I look at the body of work throughout the day and these offenses all have good players, too. We're trying just as hard to stop them in the fourth quarter as we are in the second quarter. I would be a lot more concerned if they're going up and down the field on us all the time and then also in the fourth quarter. I just kind of look at it series-by-series and how we're doing.

Q: Did you envision Anthony Barr making this kind of impact this quickly?

A: I hoped that Anthony would have this kind of impact. With young guys you never know, transition guys you never know. But he's obviously had an impact and hopefully he'll continue to have an impact. It's just eight games. 

Q: Does it make it easier for you to gameplan with a guy like Anthony Barr on your defense?

A: Well there's a lot of things that Anthony can do so defensively it gives us an opportunity to try to move him around to different places, try to use him to the best of his ability. There's always a fine line in doing those things about what can other guys do around him. You don't want to take one guy and change the whole thing for one guy and 10 others don't know what to do. We're always very mindful of what he can do and what everybody can do and try and fit it all in. 

Q: Will you prepare much as if you'll face Robert Griffin III?

A: Yes, we'll prepare for both quarterbacks.

Q: Can you compare Teddy Bridgewater to Robert Griffin III?

A: I don't know, I don't really want to compare them. I know Robert throws a great deep ball, he's good in the pocket, he obviously can run, but I don't want to compare those two guys.

Q: Is it different to prepare for two different guys when their styles seem to contrast?

A: Well the offense will be the same, it's just certain plays you'll have to prepare for. Colt McCoy, he's a movement guy too, maybe not to the extent of Robert, but he's a movement guy. Every time I've played him he's tried to run some. They're not going to change their entire offense, I don't believe, if the other quarterback plays. They've got a staple of plays that they like to run just like everybody does. They'll add a few more based on kind of what I was talking about with Barr, what they feel like the other quarterback can do a little bit better. It's just normal football.

Q: What's the key to you being able to dissect those blitzes and stay consistent with it?

A: Well they give you a lot of different looks and so we have to make sure that we're all on the same page really as far as what we're doing. Teddy is seeing a lot of blitzes now from us. Every day in practice he sees blitzes, quite a few. Through training camp we gave every possible thing there was and he handles them well. We'll just prepare like we always will.

Q: What have you thought of the run defense so far?

A: I feel like it's gotten better the last few weeks. I don't know. We did better last week. This running back is a very strong, downhill, one-cut runner that makes a lot of yards after contact. We'll have to make sure that we do a good job of eliminating the yards after contact with him. Their offensive line is very good, their left tackle is excellent and they do a great job of getting on people. They are a flat-zone scheme, very similar to how Green Bay was against us and so it'll be a good test for us. They run a lot of nakeds and boots off of them because they are so flat.

Q: Jerick seems to have a sharp ability to cut. Does a guy like that have more freedom to pick a hole? Or how do you judge different talents with running backs when they have that ability?

A: Well part of his is the vision that the running backs have. I think he has great vision, he sees a lot of things, trying to set up blocks, help and then he's got really quick feet and acceleration but as I've said before, one of the big things with him with me is his physicality when he's running the ball. I thought he was physical against Tampa Bay, I thought he was physical the week before, whoever that was, Buffalo. All of those are factors – how they catch the ball, how they protect – all of these things are factors on judging running backs.

Q: It looked like he confused the defender on a run on going inside instead of outside?

A: And that's all part of it, being able to accelerate through the holes. Number one seeing them and then accelerate through them and then sometimes when the holes aren't there you've got to get your pads down and forward and then you've got to run through somebody.

Q: How is that because of his size? He's strong, but not that big.

A: Yeah, he's not that big but he's powerful in his lower body. There have been a lot of good running backs in the NFL that are powerful, lower-body guys that have vision and the change of direction that he has. We've been very impressed with what he's done.

Q: Will Cordarrelle practice this week?

A: He'll practice.

Q: How important is winning before the bye week?

A: Winning is important for every week. I just think that the more that we can pile these together, the better it is and this is a great opportunity for us to play at home in front of our fans. We need to focus on what we've got to get focused on this week and just like when we've been beaten we've got to focus on what we need to do to win and this week and after a win we need to focus on what we need to do again this week. Everything is all about this week and where we're going. We're not going to worry about the bye week or anything else after that.

Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

An exciting win down in Florida on Sunday, the defense played great. We were able to come away with the win, very exciting. The fan support was amazing. Hopefully this week it doesn't have to be that exciting. Hopefully, we can get it done in the four quarters of regulation. We know that we still have room for improvement so we are going to get back out there this week and try to make those improvements.

Q: Did you end watching the Cowboys-Redskins game on TV?

A: I was able to watch the game. It showed that those guys are a pretty dynamic defense. They're No. 11 in the league right now, seventh in pass defense. They have 21 sacks. We know that it's going to be a challenge. We don't face many 3-4 teams, but I'm pretty sure that our guys have some experience facing those teams with those different fronts. It's going to be a challenge for us.

Q: How does Washington bring as much pressure as they do with their blitz packages?

A: It's very exotic. You never know what you're going to get. You just have to continue to know their tendencies and study the film. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge in facing a 3-4 defense when you don't see that scheme much?

A: Just the different fronts. They're able to do different things to cause havoc in your pass protection schemes, but I'm pretty sure we're going to put together a scheme that's going to allow us to play fast and think less.

Q: Are you able to step back and evaluate your progress from where you are now to where you were even two weeks ago?

A: I'm able to. Every Monday we come in, we watch the film and I get a grade sheet on my performance. I always go back home later that Monday and just compare and contrast the previous week to the prior game or the previous game. I'm able to just look back and see some of the development that I'm making, some of the progress. I also know that there's still room for improvement. I have a long way to go and it's a long season. 

Q: Is progress evident on those grade sheets?

A: Yes, especially the past three weeks. We talk about being sacked eight times, five times and one time. Our offense line is doing a great job and I think that I've been struggling holding on to the football a lot and causing those guys to have to block for extra seconds. The coaches have been on me to just get rid of the ball and play faster. The past three weeks, each week we've made those improvements.

Q: Are those grades coming in higher or lower than you were expecting?

A: Much lower than what I expected. I know that I'm a tough critic on myself. I know that I can play better. The coaches believe that I can play better. This team we have here, we have a group of guys that are going to continue to compete hard and play hard for one another.

Q: How much have you followed Robert Griffin III and how hard has it been to see his injuries?

A: I've been able to follow Robert's career a lot. He's had some ups and down in his career. I'm pretty sure that he's going to come back strong. He's a great player, he's a great leader. He's a fun guy to watch.

Q: Are you a different player than him in terms of scrambling and looking for the pass where he might look to run more often?

A: Our skillsets are very different. Robert, he's way faster than I am, I can tell you that. He's a guy who can turn a 5-yard run into an 80-yard touchdown. He's one of those guys who has that capability to make the big plays with his legs.

Q: Is it easier to get the ball out of your hands in those hurry up situations?

A: I think so. I'm able to just think less, just go out there and play pitch and catch. I have to continue to remind myself to stop thinking so much. Our coaches are calling great plays allowing me to think less, but still, me being a young guy and trying to be perfect, I find myself thinking too much. I have to continue to trust my teammates, trust everything that I'm being taught and allow those guys to make plays. 

Q: Are you pretty comfortable in the 2-minute offense?

A: I would say so. This team here, we practice those situations, 2-minute situations, every week. Every Friday we go out and we practice the 2-minute drill and we've been having success in practice in getting the communication called across the line and the guys have just been playing fast. It showed on Sunday, we were able to put together two, 2-minute drives at the end of the half and at the end of the game when we needed points. We've been doing a great job of just hitting those areas.

Q: Does movement in the pocket while still looking to throw the ball come natural to you?

A: I think it just comes natural. It's one of those deals where something isn't there, trust your legs, trust your mobility, trust your talents and try to take over.

Q: Has it always been that way for you or is it something you did in college?

A: It's just been that way. It's one of those deals where if something isn't open down the field, the play isn't over. I try to find my check down, if my check down isn't there, I know that I have the ability to keep the play alive by running, something that I'm comfortable doing.

Q: Do the 2-minute drills help you relax and not think as much?

A: I would think so because sometimes in the 2-minute drills defenses aren't able to get many calls in to do the exotic things that they're able to do with their blitzes and changing their fronts. It's one of those deals, you know what you're going to get from the defense and you can just go out there and play fast. 

Q: You said you're a different kind of player than Robert Griffin III, with his injuries does it make you realize how tough it is to play in the NFL?

A: Yeah, it's very tough on this level. Unfortunately, Robert has been battling some injuries, you never wish that on a player. I will continue to just pray for his health and for his recovery. You never want to see a guy get injured, especially a guy like Robert Griffin, a guy who's able to do great things for a team.

Q: What type of things can you exploit against Washington's defense?

A: We're just going to have to put together a plan. I can get the ball out of my hands quickly. Like I said, it's all about allowing our playmakers to make plays, winning those one-on-one matchups and allowing those guys to do that.

Q: Do you plan on taking more shots downfield?

A: Throughout the course of the game those big shots are going to present themselves, but we're not going to press it or anything and try to force it. We're going to continue to allow the game to come to us, especially me. I'm not going to be out there trying to win the game in one play. We have a great group of guys out here on this team, guys who are able to just get the job done each and every play.

Q: What can you do to help improve your accuracy on deep passes?

A: I just have to give my guys a chance. Those guys are doing a great job of running, winning those one-on-one matchups. I have to continue to just work on my ball placement, just giving those guys a chance to go up and make a play because if you think about it, on the deep ball either a wide receiver is going to catch it or a defender is going to get called with pass interference a majority of the time. I just have to continue to trust those guys, it's going to come. Each and every week, like I said, we've been able to make those improvements.

Q: Is there something mechanically you can work on to help improve the deep passes?

A: Like I said, it's just the ball placement, giving it a nice, arching pace, putting it up so my guys can just go up there and have a chance to compete.

Q: Louisville and Florida State play tomorrow, how much talk has there been in the quarterback room and are you going to watch the game together?

A: Yeah, there is a ton of trash talking going on right now. We're actually going to watch the game together, all of the quarterbacks we're going to get together at Matt (Cassel's) place and watch the game.

Q: Is Louisville going to win?

A: I can't see into the future, but I'm hoping that they pull it off. It will be a huge upset in school history.

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