Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We had a good day of practice today, we got a chance to get outside. I thought it was good that we went out there and got on the grass; it's good for our legs and kind of get refreshed and start moving on to Chicago.
Q: What has to be the outlook to be successful this week after the last two weeks?
A: Yeah, well we've got to play a lot better defensively. We've got to play a lot better than we did the last time we played them – we didn't play very good offensively the first time we played them. We've got to do a good job of protecting the quarterback. They've got some good rushers up front. Defensively, we've got to do a, obviously, a lot better job in coverage than we did, but [Matt] Forte, he's a heck of a back and we've got to do a great job with him. They've blocked three field goals and we've had two blocked this year. All of those areas are important.
Q: Are you disappointed that you didn't have any Pro Bowlers announced yesterday? If so, who do you think should have made it?
A: I honestly do not worry about that kind of stuff. Throughout my career there have been several guys who I thought should have made it that didn't. It's just the way it is. Usually when your team is successful you get a lot more Pro Bowlers.
Q: Teddy Bridgewater appeared to show a lot of the attributes you like on the 24-yard pass to Greg Jennings. What kind of qualities about Teddy stood out on that throw?
A: Well, he put it in a spot that only the receiver could get it was first, he came off the other side of the coverage to come back over there to Greg. His timing on it was really fantastic. All of those things are really, and that was a great throw, but the third-and-14 or third-and-13 that he threw to Jennings also, he had to avoid the rush, step up and actually was kind of throwing off his back foot on the one, and that was a great throw as well.
Q: That one he threw off to his left?
A: Yeah, that was a great throw. The other one you're talking about was to his right. I keep seeing all of those things – the way he moves in the pocket, steps up, and guys coming and he ends up not really stepping into the throw but putting it in there. Norv [Tuner] talks a lot about throwing hard with an arc and on both of those two balls he did. I know everyone talks about arm strength and all of that stuff but it's about putting the ball on the money and that's what he's done the last few weeks.
Q: How hard do you think it would be to bench a guy and then come back to him and say, "We need you to win this last game."
A: I don't know honestly. There are probably a lot of guys on the team from what I understand - and I probably shouldn't even be commenting on these things – that wanted Cutler anyway. I do believe most professional athletes, they understand they have a job to do and they try to go out and do it. I don't know. I don't know that I've been in that situation to comment on it.
Q: What have you seen from Teddy in the pocket and how's stayed strong even against pressure?
A: The touchdown that he threw to Jarius [Wright], I mean he had people all over him and shot it in there. I think he's got a great feel in the pocket. He looks downfield but he's got that peripheral vision where he sees the guy on the right coming up the field and so he steps up and maybe moves a little bit to his right to buy himself a little bit more time. You see that and you see, there was a scramble early in the ballgame that he came out to his right and scrambled and hit I don't know the running back or receiver, somebody coming across the middle, things like that. You don't see those things as much in practice because we're staying away from him so you tend to see those a lot more during the game. A guy that can do those things in the pocket, it adds to the offensive linemen, it adds to the chance to get the ball down the field more and the second thing he's got – and he does it every day in practice, every day in the walk through – he goes through his progressions, he throws the ball and then you'll see him, okay I've got a check down here and I've got a spot route over here or whatever – and that's the other thing he's doing well too is when things breakdown down the field, he's not afraid to find the check down and get it to a back that has a chance to make it a three- or four- or five-yard gain.
Q: Is there any time where you've seen him get nervous or animated or any of those emotions?
A: No, he's like the anti-me. No, he's very calm all the time. He's very even-tempered. I'm trying to think if I've ever seen him upset that you can visually see and I have not seen it.
Q: Did you see anything on film that showed that the heat affected you guys?
A: I don't know that it was the heat to be honest with you. We didn't play very good but we didn't play very good early. I'd like to say it was the heat and we ran out of gas and I think there were times during the game that we looked fatigued some but it was at stages in the game where it didn't show up. I think we were frustrated wondering what the heck was going on more so than the conditions were to me, that's what I think. Because there were a couple of guys first and second play of the game that weren't playing like they normally play so I don't know if it was, and sometimes that happens, it's the way we practice, but we've been practicing good so I've thrown that out. I've tried to figure it out. Sometimes they work extra in pregame because of the heat or something like that. I don't know. It's surprising to me that early in the ballgame that we did not play with the same energy that we normally do and then I think we got flustered and frustrated the more it went on and that was me included.
Q: What's about the importance of this game and momentum heading into next season?
A: We're approaching this game like it was the first game of the year, it's no different to us other than it is a division opponent. It's nice to talk about going into the next season with momentum and all of that, but honestly with free agency now and the way teams change from one week to another, every team you play could be completely different and our team could be completely different, who knows, but I do know that I think it's important for this football team that we go out and we play good, we play smart, we win because I appreciate all of the effort and focus and everything that this team has done since I've walked in here. It's good. To me it's more about reaping the benefits of the things that we've tried to do throughout the course of the year. Sure I'd like to win a division game, sure I'd like to win this, but to me it's more about the people in the locker room and how they've tried to do the things I've asked them to do.
Q: It seemed like Everson Griffen and Brian Robison would take an angle on the quarterback and then stop. Was that to protect against the screen?
A: Well they did throw a lot of screens. Some of it was that they were getting the ball out so quick and they had to come out. There were a couple of times that we got to the edge and then the quarterback kind of bailed outside of us. If we took one more step or we had our inside hand up where we could have pressed the tackle a little bit more we could have came off of those things. The way we were rushing didn't allow us to do some of that.
Q: Where is your level of concern with the linebacker depth heading into this week?
A: We're thin there, that's for sure.
Q: What's your challenge for the defense this Sunday?
A: Really it's to do all of the things that we didn't do last week. We didn't play smart in the critical areas, we weren't good in third downs, we didn't handle the screens, we didn't rush good. There are so many things that we need to get better at. We didn't contest any balls really. There were so many things. Q: If Teddy is the anti-you, is that a good mix?
A: Maybe we'll both move to a little closer, maybe I'll settle down and he'll get going, I don't know. I just want Teddy to be him and I'm always going to be me. That's one thing that the players, whether they like it or not, they know I'm going to be me. They know that Teddy is going to be Teddy – good, bad or indifferent.
Q: What was the thinking on letting Ben Tate III go?
A: He didn't play last week and we just figured we saw what we needed to see and we're ready to go.* *
Q: What about Henry Josey?
A: Well we liked him coming out of college and we felt like he was one of the better running backs on the practice squad that we could come in and take a look at and see his skill level and kind of go from there.
Q: We had Brian Robison up here.
A: Yeah, and congratulations to him by the way – he's a good guy.
Q: What has he meant to you in this first season and changing the defense and maybe even changing the whole philosophy of the team?
A: Brian, and I had never met Brian before I got here or anything like that, but I think that he helped to kind of preach the message to, especially to the defensive players, of what we're trying to get done. I asked him to change his game and a lot of things of what he did for the betterment of the defense. He is a guy that I can go and talk to and ask him different questions about what his opinion is, what he thinks about and I think those kind of guys are important when you first come into a place. He's been solid. For instance, I talked to him about a couple of things that he needs to do that he wasn't doing, he said, "I've got it, I'm going to fix it this week." That's the kind of guy he is that he's going to do whatever he can do to help in any way.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
The last game coming up here, getting ready to play the Chicago Bears for the second time this year, a lot of people say we're playing for pride, but the truth is, every week we're playing for pride. Right now, we know we still can get a win in this division. Also, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Hope everyone is feeling the holiday spirit, glad everyone can get to spend some times with their families, like I said, Happy Holidays.
*Q: How important is it to get a divisional win? *
A: It's very important, especially, it's just important to win that last game. You don't want to head into the offseason with a loss. You want to head into the offseason with some momentum; we know how important it is.
Q: Greg Jennings spoke about the 24-yard pass you completed to him and that he had been waiting for a play like that from you what did he say?
A: It was one of those deals where he came right to sideline and he told me, "Man, that's it." Just hearing those words from Greg, talk about a guy, like I always say, a guy that's played with Aaron Rodgers, a guy who's played with Brett Favre, a guy who has a championship under his belt. For him to just say something like that, gives you motivation. It just makes you want to work even harder.
Q: What are some positive traits that came out of that play that really showed that you can make that type of throw?
A: It's one of those deals where my feet weren't set, I moved up in the pocket, tried to buy a little time. Our offensive line did a great job on that play. I believe I maybe had over five seconds to throw the ball. I was able to just step-up in the pocket, flip my hips, the defender was right on him, trailing him, in the coverage that they were playing. He did a great job of winning on the route. I just laid the ball to an area and Greg has always talked to me about feeling it and not trying to see it. It was one of those deals where I just had to trust the throw, trust that he was going to be in the right place and everything just happened for us on that play.
Q: Can you talk about your growth the last quarter of the season?
A: I can talk about this entire team's growth. I know we didn't meet any of our goals, well, we have some goals, but we didn't meet our primary goals for the season, but we've grown as an offense, as a team. Each week we've made improvements, Coach Norv Turner said something to us back in training camp, he told us that, "Hey, come December, you're going to be playing your best football." You look at the numbers, I know we haven't gotten a win the past two games, but we've been playing at a higher level. It's a good sign for down the road.
Q: What are your offseason plans, there really is no offseason is there?
A: There really isn't. For me, I'm going to get with our coaching staff and see what the plan is going to be for me moving forward.
Q: How important has it been for you to have John Sullivan as your center?
A: It's very important. He's a smart guy, he has experience playing in this league, whenever I don't see something, he always sees it. It's great for a young guy like me to have a veteran like John upfront, if I miss a call, he will tell me, "Hey, you want to do something with the protection, you want to get us in or out of a play?" Having a guy like John is just a huge help.
Q: How much of learning to play quarterback in the NFL is learning able to make throws without being perfectly set?
A: During the offseason, I watched a ton of tape of Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. You watch Philip Rivers, he's one of the best in the game of playing the position in an uncomfortable pocket. He's able to make throws off balance and things like that. You watch him make those throws, it just tells you that no play is going to be perfect. No pocket is going to be perfect when you're sitting back there. So, being able to just make the throws and make those hard throws, make those off-balance throws, that's what it's going to take, whether it's moving the sticks getting the first down or like Sunday, completing the pass to Greg for a touchdown.
Q: Is that something you can work on with drills?
A: It's one of those deals where every Thursday, I call it odd-ball Thursdays, it's something I learned in college, so I just stay after practice, I haven't been doing it the past two or three weeks, it's just one of those deals, you just work on it. Like I said, something is going to come up in the game where the pocket isn't going to be perfect, we just have to react and just play football.
Q: You have wet-ball Wednesday, odd-ball Thursday, what is Friday?
A: Friday is just Fast Friday. Fast Friday, you don't let the ball hit the ground. You go out, you should be perfect.
Q: How much quicker are you at getting through your reads lately?
A: I think I'm much quicker, especially at eliminating a wide receiver based on pre-snap reads and everything. Whenever I get the ball and dropping back, I may have already eliminated one side of the field before the play even happens. I think I'm doing a much better job of just making quicker decisions and getting the ball out of my hands.
Q: What's the most upset you've ever been in a game situation?
A: I was pretty upset this weekend. This past weekend, it's one of those deals where we just let a game get away. We work hard. We compete every day in practice. We just have to continue to finish games and we'll continue to just work towards that.
Q: Are you at a point where you feel comfortable correcting guys if you see a mistake?
A: Yes, definitely, very comfortable. Our guys here, we have a great group of veterans here and they told us young guys when we first arrived here that, "Hey, everyone has a voice on this team. If you see one guy not doing it right, you get on them." It was Brian Robison that actually said that. It just gave me a comfort zone, that if anything ever comes up, I can just get on a guy, tell a guy, "Hey, you should have done this or done that," whether on the playing field or off the playing field.
Q: How often have you had to do that?
A: I haven't had to do it very often. Our guys have been doing a great job, for the most part, of just playing well assigned and playing to detail.
Q: What did you do specifically to express your displeasure this past weekend?
A: I kept it in. I try not to show it. I just try to remain composed throughout the course of the game. You know the camera is always on you at this position. For me, I just grab a towel, squeeze it, take my anger out on the towel, and just don't let it show.
Q: Have you been surprised by anything being a starting quarterback in the NFL?
A: Just the way the guys approach each day. Everyone comes in, talk about we're in our 16th game of the season and guys are still coming to work and are locked-in. The guys are just pros on this level. There are no down times throughout the year, and if there are, guys do a great job of not showing it. Just seeing how professional the guys are in this locker room, just really speaks volumes about this team.
Q: What do you think you need to work on moving forward?
A: There are maybe small things such as techniques or fundamentals and mechanics. I'm just going to, like I said, get with our coaching staff, get an evaluation from this season and see what the plan is moving forward.
Q: Have you always had pocket presence and being able to feel pressure and move around?
A: I think so, that just comes with playing the position for such a long time. You have a clock in your head, whereas if you're holding onto that football too long, you're eventually going to take a sack, or take a hit. Our guys do a great job upfront of allowing me to sit back there and just play comfortable.
Q: How have you matured over this year?
A: For one, I just learned to use my resources, use the guys around me. Like I said, we have a great group of veterans around here, those guys do a great job of whether it's mentoring us young players or coaching us up on the run. I think I've been doing a great job of leaning on those guys, such as Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, Chad Greenway, Brian Robison, Greg Jennings, the list goes on and on. I think I've done a great job of leaning on those guys.
Q: What kind of challenges does the Bears defense present to you?
A: From the first time we played them, they're pretty physical. Those guys do a great job of stopping the run. In the secondary, the defensive backs are very physical also. We know that's going to be a challenge, those guys have some injuries, but the guys who have stepped up to play for them have been playing pretty well.
2014 Korey Stringer Good Guy Award
Recipient Vikings Defensive End Brian Robison
Tim Yotter, Viking Update/Scout.com: Every year the Professional Football Writers Association hands out a Media Good Guy Award to one player from each of the different 32 NFL teams. Here in Minnesota, it's the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award. Korey was a tremendous player, but also a tremendous person, always willing to give his time to the media, a lot of humor, so I think that this year's recipient, Brian Robison kind of embodies that same spirit. Always there in the locker room to help us out, give us some insight on the game of football and also willing to do it with a lot humor. This year's 2014 Korey Stringer Good Guy Award goes to Brian Robison.
Brian Robison: So, I didn't write a speech, but I have got a few things I want to say. First and foremost, I'm very appreciative of this award. It's named after a great guy, I've heard a lot of stories about him, he seemed like an awesome guy to be around, no matter who you were, he just seemed like a great guy. I want to be very appreciative of that. Secondly, I've always known that you guys have a job to do and it's hard for you guys to come into the locker room every day, especially after losses and really interview us and try to get stories out of us. I'm appreciative of the fact that I'm able to talk to you guys every week, get my face out there to the fans and things like that because without you guys, the fans wouldn't know the type of person I am, the sense of humor I have, so, without you guys a lot of the fans wouldn't know exactly who, speaking third-person here, who "Brian Robison" is. I'm very appreciative of you guys. With that being said, this award will definitely go in the room with the rest of my NFL accolades, so it will be in a room by itself, with that being said.
Q: Where did you learn that after a tough loss to let everything sink in before you speak to the media?
A: Actually, I think the University of Texas, where I went to college, did a very good job of that, of teaching us how to deal with media and stuff like that. For me, I was able to be blessed enough to go to a big college like that, that had a lot of media in the locker rooms after a loss, after a win, and it just taught me that, if you want to be able to connect with the fans and have the fans see you in that type of light, no matter if it's after a loss or a win, you want to convey the message, not only to the media, but to the fans, because y'all have a job to do and the fans want to know what you're thinking after a loss. They want to know what type of guy you are, all of those things. The media is really an intricate role in how we relate ourselves to the fans.
Q: Do you feel like a part of your leadership role with the team is to also step up to the media more?
A: Absolutely. I think it's one thing to be in a locker room and be able to talk to guys and stuff like that, but at the same time, there's things that sometimes need to be said to the media that the outside world can see and those things. When you're a leader, sometimes you may not always say the right thing. You may not always say the best thing that's good for the team. As a leader, there's a lot of times things that need to be said. For me, it's really about being up front and honest with you guys as much as I possibly can. Obviously, we've always got some things that are said in the locker room and they stay in the locker room, but for you guys I always try to be as up-front and honest with y'all as I possibly can.
Q: With your media access is it geared to sending a message to the fans or your teammates that might read the publications?
A: I think with the players, I think you can speak to them personally, but with the fans, a lot of times they need to hear that we did not play our best ball. That we didn't get beat on the field, we just didn't tackle well, or we didn't do this, do that. There's a way to convey your message to the fans to let them know that, hey, we're not satisfied with the way this game went, we're going to try to get it fixed.
Q: How much of an influence have the other defensive lineman that you looked up to been on your dealing with the media?
A: Big time. I mean, especially Jared (Allen) Kevin (Williams), like you said, even Chad Greenway. Greenway has always been a tremendous guy with you guys, as well. I believe he's a past award winner, as well. Having those guys around, not only on the team, but right there next to my locker, hearing those guys speak all of the time to you guys. It kind of overflows to you and it kind of gives you that same ability to be able to tell you guys kind of the same things.
Q: What's the importance of this week's game and leaving a good taste in your mouth going into the offseason?
A: Even though we are not playing for the playoffs, I think this game is just as important as any of them. Obviously, like you said, all of those things, three-game skid, a division game. We definitely do not want to end this season being winless in the division. We want to have a good taste going into the offseason, it gives us something to build on and anytime you play a division rival at the end of the season and you have nothing to play for, you need to put it on the line. Bottom line is, because when you get these opportunities to go into an offseason, you do not want to go into the offseason with a loss, bad taste in your mouth, those type of things, because those things linger around for three, four months. Whereas if you can get a good taste in your mouth, it allows to come back here and allow yourself to look at that game and realize you have a lot of stuff to build off of. We definitely need to make sure that we go out there and give it everything we've got this week and try to make sure that we get a win.