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Zimmer, Cassel Address The Media on Wednesday

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Well we're facing a huge challenge this week. It's good to get back to the University of Minnesota and play this game. We've been on the road for a little bit now so it'll be good to be back and we hope our fans come in and help us out with their crowd noise and giving us a good effort this week.

Q: What's it been like to go up against Bill Belichick in your career? Do you consider it a personal challenge?

A: No, not really, I don't consider it a personal challenge. I'm trying to think back to the times, I think I've played him 3 times maybe and maybe won twice. It's still about the guys on the field and how they play and I totally respect everything that he's done in his career but I'm just trying to get our guys ready to play.  

Q: What was the key in last year's game when your defense held New England to seven points?

A: You know it was a different team, different situation; it rained like crazy the last minute of the ball game. It's completely different. Obviously you look at the tape but you don't think that everything is going to be the same.

Q: Do you think that last week's game helps because Miami runs a similar scheme to you?

A: They do only because obviously Kevin Coyle was with me in Cincinnati. Every week is so different in this league. Nothing is the same as you'll see this week or the next week after that. Everything is so different. I suppose it would help them, they've been practicing against similar things the same. We just have to go out and play good.    

Q: Is there anything different you do that might try and outsmart them or show them a different look and maybe get away from what your identity Is when you go against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?

A: Well I'm really not that smart anyway so I just kind of, we focus on our guys and what we think is the best thing to do each week. Obviously it's a great challenge against not only those two guys but they've got a lot of other good players too. We're, so far, in the infancy stages of what we're trying to do in this program that we want to go out and perform well each and every week. Like I've said before, this is the process that we're trying to build here.  

Q: Did you see anything that might explain how inaccurate Tom Brady was last week?

A: Obviously I'm watching a lot of different tape and some of the throws he made, I remember watching him in pregame last year and he was just humming the ball. I don't know what caused any inaccuracy, if there was any last week. I just know that I've seen this guy really, really good and I always anticipate the best every week.  

*Q: Did Rob Gronkowski look like the Gronkowski of old? *

A: Yeah, he looked good. He runs good, he catches the ball good, he's a big, physical guy.  

*Q: For a guy like Brady do you want to blitz more than you would against a guy like Shaun Hill? *

A: I don't know. I don't think I blitzed much against the Rams. I know you guys are looking for something and I appreciate you asking the questions but every game is different. The situations are different, the players are different. The score of the game dictates a lot of these things, field position, tendencies that you have yourself, tendencies that you have on them. And obviously the quarterback that you're playing obviously, and what they're doing when they get blitzed. They are a fantastic screen team with all of their guys. We have to be, and I go back all the time, anybody can go out and blitz 55 out of 70 plays and look really good and win a bunch of ballgames but there are times when those things aren't working, you have to go back and rely on fundamentals, technique, being in the right position, and hopefully that we can do all of those things before we try and trick people. It's nice to blitz, it's nice to sack the quarterback, it's nice to rush with four, it's nice to rush with three but you have to have a foundation, hopefully, that you've laid and that's really what we've try to do here is lay a foundation where if we want to blitz, when we want to blitz, if we don't want to blitz we don't have to.

Q: Is this a completely different challenge because this might be a team that wants to spread you out and not run 30 times?

A: It very well could be. They do a great job in their spread packages and their empty packages and getting different guys in different matchups. That's always been a big thing of theirs and so yeah it could be a lot different challenge. Over the course of the years they've changed from time to time. One time they'll come out and try and establish the run and really pound it and some days, like you said, they'll come out and spread every time. It's, again, preparing for a lot of different scenarios.

Q: Do you like the idea of having this true of a test early?

A: I don't know. I think this is a great challenge for our team to find out where we're out, to get a chance to play this team. We have the ultimate respect. They've got our attention, from Sunday at about 5:30, they've had our attention. I don't know either way about playing them this week or seven weeks from now. It's probably the same thing.   

*Q: How is Chad Greenway adapting to this new role?  *

A: I think Chad's a smart guy. I think he studies real hard. He's very diligent about being a professional and working really hard. Obviously he's had to learn some different things from what we've done when we've been in here but it's great to have him in here because he's able to help a lot of the younger guys. We have a young football team totally on both sides of the ball and I think it's good to have some veteran leadership that can kind of steer these guys and when I say, "Hey, we're practicing outside today." And somebody complains about it he can say, "This is just how it goes," or whatever. It's good to have guys like that in the locker room. 

Q: How has Linval Josephy handled everything since what he went through?

A: Very good. He's very upbeat, very positive. Obviously he's a very good athlete, good strength and size. We've got some things we have to work on with him to get him better again this week that we've given him some emphasis on that we need to do better but we're glad to have him.  

Q: What have you been working on with him?

A: Just technique stuff, defensive line technique stuff. It's boring stuff for you all.

Q: How well do you know Bill Belichick personally and how would you rank him among all-time great NFL coaches?

A: I really don't know him personally very well. I don't know that we've ever really talked. But he's obviously a great coach. He's a guy I've looked up to for a long, long time, whether it was when he was a coordinator of the Giants and I've known about him obviously from the Parcells things, he would talk to me about Bill [Belichick] quite a bit. He's been great for so many years and he does a great job, he's very thoughtful and he gets his team prepared. He does a great job in scouting and everything else. 

Q: When you signed Linval Joseph did you see the potential for him to get to the quarterback like he did on Sunday?

A: We felt like he had some pass-rush ability and it would be kind of the way he did it on Sunday. He's a very good athlete, a really good athlete, and a good kid too. He's worked hard to overcome his injury and it's happy to see things go good for him.  

Q: You guys practicing outdoors is that more because you guys are now an outdoor football team? Or did you just want to throw something new in today with the conditions?

A: Well I mean I wasn't talking about today specifically. We are going to go outside but I think the more we can get on grass the better it is.  

Q: As you've come through the week did you see any of the guys have the attitude of moving on or is there a celebratory pep in their step?

A: I don't think there's been any celebratory. I think we've been fairly business-like from the start of training camp to now. During the preseason there was nothing. Look, we haven't done anything. We have not done one thing yet. We have got so much work to do, so far to go to where we want to get to that I would be disappointed if we were celebrating one win on opening day. 

Q: Will Sharrif Floyd or Xavier Rhodes get in any work today?

A: I don't know yet. I don't think they'll get any work today but we'll see.  

Q: What's Cordarrelle Patterson been like as far as coachability?

A: He's been good, he's been good. He's a very upbeat, fun guy to be around, very competitive. He likes to communicate with the other side of the ball quite a bit but he's been working very, very hard. He wants to be very good and he's got an upbeat personality and it's good to have those guys.  

Q: What's the signature of a Bill Belichick defense?

A: Well they've always been very, very good at not giving up very many points. They've always been very good at playing technique and they've always been very good at disguising coverages in the back end.  

Q: Can you talk about how Captain Munnerlyn jacks up the defense?

A: Yeah, he's a very communicative guy as well. I don't know how he jacks up the defense. I know his personality is he likes to compete, like Cordarrelle he likes to have a good time, he's very feisty and that's a good quality to have back there especially with a young secondary.

Q: What kind of defense do you want your defenses to be known for?

A: That's a good question and I've mentioned it many times before, not so much here. I want to be a defensive team that when the offense looks at our tape, whoever we're playing that week, says, "This a well-coached defensive football team and they're not going to beat themselves."

Q: Did you figure out who dumped the Gatorade on you?

A: Well I did hear but it's alright. It's okay. That's over and done with, too. We've moved on.

Q: Have you had a chance to reflect on your Week One win and first win as an NFL head coach? What does that mean for you personally?

A: Oh, it means I won one game. Honestly I haven't looked at it at all as far as anything monumental or anything like that. This season is such a marathon anyway, who can survive the longest? Who can play the best over the course of the season? Honestly by the time I hit the locker room I was already thinking about New England, after I dried off.

Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel

I thought it was a great start for our team, to go out there in a tough road game and to win the way that we did. I think it was exciting but at the same time we know that we've got a tough group coming in here this week and we have go to get ready to play. I think everybody has turned the page on that and now we're back to work.

Q: How does it feel to be going up against your former team for the first time?

A: I'm excited. I'm excited about our group but at the same time I'm excited to be playing a good team that historically has probably been one of the most consistent teams over the last decade. It will be a great challenge for us to see where we are at as a team. Like any other game, though, it's just the next game on the schedule for us.

Q: Does it seem like a long time ago that you were playing for the Patriots?

A: It's been six years now. I have great, fond memories. I'm forever grateful for them giving me the start. Coach Belichick, Scott Pioli and those guys of drafting me. Really for somebody who hadn't started a game in college and giving me an opportunity to grow, to learn. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I had that opportunity to do that. It helped me mature into the player that I am today.

Q: What is your relationship like with Tom Brady now?

A: Tom and I have remained close friends throughout this entire process. Even in the offseason, we play golf together, we see each other's families. It's a relationship that I'm very fortunate to have. He's a guy that I bounce stuff off of, we talk every other week. We probably won't talk this week, I'm guessing. At the same time, he's a great friend. He was a great mentor to me when I was there. Like I said, I'm really grateful that I had that opportunity to work with him and learn from him.

Q: What did you take from him your first few years with the Patriots?

A: I think the one thing that, I mean there's a number of different things that I took away from Tom, but one of the main things was his leadership and how he approached his leadership, his work ethic, each and every day his accountability to knowing the offense and being accountable. I've used this example before, but I remember when I was a young quarterback, we were out at practice, I forgot a motion, I still hit the pass but he got after me pretty good about forgetting the motion. The whole point to why he did it, he said, "Look, you can't be a guy and be seen as a leader if you're making mistakes, simple mistakes on the field. You can't be a guy that goes up and tries to get after somebody else if you're making those mistakes." I thought it was a great point and I've carried that with me wherever I have gone and just his approach. I think that his approach was tremendous and I've really learned a lot from him.

Q: How useful can your knowledge of the Patriots and Coach Belichick be as you prepare for this week?

A: I don't know, it's been six years. Again, schemes change, they're obviously doing some different stuff now. They're doing a lot more no-huddle than what they did. Again, it's sometimes personnel based. We were three-wide receiver, four-wide receiver sets when I was there. They have some great tight ends there, as well. There's really not a ton that I can offer them at this point, especially six years down the road. Because like you know, things just change constantly in the NFL.

Q: How much do you credit your time there and being able to sit behind a proven quarterback to where you are now?

A: I think I give all of the credit to that. The fact that I was able as a young player to come in and learn from one of the best, if not the best over his career, really just each and every day watch the process that he went though. How he broke down defenses, ask questions and then also for him to be so good to me to actually answer those question and not blow me off. It was huge for my development as a player.

Q: What is Cordarrelle Patterson like to work with?

A: He's great. You know what, he's a fun kid. He's still young, he's silly but at the same time he takes his work seriously. He wants to be successful. I think he will be the first one to tell you and I've said this before also, he's still growing a lot as a player, as a receiver. He hasn't played a ton of football. He has tremendous attributes, he has tremendous physical ability and I think that as long as he continues to work hard, continues to be eager to grow he could be a very good player in this league.

Q: How does he lobby for you to throw him the ball?

A: He sits next to me in the locker room, I mean he's constantly lobbying. He brings me cookies sometimes. He does all kinds of nice things.

Q: Does he think he is open on every play?

A: Oh, aren't all receivers open on every single play? For sure, "Hey I'm open, I'm open, just throw me the ball."

Q: What's the feel in the locker room going into this game?

A: Like I said, we were all excited about the win last week but as coach would tell us, "Hey, we've got to turn the page. We all have things we need to work on." Offensively, we've got a number of different things that we have to work on and get better at. Because have to make progress to get better as a team, especially against a team like this that is coming in. They'll take advantage of your weaknesses, so we have to clean up the things that we have problems or issues with and then continue to get better. I know that this group will do that.

Q: Where has Cordarrelle Patterson progressed the most in your opinion?

A: I think his route running ability, just his route running in general has gotten much better. I think also his overall knowledge of defensive scheme and understanding how he wants to release against certain coverages and stuff like that. I think he's worked hard this offseason, in these OTAs and minicamps and everything we went through this offseason was huge for him.

Q: What do you view as the strong point of the Patriots defense?

A: I know that they've always predicated themselves on being a big, physical front. A 3-4 front, stopping the run, setting the edge in the run game, you have to also be conscious of what those safeties are doing because they really try to disguise, they do a good job of disguising, they will set up some doubles on the outside and do those kind of things as well. You just can't get trapped into thinking you have something without really being knowledgeable of what that safety is trying to accomplish. 

Q: How often do they blitz the quarterback?

A: They bring a fair amount of blitz. It's not like we saw last week, where we probably had 40% blitz last week and a lot of it was max pressure. They'll bring their fair share. You never know when you go into one of these games. They might change their scheme up and say, "Hey, we want to blitz you guys." Overall, it's not as much as we faced last week. 

Q: What are your thoughts on going up against Darrelle Revis?

A: You respect Darrelle Revis any time he is on the field. Obviously, he has got tremendous ball skills. He's a guy that covers down one-on-one tremendously well, so you always have to conscious of where he is at. At the same time you can't be afraid to take a shot and if the read takes you there and that's where you need to go with the ball, you have to be able to do that and challenge him at times, as well.

Q: How was having Adrian Peterson on the field again?

A: It was tremendous, some of those cuts that he makes, they're just special. Anytime we can have him in the backfield, it's great for me and it's great for the rest of us because I think it alleviates some pressure on us in the pass game and also the defense has to account for him.

Q: Does Coach Belichick change a game plan from one week to another more than most coaches?

A: I definitely consider them a game plan team, in general whether it's defensively or offensively. I know that they've tried to take certain people out of a game plan. He'll focus on that, doubling them or doing something like that. Also, what I think he also does is does a tremendous job at halftime adjustments. If they have to make halftime adjustments, I just remember being there and us maybe changing a whole game plan at times based on what the defense was doing to us. 

Q: What are your general thoughts on the Vikings playing outdoors for the next two years?

A: We're excited. I think we are all excited. We're all excited because we are coming home to our home fans. I think that we have some of the best fans in the NFL. We are excited to play in front of them. Home opener, I know it's at a new stadium but it's our home field for the next two years and I think everybody is excited to be coming home and get that energy, the 12th man so to speak, and feed off of that.

Q: Not just this week, but in general for the next couple of years, how will you turn playing outdoors into a home field advantage?

A: You play a majority of your games outside anyway. I know that we haven't done it here in a long time, but at the same time as it gets colder, I think these guys adapt to the elements well. We have a lot of cold games later on in the year anyway. It's just football and that's what we do. You have got to get ready for the cold and that's the fun part of the game, too. As the season starts to change is you deal with the elements.

Q: What other things have you done socially with Tom Brady?

A: We do what friends do. We play golf, we've played basketball, we've gone out to dinner. We do all of those kind of things.

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