Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Had another good day today and have one more day to wrap it up tomorrow.
Q: What are your initial impressions of Cordarrelle Patterson?
A: They’ve been good impressions. He’s definitely gifted with his size and his speed. He’s really asserting himself in the meeting room trying to learn our system.
Q: What does he need to do to take that next step and work himself into a contributing role?
A: I think get more familiar with the system and play faster, less thinking, more reacting.
Q: What progress have you seen from Christian Ponder that you’re pleased with at this stage?
A: I think he’s more comfortable, too. I think this is his second orthodox offseason. He didn’t have one initially after he was drafted so there are much fewer unknowns for him at this stage even than there were a year ago. He knows more of what to expect and let himself go a little bit and not be so guarded.
Q: How do you measure him during the offseason?
A: Decision making is one of them. Physically throwing is the other. We always want to be accurate and we’re always working on our feet in the quarterback room. His decision making we’re assessing every day with all these competitive periods. It’s been good.
Q: When you mention less thinking for Patterson, is that a matter of repetition?
A: I think it’s a process. It takes turns or repetitions and we’re trying to provide him as many turns as we can without wearing him out.
Q: How much have you told Cordarrelle to watch Greg Jennings to try and learn from him?
A: That’s definitely taken place. Greg is a super leader in that room and really for our whole offense. Cordarrelle I know has taken a bunch of notes both in the meeting room and on the field with relation to how Greg does it.
Q: How important is it to have a player watch another player as opposed to a coach telling player how to do it?
A: Well that’s one way that players learn. Sometimes they learn by seeing it written, or drawn, or on film, but a lot of guys learn by watching someone else do it or watching their coach, if he’s young enough, demonstrate. That’s an essential part of learning, watching somebody else do it.
Q: For a guy like Jennings, what’s his transition like?
A:It’s ongoing. He’s not going to feel all together comfortable because he was ingrained for those number of years in Green Bay so there’s a process that we’re working through.
Q: Is it kind of rare for someone like Greg to help Cordarrelle and also embrace it and have fun with it?
A: Yeah, it is. I would imagine, and I wouldn’t speculate who it was, but somebody probably took him under their respective wing in Green Bay and he’s returning the favor to the next generation.
Q: How does an offensive coordinator approach the idea of balance when he has running back like Adrian Peterson?
A: Well the more first downs we get, the more we get to stay on the field. Offense is so different from defense, where on defense if you’re successful you get to go three-and-out and sit on the bench. On offense we want to stay out there. S,o the better we become running the ball, which we’re already pretty good with Adrian, if we can be better throwing the ball we can stay out there and everybody can get more touches or more opportunities and that’s our plan, to be more productive in the passing game, to balance the running game with Adrian and then everyone will get their shot.
Q: Is Adrian just getting a day of rest?
A: Yeah, but I think he was doing some work inside.
Q: At this time of the offseason is there more experimentation going on with the offense?
A: A little bit. We want to have a little trial and error at this time of year, but we also want to be effective and efficient so there’s a fine line there with taking chances, but not getting careless. But we are, we have the whole playbook in and some of the guys’ minds are swimming because we don’t have a game plan that we can hone in on. We’ve had a full spring of offense and we’re really pushing them mentally, stretching them.
Q: Is that generally ahead of where you would be having the full playbook in at this point?
A: Well we’ve had a tremendous spring. The way that the offseason is structured with the phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 we’ve had a lot of good football time and we felt comfortable staying on the gas.
Q: What’s the level of progress at 3rd QB with a James Vandenberg and McLeod Bethel-Thompson?
A: We like both of them. They both have done a good job. They both get the scraps. They don’t get a lot of plays. They stand back there for 15, 20, 25 minutes, get cold and then they get thrown in there and asked to perform at a high level, but both of them are very sharp and they’re working very hard.
Q: Is there anything that impresses you with Vandenberg?
A: He’s got great visualization skills. He doesn’t get a lot of turns, but I feel like he knows our system very well. He visualizes the concepts, he knows protections and when he gets in there the wheels don’t fall off. He definitely belongs up here.
Q: What did you want to learn about Joe Webb throughout the offseason program?
A: Joe just needs time on task. Joe is a great athlete, he’s a team-oriented person, he just needs turns at running routes and catching balls and doing wide receiver jobs.
Q: What’s the best case scenario in your vision for Webb?
A: That he can contribute on game day. We want our best 46 guys dressed on game day and we want each of them to have a role that can help us win.
Q: With most of your veterans at least three years in your system how has the communication changed?
A: There’s been good interaction, good feedback between the veterans and the coaches. We have a great center in John Sullivan who gives us feedback, Charlie Johnson and Phil Loadholt, those are steady guys up front that can really communicate really well so we’re thankful for that. With the skill position, it helps to have Greg here, Kyle Rudolph will be in his third year, Christian is going into his third year so they’re evolving into being veteran guys who can provide their insight.
Q: Do you have to be moldable as coordinator throughout this process?
A: We definitely want to be that way. A lot of players playing at this level are the guys that invented these techniques in the first place so we’d be crazy not to listen to them.
Q: Given your playing days, do you empathize with Toby Gerhart the last four years being stuck behind a superstar?
A: Toby’s done a fantastic job. He stepped up for us two years ago when Adrian got hurt. Even before Adrian’s knee Adrian had the ankle and Toby stepped up and did a great job for us. He’s our Steady Eddie. He’s there every day, he knows his protections, he hits the hole, the ball goes where it’s supposed to and he’s just pining away a little bit.
Q: What’s the difficulty of needing the amount of patience that he’s needed the last few years?
A: It’s hard when you get the butterflies and the anxiety before a game then you don’t get to exercise them. I know Toby has had to do that a lot because there’s a certain build up to every game on Saturday or Sunday and you don’t get to go out there and do your thing, you’re a little bit of a wreck thereSunday night and then he comes back and get ready to do it next week.
Q: Have you noticed him being humbled by being the guy in college to becoming a guy described as Steady Eddie?
A: Yeah, but that is the transition when you’re big man on campus and number two in the Heisman Trophy balloting and you come and you’re not the focal point of an offense it’s a definite transition. It’s hard to scale back like that.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
Are you okay with what you have at the linebacker position?
A: I’d be just fine with it. We have a great linebacking corps. We have a good mix of veterans and young guys that we’ve infused into the group and they seem to be coming along fine. They are gelling well together, making calls, making plays and I feel great about them.
Q: If Erin Henderson sticks in the middle, what are your wishes for the outside?
A: A guy that’s going to be physical on the lead block. A guy that can drop into pass coverage in our three-deeps and two-deeps and overall a steady football player. We are looking for a guy that’s steady and they’re sound and doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes and makes plays when the plays come at them. I don’t have a wish list of who that is just whoever steps up and plays the best. The tape will tell. I’ll just wait until preseason and see what happens and it all shakes out, it all shakes out itself. The coaches very rarely make any decisions about that. The players make all the decisions in how they play.
Q: What have you seen from Gerald Hodges?
A: He has great feet. It looks like looks like he has good instincts. I can’t wait until the pads get on to see how he hits and how he runs around and mixes it up. I think that’s what all the coaches are waiting on to see. Right now we are just in shorts and they all look great so I’m trying to temper my enthusiasm and wait until we get pads on.
Q: Is it encouraging when Xavier Rhodes is getting his hands on the ball like he is?
A: It is. It really is. The one thing, I don’t know how much you watched today but he got his hands on some balls and he’s not giving up deep balls. That’s the big thing because a lot of guys like to sit on passes and you see them intercept balls and you say “wow” and then a lot of balls are going over his head. And he’s not giving up either. He’s tough down low and up top.
Q: Did you guys get to look at Desmond Bishop at all today?
A: We did. Good workout and we’ll see. We are doing our due diligence in terms of bringing in guys that are free agents. The neat thing is I don’t have to make those decisions. I just have to coach them once they get here. Coach Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman are the ones that make those hard decisions.
Q: How hard of an adjustment would that be for him in terms of defensive schemes?
A: I don’t think there is much. It’s not rocket science. It’s football and it’s still about running to the ball, tackling and reading your keys and making plays when the ball comes to you, so I don’t think it’s a big adjustment.
Q: Would he play on the outside or the inside?
A: I’m not sure. I haven’t seen enough tape on him. That would be Coach Frazier and Rick Spielman, they would answer that a lot better than I could. From what I hear, he’s just a good football player.
Q: How much do you miss Chad Greenway in these situations and what does he bring?
A: Experience. Chad has seen just about everything the NFL has to throw at you, so a new guy that comes in every situation is a new situation. Chad has seen it before, he’s seen the adjustments, he’s made the calls, so a new guy it’s new to him. Every experience is new. The plays are new, the situations are new. One thing that you can’t over emphasize is the situation football. Chad has been in all of those situations and he understands and he knows how his technique marries up with the situation.
Q: How did Chad get to the level that he’s at? Is it work, talent, or a combination of both?
A: A combination of everything. Chad is an unbelievable worker, a student of the ball game and he pays attention to detail. That’s a big deal to pay attention to the details of the technique, the details of the situation and Chad does that. The one thing that Chad can do is if he makes a mistake in practice he can correct it himself without having the coach correct it for him. That’s the mark of a true veteran when they can correct themselves.
Q: Are there different things that you can do with Chris Cook and having Xavier?
A: Both guys are tall. They are long. They can go get the ball, unbelievable ball skills so to be able to have two guys outside and don’t forget about Josh, don’t forget about the other guys that can really run. They’re physical so you’re not limited to one type of defense. You can play a variety of things and when you can take the outside guys away it makes it easier for me to make the calls and mixing up the coverages.
Q: How did you feel when Sharrif Floyd fell to you guys and the process with that?
A: Nervousness that he fell and how much we were going to have to wait. We had a little space in there and he kept falling and falling. Boy I tell you when it got to down to close to us that nervousness. Hey he’s right there in our grasp, but is he going to be there when we pick? Jubilation, you name it, we felt it when we had it. He’s a good, good football player.
Q: What makes him the optimal fit for this defense?
A: He’s quick twitch, he can anchor in the run, he’s very disruptive at the three and he has good pass-rush moves. I know his stats may not have shown it, but he’s been tremendous in these OTAs and he’s another one where we can’t wait to get the pads on to kind of see what happens when we get the pads on and if he’s still as productive. The one thing with him, and I just mentioned it a second ago about young guys playing situational football and the situations are new to them and they make some mistakes, he’s game ready. He had a good coach at Florida and they prepared him well and it’s not too much different what we’re doing here. So a lot of things translate over to what he did in college, so we’re looking for good things from him.
Q: What happened with Mistral Raymond today?
A: I’m not sure what happened to him today. He came out today and I guess he figured he couldn’t go. We’ll wait to see what the trainers say about why he didn’t practice. Yesterday it may have been a leg issue and we’ll see if that’s still hampering him from coming out and playing. The one thing about that, you saw him on the sidelines. He’s paying attention, he’s coaching up the young guys, so even though he’s not on the field getting reps, he’s getting mental reps and also coaching up the young guys.
Q: What are going to be some deciding factors in who wins the starting spot between Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson?
A: Production as well as not giving up big plays. The thing that happens on defense is a lot of teams don’t necessarily win ball games. They give up ball games or get beat or beat themselves. We are trying to make sure first that we don’t beat ourselves and then we take the next step and win ball games. We want to see if they can execute within the defense, take care of their assignments and play consistent football. When you play consistent football you always have a chance to win, so whoever does that will be the starter. The good thing is when you have a lot of DBs you can play multiple packages. In today’s NFL pass-happy world, the nickel is a starter. He’s playing almost 50 percent and sometimes more than the base package. You need three, four, five corners to function in today’s NFL.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: What do you think of your new punter?
A: I like our new punter (Jeff Locke), very talented like we knew he was. He’s working very hard. I knew he would be a hard worker, I didn’t realize to this extent. He does everything I ask him to do drill wise and more. He is very contentious. He’s worked very hard as a holder as well so everything is going in the right direction.
Q: Are you making any tweaks with him after watching film?
A: He’s got just a couple things we’re working on with his footwork, taking out some of the wasted motion that he had coming from college. He’s worked very hard at that and we’re definitely seeing some progress. He has to get his get-off a little bit quicker and overall it’s going to make him a more consistent performer and that’s obviously what we’re looking for.
Q: How beneficial is that tape for young guys like that?
A: It’s wonderful and the thing is our video department does a great job, we have a camera available all the time and we’re getting all the individual drills filmed so we can go back and watch them. We spend a lot of time watching that tape. We try not to overanalyze it because he is very intelligent, so I don’t want to overanalyze it, the old paralysis by analysis type deal. He’s done a nice job of just working on one or two things per day so that’s really helped him. It’s been very beneficial for him.
Q: As you were preparing your post-season report from the punting situation last year, how strongly did you feel that you needed to upgrade that spot?
A: Very strongly.
Q: What were those primary factors that you looked at? Was it statistically or anything else?
A: No, it was more consistency and productivity.
Q: Did Chris Kluwe have that potential to bounce back and get by with what you needed or was that a situation where you just needed to find a new punter?
A: I just felt like we needed to make a change there.
Q: How is Cordarrelle Patterson catching it back there?
A: You know, he is so talented and just a great athlete. I think he’s done a great job on just working on some of the little things; keeping his elbows tighter, keeping his hands up, keeping his hands away from his body a little bit; just some of the smaller details. I think he’s more comfortable catching kickoffs right now than punts like a lot of young guys, but we’re making progress in both phases.
Q: How happy were you when they drafted him in the first round?
A: I pulled a hamstring running down the hallway. No, I’m just kidding, I was very happy. Just looking at him on tape, having the ability to be both a punt and kickoff returner, obviously what he brings to our offense, just as a football team. I was very happy with that pick. I was surprised we made the move but I was happy we made the move, it was a great move by Rick [Spielman] and Leslie [Frazier] and I’m fired up we did it.
Q: Before the draft, how much were you telling them, ‘Hey this guy can be a special kickoff and punt returner?’
A: Anytime we had our draft meetings. We do a great job here, our personnel people do a great job. We have plenty of input at least of our opinion and what we thought with our grades. I love the way we do things here and we have a voice. Obviously Rick (Spielman) has to make that final call but we knew that he and Tavon Austin were the two top returners coming out of the draft. We knew Tavon would be gone early so having Cordarrelle where he was and how we picked him and how everything transpired, it was a pretty exciting night for us.
Q: Do you see anything that might hold him back from being able to contribute right away as a returner?
A: No, I don’t think so. You don’t want to overload any rookie because I know he’ll contribute on offense as well but I think the sky is the limit for this young athlete, I really do.
Q: Did Chris Kluwe and you part on good terms?
A: Yeah you know it’s funny, a lot of people like to write and report that he and I didn’t get along but I have a lot of respect for Chris Kluwe, based on what he’s done in his career as a man and as an athlete. For anybody that stands up for what he believes in like Chris did, I have a lot of respect for guys like that. We had a long talk after the draft. He knew the writing was on the wall and I wasn’t going to lie to him, I figured if a young guy came in and had a good rookie mini camp then that was what was going to happen. I wish him the best of luck in Oakland, I really do.
Q: How is Jeff Locke coming with the holding?
A: Great. He held for two years, but he held for a young kicker last year that liked the ball tilted back so we had to break him of some bad habits. He had a great day yesterday for us and Blair [Walsh] hit the ball well, I think he made nine of ten including the two situations. Blair is feeling more and more comfortable with him, and Cullen [Loeffler] is working great. He’s kind of the old veteran, now the leader for our young group. I’m excited about those three working together.
Q: From two years ago when Cullen Loeffler was snapping for Ryan Longwell and Chris Kluwe to now, how much has he had to adjust to his techniques?
A: No I think Cullen is going to do what he does and he is an extremely hard worker as well. He is such a perfectionist. I just admire him for all the work he puts in even at his veteran stage; he doesn’t have to do a lot of stuff. I don’t ask him to do extra work and he’ll do it on his own. He’s done a great job this spring so far. I like the direction we’re going.
Q: Is Blair Walsh even more confident?
A: I don’t want to jinx it but he’s stronger now I feel like on kickoffs and even on field goals. I think a year under his belt, he’s a year older, a year more mature, his body is more mature. He is stronger than he was a year ago. That’s a nice thing to have obviously and he was such a strong guy last year.
Q: How has Joe Webb looked to you as a potential return guy?
A: Joe is a unique athlete. The first day we put him out there on punt return he did a pretty good job just catching the punts. We put him in some reps on kickoff return as well last week. He sees things, he understands things, understands hitting the seam and how to hit the seam, just a different runner than a lot of guys. Such a great athlete though, it’s fun to have him back there.
Q: Where are you overall at the pecking order at punt returner?
A: If we had to play Detroit tomorrow I would think we would put Marcus [Sherels] back there still because I just trust him. I think Marcus now, it’s funny this is year three of him with two years under his belt, and he’s done a great job. Ball security has always been a big thing for me and always will be. I know he had the muff last year in the Packer (playoff) game, which was a tough punt to handle, but he’s done a great job this spring. He has the best hands of the group in terms of catching punts. Right now I would put him at number one.