The Minnesota Vikings officially signed DE Everson Griffen and QB Matt Cassel yesterday. After inking their deals the duo talked with reporters…
Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen
Q: What did you do to help celebrate the new contract?
A: Actually I was out in California with my agency. They do a big charity event every year, it’s called Orangewood. It’s for the kids and I was down there with my friends, other players on different teams and I was down there just celebrating. I did a round of golf and was just blessed. I was with my beautiful fiancée and we were just celebrating and happy and enjoying life.
Q: What did you shoot?
A: Not that good. It was not good at all. I drove the ball good a couple of times but I was just too high on life, just absorbing all of this in.
Q: Why did you sign before free agency started? Why didn’t you test the waters to see where you could go and how much you could make out of all of this?
A: I wanted to be a part of the Minnesota Vikings organization. I wanted to be a part of the family. I pride myself on being a very honest man and I didn’t want to go nowhere. When I saw them put together a coaching staff like this and having Coach [Mike] Zimmer and [Defensive Coordinator] George Edwards and all of the guys they brought in, my D-line coach, Andre Patterson. When they brought all of them guys in, I just knew this was the right place for me and the Minnesota Vikings, they came with the right numbers, what my agent handled, and I’m just happy to be a part of this new movement that we have going and that’s the winning movement. To build, we’re ready to build that foundation starting April 7 and take this to the next level.
Q: What was there anything that Zimmer said that excited you about you role?
A: Yeah, me and Zimmer had a conversation and the way he talked about me, and not just about me, about the team and the coaching staff he brung in about how they’re going to teach us technique, how they’re going to teach us to be a smarter football player, how to be a more disciplined football player and the reason I know that is because he’s a disciplined guy. He wants the most out of you. He’s going to pull the most out of you, he’s going to find what you’re made of. He’s going to make sure that he gets the best out of this team. He’s going to be disciplined and he’s going to be ready to coach. All of the guys that he’s brung in that he’s going to be ready to coach.
Q: Has Coach Zimmer talked with you about a role he envisions for you? Do you envision it will be moving around? Or mostly on the defensive line?
A: It’s going to be on the defensive line, but he’s going to use me. These guys here, they know how to use their players. I feel that just talking to the coaches that I sat down with a little bit, they know how to use their players, they know how to put you in the right situation at the right time to make the big play. I just feel with his mastermind skills and what he brings to the table, he’s going to use not just me, he’s going to use every single player on the team the right way and that’s what we need. We’ve got all the talent in the world but when all of the talent is used right, then the sky is the limit.
Q: Does that mean that you expect to be moved inside and outside again this year? Or do you think you’re going to have one spot at maybe right end?
A: We really haven’t talked about that but you know they signed me to this deal for a reason. They have high expectations of me on and off the field, not just on the field, and off the field, too. I’ve got to be a man in my household and I’ve got to be a leader on the field with these guys. I’ve got to earn their trust and I’ve got to earn their respect. We’re starting fresh now. We’ve got a new coaching staff, we’ve got this. We’re starting fresh. This is a whole new slate. I just know that he expects the most out of us and he’s ready for us to compete and that’s what I’m about. Back at USC, that’s all we did is compete. I’ve brung that over with me when I was a Minnesota Viking in 2010 and now from 2014 to 2019. It’s going to be about competing. He’s going to compete. He’s going to play the best players and I’m ready to compete.
Q: How do you think you’re going to respond to the responsibility of being the guy since they re-signed you and likely won’t do the same with Jared Allen?
A: I’ve got a workout at 10 o’clock tomorrow. I’m going to go right back to work. With more responsibility, that means you’ve got to work harder, you’ve got to be disciplined, and the biggest thing is is you’ve got to listen. This whole game is built on listening, that’s why the coaches are here. These coaches are here to coach you and you are here to listen. There should be no ifs, ands, or buts about it. They are going to tell you what to do and you do it. I’m here to listen, I’m here to take this next step and be a leader. Excited, just excited and over thankful. Just thank you, thank you, thank you.
Q: What do you think it is about Coach Zimmer that is going to get the best out of you?
A: Did you see him coach in Dallas and Cincinnati? And what he did with Vonteze [Burfict]? Vonteze was undrafted and now he’s a Pro Bowl player. It has a lot to do with Vonteze and his work ethic, but you need a coach to use you in the right way and he was used. I just feel that he’s going to use all of the players here in the right way. He’s going to use us, he’s going to put us in the right situations at the right time.
Q: Do you feel that you have some skill that hasn’t been showcased the right way? And what do you think that you can show that you haven’t shown before?
A: Oh man, I haven’t even touched the surface of what I can do. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to listen. I’m going to absorb all of this knowledge that Coach Zimmer is going to give me, that my D-line coach, Andre Patterson, is going to give me, that George Edward is going to give me. I’m just going to absorb all of that knowledge and apply it to the football field, apply it to my freakish athletic ability and just use it day in and day out. I’m just ready to work and ready to get back to what I know and that’s hard work and working on my mental focus.
Q: Can you put into words with this endorsement by the team and the new deal means to you?
A: It means everything. They’re holding me up to a higher expectation. They knew what I could do when they drafted me here in 2010 and now it’s time for me to go out there and blossom with this team, with all of my boys. It’s time to go out there and celebrate on the field every single play, every single down. It means the world to me. It just means they trust in me, which I trust in them, and it means that it’s time for me to show what I can do day in and day out.
Q: In your talks with Coach Zimmer, what did he ask you about and what did he want to know about you?
A: He asked me am I ready to compete and that reminded me of my coach that I had back at USC, Pete Carroll. It was all about competing and a guy that comes off and says, “The best players are going to play. Are you ready to compete?” That’s all you can ask for. None of this is given, this is all a blessing. But the players that became great here, John Randle, it’s unbelievable how much competitive nature you’ve got to have to become on that type of pedestal, so I’m just ready to compete like he said and absorb all his knowledge. I just want him just to feed me with knowledge, just feed me. I’m hungry right now so I need to go eat some food but I just want him to keep on feeding me.
Q: What do you think is your ceiling now that you’re going to have a bigger role on this defense?
A: I feel that people always use the word potential with me. People always use, “Oh, you’ve got all the potential; you’ve got all the talent.” Now it’s time to use that potential and talent into being a professional day in and day out, to put it on the field every single day, to work every single day and build my craft, become a master at my craft every single day. That’s why I’m here and that’s why they allowed me to blessed with that type of contract.
Q: In order to scratch your potential do you need to rush off the right side, the blind side? Is that we you think you’ll reach your full potential?
A: For instance, look at Jared Allen. In my era of playing defensive end, he’s the best player I’ve seen play that position, at defensive end. He was smart, he had wisdom, he listened and he worked. This type of stuff just doesn’t happen by you being a guy. You’ve got to work at it and that’s what Jared did. Jared taught me everything I know about football today. He taught me little techniques on how to use your hands and do that and he became a master of his craft by playing one position. When I get the opportunity to become a master of my craft at one position, is there a ceiling in here? I’m just going to keep on looking but I want to reach that ceiling that I can go to whatever limits because I’m going to push myself to the max.
Q: Do you think that by staying in one position that the team loses your versatility in any way?
A: The thing is that I’m not saying I’m done playing all of those positions. I’m not saying that. But know that I’m going to be used. It’s all about maximizing my potential, maximizing my athletic ability, and that’s what they’re going to do here. If I do stand up and rush or kick back down inside and do it, that’s what’s best for the team. I’m here for what’s best for the team, but at the end of the day I know that I’m going to be used and that’s all that I can ask for. I got my chance and my chance is now. Now the only thing I have to do is work and I’m going to work out tomorrow at 10 if you want to come and watch. It’s at Higher Power Training right here in Eden Prairie if you want to come join me, but you might pass in there but you’ll be alright. You can come and join me and you can see all of this hard work I’ve got for you.
I just want to say thank you to the Wilf family. To trust in me like that, it means a lot and I never want to lose that. I just want to thank you, to Rick [Spielman], to Rob [Brzezinski], to Coach Zimmer, George Edwards, Andre Patterson, for believing in me. This is all believing in one and what they could do. I’m going to work my hardest. I’m going to come prepared. I’m going to be that leader and I’m going to earn my teammates trust and their respect. It starts April 7 at 7:15 a.m. in the morning and let’s get back to work. Minnesota Vikings – stand up!
Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel
Q: What went into the decision to opt out of your contract?
A: It was just a decision based on the contract and nothing being guaranteed in the second year, anything like that. It was just really a decision that was a pretty easy decision to be made but all at the same time that there was a great possibility that I would be back as a Viking.
Q: What really excites you about Norv Turner taking over the reins?
A: I’m extremely excited about working with Coach Turner. I think that his resume speaks for itself. He’s had a lot of success throughout his tenure in the NFL with multiple teams and multiple quarterbacks. Obviously I had a chance to play against him when he was in San Diego and I was in Kansas City. The one thing you always knew about Coach is you’re going to make sure you score a lot of points because he’s going to take his shots and he does a phenomenal job of making mismatches with people inside, formationing people in different areas so you can get a great match up. I think it’s a very quarterback-friendly system and like I said, I think my skillset really fits well in this system.
Q: Have they given you any assurances that there won’t be a carousel of quarterbacks this season?
A: No, I don’t think anybody has really talked about that but at the same time it’s a performance-based job. You’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to perform, you’ve got to compete. I’ve talked to Coach Zimmer on the phone and we’re all very optimistic about working with each other. At the same time, I’ve never had one practice with Coach Zimmer, so you’ve got to go in, you’ve got to earn your keep like it is every year in the NFL and that’s part of the business.
Q: Do you go in with the expectation of being the starter?
A: I do. That’s my mentality, absolutely. I go in with the expectation to be the starter and that won’t change. At the same time, you’ve got to go out there and prove it and compete. There’s going to be two other quarterbacks, maybe three other quarterbacks in here competing as well and that’s what it is on every NFL roster.
Q: Did you always know where you stood last year and what gives you faith you’ll receive a fair shake this season?
A: Well, I don’t think I always knew where I stood from week-to-week as you guys well know that there was always something going on and you never really knew until Coach would tell you what’s going on. You just prepare to the best of your ability and you sit there and hope you get a chance to get on the field and at the end of the day I was able to get on the field and we were able to finish pretty strong and give myself another opportunity to come back. Again, I think the decision to come back to the Minnesota Vikings there was a multitude of reasonings behind it. I’m a big fan of Coach Zimmer. I think he does a phenomenal jobs with his defense and I’ve played against him a few times and it’s always difficult to prepare for somebody like that and also at the same time the hiring of Coach Turner and my familiarity with the personnel and the guys that we have and the potential that we have to be very explosive on the offensive side of the ball. I was excited about all of those factors.
Q: What drove you to agree to the contract before the market actually opened? Did you consider going through the whole process of being courted by a bunch of teams?
A: I considered it, but at the same time at the end of the day, as I said with all of those factors that came into play with the hiring of Coach Zimmer, Coach Turner, the great staff that they were able to compile to put together along with my familiarity with the players on the team, the weapons that we have on the offensive side of the ball and from a comfort level with my family and living in Minnesota and the people that we met. I think all of those things gave me all the influence that I needed to re-sign before I even went to the free agency market.
Q: How much do you know about what Norv wants to do offensively and compare that to what you were in last year under Bill Musgrave?
A: It’s hard to compare until we really get started to be completely honest. This is my first time in Norv’s system. From what I understand it’s more of a numbers system, which I have some familiarity with because I’ve had about 7 coordinators in the last 6 years, so there’s a little crossover at some point or another with those systems. Until I get back there on April 7 and we start going through and getting back to work and learning that new playbook and trying to find out about the nuances and how he wants to attack the defense, the system, the terminology, it’s hard to say the big differences right now.
Q: When going into free agency, how comfortable did you feel after opting out of the contract knowing that there would be opportunities for you?
A: I felt very comfortable, especially with the fact that you honestly never know what’s going to happen but sometimes as players, I felt comfortable. I felt comfortable like if you turned on that film from last year that you’d see that I could play and was confident in my abilities. Again, you never know what’s going to happen, but I wouldn’t have done it unless I was comfortable that I’d have an opportunity to play, or at least have a job next year.
Q: With Norv being Norv and his success, what is the comfort level when you get a guy with that name and that background compared to maybe others you’ve worked with?
A: Well, I just think it’s a trust factor. I trust that he’s going to put you in a position to be successful because as you said his resume definitely will show that throughout his career that he’s going to put his quarterback in a great position to be successful along with everybody else on that offensive side of the field. Then you go in with that trust factor and then you obviously have to build that relationship and get to know him, how he likes to call the plays, how he sees the field, watching film and doing all of that stuff but at the same time it gives you a lot of confidence as a player knowing that hey, if I go in and do what I’m supposed to do than there’s a great possibility that I’m going to be very successful.
Honestly, like Everson said, I’m excited to be a Minnesota Viking. I’m excited to be back here with my teammates, guys that I was able to build relationships, rapport with. I’m very thankful to the Wilf family, to Rick Spielman, to Rob [Brzezinski], to all of the guys that went into making this decision, helping make this happen, and I’m excited to get to work and get started and win some football games.