The Washington Redskins (3-5) on Sunday travel to Minneapolis, where they'll take on the Minnesota Vikings (3-5) in Week 9 action at TCF Bank Stadium.
This week, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater spoke to the Washington, D.C., media via conference call about the upcoming matchup with the Redskins.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer:
On what it will be like to face Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden as an opponent:
"You know, I like Jay an awful lot. We are friends; we worked together for two years. You know, really I don't like playing against my friends."
On what he doesn't like about facing his friends:
"It's nothing, it's just the personal aspect. You know, you get a relationship with somebody and you know one of us is going to feel bad after the game and so you hate for the other guy to do that. I have a lot of respect for what Jay did in Cincinnati and what he is doing there in Washington."
On how much the difference in personnel in Gruden's offense in Washington will change what he was used to facing in practice in Cincinnati:
"He has got terrific personnel there in Washington. I think the tight ends are all good and obviously the receivers and running back. I'm sure that he would tell you that his personnel is very good as well. But he has gone up against me just as much as I went against him."
On if his learning curve about being a head coach was similar to the one expressed by Gruden:
"Yeah, it really [is] the same as what happened to him, especially in the preseason. You start going back and talking to the defense, then all of a sudden you remember 'Oh man, I've got to listen to the offense and talk to them and be able to talk about points and field goals and all those other aspects of the game.' So I know exactly what he was going through and honestly it still happens now with different situations because you really are trying to do a lot of different jobs and sometimes you feel like you're thin. I know I do."
On if he felt the need to shake things up after a slow start to the season:
"Well, I haven't looked at it that way at all. Each week we are always trying to prepare to do the very best we can to win. And I have changed things up, but just because I want to change things up, not because of our record or anything else. We just want to win now and we don't want to look toward the future, if that is the question you are asking."
On the key to maintaining confidence while learning to be an NFL head coach:
"Well, I feel like I have always done a pretty good job at the job that I have had and so you are going to make mistakes, I think. I know I still make mistakes in different scenarios but I think the biggest thing is that just like when you are a coordinator, you learn from the mistakes that you have made and try to not do the same ones that you've had in the past. So it's a learning process and I think every new head coach would tell you the same thing."
On if he identifies himself as having come from a specific coaching tree:
"Well, I have been very fortunate to work for a lot of very good head coaches in the NFL with two Hall of Fame guys – Barry Switzer, who is in the Hall of Fame in college and Bill Parcells, Hall of Fame – and I would say that Parcells taught me the most about being a head coach. Marvin Lewis, I really like the way that he treated the players and how to take care of them and the way we went about working. So I would say those three guys the biggest."
On what about Bill Parcells' approach stays with him today:
"Well, he taught me so much. He came in every day – it seemed like every day – into my office and said 'When you are a head coach, remember this.' And different things about talking to the team about getting them ready to begin the season, about when to push buttons, when not to push buttons, all of those different things. I think his personality or mine – we've said this before and I'm not sure it's a good thing for either of us but our personalities seem to be fairly similar."
On game planning for both Robert Griffin III and Colt McCoy:
"I think the running game will stay the same and obviously the passing game will get a few more of the – they're similar but we will prepare for both of them. You know, we will probably get a few more zone reads out of Robert Griffin but they ran some with Colt McCoy last week. So we will just keep preparing and we try to do a lot of things that give us flexibility in our calls and our system so that we can adapt in those situations as well."
On why the team has been blitzing more lately:
"I am getting to know the players a little bit better. I think we are getting better at doing what we are doing. I think our players have confidence in understanding the scheme much more than when we started out. I don't go into a game saying that we want to blitz a certain amount, it is really a week-to-week kind of a thing and where we feel like we are at and based upon what our offense is doing as well."
On the challenges Gruden presents:
"Well, Jay knows pretty knows everything that we do, he has seen this for two years. But you know we used to go against him every day. He does a tremendous job offensively and they have got very, very good talent. Their team is very well-coached, playing great on defense. Jay obviously does a great job. He has always done a great job with the quarterbacks, he has done a great job with the offense, I think the receivers love playing for him and has got a good running game."
On the development of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater:
"Well, I think Teddy has been improving each and every week. A lot of teams are giving him a bunch a different looks, as I am sure the Redskins will as well. But he has got great composure, he has been great in the two-minute drill – end of the game, end of the half situations. I think we are getting better at down situations for him. And we have had a lot of adjustments throughout this course of the season with losing our tight end, losing our running back, losing our guard and the quarterback, so it has been a work in progress the entire time. But I feel like we are starting to move in the correct direction now."
On what he has done to put his stamp on the Vikings' program:
"When I first got here after hiring the staff, we changed the weight room, the way that we lift weights. We've changed – we've got a new meeting room where they didn't have a team meeting room when I got here before so I got that because I wanted it to be more of an educational situation. We've changed all the food and the diet that we have had. Really we have changed just about everything – the practice schedule, the way we do it, different ways in the walkthroughs. We've changed a lot and it wasn't based on anything that they had done in the past, it was just things that I wanted to do."
On where he picked up the ideas for those changes:
"It was pretty much things – guys that I have worked with before – a lot of Parcells and the way that we did it and so we are doing it the way I used when I [unintelligible]… basically because of our strength coach and trainer felt like we need to eat better and the meeting room was my idea."
On defending wide receiver DeSean Jackson:
"Well, DeSean is an extremely explosive receiver. He runs great, he runs great routes, he catches the ball good, he is big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. So we will have to pay special attention to him. He always has been – every time we've played him he has always been a guy that you have had to account for. So we will make sure that we kind of know where he is for the most part and then we will go from there."
On if any story about Gruden that sticks out in his mind:
"No, you know, I think one of the things I told him when he first got there – I had been there probably four years and when he first got there I went into his office and said, 'Hey, just do this the way you want to do it. It's your baby and the players will do what you want them to do.' And I think he did that there and obviously he is doing that in Washington as well."
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater:
On his biggest challenge since entering the NFL:
"The most challenging thing I would say is thinking less. Especially being a young guy, you tend to overthink things. You always want to be right. I just have to continue to trust my preparation, trust what I've been taught and trust my teammates."
On working with first-year head coach Mike Zimmer:
"He's a great coach. For it to be his first year, it doesn't feel like it. He's a very tough coach. He's on both sides of the ball; well, even in special teams, the kicking game he's very involved in. He wants us to just continue to play smart football, be a tough team and just win football games."
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.
On if he felt he grew up on the game-tying drive against Tampa Bay last week:
"Throughout the course of the drive, I just found myself just playing fast and not thinking so much – getting communication across the board, getting the ball snapped and just handling the pressure well. We have a good group of guys who respond to pressure very well as you saw on that last drive."
On the importance of a young quarterback showing his teammates he can deliver in that situation:
"It was very important. The guys will look at you to see how you perform under pressure and everything. So, for a young guy I think it's very important to perform well over the course of the game and when those situations present themselves. I'm pretty sure the guys do the same."
On the Redskins' defense:
"Like you said, we saw Monday night that they have a good defense. They do some different things up front, and I know it's going to be a challenge for us. We don't really face many 3-4 defenses. I'm pretty sure other guys on the team have some experience playing against teams with those fronts. Those guys played Dallas very tough, and we know it's going to be a challenge for us."
On playing against Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden, a former Louisville quarterback:
"Oh, Coach Gruden. It's going to be pretty cool. I haven't met him yet, so it's going to be cool to talk some ball with him. I'm pretty sure we'll discuss the results of this Florida State-Louisville game Thursday night."