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Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green Press Conference

Phone ConferenceVikings Head Coach Dennis Green speaks to the press.



            **Q: How's that quarterback, pretty good?**  

D: Yes, I think he's off to a good start. He had a very good training camp, played well in the preseason games and has been real solid in our first two games of the season.

Q: A lot of people had said that you showed a lot of guts to let a few guys go and name him as your quarterback, more than ten times I have said you are crazy…

D: I think this, this is the National Football League in the year 2000. First off you have very little control, you are going to lose players. All you can do is make sure that the guys you select you have got to keep. You find a way to hold on to them and we have done that. Robert Smith and Cris Carter, guys like that have been with us throughout their career and then you have to always have somebody ready to step in. We just felt that two years ago was the year of the quarterback. Daunte (Culpepper) we love like a lot of other guys too and we were determined to get a quarterback and have him for now and the future.

Q: You have been very fortunate in that you have got a lot of production out of what essential has been a pretty unstable quarterback situation over the years, does this offer you some stability on the long term basis?

D: I think it does. Unfortunately we had some injuries. When we traded for Warren Moon we expected Warren to be with us for a long time. Right at the end he started having some injuries and Brad Johnson was the one other guy we drafted and Brad was injured two consecutive years. So I think that we were able to respond, we have always thought that you have to have two quarterbacks that you think that can play at that level and help you win. You can't go in with one guy because injuries do occur. So we did have two guys and we were fortunate because we wound up having injuries, which put us in a situation where we had to use the other guy. I think going with Daunte in a year where there were six quarterbacks that we liked in the first round, it gives us a chance to draft that player, to develop that player, to keep that one player around for a long time and hopefully that one player can win a lot of games for us.

Q: Is he a freak of nature, or is he the future of the position?

D: He has always been big. He is a very talented athlete. He was a star basketball player and a star baseball player when he was younger and a star football player. He has never been small. He has always been a big, thick, fast athlete. He is a terrific swimmer, he can do all kinds of stuff. I think that the athletic type is the thing of the future. If you look at (Donovan) McNabb and (Cade) McNown and guys that are coming along, I think you are getting guys that are good passers that have been in good passing systems like Daunte was. Daunte was in the shotgun probably 70 percent of the time in college. That never happened in the old days. So you get a guy that is accustomed to throwing the ball and most of these guys can scramble pretty good.

Q: Still usually you don't see a young quarterback like this, you usually see it in a team that is totally rebuilding like a (Drew) Bledsoe, here you put him in a situation, I guess it is more ideal with veterans on the offensive line, veteran receivers so what did you see to make yourself sure that this was the right choice?

D: When we drafted him we thought he was the right choice and I think that you have to live by what you do. He also has a great work ethic and he is a very determined player. Shaun King plays for Tampa, we don't make too big a deal out of it. I just know that we try to do a very good job on revitalizing guys careers. When we sign guys to a one-year deal that is primarily what we are saying. We are saying if you could get a better deal next year we'll take it. I mean there is no way you want to take this deal, but you are going to take it because it is the best one available and we are not taking this deal to take advantage of you because it is all the money we have got and we are going to help you get your career back on target. That is what we did with Jeff George, that's what we did with Randall Cunningham and a lot of those guys.

Q: Henry Thomas says it is time to retire as a defensive lineman when the quarterbacks are bigger than he is, are there going to be a lot of guys like Culpepper?

D: Well Drew Brees is pretty big. I don't know if there will be many guys weighing over 250, but a lot of these guys are 220 pounds plus. He is an unusual player, he really is he's an unusual talent, but I think that a lot of the guys have size and they are going to be very talented in the future. A lot of good quarterbacks are being developed in the college game.

Q: How about your theory on quarterbacks having mobility, guys that aren't that mobile, what does this kind of quarterback offer you this is a new development in the last ten years…

D: When I was with the 49ers as an assistant coach it was not unusual at all for Joe Montana goes back and the first two third down situations he was running for a first down because there were so many guys involved in covering Jerry Rice, so many guys involved in covering John Taylor that they left running lanes open and Joe would take off and run. Steve Young was the exact same way. Then once those guys break that defense down then all of a sudden you can't afford to double everybody. You have got to keep a few more guys with some vision on the quarterback and then the passing game opens up. So it becomes another weapon that you hope can help break down a defense and the 49ers used it great and those guys weren't considered great runners, but a lot of those great, talented quarterbacks could scramble for a first down when they needed to and did.

Q: If Culpepper came out 20 years ago would someone just have tried to turn him into a tight end?

D: It is hard to say, I don't know. I think that he like Warren Moon and a lot of other guys were determined that he was a quarterback. I think he would have probably went and played somewhere else.

Q: Where would you say your offense is at this point are you satisfied after the two games?

D: I think we are making progress. We saw two different styles of defense. Chicago is a totally different style of play than Miami. We are making too many turnovers. It is interesting when you look at the turnovers the AFC are a lot better at turnover ratios than the NFC and we need to really eliminate that and I think that we are going to have opportunities to make some big plays. The key thing is that Randy Moss gets very little single coverage. No matter what anybody says about 90 percent of the time he has got jamming him at the line of scrimmage. So we have to be patient enough to continue to make the plays with other people while Randy is being doubled and try to force them out of it and not really try to force the ball to him, try to force them out of the coverage they are playing.

Q: Do you feel you will be seeing a desperate New England team this week?

D: I think we are going to face a team that knows they could have beat Tampa. I looked at it very carefully three or four times and they could have won that game and also a team that could have beat the Jets. So that is an 0-2 that could easily be 2-0 so that is a team that we are going to face.

Q: What do you make of (Drew) Bledsoe a much more traditional, drop back quarterback?

D: I have always liked him. We tried to recruit him at Stanford University when he came out of high school I was in the college game at the time. He is a big, strong-armed quarterback, a great feel for the game, good knowledge of the game, pinpoint passer, always plays well but can get hotter than even playing well. That is a guy that you always have to be concerned about. He is a guy that can go out and be 6-12 and do real well and then all of a sudden go ten straight and make big plays.

Q: Being a black coach and being one of the few early on talk about the opportunity, we are seeing a lot more opportunity, you mentioned that last year was the year of the quarterback, I think six of them were black, they are getting more opportunities than ever to play, what are your feelings about that?

D: You always just want the best man to get a chance to play. I think that's all anybody ever wanted. Whether it's James Harris way back in the sixties or seventies or Donovan McNabb right now, this is a game of competition, we are in the entertainment and competition business and the best guy should get a chance to go out and make a living doing it. I think that is the only thing guys want for the players and also for the coaches to give everybody a chance to show what they can do.

Q: How much of is it of a luxury for Daunte to be able to look to his left and have Moss and look to his right and see Carter?

D: That's important no quarterback should ever go out and feel that he has to do it all. Joe Montana had Jerry Rice and Roger Craig those were very talented players. Steve Young had Jerry Rice, I mean I think it makes a big difference if you have some players around you. I'm glad you guys talk so glowingly about our players and I think that there are a lot of great talented receivers in the game. I think that we are fortunate to have two guys that are great players. Cris Carter is going to be a shoo-in, I would imagine first time ballot Hall of Fame because he has been such a consistent player. Never misses a game, never misses a day of practice, has put up some phenomenal numbers and Randy Moss is probably one of the best vertical receivers and our style is a vertical game vertical receivers. I think that helps Daunte, but we never want him to think that he has to do it by himself.

Q: Bill Belichick marveled earlier at Randy Moss's speed you see it every day do you take it for granted after awhile?

D: I think that it one thing to say a guy runs a 4.2, I think it is another thing to be on the field and actually see it and it has been phenomenal. There have been about four occasions in the two and half years where he has hit that extra gear and you think he is going full speed and he can run things down and it is amazing. Maybe someone is faster, but football speed I think he is probably the fastest guy in the game, on the football field.

Q: Bill Belichick said that he would like to see a Minnesota wind sprint to see Randy Moss and everybody sprint, he said that he would finish first, but who would finish second?

D: On our team? I don't know if Robert Smith would give that honor to Randy Moss because Robert Smith has incredible speed. I think he holds a NCAA record in track. It is hard to tell, Robert Tate can fly, he is very fast, Robert Smith is very fast. We played St. Louis last year they beat us in the playoffs and I'll tell you what they have got some guys that can fly also.

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