Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer**
OPENING STATEMENT: First of all I'd like to say that I'll address the Adrian (Peterson) situation at another time. I want to concentrate on today's game and we'll go from there on that. As far as today's game, it was disappointing. New England did a nice job. They did a good job of running the football offensively and they did a good job of pressuring us defensively. Any time you have four turnovers, I believe it was four turnovers, and a blocked field goal for a touchdown you're going to get beat. Like I told the team, I was disappointed in the way that we didn't have any sense of urgency offensively for the whole ball game other than maybe the first drive, but also I told them just like last week was one week, this week was one week as well. We're not going to hang our heads and pout, we're going to go about our business and get back to work. We have to play a lot better than we did today.
Q:How did you guys come to the decision to not play Adrian Peterson today?
MZ:I don't want to discuss the Adrian issue at all today. This is about the football game here so we'll talk about it Monday or whenever we have the press conference.
The New England Patriots visit TCF Bank Stadium for their Week 2 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
Q: **Do you think hearing the negative news Friday affected the team today?
MZ:No, it didn't affect the team. You know what affected the team? Throwing interceptions, getting a field goal blocked, not tackling well enough, having penalties on defense. That's what affected the team. The team was fine.
Q:Did you ever consider putting Teddy Bridgewater in the game?
MZ:No, but as I've said before, I'm going to hold the quarterback position just like every position here to the same standard and I also said I wasn't going to have a quick hook. Matt (Cassel) needs to play better, it's pretty obvious he needs to play better, we all need to play better. I need to coach better.
Q:Can you talk about how much of a difference one week makes in the NFL?
MZ:Well you know, it's the same as last week. We intercepted a pass for a touchdown. I think if we don't get the field goal blocked for a touchdown right before the half, it's a completely different ball game going into the half. Then the rest of the way, the 3rd quarter, we're just fighting to stay in there and we get a couple of turnovers and they get field goals off of them so… Defensively we did a few good things today, we did some good things. We didn't allow a bunch of points off the turnovers. We fought, we didn't play good I don't think. They did a good job of keeping us off balance offensively I thought. They came in obviously with a plan to run the football and not let us get into these pressure situations that they did but every week is a different week and they did a nice job. They took good care of the ball and they weren't…the thing about New England, and it's always been about New England, it's winning the football game. It doesn't matter about statistics, individual goals, whatever they do, they go to win games. I'm not saying our team's like that because I don't believe it is, but it's a good way to be. You win as a team you lose as a team. Today we lost as a team.
Q:How tough was it on Matt Cassel that the run game didn't show up today?
MZ:I don't think that was the key. We didn't extend drives and we got hit a few times today too so we didn't do a good job of protecting him. They covered our receivers good so we have to get back to work.
Q:Can you say certainly that Matt Cassel will be your starter next week?
Q:Were you a little surprised that the offense started off so good then went sideways from there? Were there some adjustments?
MZ:I think they did a better job. They changed up a few of the things they were doing defensively. They were starting to rush some inside linebackers and drop some of the outside linebackers and then they did a better job of covering in the first part of the ball game. We got behind the eight ball so many times. Unless you can keep a defense off balance, which they did to us today, unless you keep them off balance it's hard when you start giving them so many opportunities, it's a tough D.
Q:You practiced all week thinking you would have Adrian. To what degree did you have to change what you intended to do offensively?
MZ:Not too much. We had plays up for the other guys.
Q:How do you think Matt performed with Adrian out?
MZ:I don't think Adrian being out had anything to do with it.
Q:Well his performance in general?
MZ:Not well enough. Oh, you're talking about [Matt] Asiata. He did some good things and there are some yards he left out there but we all could have done better.
Q:How do you evaluate the special teams play? I guess at one point on a punt return there were only nine guys on the field.
MZ:Yeah, it wasn't too good. It wasn't too good.
Q:From a football standpoint if you had Adrian out there he would have had some impact on the game.
MZ:Well if you took the best player off of every team it would have an impact, yes. Of course.
Q:What impact do you think it had on the team on the football field?
MZ:I think he could have gotten injured on the first play of the game. We've got to go on and go about it. It's just part of life. Would we have liked to have him? Sure. But I think any time you lose your best player, it's a team game, everybody has to step up. I'm sure that when [Aaron] Rodgers went down last year that Green Bay had to suck it up and go so we've got to suck it up too, we didn't today.
Q:How soon do you anticipate you'll have a decision on Adrian's status for Week 3?
MZ:I don't know to be honest. We're just trying to get through the weekend right now and we'll figure out where everything is and again I don't really want to talk about it. You guys can keep asking me and I'll give you the same answer – we'll talk about it next week.
Q:Will Adrian be at the facility tomorrow?
MZ:I don't want to talk about it. Let's talk about the game. Do you want to talk about the game?
Q:Did you talk to Matt Cassel about what he saw on that first interception when he was targeting Jarius Wright?
MZ:He thought he saw the corner leading to the outside and I don't think he saw the safety coming up there.
Q:You played against Matt Cassel last season when he also had three interceptions. It seems like when Matt Cassel starts to get going he blows up. Does he have consistency problems?
MZ:Last year was so long ago. I think he's done a great job of taking care of the ball in the preseason, I think he did a good job last week. We've got to take better care of the football than what we did today.
Q:How do you assess the play of Xavier Rhodes? And were those pass interference penalties warranted?
MZ:Well they were called so I'm assuming they were good calls. These officials do a good job. We've got to do a better job of getting him in better position than what he was. I don't know. I really don't have a comment on that.
Q:Are you implying that there was a lack of effort today by your offense?
MZ:No, not at all. I think there was a lack of urgency, getting in and out of the huddle. We don't practice that way. We don't practice that way and I was disappointed in that part, more so than anything, disappointed. We were just kind of out there a little bit. It wasn't that they weren't trying hard or excited to play, I think they were ready to play. We just weren't crisp today like we have been every single day, almost every single day in practice.
Q:Do you know what might have caused this?
MZ:Nope, that's the first, and I told them after the game that that's' the first I've ever seen it. We've had bad practices and stuff but I haven't seen it in three weeks maybe, guys just mulling around getting lined up. I don't know but I'm going to address it.
Q:What happened on the blocked field goal in the second quarter?
MZ:The guy, I believe he was over the tackle, he swam inside and just came over the top of us.
Q:Do you have any updated knowledge as to if Mike Priefer will return this week?
MZ:I do not. As far as I know it's three weeks.
Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel
OPENING STATEMENT: Obviously, it was a disappointing performance. It's one of those situations that obviously, we can't turn over the ball. I can't turn over the ball, especially against a good football team like we played today. You can't afford that. I have to do a better job taking care of the ball. I think offensively we've got to play better collectively. Play with more of a sense of urgency. It's one week and we will preach that without a doubt. I think this team has enough guys in that locker room, we have good leadership. We have a good coaching staff that will try to put this one behind us as quickly as possible and move forward.
Q: **What changed offensively for you after your first drive of the game? It looked like the offense didn't have the same rhythm.
MC:I agree. That's kind of what it felt like. I think we went down the field on that first drive. We did some really good things, went down and put together a scoring drive and then from that point on we had some penalties and obviously, the turnovers. Again, that responsibility lies on me. I have got to do a better job of taking care of the football.
Q:What did you see on your first interception?
MC:It was one of those that we had a post route on the other side and the safety was cheating toward the two-route. I thought he did a heck of a job getting to that ball. We had practiced that play during the week and we were trying to take a shot (downfield). (Devin) McCourty actually rebounded and like I said, did a good job of getting over there. That's where the read took me based on where he was on the opposite hash.
Q:Coach Zimmer said you will start next Sunday, do you appreciate his confidence?
MC:I do appreciate it. There's no doubt about it, obviously, today was a tough day for me. You want to put your team in a great position to win and like I said, I take full responsibility for not taking care of the football today. I've got to do a better job, and I will. Like I said, it didn't go the way I wanted it to go today.
Q:How do you think not having Adrian Peterson impacted your game today?
MC:I think that the game plan didn't change at all, to be completely honest with you. I think that Matt Asiata and Jerick (McKinnon) did a great job throughout the day. Again, you'd have to ask everybody collectively. I don't think it had a tremendous impact, but at the same time, Adrian is Adrain.
Q:Do you think the Patriots familiarity with you gave them an advantage?
MC:I don't think so, you have to take into account the personnel and everything else going on, because obviously, when I was there I was a different player than what I am today. I think that they did a pretty good job. They had a scheme that they wanted to run when they went in, they matched (Darrelle) Revis with Greg (Jennings) all day, he did a pretty good job. Again, I think that overall, after that first drive we never got back into rhythm and that was the main issue for us.
Q:Are you saying the loss of Adrian Peterson had no impact on this game?
MC:I guess I'm not saying that. I wouldn't say that. It's Adrian Peterson, like I said, he's definitely an impact player without a doubt. At the same time, I don't think that we can use that as an excuse for why we performed the way that we did today. The great example was last year when we lost him for the Philadelphia game and the team went out and performed well and won the game without him as well. That happens sometime whether it's through injury or unfortunate circumstance, you're going lose players and you have to learn how to close ranks and move forward.
Q:When you heard about Adrian Peterson's allegations, what was your reaction?
MC:I was shocked. Probably like everybody else. It's a situation that I don't know enough about the circumstances and everything to really comment on at this point. At the same time, it's unfortunate for everybody involved.
Q:Do you think emotionally hearing such shocking news affected the team today?
MC:Like I said, I'm not going to make excuses and say that just because Adrian Peterson wasn't playing today is the reason why we faltered. Again, there is a number of different reasons and like I said, I will take full responsibility. I've got to take better care of the ball and not give short fields against a good team and maybe the circumstances would be different today.
Q:What did you think of the personnel of the Patriots defense?
MC:Really, they played a lot of man coverage today. They went to more a four-down (lineman) scheme and rushed us today. They normally are a 3-4 scheme, it wasn't too surprising, they just played good coverage throughout the day.
Q:When you hear the fans chanting for Teddy Bridgewater, what does that do?
MC:If you play this position for long enough, you have got to have tough skin, that's how it goes. I know the fans were frustrated today, just like we were frustrated, I understand that. When you lose in the manner in which we did, and when I was struggling a little bit I can understand their frustration. At the same time, you have got to try to tune it out and go out there and perform.
Q:Did the Adrian Peterson incident feel like a distraction?
MC:I don't know how to answer that exactly. Our main focus was then at that point, okay, are we adjusting the game plan, are we not? We weren't at all. We went in, we practiced well throughout the week. I have a lot in confidence in Matt Asiata and Jerick (McKinnon), they played a lot throughout the preseason, because Adrian didn't play at all. I'm not going to sit here and say it was a major distraction.
Q:Did you have any idea this was coming or did it completely blindside you?
MC:It completely blindsided me for sure.
Q:What did the blocked field goal returned for a touchdown like emotionally?
MC:It's a huge momentum swing, no doubt about it. Because then you're a one-score game and it becomes a two-score game at that point. You put together a good drive at the end of the half and that's where we wanted to be at that point and unfortunately the kick got blocked. It's a huge momentum shift, especially with them getting the ball to start the third.
Q:On the throw right before that when you missed Cordarrelle Patterson, what happened?
MC:I had to put it outside away from the safety, it was a split safety and over the corners head. I threw it where I wanted to and unfortunately we weren't able to complete it inbounds.
Q:Before the game, how did Coach Zimmer explain how to block out the distractions?
MC:He addressed it with the team, he addressed it on Saturday. I won't go into much detail on what was said. He definitely brought up some great points about how adversity comes in every football season, this is some adversity that our team is facing early on in the season and we all have to do our part to come together. He used some great examples in his own experiences that I think everybody understood his point and what we need to get done.
Q:Were there any players that addressed the situation?
MC:It was addressed in the team meeting room and that's just kind of how it went about.
Q:Is consistency been a problem for you and why?
MC:Today was one game in a 16 game season. Of course, at time would I have liked to change some outcomes and circumstances? Of course. I think any quarterback in this league would tell you that at times.
Vikings Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson
Q:How surprised were you on Friday when you learned you guys you wouldn't have your best offensive football player?
CP:It was surprising, it happened in May and it's just coming out, so it shocked us, but that's our friend and we have to execute without him. We have a lot of good players on offense, so we have to go out and handle our business.
Q:What was the impact of not having him [Adrian Peterson] on the field today?
CP:There was no impact, we have game plans with or without Adrian. We know he's the best rusher in the NFL, so we have to go out and do what we do best. The whole preseason we didn't have him and this offense was lights out, so we have to know how to work without him in the regular season.
Q:Has he [Adrian Peterson] communicated with the team at all or yourself?
CP:We've talked to him. We have Adrian and his family in our prayers. We miss him, but he has to take care of his business before he can get back out here, so we're ready for him to come back, but if he's not with us next week we'll have a game plan without him.
Q:When things don't go right how does it feel to lose one of those emotional leaders? Do you feel that you have to step up now?
CP:It's not that. We have so many leaders in this locker room you can't base it off one player. This team knows how to lead ourselves and we can't worry about what Adrian's doing.
Q:Are you surprised you didn't get a carry?
CP:I told you in the interview that I probably wouldn't get a carry. I was the decoy during the game and it paid off a lot. Everybody was focused on 84 and you have 44 wide open on the sideline for a touchdown.
Q:Mike Zimmer said that it looked like you guys were a little sluggish coming in and out of the huddle and executing. Did it feel like that out there to you? Did you feel off?
CP:We all felt off. I think it was because 28 wasn't there. Some guys you can build off of them, so we have to learn how to focus on 28 and focus on the team with or without Adrian [Peterson]. Next week we have to go out and game plan without him, but if he's here we really need him.
Q:What do you think about the public's reaction to why he was deactivated and the charges against him?
CP:We can't worry about the public or what they say. We are focused on us and this offense. We have Adrian [Peterson] in our prayers and we miss him, but we're the Vikings, we have to worry about ourselves before we worry about one player.
Q:It seemed like when there were mistakes made this week they were big and it cost you big, so when mistakes turn into points on the board for the other team does that make it more difficult than usual?
CP:We gave up around four interceptions and five takeaways and we can't do that. Hats off to our defense, they played a heck of a game. We did a bad job by throwing interceptions and getting them down there. This week we have to step up our offense as a unit and play better. We know our defense comes each week ready to play, so we have to get points on the board.
Q:If you're without Adrian Peterson what becomes the identity of this offense?
CP:You saw the first drive. The first drive we went down and scored, so it's not missing Adrian. We have Matt [Asiata] in the backfield and we have backups. There's nothing we can't do without Adrian, we have to get the mindset that 28 won't be here with us, so we have to come in and do what we do best.
Vikings Wide Receiver Greg Jennings
Q:With Adrian Peterson unavailable to you guys what's the impact of not having him in the game on this offense?
GJ:Obviously, that's our number one runner, whether he's here or not, we have to execute better.
Q:How has the leadership effected by this team without Adrian Peterson here?
GJ:I think we have great leadership. He's been here eight years, so what he brings to the table is just that, experience and consistency, but we have 53 guys that can get it done whether a guy can't go every week, whether it's Chad [Greenway] who's been here longer, that's just the way this league works. One guy goes down the next guy steps up, that's how you win a ballgame.
Q:What has to change for you guys this week to recover as the Saints come up?
GJ:We have to outscore our opponents. Defense did a great job stopping them. Offensively, we didn't do our part today. We didn't execute, we didn't get the ball in the end zone and we didn't score any points to help our defense out and to give ourselves the opportunity to win this ballgame.
Q:What was it like emotionally Friday and Saturday? Did it drain this team much as the facts came up and everything was a scramble?
GJ:No, it's business as usual. This is the nature of business, this is the life we live. There's going to be adversity and you have to take it and keep moving. This is nothing new when adversity hits, it's just the way things are. There's going to be adverse situations that every team faces and it's all about how you respond.
Q:You guys came back from St. Louis with a ton of momentum and continued that on the opening drive. Were you shocked how fast that turned?
GJ:It's the nature of the game. You have to come out and play every week. It's not about what we did in St. Louis it's about what you're going to do this week and we didn't come out and execute.
Q:How did Mike Zimmer address you guys after the game?
GJ:He was disappointed. We lost, and we lost bad. He was very disappointed.
Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway
Q:Where do you go from here? 48 hours ago there were a lot of good vibes, now it's a different season almost.
CG:I think it's what you see every year that we have. We couldn't get anything going. We had turnovers; defensively we had penalties and negative field. We just created opportunities for them and special team errors. It's a full team loss. It feels a little bit too much like what we've been doing around here so we need to clean things up. Just like you take a win you need to take a loss. You've got 14 more to go. It's not the type of performance you want to put out there for your fans at home, or anywhere, but for sure in your home opener. It just wasn't good enough in any area and we got to get back to work with week 3 coming up. It's not going to slow down.
Q:I know it's not your side of the ball, but how have you been able to process the last 48 hours and what this franchise has been through?
CG:It's too new to comment. The situation is extremely tough and personal and something that probably shouldn't be commented on.
Q:You say this is a reminiscent of last year. Are you talking about the tough plays from last year?
CG:Just making mistakes in all areas and giving opportunities to a Hall of Fame quarterback to stay on the field. Field position and defensively you're never going to make an excuse and make it someone else's fault. You always have a blade of grass to defend like in that first one, first- and- goal, we have to try and get a stop. That can really change the outcome of a game. If you can stand up and stop them that's big. We obviously didn't get the job done. That's just an instance right there where you can change the outcome of the game and the vibe on the sidelines. Reality is you win and lose together and we are going to continue to do that throughout the year. There are going to be a lot of highs and lows. It's the NFL, it's hard to win them all.
Q:I know it's the secondary, but do you talk to any of the younger guys like Xavier Rhodes when you see them get hit with a lot of those penalties?
CG:It's so difficult to do that while you're in game and things are flying and Tom Brady is looking at you trying to throw the ball so I mean it's hard to do that. It's tough, they were calling it tight and it's just a tough situation and you have to stand up and play as well as you can. I'm sure Xavier (Rhodes) wants to be the first one if you ask him, I'm not even sure who had the penalties but since you pointed him out, those guys want to make those plays worse than anybody. They'll be the first ones to be hard on themselves.