Vikings conference calls

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Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice (10/6/04)

(on what makes Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss such a good quarterback, receiver combination) "The same thing that's going to make (David) Carr and (Andre) Johnson a top duo. They've played together for a while and they get to know each other and know how each other think. They think the same way. They've been in the offensive system now with the same coordinator for three years. That's the same type development you'll get to experience down there with that very good tandem you guys have down there."

(on Culpepper's development)"I think he's made very steady progress as far as understanding our system as far as understanding where the weaknesses are in the protections, the weaknesses are in the runs, getting out of plays that could be detrimental plays to us, changing, audibling. I think he has relaxed more. He's such a fierce competitor. When he would make a mistake or something didn't go his way he would let that bother him for some time. I think he's shaking all of that off and he's just growing into the position and growing into the offense."

(on the abilities of the Vikings running backs)"They're different styles. Ontario (Smith) is more of a dirty, inside runner, great vision, cuts on the dime, gets going again, gets banged around, can break tackles. Michael (Bennett) is an explosive guy that if you give him a crack and he gets to that linebacker level he's going to make 15 yards before you blink. So they have different type styles. Moe (Williams) is just a warrior."

(on defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell)"Well I think you know he's done a great job of teaching our young players to understand what we're asking of them. I know the injury bug hasn't helped him any, especially at the linebacker positions. But I think they understand what his scheme is about. He's trying to put players in positions to make plays. I think he's brought a calmness there and the guys are playing hard for him."

(on if he's seen a better receiver than Moss) "Well I played with Steve Largent for a long time and he's in the Hall of Fame. He didn't have the athletic prowess that Randy certainly has but he was a very smart receiver and had excellent hands. I played with Art Monk with the Redskins. He was another very good receiver. Randy is probably the best talented receiver I've been around."

(on the match up between Moss and the Texans smaller defensive backs) "Randy's a big guy so every week he goes against smaller guys. I'm more concerned about Johnson against our smaller DB's.

(on what he likes about Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson)"Size, strength, excellent hands, can run, has deceiving speed, he is a playmaker. I like everything about him."

(on how much Moe Williams will contribute Sunday)"Moe will suit p definitely. What his role is going to be will be determined as he feels as the week progresses."

(on stopping the variety in the Texans backfield)"I think you put your defense in, you have your schemes and if you're a good defense you execute the schemes the way they're designed. You don't go out there the way like we've done over the first couple of games and try to make plays. I think you execute the scheme and the scheme is going to take care of it no matter what player is there. You're going to have some match up problems and you're going to try to cover those up and we all do, but as far as the run game is concerned, you've got to have one guy in the gap and you have to tackle well.

(on if he's concerned about the Vikings running game)"I'm never concerned about running the ball."

(on running the football vs. the pass)"We're going to always try to run the football. We might be a little bit more of a passing team now with the talent we have at the wide receiver position and that the quarterback is making such great decisions. So we might be a little bit out of balance to where I'd like to be but we're certainly in balance on the down that counts and that's first down."

(on what the Texans have after two-straight wins)"Confidence. They're playing with a high level of confidence."

(on what he learned after the Vikings faded away in 2003 after a strong start)"I learned that you need players to win. We didn't have enough bullets in the gun to get it done consistently after the first couple of weeks, after the first say six or seven weeks. We had some older guys who's legs gave out. We had some injuries to some other guys. We didn't have enough people to fill in and take their place. We didn't have enough speed on the field on defense and we didn't play solid special teams throughout the course of the season. We had some punting problems and those were the things that were our demise in that middle section. We actually at the end were playing good football in December I thought. We lost two games by two plays, one in Chicago, one in Arizona. I felt like in December we were playing better football than we were in September."

(on the Vikings young defense) "Some have developed quicker than others I think some guys are starting to come on over say the last two weeks. We had some guys in training camp we thought would step up and be ready opening week and they weren't. But we have some other guys that were. Right now we have some other young guys that were playing better say a month ago than they're playing now. That's the way it is with young people. What you're looking for is consistency, more consistency, a level of play that you can count on each and every week when you put those particular players on the field."

(on home teams losing more regularly across the NFL)"I don't know what those numbers indicate. I think the league is so evenly matched right now. I think that's a better barometer of home and away. I think the league is so even there aren't really a whole lot of elite teams if any. There might be a couple of teams, the New England's, the Philly's up there at the top that are pretty damn good and everyone else is about equal."

Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Daunte Culpepper (10/6/04)

(on he and Randy Moss being one of the best quarterback, receiver tandems in the national football league) "First I take that as a huge compliment. We work very well together. Since I became a Viking we've worked very well together. It's just two guys who have a tremendous amount of will, I'll say. We have the will to want to make big plays. I think when you put God-given talent together like that then you have a chance to make good things happen."

(on their familiarity with each other)"We've become more and more familiar with each other, especially on the field. I might see something and I might just nod my head at him and he'll know exactly what I'm thinking and he might change his route because we're thinking the same thing. He and I have been trying to get on the same page and do that more often the older we get in this offense and the more mature we get in this offense."

(on if they practice such a connection)"I think it comes with experience and some things we practice in practice. We have some situations where he might have a 10-yard curl route and I might get flushed out of the pocket and then I know he's going to take it deep down the middle of the field. That's just stuff we practice and it becomes kind of a second nature thing."

(on the Vikings running back situation)"We've got some younger guys stepping in at running back, Mewelde Moore and Larry Ned. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in both of those guys. I just have to be more focused. I've got to understand that (Michael) Bennett and Ontario (Smith) or Moe (Williams) may not even be out there. I just have to take it into consideration but at the same time I still only can do my job. That's all they pay me to do, that's all they ask me to do so I try to do whatever I can to get us down the field."

(on if Moss is maturing as a player)"Randy is definitely maturing. He's stepping up, he's taking more of a leadership role, and he understands the big picture a little bit more now. I think that's going to be good for us and be very instrumental for us making this championship run, understanding he can be a great player and everything but to be a leader you have to lead by example. That's what he's starting to do now."

(on what the team learned after fading down the stretch in 2003)"We learned that it's a long season. The season is long. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. You want to start fast, but you want to finish stronger. That's our motto this year. We don't just want to start fast, we want to finish stronger. So we just have to take it one week at a time and just realize that this season is not a sprint, it's a marathon and the team that can sustain the longest is the one that's going to be the champion."

(on if the league's emphasis on illegal contact between cornerbacks and receivers is something he and Moss take advantage of)"Yeah, we try to do that every week – get him in one-on-one situations and whatnot and hopefully we can come out on the better side of those penalties. They implemented it I guess for that reason, because guys like Randy were getting hammered down the field and hopefully that won't happen anymore."

(on how good Moss is)"He's really good. He has all the capabilities to be one of the best ever to play the game. He has everything that you want in a receiver plus he's a great athlete on top of that. He has my vote. He's probably the best receiver in the game right now, I think. I don't mind saying that because I really feel that way."

(on the Texans defense)"I give those guys a lot of credit. Their defense is doing a great job. Glenn, he does a tremendous job, Sharper, all the guys in the middle, the defensive front. I have a lot of respect for those guys and we have to defiantly be on top of our game. We are going to try to just take what they give us and like I said be prepared for whatever. They don't really know us and we don't really know them, we just pick up the film from a little bit of last year and these games they played this year. It's going to be a treat. I'm looking forward to it."

(on splitting the ball between receivers)"Whatever we can do to get the ball down field. If they want to double or triple Randy then other guys have to step up and make plays. That's what we've been able to do for the most part and we just want to continue that."

(on what he likes about his own development)"Just maturing in this offense and realizing that I don't have to make every play. I don't have to do something spectacular. Sometimes just throwing the ball away out of bounds when everybody's covered is spectacular. It might not show up in the box scores but when we watch the game film my coaches, they give me a plus grade for stuff like that because that's how you keep mistakes down and sometimes you just have to realize the defense can just have a good play called that play but next play it's something different. That play you just want to make a good decision. My decision making is gotten better and better. I want to continue to improve, every play every game with that."

(on what the team needs to do to take it to the next level)"We've got to start winning on the road. We've got to win on the road. That's the number one thing. To be an elite team you have to win on the road. You got to be able to win anywhere. That's our goal right now."

(on the losing streak at outdoor stadiums)"I really can't explain it. What we've got to do is do something about it. Some games are close games, you either lose or you win. It takes a couple of plays. You just have to pay attention to detail as a team and go out and take care of business, as simple as that. We've got to definitely turn that around and get a winning road games streak going."

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