Q: Anybody else not scheduled to practice?
A: (Nick) Greisen won't practice, but I expect that he will be ready to go.
Q: There have been a lot of off the field issues in Minnesota this year. From your perspective, how hard is it to control your players when they are adults and have a lot of free time on their hands?
A: Hopefully you have the right people and they have the common goal of winning and achieving and that comes above everything else. I think what has to happen there is that everyone has to be on the same page. Everybody has to be accountable to each other and everybody has to understand what the franchise stands for and what you are in this game for. And that is for everyone to work as hard as they possibly can to put your team in a position to win. And that is what we are here for.
Q: In your mind is character as much a part of the evaluation of a player as talent these days, or should it be?
A: It has always been. Any evaluation that I have ever been a part of, that has always been a key factor, and it will always remain that way.
Q: Adding Brad Johnson at the quarterback position, how does that change what the Vikings are doing?
A: What the Vikings did last weekend was to construct a plan which suited them very well and put them in a position where they also took full advantage of the two turnovers - one in the green zone and right on the fringe of the green zone and allowed them to score twice. They ran the ball very effectively, had a big day rushing the football. Brad Johnson was very poised, very alert, controlled the game from the quarterback standpoint, didn't make any errors. They played well on defense. As I said, they got the two key turnovers. So his game management was outstanding. He is a veteran, he has great poise, he has been there many times before. He played a very good game having had a full week of practice; he played a very good game against Detroit. And they did the things that they had to do in order to win. They rushed the ball and played good defense and turned the ball over and their kicking game is outstanding.
Q: Last week your offensive line had penalties that were costly, obviously. Overall, how would you assess ? you have had penalties from time to time ? the run game is pretty good. How do you assess what they are doing at this point?
A: Well, we didn't get sacked against a very complicated and good defensive team. Now some of that on a couple of occasions was Eli's ability to slide and deliver the ball, too. But we play hard; there is a lot of pride up there. They really work at their game. The penalties are an issue that we have talked about until, quite frankly, we are blue in the face. And we will continue to do that. They are very, very bothersome. They are a nemesis to us. The two third-downs that were brought back were very difficult to swallow. Because they had momentum, rhythm, field position ? there was some 52 yards involved there and two of them were third-down conversions that would have allowed us to keep the ball. So they are untimely and we were working like heck towards that. It is most unfortunate when they occur, that they occur at all.
Q: Are they legitimate?
A: Well, I have my opinion.
Q: You evaluate them. If they are bogus calls in your mind you are not going to lay into the player in the same way as if they were legitimate, right?
A: No, but it doesn't change the result because the official made the call. It is a penalty that hurt our football team. There is something that we have to take away from that. Certainly, I don't feel as strongly about them when they are not flagrant. Our game is a game of size and speed. And sometimes your feet are not in the position that they are supposed to be in. But I can't change what happened. So therefore the result is the result, unfortunate as it may be. And you have to go ahead and try to coach that but it is just like anything else, it is constructive rather than criticism. It is not about the individual, it is about the act. And it is about trying to correct it.
Q: In your experience, when a team beats another team a couple of years in a row (or four out of five like you have done to Minnesota) how much does that help the one team mentally and the other team as far as confidence?
A: I think it certainly gives you confidence that you have played against that particular team and you have had success, but I'll say it again, every year is a different year; it is a new team and so on and so forth, and they have certainly helped themselves by winning last weekend, I think.
Q: Discipline is a very prominent issue in the NFL right now. Is your approach that if you maintain discipline throughout the week? I know you have various rules that if you can maintain them it leads to on-field discipline and maybe even discipline when they are off on their own?
A: Hopefully it is a mindset. It is an understanding of what your responsibilities are. But we deal with our own team. We are interested in our team. We are not interested in anything else but our team.
Q: When you look at Eli now versus last year what do you see as really coming along? What specifically do you see as a sign of his development?
A: Well, for the 987th time, I see a young quarterback that progresses every game, that studies hard, that works hard, that learns from every experience that he has, that comes to the sideline and knows exactly what he is seeing. He can tell you about it. Not everything is perfect. Not everything goes the way you want it go. He doesn't always get the ball to the guy you think maybe he should have, but he has a reason for why he didn't, and usually it is a sound reason. He is humble, he wants to be very good. He takes all of these experiences and provides himself with another building block or foundation to go to the next step.
Q: I know your focus is on this team, but I would imagine we and most of your players are at least aware of the Eagles being in a little bit of turmoil at the moment. Do you have any reaction when you see that?
A: No. I'm thinking about the Minnesota Vikings.
Q: RE: Vikings defense ? what have they done well, particularly last week?
A: Well, they are a team ? I think that Pat Williams has really helped their front ? I think they are strong. I think between Kevin Williams and Pat Williams you have two very, very good defensive tackles. Erasmus James has been brought along slowly, now to the point they are back playing the 4-3 and he is playing at the defensive end position. Their linebackers are physical; they are big, they will strike you. Some points were made last week ? Winfield talked about being in cover two, allowing him to see things in front of him, as physical and aggressive as he is as a corner, he 11 tackles in that game against Detroit. The safeties are both veteran people who are smart, they have seen it before. They can adjust. They can get their people into position. So that is what I see. I see the numbers just like everybody else, but I also see the plays that are made and just as you see a team that has played very well at home and has struggled on the run, they have gotten behind on the road and that is kind of what has happened in that regard.
Q: Some people talk about your team now as the class of conference. In New England the other night Peyton was even asked about a Manning vs Manning Super Bowl. Is this a great compliment to you to what you have done so far, or is it just way too premature?
A: We are interested in the next game. We are at the mid-point of a 16-game schedule and we are talking about trying to prepare our team one day at a time for the next very important football game. As we go along, each game becomes more important. And that is where all our focus is; we won't allow ourselves to think beyond that.
Q: Why has your defense been so effective the last two weeks?
A: We have gotten good, really outstanding, play out of our front four. We have been in real good position. I think our coverage, except for a couple of times, has been better. I think the pressure we have put on ? we have stopped the run two weeks in a row and we have been able, therefore, to exert some real pressure on the pocket. Last weekend was a very young quarterback. The design, I thought, was very good for them to try to take the pressure off him. But we played well together. We have finished some plays; we have played as one a couple of weeks in row, rather than fragmented. People are doing a better job with their assignments, if you will. The execution has been better. I think our front has been playing pretty well.