With the Vikings spending the next two years at TCF Bank Stadium, weather is going to have an impact – in some instances, it could be extreme. But special teams coach Mike Priefer said he already has his best men on the case of determining the quirks of the University of Minnesota's football stadium.
"It will definitely affect it – late in the year, especially," Priefer said. "The great thing is that we have had our specialists go down there three times this spring. Jeff (Locke) and Blair (Walsh) went down there back during the first minicamp and it was a real windy, cold, blustery day and they got a really good idea of what the winds are going to do. Jeff's got this elaborate drawing of what the winds are going to do that he and Blair put together. I mean, these are smart guys, a lot smarter than me. The last two weeks we have sent Cullen (Loeffler) down with them, so the three specialists have gone down and have gotten a lot of work down in TCF and to feel more comfortable down there. It's never going to be easy, especially late in the year when it's really windy. If you know where the winds are going, you have your sight lines, we're going to use that as a home-field advantage."
Priefer has yet to formulate his own plan because, quite simply, he hasn't followed Walsh, Locke and Loeffler on their sojourns across the river. However, he has his share of experience coaching in late-season wind, snow and cold. Given that The Bank is a different design with unique features that could impact kicks depending on what direction the kick is going, they're going to try to determine all the different potential contingencies.
"I haven't been down there but I can imagine, coaching (at) Green Bay, coaching (at) Chicago during bad weather, it's going to probably be very similar," Priefer said. "But if we have an idea of the wind patterns and how they come off of the big scoreboard on the one end – they've got the closed end on the other side – so we will have a good idea going into every pregame of how strong the winds are, what the crosswinds are going to be like, tailwind, headwind and what we need to do to be successful and it should be an advantage over our opponent."
With the stadium mostly open at one end, TCF Bank Stadium will be unique. Teams have consistently struggled in a similar situation at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with one closed end of the stadium and one open end. Priefer was asked if he thought the unique scoreboard feature would make The Bank more problematic and different from most open-air stadiums.
"I think so," Priefer said. "I know Seattle has those two open ends right there. But in terms it has that big huge scoreboard in that one end that will affect the winds some. It will go around that scoreboard, whip off one side and come across on the other side. It will definitely be a factor, but one that we are hoping to get used to."
MINICAMP NOTES & QUOTES
"He's got good hands," Turner said. "I think he's comfortable with the routes that we would ask him to run. I think he's intrigued by it. You would have to ask him. I think he's doing really well with it. It's certainly not the lead part of what we're doing."
"I think once you get over that shock factor of it, it's completely different," Turner said. "It's a totally different system from what they've done – not so much some of the plays, but the terminology and the way we call things. The guys have jumped all over it and I think why they do it is they've talked to people who have been in this system, they look at the guys who have been in this system and the success different players have had and they realize that it gives them opportunity to have great production."
"It's been good," Edwards said. "I've worked with Zim way back from back in Dallas, so we have known each other a long time – a good working relationship, a lot of respect for what he has done in this league, defensively. Systematically, with this system as it has grown over the years and seeing where it's at, so it's been a great working relationship."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.