Q: What is the challenge of their defensive line?
A: All of them. They're good players and always in the noise of the away stadium or away venue and then in an indoor stadium, it makes it very, very challenging. They're as good a defensive group as you're going to face and that defensive front is certainly one of the strong points.
Q: Rich Seubert has downplayed the value of what he has done moving to center. Can you speak to that?
A: It's hard to put a percentage of how valuable it is, but it's not nearly as easy as he has made it sound. The thing that is impressive is that not only has he gone in there, he's played extremely well at the center position and the center position is so vital in terms of communication and coordination and the cohesion of the whole group and certainly Shaun O'Hara is a great player and losing him is a big loss, but we anticipated it was going to be even more devastating and it hasn't been only because of the way Richie has played. Richie has been outstanding.
Q: Eli is going to make his 100th consecutive start. Were there times you really didn't think he was going to be able to go?
A: Dallas was probably the most and then the one in Oakland with the foot injury, but he's a lot tougher than I think he's given credit for and he does a great job of his preparation and what he does in terms of getting his body ready to play, so from all of those standpoints and I think there is also a determination to get out and play. I think he's very proud of the fact that he's playing too even though he doesn't express it necessarily, he realizes that that's what gives our team a chance to win.
Q: Can you talk about the luxury and the rarity of having a quarterback who is always in there?
A: The luxury is that you've got the most important position on your football team out there. Just having a player that has done it, is experienced, who you depend upon both with his ability to perform the position and also for the ability to lead and direct the rest of the attack - it's hard to win without your starter out there even if your backup is an experienced player and a talented player, he hasn't done it. The guy that's done it, has run your offense and implemented your scheme and understands the nuances of what you're trying to do and knows what the checks are - it just gives the whole team a better chance to be effective.
Q: How much has he grown in the time that you've had him? Do you remember when you first got him?
A: It's light years. Like it was yesterday, I can still remember that one of the checks was "Toss here" because he couldn't think of what the term was, so we've come a long way from that point. He prides himself on being able to be an extension of us - of the coaches - and he does a terrific job of that. I've said many times, a lot of the success of our running game is attributed to the fact that he knows what the weaknesses are in the front and where to direct and what plays to get in and out of and he does a tremendous job of that.
Q: Was that in a training camp practice?
A: Oh no. That was in a game.
Q: Was it his first game?
A: No, but it was the first year.
Q: Had to be the Ravens.
A: The Ravens - that's a great one. They were just toying with him, turning their back on him and everything else because he was trying to point out who the mike was and when he'd go to point out who it was they'd turn around and show him their number. It was not a good day.
Q: How did that play work when he called toss?
A: Good. We picked up a first down. Sometimes we give the defense too much credit.
Q: Do you remember the name of that play?
A: It was a crack. We ran a toss crack.
Q: The Vikings don't look like they've blitzed a lot defensively. Do they make you earn your way down the field?
A: That's a great question. They're not like some of the teams we play that are going to blitz 45-50% of the time - they're not going to do that - but if the game is close, they blitz a lot more than their statistics would reflect otherwise. We've got a four-game breakdown that says that on third down they played two high almost 80% of the time, but if you look at the games, it's the games that they're blowing people out that they're in that Tampa two, but when it's close it's much more man free in a mixture of the two high and the blitzes come at a much higher percentage. I would not call them a blitzing team. They are an effective blitzing team and they do a nice job of trying to take the double teams off of those great pass rushers.
Q: The third and short toss plays to Ahmad still work. Why is that?
A: Because it's not all we do. It's still a low percentage of what we do, so if you're defending that then you're making yourself susceptible to some of the other things that we do, which we do more frequently, so it's been effective for us.
Q: Is it also that he can get out of some tackles?
A: He's a good player. There's no question. Especially in the open spaces, he has the capability of making people miss.
Q: He's not your typical short yardage back.
A: No. That's why we usually employ him with three wides, four wides and that kind of thing, so it's a passing formation that we are going to pass from more than we run from, but when we do run, it's been effective for us.