Everson Griffen has turned out to be an outstanding NFL player, and the Vikings defensive end gives his college coach, Pete Carroll — now the Seattle Seahawks coach — a lot of credit. I asked him about Carroll’s influence and several other questions.
What did he learn from Carroll at USC?
“Pete Carroll was all about hard work,” Griffen said. “He ingrained hard work into his players. He was a great coach I had at USC. He did a lot of great things for the college and for the players and he was a great coach. He had enthusiasm and was a real good coach.”
How does Carroll compare to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer?
“The difference from coach Zimmer to Pete Carroll, I feel like Pete Carroll is more of a laid-back, relaxed coach, and he still finds a way to get a lot out of players,” Griffen said. “Coach Zimmer is very authentic, he’s also a players coach. They have a lot of similarities. In some aspects they’re the same, and in some they’re different. Coach Zimmer brings passion to the game and loves the game of football, just like Pete Carroll did. They’re both great coaches I’ve had.”
How do you keep improving?
“By focusing on my craft and trying to get better and become a better player each and every year,” Griffen said. “If you’re not evolving in this league and you stay the same, you’re going to be out of here in no time. My whole goal is to keep on evolving my game and become a better me so I can stay in this league for a very long time.”
Would you rather be a linebacker or on the line, having played both?
“I love defensive end, because you get to rush the passer more, and I like rushing the passer and playing the run,” he said.
Griffen was asked to assess the Vikings’ defensive line.
“We have a lot of solid guys,” he said. “We have Danielle Hunter, we have Brian Robison, we have Linval [Joseph], we have Sharrif [Floyd], we have Shamar [Stephen], we have Tom [Johnson], myself. We can cause a lot of havoc this year. But we have to be able to come together as a team, gel together as a D line and be on the same page with one another to get to where we want to go.
“My role is to keep the guys in line and go out and play the best ball I can for my team. If I can win my individual battles and help this team win, that’s what I have to do.”
How do you feel when you hear you’re considered one of the best defensive ends in the NFL?
“I have to go out there each and every week to prove to them that I can be the best, and I’m working to be the best,” he said. “It’s always grinding to protect my craft and take care of the small details.”
Trouble for Packers?
The headline in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal sports pages read: “The Green Bay Packers Bandwagon May Be Headed for a Crash.”
While the story gave some hope that the Packers would be better this season, with wide receiver Jordy Nelson back after being out all last year because of a knee injury, it reported a negative stat that could hurt them. The Packers finished Sunday’s game against Jacksonville with an average of 5.7 yards per pass — almost exactly their figure for last season, when it was the worst in the NFL. And the story indicated that even before Sunday’s victory, poor performance in that statistic often predicted that teams would struggle the following season.
The story didn’t point out that a Jacksonville team — which had a record of 19-62 in the past six years before this season — had the ball on the Packers 14-yard line, fourth-and-1, with 14 seconds to play and a chance to score the winning touchdown before the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs and lost 27-23.
Kaler on Robinson
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler was asked to comment on the firing of Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson.
“The university carried out a thorough investigation, and when the findings were in hand, the athletic director [Mark Coyle] made the decision to let the coach go for cause,” Kaler said. “He consulted with me and I, with the leadership of the Board of Regents, agreed this was the right thing to do for the future of our wrestling program.”
Brandon Eggum is the interim Gophers wrestling coach. Kaler was asked if he expects Robinson to sue the university.
“This is a society in which a lot of lawsuits are filed,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll move forward, but we’ll wait and see.”
• Phil Huebner, the Vikings’ vice president of ticket sales and operations, has been with the team for 19 years, and he reports that during his tenure, there never has been a demand for tickets like for Sunday night’s Packers-Vikings game, the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Green Bay Gazette reported that the average resale price for tickets to the game is $424.
• The Packers director of player personnel is Brian Gutekunst, son of former Gophers football coach John Gutekunst.
• In his report to the Board of Regents last week, Coyle reported that 18 different men’s and women’s Gophers athletic programs have won conference titles over the past decade, more than any other Big Ten school during that period.
• Cristo Rey Jesuit forward Jericho Sims, ranked as a top-50 player nationally and the son of former Gophers basketball player Charles Sims, will enroll at Texas. … Theo John, the outstanding Champlin Park center who was being recruited by the Gophers, announced Tuesday he will attend Marquette.
• Many are raving about the great job Patrick Hunt is doing as the general chairman for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Chaska. Hunt is the president and CEO of Minneapolis ad agency Hunt Adkins, whose clients have included the Timberwolves, Gophers and Canterbury Park.
• ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton, an NBA statistician, recently published a report predicting the number of victories for each NBA team this upcoming season and had the Wolves with the 11th-best mark in the Western Conference with a 39-43 record. Still, Pelton acknowledged that his statistical models didn’t take into account one big difference: the new coach. “Remember, [Real Plus Minus] projections don’t factor in coaching, and the arrival of Tom Thibodeau makes the Timberwolves overwhelmingly likely to outperform their projected ranking of 27th in defensive rating,” he wrote.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org