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Lunch Break, 10/23: Zimmer's Team Scheme

As Mike Zimmer noted over a lunch/film session with the local beat writers last spring, not many times will his defense have guys with double-digit sacks. Right now it seems as though Everson Griffen is well on his way with seven through seven games, but Brian Robison is faring just as well in the scheme without registering a single sack thus far.

Andrew Krammer from 1500 ESPN writes about Zimmer's style across the defensive line:

*Michael Johnson didn't reach double-digit sack numbers until his fourth season under Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, now the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings. *

*Johnson's patience was tested as he bought into Zimmer's defensive scheme, one that teaches defensive linemen to occupy blockers and play the run before gunning after the quarterback. *

*"I shouldn't say [Johnson] was never worried about numbers, because I had him in my office a couple times," Zimmer said. "I told him if you keep hanging in there...everything will work out -- and it did." *

*Johnson's 11.5 sacks in 2012 served as a breakout year for the third-round pick from Georgia Tech, two years before he would sign a five-year deal worth $43.75 million this offseason in Tampa Bay, who the Vikings play this Sunday. *

*Instead of impatient youth knocking at his door, Zimmer likely has veteran defensive end Brian Robison chewing his ears about starting the first seven games with just 0.5 sack, while his counterpart Everson Griffen is tied for second in the NFL with seven sacks. *

*Robison played opposite of Jared Allen for six seasons, learning not only from his playing style, but his numbers mentality. Robison has yet to post double-digit sacks in his seven seasons, but said 2014 would be the year even though he was playing in the first new scheme since he was drafted in 2007. *

*He doesn't seem to have skipped a beat in transitioning to a new defense, but Robison hasn't been able to finish a QB rush with a sack this season. Only Chicago's Lamarr Houston has more total pressures (25) than Robison (23) without having credit for a full sack this season, per Pro Football Focus. *

"Very much so," Zimmer said when asked about Robison. "Guys like him, the hardest thing for guys that aren't getting numbers is, like I was talking about with Michael a minute ago, they start to panic. 'Oh, I'm not getting this. Or, 'oh, i'm not getting that.' But really, guys just stick with it and understand it's a long season. Sacks are hard to get in the first place, but if they'll keep sticking with it...then he'll have a lot of success, I believe that."

*Griffen represents the opposite side of the coin for Zimmer's 'team' scheme. *

*Griffen notched his seventh sack in seven games on Sunday at Buffalo, tying his career high with three in the game. The Vikings ponied up $20 million guaranteed to sign Griffen to a five-year deal this offseason, but the sacks aren't how Zimmer is gauging the value of his linemen. One of Griffen's sacks came because defensive tackle Tom Johnson forced Bills quarterback Kyle Orton out of the pocket; his final sack came off a stunt with defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. *

Zimmer is more concerned with the team number of sacks than individuals, and right now the Vikings are tied for the sixth most in the NFL.

Quick Hitters

  • An injury update on Kyle Rudolph Via Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune.
  • Vikings writer Craig Peters highlights the progress made on the new stadium.
  • Via Tim Yotter of Viking Update - Zimmer expects Sullivan, Ducasse back.
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