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NOTEBOOK: Zimmer Trying to Find Consistency for ‘Up-and-Down’ Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are searching for consistency.

Minnesota has had a roller-coaster of a season, with ups and downs, twists and turns, and positives and negatives.

The Vikings understand the importance of pulling it all together in their final four games of the regular season.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked during his Monday afternoon press conference if he believes his team is “close” to peaking.

“Well, we weren’t last night,” Zimmer told Twin Cities media members. “I thought we were the week before [against the Packers]. Right now we’re kind of an up-and-down team, and that’s the thing that frustrates me the most.”

Running back Dalvin Cook said, “We just need to be more consistent.”

Cook, who had 84 yards on nine rushes against the Patriots, also pointed to the Vikings Week 12 defeat of the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“If we put it all together and do what we do best, and that’s just go out there and have fun and play football, if we’re consistent with it, we can be special,” Cook said. “We just have to be consistent, and we have to do the little things. We’ve just got to have a better week of practice this week and get better.”

It isn’t only offensively where Minnesota could use an increase in stability.

Zimmer critiqued the defense and said the unit missed tackles and “uncharacteristically” tried to do too many things.

After the loss at New England, linebacker Anthony Barr said that the defense played well “for the most part” but didn’t capitalize across the board.

“We did a good job, we just didn’t do good enough. There were certain situations where we’ve got to do better,” Barr said. “It was 10-10; we’ve got to be able to get off the field and give our offense the ball back. We weren’t able to do that. We were good for the most part, but when we needed it the most, we weren’t.”

Safety Anthony Harris also spoke via conference call Monday and said the coverage needed to be tighter and echoed Barr’s sentiments.

“I think throughout the game we made some good plays, but there were some plays that we left out there, whether it was miscommunication or we didn’t quite execute as well,” Harris said.

Added Zimmer: “We need to develop more consistency with this football team. Since [postgame last night] until now, I’m still trying to figure out how we can do that.”

Changing plays at the line of scrimmage not an issue

Throughout the course of games, quarterback Kirk Cousins has the ability to call an audible that will switch up the original play based on what he sees from the defense.

When asked if it’s “an issue” of Cousins changing the call at the line of scrimmage too often, Zimmer said, “No.”

“It just depends on the play call,” Zimmer said. “We had one real long run that he audibled to a run. We had one pass that he audibled to a pass.”

Play calls around Cook in the passing game

When asked if he was surprised that he didn’t get more touches despite the success he had on the ground, Cook said he isn’t worried about counting carries.

“When you’re going into a game, you don’t worry about carries, you don’t worry about how many times you get the ball. You worry about utilizing the opportunities that you get,” Cook said. “If I get five, if I get 10, two, whatever, I’m just trying to make a play to help my team win. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened in the game. [Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo has] been calling great calls all year, and he’s doing what he does best, and that’s call plays.”

Zimmer was asked about utilizing Cook more in the passing game, as well. The running back recorded eight catches for 22 yards through the air.

Zimmer said there were actually a couple times where Cook should have gotten the ball and the end result wasn’t successful.

“Some of the ones he caught were check-downs,” Zimmer explained. “We had some other plays designed to get him the football that weren’t check-downs, and the ball didn’t get to him.”

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