NOTEBOOK: Zimmer Wants Consistent Effort From Vikings Rushing Attack

EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has been known to give his team a Monday off following a win as a reward for getting a victory the day before.

But Zimmer chose not to do that Monday after a decisive 41-17 win over the Dolphins in Week 15, a game in which Minnesota’s offense rumbled for a season-high 220 yards on a season-high 40 carries and ran for a season-high three rushing touchdowns.

Instead, Zimmer had the entire offense come in and watch film together to recap the successful day on the ground and build a bond for the final two weeks of the regular season.

“I thought it was important that they come in and see the tape to see what they’re capable of doing,” Zimmer said. “Again, they had a good feeling of where they’re at and hopefully where we’ll go, but we’re going to have to go out and do it again.

“Detroit will be harder to run against than Miami was,” Zimmer added.

The Vikings will face the Lions in Week 16 at Detroit and will square off against a defense that ranks 16th in the league by allowing 115.4 rushing yards per game. Detroit has a pair of stout defensive tackles in Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson.

The Dolphins defense, meanwhile, is ranked 31st in the NFL by allowing 145.2 rushing yards per game.

Zimmer said Miami’s style allowed the Vikings to take advantage with Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, who combined for 202 yards and three scores on 34 attempts.

“I mean a lot of the runs were similar runs that we’ve had in the past. It’s just that they had a wide defensive end, so that was part of it,” Zimmer said. “Their linebackers were fast downhill, and sometimes out of their gaps, so that gave us some opportunities on some of those things.

“We were able to cut them off and knock guys off to the back side, and I thought we did a good job of getting to the second level. The double teams were good,” Zimmer added. “They played, I not trying to discredit how they play defense or anything like that, but they play a little different style up front, [where] you can get some creases in there.”

Still, as Zimmer mentioned, the Vikings did plenty of things correctly on their own end to help tally the most rushing yards in a game since the 263 Minnesota produced against the Raiders in Week 10 of the 2015 season.

Minnesota had eight runs of 10-plus yards Sunday against Miami, seven of which were recorded by Cook.

“That’s how the run game is; not every play is going to be a 20-yard gain,” said Vikings tight end David Morgan. “You’re going to have your zero-yard runs, your 2-yard runs … but just keep wearing them down, and that’s when things start to pop.

“It was one of those things where you start to wear them down … the run game over time starts to get more and more aggressive,” Morgan added. “We beat them up early on and then continued to push it on them.”

Added Cook: “We just did what we do. It was nothing spectacular, it wasn’t special calls. It wasn’t nothing. We just executed at a high level.”

Robinson keeps TD ratio high

Aldrick Robinson didn’t join the Vikings until Week 3 of the 2018 season, but the wide receiver has made quite the impact.

Robinson hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter Sunday, bringing his touchdowns total to five on the season. That’s a career-high for the Texas native, and more than anyone on the roster not named Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs.

Zimmer said Monday he couldn’t recall such a wacky catch-to-touchdown ratio as Robinson, who has a touchdown for every 3.4 catches.

“Yeah, not that I can think of,” Zimmer said. “I hope he keeps getting them.”

Robinson said it helps that he sometimes goes unnoticed when he’s on the field, as he has played roughly 23 percent of Minnesota’s offensive snaps since joining the team.

“They attract a lot of attention, those two guys, because they make so many plays,” Robinson of Diggs and Thielen. “It’s going to be a 1-on-1, and all I have to do is win my 1-on-1 battle.”

“When you have speed and you can get past defenders, and Kirk has the arm that he has, and we can dial it up … I run a lot, so I know when the ball comes my way that it’s probably going to be on a deep ball,” Robinson added.

The 30-year-old has 17 receptions for 231 yards on the season.

Zimmer said he has added a deep element to the Vikings offense.

“We did feel like we did need a little bit more vertical threat, so that was part of it,” Zimmer said. “I mean, it just worked out the right way.”

Back to the lab

Sheldon Richardson was staying in the moment on Monday afternoon in the Vikings locker room.

The defensive tackle was in no mood to celebrate Sunday’s win, as he had already put that win behind him. And he wasn’t concerned with what other teams would do over the final two weeks in terms of playoff positioning around the NFC.

Richardson had one of Minnesota’s nine sacks Sunday, but he was already looking ahead to the Lions.

“Back to the lab. The victory is over with and on to the next week,” Richardson said. “It’s another week, man. Another week.”

The Vikings currently sit in the sixth seed in the NFC Playoff picture. Seattle holds the first Wild Card spot at 8-6, while Minnesota is 7-6-1.

Philadelphia and Washington are close behind at 7-7, and the 6-7 Panthers play in Week 15 on Monday Night Football.

“Can’t worry about them, got to worry about us,” Richardson said. “We control our own destiny.”

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