EAGAN, Minn. – Everson Griffen’s performance against the Falcons on Sunday gave Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer a sense of déjà vu.
Zimmer was asked what he saw from Minnesota’s defensive line in a 28-12 defeat of Atlanta in the season opener, and he specifically mentioned Griffen’s outing.
“I thought we did a good job getting pressure on the quarterback,” Zimmer told Twin Cities media members Monday afternoon. “They made it one-dimensional, which is a lot easier for the defense. They were one-dimensional after midway through the second quarter, I think, which is a lot easier, just lay your ears back and try to get after the quarterback. We did a good job.
“I thought Everson Griffen played really, really well,” he added. “Aggressive, ran to the ball well, so that was good to see, and the other guys did a good job, too.”
Griffen missed five games last season while away from the team working through a personal matter. He has told reporters during this summer’s offseason program that he feels back to his old self, and Zimmer confirmed.
“I felt pretty good about it,” Zimmer said of what he expected based on Griffen’s training camp practices. “He looked a lot like when he was at the Pro Bowl [on Sunday].”
Griffen, who made the Pro Bowl after the 2015-17 seasons, was part of a Vikings defense that pressured Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan early and often.
The longest-tenured Viking was credited by Minnesota’s coaching staff with three tackles, one tackle for loss, 1.0 sack and three quarterback hurries.
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed during his podium session:
1. Offensive line observations
Zimmer also evaluated the offensive line’s performance against the Falcons, saying the unit executed well in the running game.
“We had a couple tough matchups in the passing game with some of their guys, some of the things that they were doing that we have to clean up technically and our footwork,” Zimmer said. “But they fought and they scratched, and we got some guys cut on the backside.
“Garrett [Bradbury] had a couple times where he was going one way, and they back-doored him a few times, but those are all clean-up things that’ll get fixed,” he added.
Zimmer also said it was “good to see” tight end Kyle Rudolph block well to help the Vikings rack up 172 rushing yards.
2. Praise for special teams
Zimmer spoke highly of the Vikings performance on special teams, which included a blocked punt by Eric Wilson, solid punts by Britton Colquitt and Dan Bailey making all four of his PAT attempts.
Chad Beebe was in the backfield for punt returns but called fair catch on all three. He returned one kickoff 13 yards.
“We looked fast on our coverage teams; obviously the punt block helped, but we were pretty good in protection,” Zimmer said. “So, that was good.”
He later was asked about his thoughts on Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf’s first regular-season game for Minnesota.
“The communication with myself and him was good yesterday, as far as when to put the hands team out there, when to run a return as opposed to trying to go block the kick, things like that,” Zimmer said.
3. Overreaction Monday
The Vikings defeated the Falcons handily to start their 2019 campaign 1-0, but Zimmer reminded the team that it’s important to not get cocky after one game.
“I talked to them yesterday about it after the game. ‘It’s Overreaction Monday. Everybody is going to tell you how great you are today, and we have to get back to work,’ ” Zimmer explained. “There’s still a lot of things we need to clean up. The penalties, I thought we got sloppy in the second half in coverage. We got a little bit tired there, so we got sloppy in that.”
Zimmer said the Vikings had too many “dumb penalties” that cannot be taken lightly.
Minnesota was flagged 11 times for 100 yards, compared to Atlanta’s nine penalties for 78 yards.
View the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" following the 28-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the home opener.
4. Injury updates for CBs
Zimmer had no further information on cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who left Sunday’s game with an elbow injury.
“He was getting his MRI today,” Zimmer said of Alexander.
As far as Mike Hughes, Zimmer said “there’s a chance” the second-year corner will be ready to return to action this week.
Hughes started his rookie campaign strong last season before being sidelined with a torn ACL.
Asked if the Vikings will have to ease Hughes back in, Zimmer responded, “I don’t think so.”
“He’s been conditioning pretty good,” Zimmer said. “I’m sure we’ll have packages for him. We’ll just kind of see where he’s at when he’s ready to roll.”