EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —After netting 470 yards against the Saints in a 29-19 win on Monday, the Vikings offense is entering Week 2 ranked second in the NFL in total yards, tied for sixth in the league in rushing yards (129) and second in passing yards (341).
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer credited multiple factors for the balanced performance against the Saints.
Zimmer said Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur "called a great game" and quarterback Kyle Rudolph was "pretty effective" with his communication and adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns en route to a career-best passer rating of 143.0. Bradford was particularly effective on deep passes, and Zimmer noted that the whole unit played well.
"[Sam] played really well, he played really well," Zimmer said Tuesday. "Some of the third downs that we converted, third-and-8, third-and-9, whatever it was, there were a few of those.
"Honestly, he played good, don't get me wrong," Zimmer continued. "He got help from the offensive line; they gave him time. We ran the ball better. We had some play actions. I think it was just all a combination of things. When you're humming on all eight cylinders, it's a little bit easier, not that it's easy to play quarterback."
Zimmer noted catches by Stefon Diggs (seven receptions, 93 yards, two touchdowns), Adam Thielen (nine receptions, 157 yards), Kyle Rudolph (three receptions, 26 yards, one touchdown) and a chain-mover by Laquon Treadwell.
"I think guys played well around each other, and I think that helped as an offensive team," Zimmer said.
Here are four other topics addressed by Zimmer on Tuesday:
1. Short week
The Vikings (1-0) preparations for visiting the Steelers (1-0) is a day less than a normal week. Zimmer adjusted this week's schedule to try to get more recovery time for players, and coaches did some prep work on Pittsburgh before Minnesota hosted the Saints.
"Well, we're basically a day behind but we're catching up," Zimmer said. "We did some work on them before so we have a little bit ready to go. Players will have a little extra time tomorrow morning because I'm bringing the players in in the afternoon. They can get some more recovery time, and we can get more game planning stuff done."
The Vikings will need to be able to adjust to short prep weeks against the Packers twice and the Lions once later this season.
2. Another 'top 10' passer
The Vikings are pivoting from facing Drew Brees (third in passing yards and touchdowns all-time) to Ben Roethlisberger (ninth in both categories). Despite their common statistical placement, Brees and Roethlisberger have contrasting frames and approaches to the game.
"This week is a different week. The offense is going to be different," Zimmer said. "The preparation is going to be different. It's going to be about how we prepare defensively for this offense; this offense is different than the other offense we just played. Even though the quarterbacks are both excellent … it's still about the collective offense that we're trying to take care of."
3. Carrying the load
Dalvin Cook set a Vikings rookie record for yards (127) in a Week 1 game. He averaged 5.8 yards on 22 carries and busted loose for gains of 32 and 33 in the fourth quarter. Zimmer said he thought the early runs were helpful for the offense's overall effectiveness.
"I don't see it as the run game wasn't effective," Zimmer said. "We had some bigger runs in the second half, true. But we had some very effective runs in the first half, too.
Zimmer said the Vikings opted to go with the "hot hand" at the position that also includes Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.
"He was rolling pretty good at that point," Zimmer said.
4. Young defenders
Trae Waynes started at cornerback opposite Xavier Rhodes as Trae Waynes began the game with slot corner duty. Newman and Waynes also played outside after Rhodes went out for a bit. When Newman shifted to the outside, the Vikings brought in second-year pro Mackensie Alexander.
Zimmer was asked about Waynes, Alexander and linebacker Ben Gedeon, a rookie who opened at the weakside linebacker spot.
"I thought [Waynes] played well," Zimmer said. "He obviously got beat on the double move. He tackled well. I think he had one stop fade or hitch that he got converted on him on third down. But other than that, I think he did his job."
As for Alexander, Zimmer added, "He did alright. I'm just trying to think. For the most part he did well."
Zimmer said he thought Gedeon "did good."
"The one seam ball that they threw on him, wasn't necessarily on him, even though Pro Football Focus probably said so," Zimmer said. "He was getting help out of the safety on that particular play. He covered it back. He covered [Alvin Kamara] on a wheel route down in the red zone one time. I thought for the most part he was in the right place in the run game. Good for a first time rookie outing."