EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings were able to rest up and re-charge over the bye-week break, but there was also time for some self-reflection heading into December.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer met with the media Wednesday and delved into a number of topics, one of which was that the week off gave players and coaches a chance to evaluate themselves instead of an upcoming opponent.
Zimmer said that with the NFL season being such a grind, teams rarely have a chance to fix big-picture items when they are constantly worried about who is next on the schedule.
"I think with 11 games, you've got a pretty good sample size of who you are and what you've done and fits that you might be given and things like that," Zimmer said. "I think to make it through those 11 ball games, it gave us another chance to sit back and kind of re-evaluate.
"Get back to some fundamental things that kind of get away when you're game-planning for somebody each week and then the next week and then a short week," Zimmer said. "You're concentrating so much on the other schemes, you're not concentrating on your scheme quite as much. I think it gave us an opportunity to do some of those things as well."
Zimmer said Wednesday that the Vikings focused on a number of areas, including their pass defense, which ranks 20th in the league at 244.5 yards allowed per game.
Overall, Zimmer's squad put themselves in a good spot heading into the final month of the season.
The Vikings currently sit at 8-3, which is tied with the Packers for the best record in the NFC North, although Green Bay has the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Minnesota is currently one of five teams in the NFC with at least eight wins, and would be a Wild Card team if the season ended today.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Seahawks.
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed Wednesday:
1. Praise for Wilson
It's no secret that Russell Wilson is having an MVP-type season. It seems as if the Seahawks quarterback has only gotten better each year since entering the league in 2012, which is no small feat considering he's won a whopping 84 games in seven-plus seasons.
Wilson is 47-14 at home as a starter in that time span, and is putting up incredible numbers so far in 2019.
The former third-round pick has completed 237 of 352 passes (67.3 percent) for 2,937 yards with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating of 112.1 ranks second in the league behind Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
"Offensively, pretty much everything stems around Russell Wilson," Zimmer said. "He's outstanding."
Seattle's offense ranks fifth with 385.4 yards per game, and is seventh with 26.5 points per game.
2. Clutch in close games
Seattle's 17-9 win over Philadelphia was somewhat of an anomaly for the Seahawks so far this season.
Although the eight-point win was decided by single digits, it marked just the second time this season that Seattle won a game by more than seven points.
Zimmer pointed out the Seahawks ability to thrive in close games.
"They've had [eight] games [where the score] was seven points or less, and they are -1 in those games," Zimmer said. "They are a tough, competitive bunch.
"I think it's a factor of their team. They create a lot of turnovers," Zimmer later added. "They don't panic in crunch time. They are 4-0 in games decided by three points or less."
Seattle has won two games by one point, and two others by a margin of two and three points, respectively.
The Seahawks are 2-0 in overtime, with wins over Tampa Bay and San Francisco.
3. A look at the offense with and without Thielen
The Vikings have been without Adam Thielen for quite some time now.
After leaving the Vikings Week 7 game in Detroit with a hamstring injury, Thielen attempted to return at Kansas City in Week 9 but was unable to and has been sidelined since.
Zimmer said Minnesota has had to adjust its passing game somewhat in Thielen's absence, and Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski has been able to do so effectively.
"We've had to use Irv Smith, [Jr.], a little bit more, [Bisi Johnson], use the running backs a little bit more," Zimmer said. "I mean, we've had to adjust. But that's what you do."
When Thielen returns, whether this week or for an upcoming game, Zimmer said it's advantageous to see what else the receiving group is capable of.
"You have confidence in the other players that have been able to come in there and step up and do their job," he said.
Zimmer was asked about the team's decision to release Josh Doctson, a move that was made in conjunction with signing linebacker Cameron Smith to the active roster.
"We felt like we were in good shape at receiver, and we needed some other guys [in roster spots]," Zimmer said.
4. Clowney a scary addition to Seahawks defense
The Seahawks added to their defensive front when they signed defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during the offseason.
Clowney, who spent his first five NFL seasons with the Texans, is another weapon that the Vikings will need to account for on Monday night.
"He just added another dynamic player," Zimmer said. "They're using him in a couple different ways, but he's a get-up-the-field, cause-havoc kind of guy."
Through 10 games in Seattle, Clowney has 3.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three passes defensed and an interception.