*EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — *Can there be too much time to think about things?
The Vikings last took the field for a game on Dec. 31 and defeated the Bears 23-10 at home to secure a bye through the first round and the opportunity to host the Saints in the Divisional round on Sunday. Kickoff is 3:40 p.m. (CT) at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the staff knew heading into last weekend that they would play the Rams, Saints or Panthers, and on Sunday found out that New Orleans would be visiting for a rematch of Week 1.
Zimmer said there “definitely” is a fine line between preparing and over-preparing when teams have extra time. He said that’s when it’s helpful to remember what enabled success to this point.
“We as coaches tend to want to try to do too much, and it’s important that you remember that if you play fast and you play physical and you do the right things, usually that’s the best way to go about it,” Zimmer said. “We didn’t get to this point by tricking everybody, we got to this point by executing and doing things that we do. I think that’s always the best way. Take care of the football, try to get turnovers.”
The Vikings finished the season ranked No. 1 in points against (15.8 per game) and yards allowed (275.9 per game). The offense ranked 10th in points for (23.9) and 11th in yards (356.9).
Minnesota finished second in the NFL in average time of possession (32:26) and tied for 12th with a plus-5 takeaway-giveaway margin.
Here are four other topics addressed by Zimmer on Friday:
1. Still thinking things over
Although most work weeks are coming to a close, Zimmer said he still had “a lot of work to do, honestly, as far as preparation and studying the things that I need to study.”
“You go back and review things quite a bit. It’s really just like getting ready for a test every week,” Zimmer said. “You go back and you start studying on your tests, you go back and review and you think about some other things, ‘This might be good in this situation, this might be good in that situation.’ Once you get in the game, it’s really just playing the game, and you are kind of making adjustments on the fly.”
2. Zen for Zim’? Maybe a Zin(fandel)
Zimmer was asked how he decompresses after all of the prep work and if he finds a moment of Zen before a game. He could only laugh.
“I don’t know that I have moments of Zen,” Zimmer said. “I have moments of nervousness, sitting in the locker room before the game. Really what you do is you just keep studying, that’s what I do.
“I keep studying and keep trying to figure out what’s the best thing, the best situation we can do. You go through a lot of what-ifs. ‘If they do this, how are we going to combat that?’ And then get a bottle of red wine,” he quipped.
3. Numerous challenges
The Saints offense has plenty for opponents to worry about. Zimmer gave a brief rundown, starting with Drew Brees.
“They’re very explosive offensively, they’re second in the league [in yards],” Zimmer said. “Obviously, they’ve got a great quarterback that knows where to go with the football, gets the ball out in the right place. He’s very accurate, gets the ball out early.
“The running game is much improved,” Zimmer added. “The two backs, [Alvin] Kamara does a great job making guys miss, the other back, [Mark] Ingram, is a strong, physical runner that gains yards after contact, all those things. They do a great job in play actions, do a great job in screens, so we’ll have to be on point.”
4. Update on Bradford
The Vikings designated Sam Bradford to return from injured reserve last week. He participated in two bye week practices and the sessions this week.
Zimmer was asked about the status of Bradford, who hasn’t played since Week 5 (Oct. 9 at Chicago).
“It’s kind of hard to judge with five practices,” Zimmer said. “He’s working in, but he’s got a way to go still.”
Asked about a report in the Boston Globe *that said Bradford might dress Sunday, Zimmer said, “I don’t know how the *Boston Globe would know, because I haven’t made any decisions yet.”
Zimmer answered, “I think so,” when asked if he thinks Bradford is healthy enough to play.