Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer knows his team has the talent to be one of the best in the league, but things need to come together in the same game.
Zimmer spoke to Twin Cities media members via conference call on Friday and acknowledged the tough games ahead of Minnesota, starting with playing the Eagles in Philadelphia on Oct. 7.
“We’re going to play a lot of really good teams here coming up. We’re just going to have to keep trying to get better and play one thing at a time,” Zimmer said. “This team has a chance to be really, really good if, you know – one week it’s the offense, one week it’s the defense, one week it’s special teams. We just need to, if we put it all together, we can beat any team there is.”
When asked if he was surprised by the issues the Vikings have experienced over the first four weeks, including the high number of points scored against Minnesota’s defense, Zimmer said, “yeah.”
He added, however, that he did think it was going to “take a little bit of time” with some of the new pieces the Vikings added. Minnesota is 1-2-1 headed into the second quarter of the season, and while there’s cause for concern, there isn’t yet cause to panic.
“I mean, I figured that was going to be the case,” Zimmer said. “Everybody forgets we were 2-2 last year at this time. We’ll just keep fighting and playing. Just because everybody expected us to be 4-0 at this time or whatever doesn’t mean that’s realistic.
“We’re just going to keep fighting, and we’re going to shore up some things, continue to get better and go from there,” Zimmer added.
Here are four other topics addressed by Zimmer:
1. Evaluating the misdirection
The Vikings were hurt defensively by the Rams air attack, as Jared Goff and Co. picked up yardage in huge chunks throughout the evening.
Zimmer was asked about issues with “nickels and linebackers” in coverage, and the coach explained what he assessed to be the problem.
“Well, quite honestly, it wasn’t nickels and linebackers, it was guys getting out of position. There was some misdirection plays,” Zimmer said. “Some of it was corners, some of it was safeties, some of it was linebackers, some of it was nickel. Some of it was me.”
He later admitted, “I might be over-coaching them some.”
2. On the offense’s balance
Kirk Cousins led the Vikings offense with several highlight-reel plays, throwing for 422 yards and three touchdowns.
And although the Vikings increased their number of carries to 17 after rushing just six times against the Bills, Minnesota totaled just 54 yards on the ground – and 28 of those were by Cousins.
Zimmer was asked if he was concerned about a balance between the run and pass game.
“The offense scored 31 points or something last night, right? I mean, we’re trying to do what we have to do to win,” Zimmer said in response. “It’s not the offense’s fault that the other team goes down and scores quickly.”
3. No concern about Cook
After being sidelined in Week 3, Dalvin Cook started Thursday night’s game but did not play in the second half.
Zimmer assured that Cook’s limited action was precautionary by design and not due to an injury or otherwise.
“Going in, we wanted to get him about 15 to 20 plays because we didn’t want him to re-injure his hamstring, and he had 18 plays, I believe,” Zimmer said. “So that is what it is.”
4. No hurry for Iloka
The Vikings signed veteran safety George Iloka on Aug. 22 after he was released by Cincinnati, but thus far he hasn’t played a significant role in Minnesota’s defense.
Zimmer was asked about the player he previously coached with the Bengals.
“I’m not really worried about that at this stage and point. When George gets an opportunity, he’ll get an opportunity,” Zimmer said. “I have complete confidence in him, but we’re trying to – typically there’s two safeties on the field, OK? So I’ve got some I like, and he’s just going to have to wait his turn. He’ll get an opportunity at some point, I’m sure.”
5. No Griffen in Week 5
Zimmer said last week that he and the entire team will fully support defensive end Everson Griffen as he takes time away from the team to deal with a personal matter.
Griffen released a statement Thursday before the game, saying he doesn’t have an “exact timeline” for his return but promising that he will “return as a much-improved person and player.”
Zimmer confirmed to media members Friday that Griffen will not be back next week for the Vikings game at Philadelphia.