EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings currently sit at 5-4-1 and in second place in the NFC North, and would be the sixth seed in the NFC playoff picture if the season ended today.
Minnesota has a massive division game on tap in Week 12 as the Vikings host the Packers on Sunday Night Football from U.S. Bank Stadium.
And while that game could have big-time implications on the playoff picture at the end of the season, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer took a moment Wednesday to be reflective on his team is at with Thanksgiving coming up on the calendar.
“I am thankful for my players. I am thankful for this organization,” Zimmer said. “I’m thankful for our fans. I am thankful for my family, my grand-dog [Jolie].
“I am just been blessed with this opportunity to have this job here with the Vikings and get a chance to work with these players every day and a chance to try to get them better,” Zimmer added. “Try to get them to work together as a football team. Thankful for my ranch.”
Zimmer said the Vikings will practice Thanksgiving morning and will switch to a Thursday morning practice schedule for the rest of the season, something Minnesota has done in recent years.
“Just giving them a little bit more time to recover during the week,” Zimmer said. “Thursday afternoons they get off, Friday afternoons they get off and get a chance to recover. We’ve been doing it for a while, and it’s worked pretty good so far.”
But back to Thanksgiving for a moment, as Zimmer was also asked if he is a pie guy or a turkey guy.
“Probably a wine guy,” Zimmer quipped to draw some laughs before going into his Thanksgiving history. “Honestly, I played in Dallas for — I keep saying I played — I coached in Dallas for 13 years, and we always played on Thanksgiving and we’ve had two here that we played on Thanksgiving.
“So 15 of the years we have been having games. So usually my wife and I, kids, we would either have it the day before or typically the day after,” Zimmer added. “Hopefully we won, and then I would be in a good mood. Turkey and wine, red wine.”
Here are three other topics Zimmer discussed Wednesday:
1. Points, points and more points
The Rams and Chiefs played in perhaps the most entertaining NFL game of the year on Monday Night Football as Los Angeles came away with a 54-51 win over Kansas City.
The shootout featured 1,001 combined offensive yards by both teams. The 54 points by the Rams was the most scored in game this season, andKansas City’s total of 51 was the third-most.
Zimmer, who is known as a defensive mastermind, was asked about the breakneck pace and point total on national television.
“It’s not my cup of tea,” Zimmer said. “Might run me out of football.”
He was also asked if teams who are defensive-minded can win when other teams are seemingly throwing all of their focus on the offensive side of the ball.
“I think you have to have a well-rounded team,” Zimmer said. “But I don’t think that you can give up 51 points or 54 points a lot of times and win games, in my opinion.”
2. Keeping an eye on Jones
Aaron Jones has evolved into Green Bay’s top rushing threat, as the 2017 fifth-round pick leads the Packers with 534 rushing yards.
Jones is on pace for more than 850 yards, which would be the highest total by a Packers running back since the 2014 season when Eddie Lacy had 1,139 rushing yards.
Zimmer on Wednesday said the emergence of Jones gives Green Bay an “explosive running game.”
“He’s excellent in the screens, very good with sticking his foot in the ground and making cuts,” Zimmer said. “I think it looks like he’s got really good vision.”
Zimmer noted that Green Bay has relied more on Jones over the past month or two than handing the ball to a collection of players.
“I don’t know [if he’s changed their] philosophy, but maybe I think they were doing a little bit more by committee before,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s pretty much their guy.”
3. Missing Morgan
David Morgan has played in eight of Minnesota’s 10 games this season, missing contests against Buffalo and Chicago with a knee injury.
The Vikings have tallied their worst two rushing totals of the season in games that Morgan has missed.
Minnesota gained 36 total rushing yards on 20 carries against the Bills (14 yards on six attempts) and Bears (22 yards on 14 carries) with one of the Vikings best blockers on the bench.
Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings have missed Morgan’s presence in the run game.
“A little bit. The fact, David has kind of a unique skill set as a tight end that we are able to do some things with,” Zimmer said. “That has affected us a little bit.”