EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Coming off a short week and heading to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day matchup against a division rival, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings need to do things differently this time around.
The two teams had their first meeting in Week 4, where the Vikings were defeated 14-7.
Minnesota has lost the past three games against Detroit and five of the past seven. In each of the losses, the Vikings have been held to fewer than 16 points; they put up 26 and 28 points in the pair of wins during the 2015 season.
"We haven't scored enough points," Zimmer said.
He commented that the offense has struggled in recent meetings with the Lions.
"We turned the ball over three times the last game, and we got in the red zone and haven't converted," Zimmer said. "One time I think we had a turnover down there, and we ended up going backward in the red zone and had to punt the ball. Things like that."
The Vikings over the course of the season, however, have seen an increase in third-down conversion success, which hopefully will continue in the Motor City.
"We've been working on it a lot," Zimmer said of third-down situations. "We've been spending an awful lot of time on it."
Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his session with Twin Cities media Tuesday:
1. Case's confidence
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum will be under center at Detroit, marking his eighth start – and ninth game – in Purple.
Keenum has on multiple occasions launched a deep ball or escaped pressure and still managed to throw the ball downfield.
When asked by a reporter about Keenum's tendency to "take risks," Zimmer said he appreciates that Keenum has the confidence to take shots.
"He's not afraid," Zimmer said. "He's going to pull the trigger, and he is going to play like that. That's a good thing."
2. Seeing success in 2017
The Vikings are headed to Detroit in the wake of a six-game win streak.
Zimmer said the team is "doing a lot of good things right now" across the board.
"Our offense is moving the football," Zimmer said. "We're playing good on special teams. Defense is solid most of the team."
One area that's helped the Vikings run game improve is a bolstered offensive line. Thus far, the free-agency signings of tackles Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff have certainly paid off. Zimmer said "a lot of it [was] about mentality" when evaluating the two veterans.
"Brought in a couple guys with the mentality that we're looking for – smart guys, tough guys," Zimmer said.
Reiff and Remmers have helped an offensive line that now has five complete games without allowing a sack of the quarterback.
"We're doing a good job of protecting," Zimmer said. "We're changing protections. Keenum is doing a good job of moving in the pocket. He's getting the ball to the right place."
3. Defense versus Decker
When the Vikings played the Lions on Oct. 1, they faced left tackle Greg Robinson in the absence of an injured Taylor Decker.
Robinson has since been waived, and Decker is slated to play in his third game since returning to the field.
Zimmer said it "helps the Lions a lot" to have Decker back on the offensive line, both in pass protection and in the run game.
"[Decker's] a good player, better than the guy that was playing before," Zimmer said.
4. Looking at the Lions
Detroit across the board is a talented team, and Zimmer knows the Vikings have a challenge in front of them.
"They're a good team. They've got a great quarterback (Matthew Stafford); really good, skilled receivers, tight ends; the two running backs are nifty, catch the ball out of the backfield – we missed some tackles in that last ball game," Zimmer said. "Defensively they've got a good scheme. The back end doesn't give up a lot of plays.
"They've got a heck of a punter and a heck of a kicker," Zimmer continued. "The linebackers are active, the D-line gets up the field and goes. It's a good football team. They're well-coached."