EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings were back at work Monday at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, eager to put a 1-5 start behind them and focus on the final 10 games of the 2020 season.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer chatted with the Twin Cities media via videoconference Monday afternoon and provided his outlook on the upcoming slate.
And while Zimmer is among those disappointed with the Vikings record so far, he explained Monday that he wants his team to find ways to compete and finish games during the rest of the season.
"The big thing is not so much about winning 10 games," Zimmer said, "but you look at, we lost by one to Seattle, lost by one to Tennessee.
"It's really just getting over the hump so these guys have the belief and the feeling that, no matter what the situation is, no matter where it is — [such as] winning the last play against Houston — whatever that is, getting that confidence and belief again. So obviously this would help an awful lot if we can do that to move forward down the line."
The Vikings begin their final 10 games with three straight NFC North contests, beginning with Sunday's road game in Green Bay.
But with the trade deadline a week from Tuesday — and with the Vikings already having made one trade — Zimmer was asked about how the front office will handle the next eight days.
Zimmer said he is in constant communication with Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, plus other important voices on the football side.
"It's the same every year. We're not looking to 2021," Zimmer said. "What we're looking to do is, 'What is the best thing to do for our football team, this year and moving forward?'
"I talk to [Vikings Assistant General Manager] George Paton a lot. I talk to Rick a lot. We talk to [Executive Vice President of Football Operations} Rob Brzezinski a lot," Zimmer said. "But it's not necessarily, 'OK, we want to trade this guy. We want to do this. We want to go this.' It doesn't every work that way. It's all about, 'All right, how do you see this thing? Where are we at here, moving forward? Can this person help us? Can this person not help us?' And then you kind of go from there, but it's the same every single year, at this time."
Here are three other topics Zimmer discussed Monday:
1. Some self-scouting
Zimmer was hard at work even though the Vikings had a bye in Week 7, diving into stats and analysis about how he could improve his team in the coming weeks.
Zimmer said he went "through everything" he could, including a combination of stats and schemes that could help both his defense (ranked 30th with 32.0 points allowed per game), and his offense (which is 28th on third downs at 37.70 percent).
"[Just] trying to look for ways we can continue to get better and ways to help the players scheme-wise," Zimmer said. "All the areas that we're good at and all the areas that we need to correct. We are going to continue to work on those and excited to get ready to go play Green Bay."
Zimmer was asked if any particular areas stood out to him when he was doing a deep dive on his squad.
"There were a lot of different areas. Some areas we were good that we feel like we can continue to do that. Some of it was just schematic things," Zimmer said. "And again, a lot of it was like — especially with a lot of these young guys — player technique, being in this position or that position, and then trying to get those guys in there.
"Without getting real specific, obviously you can look at the stats and see good points and bad points," Zimmer added. "Obviously, we can't turn the ball over and do the things that we're doing and making penalties and things that don't allow us to win games."
2. Trade opens door for playing time
Zimmer spoke publicly for the first time since the Vikings traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who played six games in Purple after being acquired from the Jaguars in August.
The head coach gave his thoughts on the move.
"At the end of the day, we sat down and discussed it and we felt like at this time it was best for the organization overall," Zimmer said. "You know, we've lost a few good players this year so that part is what it is … whether it be an injury or whether it be a suspension or whatever it is.
"We just go out there and try to fight like crazy and try and get these guys better every day," Zimmer added.
The move could open the door for more playing time for other defensive ends on the roster, such as rookie D.J. Wonnum or former fourth-rounder Jalyn Holmes.
"We feel good about those guys. All these young guys are improving," Zimmer said. "Wonnum is getting better and better. Jalyn is doing a much better job as the season gets going. And part of that [trade] was the evaluation of those guys as well."
The Vikings also have Ifeadi Odenigbo and recently added Jordan Brailford to the 53-man roster.
3. Aware of Adams
Packers wide receiver Davante Adams had his way against the Vikings in Week 1, hauling in 14 receptions for 156 yards and two scores at U.S. Bank Stadium.
And although he missed a few games with a hamstring injury, Adams proved Sunday he is fully healthy, as he caught 13 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans.
Zimmer said Minnesota's young cornerbacks will have their hands full yet again Sunday at Lambeau Field.
"He's terrific. These young corners, that's part of the deal. It's not like college, you get a good [receiver] every week and you get a quarterback that can really throw the heck out of the football," Zimmer said. "Davante has been terrific on crossing routes, terrific on the deep throws, versus press, versus off, he catches the ball on the sideline.
"And obviously he's got a quarterback [in Aaron Rodgers] who can do all of those things to get him the ball. They're doing a good job scheming him as well, they don't leave him in one place, they move him all over the field," Zimmer said. "Sometimes he runs the jet sweeps and sometimes he's on the backside by himself, sometimes – last week against Houston, they throw a screen to him when he's in the slot. So, we'll obviously know where he is and we're going to have to do our very best to try to challenge him. He's always a tough matchup."
Rookies Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler made their NFL debuts back in Week 1, with Gladney logging nine defensive snaps and Dantzler playing 64.