EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –The Vikings delivered on their commitment to get 22 first downs against the Giants, and it made things much easier on the team and coaches alike.
A considerable part of that success was being effective on first-down plays to keep Minnesota with more favorable down and distances.
"Any time you're not in second-and-10, it's a lot better," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer told Twin Cities media members Tuesday. "It just makes the game so much easier [offensively] and harder for the defense, vice versa. If [an opposing offense has] second-and-3, it's hard to call games [on defense]."
Of Minnesota's 30 plays on first downs Monday night, 19 gained at least 3 yards heading into second down, including six plays that resulted in gains of 10-plus yards.
Zimmer said a number of factors contributed to the successful performance on offense, including a solid evening by quarterback Kyle Rudolph one month after joining the Vikings via trade. Bradford was 26-of-36 passing for 262 passing yards and a touchdown en route to Minnesota's 24-10 win over New York.
"For the most part, we did a nice job up front," Zimmer said. "I think Sam got us in a lot of good plays. I thought we had a good mixture of things that we were doing. A couple times he threw the ball out to Cordarrelle [Patterson], and he made some nice runs. I think there's a combination of a lot of things."
Here are three other topics Zimmer discussed in his podium session:
Containing the offense
The Vikings effectively shut down the Giants offense for most of the night, restricting starting receivers Odell Beckham, Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepherd to a combined 103 yards, including a career-low 23 yards for Beckham. Zimmer said that containing a talented quarterback and receiving corps was a group effort by Minnesota's defense.
"If you can rush the quarterback, it always helps," Zimmer said. "But there's a combination of things – different looks, different disguises, different coverages.
"Sometimes you're trying to be physical with [Beckham] at the line, sometimes help over the top," Zimmer continued. "There are just so many different things, and we're fortunate that we have smart guys – especially with the safeties. They communicate well with the things we're trying to get done."
Weekly game plan
Each week, Zimmer and his coaching staff craft game plans specific to the Vikings upcoming opponent. The type of team Minnesota is preparing to face will determine specific player rotations and play times.
Linebacker Riley Reiff played only two defensive snaps against the Giants, who primarily used a three-receiver set, and Zimmer said it's a matter of game plan and putting the Vikings in the best situation to win.
"Chad's pretty smart – he knows kind of the game plan and things going into the game," Zimmer said. "He's a team guy; he just wants to win. When he gets the opportunities, he'll go in and play. It's all product of the game, really."
Preparing to host Houston
It's a quick turnaround for Week 5 after a Monday Night Football game, and Zimmer hit the books hard Tuesday in preparation for Houston. The Texans and Vikings will face off at U.S. Bank Stadium at noon (CT) on Sunday.
"They're a good football team," Zimmer said. "They've got a lot of fire power offensively. Defensively, they're physical and they do a great job. It'll be another playoff team we've got to contend with."
Of the Vikings first five opponents of the 2016 season, three appeared in the 2015 playoffs.
"[Texans Head Coach] Bill O'Brien does a nice job with that team," Zimmer said. "It'll be a good test. We're going to need that crowd loud again."