EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer isn’t concerned that the Vikings are dropping back to pass an average of 45 times per game, or that Minnesota ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
If the formula the Vikings produce on Sunday ends with them having more points than the opponent, Zimmer is all for it.
“I don’t really care about statistics. I just want to get wins. I don’t care how we do it,” Zimmer said to the Twin Cities media at his weekly Wednesday press conference. “Obviously, I have a philosophy, but we have to do what we have to do to win football games.
“If you watch, some of these teams have been great throughout the years, they may throw it 60 times per game then they may run 50 times per game,” Zimmer added. “Whatever we have to do to win the football game is really what is important to me.”
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has completed 161 of 226 passes (71.2 percent) for 1,688 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in five games.
Minnesota, which is 2-2-1, is averaging 65.8 rushing yards per game, but put together a solid performance in Sunday’s win over the Eagles. The Vikings ran for 77 yards against a Philadelphia defense that entered the game with the league’s top rushing defense.
Zimmer said Wednesday that he saw some improvement in the ground game.
“All of our runs are different. Sometimes we have double-team runs where we have to pound off the double teams and get to the second level,” Zimmer said. “Some are zone runs, where we have to cut off guys or push to the next progression in the run. Really all of them are a little bit different.
“I thought again early in the game we had some pretty good balance, and really at the end of the game, we ran the ball effectively to win,” Zimmer added.
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed Wednesday:
1. Keep grinding up front
The Vikings had to shuffle around their offense line in Sunday’s win over the Eagles.
Starting left tackle Riley Reiff exited the game with a foot injury, which caused Minnesota to move right tackle Rashod Hill to the left side. Rookie Brian O’Neill entered the game at Hill’s former spot at right tackle.
Zimmer offered his take on how the tackles fared in Philadelphia.
“Pretty good. I thought they did pretty well,” Zimmer said. “O’Neill battled really well, did some good things. And then honestly Rashod, when he went over there, his technique was probably a little bit better.”
Zimmer later spoke about the appreciation he has for the entire line.
“I really respect the offensive line and the things they do, because, in my opinion, they’re tough guys,” Zimmer said. “They work real hard. They don’t say ‘boo,’ they just keep fighting.
“They’re getting better every day, and that’s what we have to do as a football team,” Zimmer added. “We have to do it in the secondary, we have to do it in the linebackers, we have to do it with the defensive line, too.”
2. Praise for Fitz
Football’s “Larry Legend” is returning to Minnesota this weekend.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, A Minnesota native who went to Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield for high school, will play his sixth career game in his home state Sunday.
Zimmer, who called Fitzgerald “one of the best there ever was,” made it clear how much respect he has for the future Hall of Famer.
“Probably first of all, his professionalism. He’s not one of those rah-rah guys,” Zimmer said, when asked about what has impressed him about Fitzgerald. “He just tries to do his job the best he can for his team. He runs great routes, has great hands, excellent blocker.
“He lines up so many different places, it’s tough,” Zimmer later added. “He’s always been a tough matchup.”
Fitzgerald ranks third all-time in catches with 1,251 and in yards with 15,721. He has 110 career touchdown catches, the eighth-most in NFL history.
3. A big man who can move
Zimmer wasn’t surprised when he saw Linval Joseph rumbling down the sideline for a touchdown Sunday in Philadelphia.
The Vikings defensive tackle snagged a fumble out of midair and raced 64 yards for a score that gave the Vikings the lead for good in an eventual 23-21 win over the Eagles.
Zimmer said while Joseph may be one of the biggest players on the roster, the two-time Pro Bowl selection might also be one of the most athletic players around.
“I know what kind of athlete he is for a big, big man,” Zimmer said. “He’s got a lot of physicality. He’s a very, very good athlete, and it shows all the time when he’s making plays on the perimeter.
“I knew he could run,” Zimmer added. “In practice every day, he shows something that is very athletic for his size and strength.”
The score was Joseph’s first-career touchdown.
4. Watch out for Jones
The Vikings will see the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award on Sunday.
Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones earned the honor for his Week 5 performance that included a sack, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against the 49ers.
Zimmer called Jones an “outstanding” player.
“He’s got great acceleration, good wiggle, [is] fast off the edge,” Zimmer said. “He’s a big-time challenge.”
The defensive end has 68 career sacks in 92 career games. He has 32 sacks in 37 games since joining the Cardinals in 2016.