Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Q: How much different is Detroit without Kerryon Johnson?
A: Well he was a really good back. They are using [Zach] Zenner a little bit more. [Theo] Riddick is getting a few more carries, using him out of the backfield some. As far as scheme-wise, they’re not too much different.
Q: What have you seen from their defensive improvement?
A: I think they are playing a lot better. They are doing a much better job against the run. They’re physical inside. They cover the three-guards a lot, walk up [Devon] Kennard on the end of the line of scrimmage so they’re playing a four-down front but it’s really a three-four principles with what they’re doing. The two safeties get involved. They’re good players. I think the two linebackers plug our guys pretty much. Have some physicality to them. They’re not giving them very many big runs. They’re giving up some short, short, might be eight. But they’ve done a nice job with that.
Q: What were some of the keys to getting the 10 sacks last time against Detroit and what kind of adjustments do you see them making?
A: We were probably lucky in that game to get that many sacks. We had him flustered a couple of times. One time, he was scrambling out of there. I’m sure they are going to do a better job with keeping guys in.
Q: Is there something you can put a finger on as to why you have been able to sack Matthew Stafford so much?
A: We have good players.
Q: How important is Anthony Barr’s pass rushing to the overall defense?
A: It’s big. He’s played outstanding, really the last month or so, maybe a little longer. Playing with great physicality, effort to the ball. He is doing a lot better in his pass rushing. I think there were some times the other day that he showed up quite a bit on it.
Q: Is that hard for teams to account for him when it’s not always expected that Anthony Barr rushes?
A: Well a lot of times team always account for him. You don’t want to say all the time, because certain play actions are designed to go certain ways. But drop back passing game, we’ve had several teams this year that make him the fifth rusher every time and if he doesn’t come, he doesn’t come.
Q: What do you think it is that Anthony Barr has stepped it up within the last month?
A: He was hurt there for a little bit so maybe that had something to do with it. But when he came back, I don’t know. He’s been playing really, really good. He’s always been a good player, I think he’s probably taking it to another level right now. You’d maybe have to ask him.
Q: How much more can you do on defense because of Anthony Barr’s intelligence and versatility?
A: We can change things pretty quickly but if we are changing that means two guys change, probably. He has a really good grasp on what we’re doing defensively. He has a good grasp on what the offense is doing. He can communicate to the defensive line and the other linebackers and I think that helps a lot to be able to do the things we are trying to do.
Q: Have you learned a lot about your defensive depth this year?
A: I mean it was difficult losing Mike Hughes because he would have been one of those guys somewhere in that rotation quite a bit. But Holton [Hill] has come in and done a nice job. I think Anthony Harris has come in and proven that he can play in this league. I am trying to think of who else is in there. [Stephen] Weatherly has taken a really nice jump this year. A lot of times for defensive linemen for some reason it takes like the third year before they kind of see the light. He’s done a good job. Jaleel [Johnson] has helped. Jaleel was a guy that was kind of like a bull in a China shop. He is just going to go, go, go. A lot of times that would get him in trouble. So now he is still the same bull, but he’s in the right gap.
Q: Do you expect to see a lot of Zach Zenner with Kerryon Johnson out? What do you think of his game?
A: I think he’s run the ball well. He’s physical, I’ve seen him make some really good cuts. He does a nice job in pass protection. They’re using him some in the receiving game as well, so I would assume we’ll see more of him, we’ll see more of [Riddick], a little bit more of [LaGarrette] Blount.
Q: What is Anthony Harris showing you to give you that confidence that he can handle the full time starting role?
A: He’s a smart guy, number one. I think he’s increased his physicality this year, but I also feel like one of the things he does well, he anticipates and he’s got good vision. Back there at that position that’s usually a good thing.
Q: At what point did Anthony Harris start to gain that confidence?
A: He had flashes of it all along. I remember back when we played Arizona out there on a Thursday night, he had a couple really nice plays. Typically when he goes in there he anticipates some of the things that are going on. He hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but he seems to find the ball.
Q: Your defensive backs are typically sure tacklers. How much of that is coaching, and how much of that is the player’s instincts?
A: It’s pretty much the players. When you’re coaching it’s about angles and getting in the proper position, things like that. When it comes down to it, if you can do all those things and still miss a tackle. If you know where your help is a lot of times that helps to minimize the space that you have to tackle a guy in.
Q: Why do you think Matthew Stafford has struggled over the past several weeks? Is it due to playmakers missing time?
A: It’s hard for me to know, because I’m not there. It’s just what I see on tape. I know he’s missing a couple guys. Marvin Jones is a really good player, Golden Tate is a good player. They got a tight end on IR. I don’t know.