Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
This is a very important game for us. It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve had a Thursday night game on a short week at home, so hopefully the crowd is really into it and loud. Go out and show the nation all about the intensity that our fans have in this ball game, and we can follow it up with our play.
Q: How much have you seen their offense shift since Bill Callahan took over?
A: A decent amount. They’re obviously running the ball a lot more. Passing game is similar, but a few more runs, few more different types of runs.
Q: How does Adrian Peterson look to you?
A: He looks good. Runs hard, runs physically like he always has. Good speed to bounce to the perimeter, good footwork, good jump cut and he does a nice job of trying to make (more than) one guy tackle him.
Q: Can you get much out of the game they played against San Francisco? Or does the bad weather and turf negate that?
A: Yeah, probably not too much. They threw it 12 times. I hope he’s getting as many questions as I did. But it was pretty sloppy, it was hard to throw the football and the footing was not very good, so it is what it is.
Q: You mentioned not having to travel for the short week this year after doing it multiple times in years past. Is that something that you’ve mentioned to the schedule makers?
A: I might have mentioned that we haven’t had one in five years.
Q: Overall how does Case Keenum look in his overall body of work?
A: Very similar to when he was here. He’s active, quick reads, moves in the pocket, makes some great throws. Really very similar to when he was here.
Q: Why do you think he’s been able to have the season he had in 2017 after mostly playing as a backup throughout his career prior to that?
A: I don’t know. Case is a good kid. He’s a tough competitor. I think you’d have to ask Pat Shurmur those kind of questions, probably, but he got along with the guys in the locker room and we played to his strengths.
Q: After such a physical game against Detroit, how do your players look to you in a short week?
A: I’ve asked a couple of them if they’re tired or they’re sore, and they said ‘maybe a little’ and I said ‘no one cares’. So that’s basically the extent of that conversation.
Q: Do you anticipate Adam Thielen going through practice this week? Where is he at?
A: We’ll see more tomorrow. He’s improving fast, so he’s got a chance.
Q: What strain does Kirk Cousin’s ability to roll to the left in play action put on a defense?
A: Yeah, it’s tougher, but most of these guys in this league can do those kind of things, as far as you get a lot more roll outs to the left then you do typically in college. But the good ones can go right and left on all of those. We were able to catch them in the one and throw back against the grain a little bit.
Q: What do you like about Mike Hughes as a punt returner?
A: He catches the ball well. I think he’s shifty, he’s got good acceleration and I think he makes good decisions.
Q: What does that mean for Marcus Sherels?
A: I don’t know. I haven’t made a decision on that yet, so we’ll see.
Q: How important was it to have guys like Kyle Rudolph, Bisi Johnson and Irv Smith Jr. step forward when Adam Thielen went down, and potentially if Adam can’t play Thursday?
A: It’s important to have guys that are reliable and that Kirk (Cousins) trusts. I think all of those things are really important. I think the more that we can spread the ball around to a lot of different guys helps. Get the ball to (Dalvin) Cook, get the ball to Kyle, get the ball to Smith, Diggsy (Stefon Diggs). The more guys that you have, the better chance that you have to find somebody open.
Q: What did Bisi Johnson do to catch your eye during OTAs and training camp?
A: The first thing when they’re young guys is do they know what to do, are they getting to the right depths, are they running the right reads off the coverages. The next part is how many places can you play, which he was able to play a lot of different spots. He’s still continued to move forward as far as the details of the route running. It’s kind of like I was telling somebody the other day, I think they asked me on the conference call about Irv Smith, what have I seen different (from him). There was a play at practice last week where widened and kind of sent the DB up and then came back inside, which he wasn’t doing those kind of things. I think Bisi is kind of the same way. They’re learning how to set guys up more when they’re going different ways.
Q: How important has Kirk Cousin’s ability to stay even keeled through the highs and lows of this season been?
A: It’s important. Each week is a different week. You can get humbled in this game really fast. I think Kirk (Cousins) has had great preparation in all these ballgames. I’m sure he’s going to have great preparation this week. It’s a little bit quicker, but we have to prepare and then stay the course.
Q: Kirk Cousins has commented in recent weeks that he plays better when he’s fired up. What is your sense of his emotions this week?
A: I don’t know. I’m going to talk to him a little bit today about some of those things. He needs to just focus on his job, focus on getting guys in the right place and doing what he’s supposed to do. There’s always some emotions when you’re playing a team that you went against. I’m sure Adrian (Peterson) and Case (Keenum) are doing the same thing, right. It’s more important that we focus on what we have to do and his job and what he has to do than worry about all the other things that go along with it.
Q: What does Adrian Peterson have about him that maybe other older running backs don’t have?
A: Typically, those guys, once they get older, they slow down. He’s always had the speed and he’s always had the physicality of the way he runs. He’s going to lower his pads and try and run through tackles. Typically, those kind of guys get beat up once they get older and I don’t see that with him.
Q: You were around Emmitt Smith late in his career. Did he have a similar approach to what Adrian Peterson does to stay effective?
A: They’re different players. They’re both great players. Emmitt (Smith) was, obviously, a great player. They’re different in the way they ran, but they both ran hard and tough and they ran through tackles. You could put them in the same category.
Q: Do you expect guys to do a lot of video study on their own time in a short week such as this one?
A: Yeah, but not just this week. Usually, they do it pretty good and I can check their pads to see how much time they’ve been spending on them as well. It’s important and I know, like I had a meeting with some of the guys this morning, and I know they’ve been studying it pretty good. I keep reminding them, I reminded them yesterday after the walk thru, ‘Hey, go home and study,’ because I like to ask questions, find out what they know.
Q: As you near the midway point in the season, do you feel like your offense has a firm grasp of what its identity is?
A: I think the way that we’re playing is who we have to be. We have to be able to run the football and, obviously, the play-action pass, when we hit play actions help, trying to stay on schedule on third and down. I think the guys are all getting more comfortable with it. We’ve had a clean pocket, which has been important the last few weeks. I don’t know if that’s the identity, but I feel like that’s how we have to play offensively, yes.
Q: What do you attribute the cleaner pockets in recent weeks to?
A: We’ve had to change up some protections. Each game is different. We change some up each week, trying to get good matchups, get help with some guys. Play actions typically help, because you get a few more hands on guys, so there’s a lot of different things.
Q: When you drafted Irv Smith Jr., did you have the sense that he would be able to learn and contribute quickly?
A: He still has his moments. He’s doing a good job. We anticipated him to be good player, that’s why we picked him where we did. He has the athletic tools. He’s got the pedigree. Where he came from, they’re pretty into football there. We kind of anticipated that he would be okay.
Q: What do you admire about what Bill Belichick is doing in New England defensively?
A: It’s really hard for me to comment on that. I hardly ever see them on tape. I’ve seen them last year and things like that. I hardly ever see them on tape, so it’s hard for me to comment on that. I know against the Redskins they had a bunch of third and longs that they were able to come up with. I think they’ve got a lot of players that can do a lot of things and make them good.
Q: Have you seen a nastier mentality from your offensive line this season?
A: I do think that we are getting that mentality. I think the guys up there believe in number one, one another. There’s some times they came off the sideline the other day and they were talking about how they got this guy on the ground or how they knocked this guy off the ball, things like that. It’s been good, yeah.