Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We have started preparations for the Lions, a very good football team. Really explosive offensively and very good in play actions, moving, pushing the ball down the field. I think (Matthew) Stafford is playing outstanding. They’ve got some really good receivers, Marvin Jones (Jr.), who was with me in Cincinnati, (Kenny) Golladay is making some big plays, and their run game is much improved. Defensively, I think they’re stout. I think (Trey) Flowers has helped them quite a bit, play a lot of man-to-man in the back end, mix in a little bit of eight-man drops and some shell coverages. This will be a good test for us. We’ll have to go in there and play good to win on the road.
Q: Matthew Stafford has been throwing the ball down the field more often. What challenges does that present with his arm talent?
A: With those receivers, they can get down the field. (T.J.) Hockenson has added another dimension to them as well, and I think they’re doing a nice job with their play actions. He’s throwing them, I’ll give you a little stat since you like the stats, he’s number one in the league in throwing attempted contested passes. There you go.
Q: When you think about the amount of man to man that Detroit is playing, what kind of challenges does a guy like Darius Slay present to receivers?
A: He’s really good player. He gets up there and locks them down. The two safeties are good players, the other corner. They do a lot. They’ll double guys, they’ll double two guys. They’ll drop the extra guy in the coverage. They’ll try and re-route a guy off the line of scrimmage before they rush. They’ll give us multiple front looks, so we’re going to have to be really good in communication with that. It’s difficult. He’s a good player.
Q: Have teams been doubling Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as much as you’ve expected in the first six weeks?
A: No, I wouldn’t say so.
Q: Is there a reason behind that?
A: It’s probably their schemes. I’d have to think back on every team that we played. I don’t know. Some teams don’t do that. Some teams play their schemes, this is our coverage and this is how we’re going to play it and this what we do. Some teams will do that. I don’t know. I’d have to think back on all six games.
Q: Given the time that Matt Patricia spent with Bill Belichick, would you expect a similar approach to defending Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as what you saw from New England last season?
A: Yeah, I mean probably. Paul Pasqualoni, who was with me in Dallas, is running the defense. I don’t know how much influence they all have with one another. Paul and him worked together way back. I think they’ll do some of that, yeah.
Q: Did you expect it to take a few games to get the new offense humming this season?
A: I don’t know, I guess. I guess Atlanta we didn’t hum and Oakland we didn’t hum. We just hummed the last two weeks. I don’t know.
Q: Detroit has forced a lot of fumbles this season. Is that an emphasis for you guys this week?
A: Yeah, especially since we put the ball on the ground the last two weeks. We have to make sure we take care of the football and hold on to it. They’re very good in yards after catch, another stat for you. All those things are going to be important. They’re going to try and strip the football.
Q: How much did you like Frank Ragnow last year during the pre-draft process? How has his transition to center looked?
A: He’s playing well. We liked him. He’s a good player. He’s playing well for them now. I think center is a good spot for him.
Q: The illegal hands penalties that were called down the stretch of Monday’s game, how much have you talked to your team this season about avoiding those penalties?
A: We talk every week about the penalties and what we need to do to clean things up. We still have a long way to go in that area, not specifically hands in the face, but all the penalties.
Q: How did you feel about your team only having four penalties against Philadelphia?
A: It was about time. We need to keep it that way.
Q: What are your thoughts about the one call that the league has already admitted was incorrect?
A: I’m not allowed to comment on officiating. Bob (Hagan) just sent me an email on it. He just said you’re not allowed to.
Q: Is the league starting to pass that around?
A: What’d they do Bob? Tell them. Bob Hagan causes irritability, that’s my new line. Bob Hagan causes irritability.
Q: Can you describe the frustration level that comes when a game-altering penalty comes at that point of the game?
A: I know what you’re trying to ask. I think the politically correct answer is that throughout time, coaches have been frustrated when they’ve conceived bad calls against them. I better stop right there.
Q: Do you see two desperate teams playing this Sunday, given that you’re looking for your first divisional win and they’re coming off a loss?
A: First of all, Detroit is a good football team. They have an excellent kicker, they got a good punter, and they’ve got a great returner. They’re good on defense, they’re good on offense. It’s going to be a hard game regardless. What we need to do is try to win each week and try to go from there, and the more wins that we can stack up the better chance that we have at the end of the year to be there. Yes, it’s a division game, it’s on the road, and we need to get a win, but we’re just taking this like any other game like we did with the Giants, the Eagles, and so on and so forth.
Q: This is the first time since 1972 the Vikings have played its first three divisional games on the road. Does that seem unfair to you, or does it even matter?
A: Well we get them all at home at the end, so it all evens out.
Q: Has it been nice to see the specialist room settle down in the last month or so after the question marks during the offseason?
A: Yeah, and Dan Bailey has been doing a good job. I think Britton (Colquitt) has been doing a good job as well, hopefully we don’t have to use him very much. But that part of the game is so important in football, because field position is an important part of it. Making sure that you gain some yards every time that you kick the ball.
Q: How important has it been to be able to use Irv Smith Jr. as a rookie at a very tough position, as you did for 38 snaps against Philadelphia?
A: Well Irv is playing well. He gives us another weapon, if they do start trying to double Diggs and Thielen then you’ve got him and (Kyle) Rudolph and the back, Cookie (Dalvin Cook). So the more weapons you can have, the better it is. He’s playing well, he’s been studying hard. He’s another guy that when you get the ball in his hands, he’s got a chance to do something with it.
Q: How has Kyle Rudolph progressed as a blocker over the time that you’ve had him?
A: This is his best year, by far. I think he’s put a lot of emphasis in it. I think he feels like, and you’d have to talk to him, but I know that he is working hard at it and that this is the best job that he’s done. I feel like knowing with (Dalvin) Cook back there and (Alexander) Mattison that we have a chance to gain some big yards in the running game. He’s really taken a lot of effort and put it into it.
Q: What is Rudolph doing so much better in your mind?
A: Really he’s getting on guys, he’s rolling his hips. When he has to go out and block on the perimeter I think he’s doing a good job. He’s done a nice job in protection as well, so really whatever we’ve asked of him he’s done a really nice job.
Q: What does that do for your team when a guy that far into his career, particularly one that is known for catching the ball, is willing to do that?
A: I think everybody has to evolve a little bit in this league. As you continue to get better, you always try to continue to improve your game, and that will help his longevity as well. We all know he catches the ball great, but it’s just another added dimension to the game.
Q: What went into the decision yesterday to waive Tashawn Bower at this point?
A: We felt like some of the guys we had on the team have more upside.