Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good afternoon. After watching the tape I thought it was a good, hard fought game. I was really encouraged by the fans, I thought they did a great job yesterday in helping us with their enthusiasm and their crowd noise. I think we did some good things to be able to fight and come back after we let them get up 15-10 I believe. Second half, I think we came out determined. We've still got a lot of things we have to clean up. We've got to do better on third downs on offense. Defensively we play good most of the time; we have these lapses here that don't allow us to be an elite defense. We had a couple situations in the kicking game that I think we can clean up. We're on to Oakland and get ready to start grinding on them. Questions?
Q: What lapses are you talking about when you refer to the defense?
A: Like yesterday, if you ever see one guy running with one guy down the middle of the field, somebody has probably messed up. It's typically not mental errors, it's some kind of physical error. We have mental errors, but it's typically more about guys getting themselves out of position to be able to help, so there was a couple of those. There was a couple where we let our eyes be in the wrong place, which caused us to be in bad positions, things like that. I just think if we can eliminate some of these things, then we can get better.
Q: What update do you have on Teddy Bridgewater?
A: He passed his first test, so should be good to go I think.
Q: Do you think he will start this Sunday?
A: Well he hasn't passed all of his tests yet, but he's passed one.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to him about the hit and what his thoughts were?
A: I have not, no. I have not talked to him. I gave the players off today, so I haven't talked to any of them. They probably don't want to talk to me either.
Q: Did you talk to the league about it at all?
A: My conversations with the league I think we'll keep between me and the league.
Q: So is that a yes?
A: I didn't say that.
Q: What kind of open dialogue do you have with the league? Can you pick up the phone whenever you want and call them up?
A: Yeah, it's pretty easy, you just call. Usually I can text them too really, so I can text or call. But yeah, they'll call me right back if I have a concern.
Q: Where is Eric Kendricks at in his recovery?
A: I don't know yet. Obviously he was in for treatment today. I think he's feeling better, so we'll just see how his week goes on.
Q: What did you think of Chad Greenway's day?
A: I thought he played well. I told him during the week, "Hey, you might have to play a whole game, so can you handle this or not?" I thought he played well; he did some really good things, he made a lot of tackles which is good. He orchestrated things very well in there as well.
Q: What did you think of the play when William Hayes hit Teddy Bridgewater's legs and no penalty was called?
A: I didn't like it.
Q: Did you think he was trying to take his knees out?
A: I don't know. There was more than one hit that I was upset about, so that might have been another one.
Q: Did they tell you that Teddy Bridgewater was outside the pocket and that's why no flag was called?
A: That's what he said, he doesn't get protection out of the pocket, but I'll leave it at that.
*Q: Adrian Peterson has had less negative rushes the last few games, is that a product of the offensive line playing better or Adrian tweaking something? *
A: I think it's a little of both. We've worked on some of the things with his footwork a little bit, but I think the offensive line is doing a better job of handling some of these run blitzes that we've been getting and coming off and seeing things better, just something we've been working on. I think that's part of it. It's important as well.
Q: Are the multiple tight end sets something you put in there to get the running game going?
A: A little bit. That was part of the reason to be able to have some physicality in there, but also to widen them out a little bit and I think it helps with some of the play actions as well.
Q: How has that tight end group fared in run blocking situations?
A: They're getting better. Most of the time when we had good runs the other day the tight ends that were in there blocked well and then when we didn't have good runs, they missed. So it's still a work in progress, but I do think we're getting better, I think they're taking a lot more pride in it and it's been an emphasis for us.
Q: Can you offer an evaluation of Derek Carr?
A: It would be really quick but it looks like he's playing really good. I've watched three games on him so far. I think he's playing very well, gets the ball out quick, seems like he has a good understanding of where the ball needs to go and how to get it out quickly, strong arm, accurate. We did a lot of work on him when he came out.
Q: What can you say about your special teams after big punt returns and game-winning field goals in consecutive weeks?
A: Yeah, I think all year long our guys have played well on special teams. We finally got a decent kickoff return this week that we blocked better. The returner ran it in the right place, and then the punt return has been good. But we've been playing good on special teams all along and I think that's helped to change the field position, to create some positive yards for us as well.
Q: Is your confidence evolving in Blair Walsh as he continues to make big field goals?
A: Yeah, I really didn't think that he wouldn't make this last one either. He's been kicking good in practice – pregame – I watch him all the time in pregame as well. He's just hitting the ball so much better than he was.
Q: Do you know why that is? Did he change something?
A: We all may change a little bit of things.
Q: Is there an update on Terence Newman?
A: He passed his first test as well.
Q: And what about Anthony Barr?
A: He should be fine.
Q: How important was Linval Joseph's stop at the start of overtime and what did you like about it?
A: Well it was obviously extremely big to get them a minus-six on the first play I believe it was. And then they tried to throw the wide receiver screen and Captain [Munnerlyn] made a nice play, and that was either a minus-one or a zero, so we actually backed them up inside the 20 a little bit and they missed the third down throw. Unfortunately the punter made a great punt and fortunately for us, Marcus [Sherels] made a nice return to get us to about almost the 50-yard line. But yeah, that's kind of what I talk about all the time with the team about creating field position. If we can get stops, when the defense has them backed up, we can create stops and make them punt backed up, we have a chance to flip the field position and give our offense an opportunity to score. And then I don't know if it was two first downs or a first down and nine yards or something, we kicked the field goal.
Q: How has Tom Johnson done now that he's had an increased role?
A: He's handling it well. You'd know how many plays he had, I think it was 62 or something like that. See, I do read some of that stuff, even though I say I don't, sometimes I do. He's playing well. He played a lot in the preseason because the second [string] guys get a lot of reps, but he's doing good. We'd probably like him to play a little less plays, but under the circumstances right now, he's handling it well.
Q: What's been the key for your improved 3rd-down defense?
A: I wish I had an easy answer for you. We try to mix it up and we try to give them different looks, we try to pressure some, we try to play coverage some. I see a lot of teams worried about the pressure so they try the wide receiver screens, I think maybe that was a big thing, we've been playing them very well. I think our guys are understanding their responsibilities better and things we're trying to get done. I don't really have a for sure answer for you on that.
Q: Why do you think your defense is playing the wide receiver screens so well?
A: Well, we're seeing them a lot because that's kind of everybody's answer to our pressures – throw this screen, throw that screen. Honestly, it's kind of discouraging for the offense if they think, 'Hey, we've got a big play here and we can throw this screen,' and it ends up being a no-gainer, it's like, 'Should have done something else.'
Q: What do you think your team learned from yesterday's game?
A: I think our guys understand how I want to play, how we want to play as a football team – we want to play clean and smart and tough and all of the things I've mentioned many times. In the offseason we had, in this same room, in every OTA and even in some of the mini-camps and stuff, we had a presentation on why you win and why you lose games. I think they're starting to understand a lot of these critical areas in the game and how important some of these situations are that we go through. I know some of it's confidence and some of it's believing that we can get it done. I just think we have a lot of resiliency to fight through a lot of these things. I got a text last night from a friend of mine and he said, 'You continue to win these games and this is kind of who you are right now, you're going to be in a lot of them.' He said, 'but you can still win them.' That's kind of who we are right now. The last three or four ballgames this kind of shows what kind of team we are as far as how we are on offense, how we are defensively and how we are on special teams. We're probably not going to go up and down the field like the Greatest Show on Turf. This is how we're built to win right now.
Q: Was it your expectation to be in close games like this?
A: No, I'd much rather have some big wins, but hey, a win is a win. I think the more you win, the more you learn how to win. It's important, it does a lot of things for not only the team and the franchise but for the fans and everything else. We've still got a long, long way to go before anybody tells us anything. We're still kind of the guys in the low-rent district, we've just got to keep fighting.
Q: Did that friend of yours win a couple of Super Bowls with the Giants?
A: I don't know.
Q: At the midpoint of the season you're tied for the divisional lead, what else do you have to build on the second half of the season?
A: Honestly, it's great for everybody to see where the standings are, but the only thing I concentrate on right now is the Oakland Raiders. I don't think about where we are or what we have to do. We don't have time, we're not good enough to do that, we're not good enough to think about, 'Oh, wow, we did this or we did that.' It's not who we are. Like I've said many, many times, I tell our football team this too, one thing that I admire about New England is whether they win by 40 or they lose by 40, the next week it's a completely different week. They concentrate on what they have to get done and that's what we have to do. We can't sit and think about the future and we can't sit and think about the past, we've just got to think about how we can get better this week.
Q: What does being able to win yesterday despite being down several starters in crunch time say about the depth of this football team?
A: I do think that it's a deep football team, I've said that all along. I think we have a lot of talent. I think Rick [Spielman] and George [Paton] and Scott [Studwell] and those guys upstairs, they've done a good job of evaluating players and getting them in here. There's a large percentage of the football team that has changed over and we continue to get bigger and faster and smarter in a lot of different ways. It's good, but you know, that's a little bit of our mentality, too. It doesn't matter who it is, it's time for you to go, it's time for you to go in there and get to work. I told that to a few guys yesterday in the locker room after the game, 'hey, it's time for you to get to work, let's go.'
Q: Did Anthony Barr undergo X-rays on his arm?
A: He did.
Q: Did the results come back negative?
A: I don't know.
Q: What does Teddy Bridgewater need to do to practice Wednesday?
A: He's got to be able to workout and not have a headache and pass the final test.