*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
After watching the tape from yesterday's game, I thought it was a really good team victory. I thought we played well in all phases, all three phases – not all the time obviously – but a large majority of the time. I thought we continued to finish games well, played tough in the critical situations of the game and I think we're doing some good things. We've got a lot of things we've got to get better at. I think defensively we've got to do a better job with some of our coverage concepts, techniques and fundamentals. Offensively were some hit and miss situations where we have some guys open and then we'll get beat in protection or guys are covered and we block it good, so we've got to do a better job there, keep eliminating these negative plays. And the special teams for the most part, we're doing a good job. We've got to do a better job in kickoff cover. We didn't do as well in that as we have been. And then obviously in the kicking game we've got to make the kicks and we didn't protect well on one of them, so still have got a lot of work to do, but this team works and they want to get better each day, so that's what we're going to try to do this week.
Q: Why did you give the players last Monday off but not this week?
A: Some days I do, some days I don't. I wanted to talk to them today.
Q: What did you tell the team?
A: I'll keep it between me and them.
Q: It seemed Teddy Bridgewater was holding onto the ball yesterday, was that because the receivers weren't open or was that on Teddy?
A: Well, I kind of disagree with you on that. I thought Teddy played very well yesterday. We had 59 plays on offense. There was 10 of them that he took what could have been really bad plays and made them into manageable plays. We did want to throw the ball down the field, so we had some maximum protection things in, which you're going to hold the ball a little bit longer. You also have less receivers in the routes, so if they get covered, there's less places to go, and if the protection breaks down and looks worse than what it was, but I didn't feel that.
Q: Are you comfortable with him being careful running or would you like to see him run more?
A: Yeah, I think he's good. I think when it's wide open, I want him to run, but I still want him to be a quarterback and do what he needs to do. But he did make a couple great runs. The run that he made on 3rd and 13 or something like that, he made a 15-yard run, he juked two guys, stiff-armed one. No, I'm comfortable with how he's doing things.
Q: When you signed Terence Newman in the offseason did you envision him having a game like this?
A: Not necessarily. When we signed him, I felt like he would be a very solid, dependable guy that knows how to play, that does a lot of good things. Sometimes throughout the course of the year, these kind of games pop up, but I didn't say, "Hey, he's going to get a two-interception day or almost three." But he's a great kid, he works really hard, he helps us in a number of ways.
Q: How were you able to shut down Amari Cooper in the second half?
A: He had that one catch that was kind of a jump ball in the first half, but I thought we did a decent job on him throughout the ballgame. You're always going to try to take care of the receivers when they have the talent like he does, so we did some things, but I don't think we went overboard with it.
Q: At the beginning of the year, you stressed on molding this team into a certain identity that you wanted. Is this what you had in mind?
A: Some ways, yeah, but we've still got a long ways to go before it is really what I want it to be. I think we're developing toughness and smartness. I think we've developing a tough-minded attitude, all those things. I do think we're heading in the right direction that way, but I always want to be more dominating. There's a lot more to what I want.
Q: In a game with two teams at the top of the division, is there a trick to getting them in the right mindset?
A: I don't think so. I think it's more about understanding who we are, how we got here, what we have to do, how we have to continue to be. I understand the heightened part of this game. It's still about us and how we play.
Q: Is there something you do differently this week with it being such a big game?
A: I think that our players will know that this is a big game. I don't think that I'm going to have to pull out any magic wands or anything like that. I think they'll understand, but to me it's all about preparation, how you prepare, making sure that you focus on – like I told the team today – one day, one week, one game. That's all we worry about right now and that's how we're going to attack it going forward.
Q: Who was behind the "Beat Green Bay" t-shirts?
Q: As a defensive coach do you appreciate the challenge of going against great offensive players like Aaron Rodgers?
A: After I'm done playing them I do, I guess. The great players are always tough to defend. I wish he wasn't so great. Hey, I'm just being honest.
Q: What have you seen from Danielle Hunter out on the field in the past few weeks?
A: I think he's understanding more about how to rush and he's getting some more time in the running game as well. I think maybe using his athletic ability, he's starting to use it more as opposed to just being an athlete, now he's starting to become a football player.
*Q: Where did the idea of having Hunter line up in a two-point stance stem from? *
A: Really it wasn't anything earth-shattering. I think we were playing Denver and he was DeMarcus Ware that week and he was standing up and he looked, to me, like he got off the ball better and so I said, "Let's look at him some doing that."
Q: What prompted you to want to have the t-shirts made?
A: I don't know. We're making way too big of a deal out that, it's just a t-shirt. You can go down to the store and print them up. It's not a big deal.
Q: You spoke recently about the team learning how to handle success. How do you think the team has handled that?
A: So far so good. And again, it's about are we doing things right that allow us to win games, and I'm not just talking about during games, I'm talking during the week – the way we lift weights, the way we practice, the way we are in our meetings, the way that we study, the way we do things. It's really the environment that we're trying to create here.
Q: Is this stretch that Linval Joseph has had over the past few weeks about as consistent as he's been in the past year and a half?
A: Yeah, it's been great. He's been very, very physical. He's starting to get a lot more double teams now obviously because of the way he plays. He's doing so many good things and he's such a great kid, and really kind of embodies what we're trying to get this football team to be like. He does an awful lot of dirty work and doesn't necessarily get the recognition – I know he's getting more now. He doesn't really care about getting recognition, I don't believe. He just wants to win and help his buddies to play good and keep linebackers free and if he falls into a sack here or there, he's excited about it.
Q: Does his athleticism surprise you?
A: It doesn't surprise me because he's a very good athlete – his strength, his power. I guess he's just so much more comfortable that it shows up a little bit more.
Q: Is there anything about Chad Greenway that might make him more suitable at middle linebacker than on the outside?
A: Well, he played really good in this ball game at the Mike linebacker spot. I think it's good for him. He got off of blocks good this week, he was physical at the point of attack. They had a bunch of plays where they pulled the guard around on him, so I thought he did a really good job.
Q: Were you limited schematically in what you could do in sending blitzes because of the shortage at linebacker?
A: No. I'm never at a shortage of blitzes schematically.
Q: How much do you think Anthony Barr's hand affected him?
A: It was bothering him some, but he's feeling better about it. He sucked it up in this ballgame, and the last two ballgames actually he's sucked it up.
Q: Is it something you think he'll have to adapt to?
A: No, I think he's feeling a lot better now. I think he feels more comfortable with it. I think he has a lot more confidence in the things he can do. He was playing a little bit one-handed.
Q: Where have you seen Zach Line make the biggest development at fullback?
A: You know he's always been able to get on the right guys, now he's a lot more physical when he gets there. I guess that would be the biggest thing.
Q: Are the big highlight hits from Harrison Smith a tone-setter for the defense?
A: Well it doesn't hurt, unless it's the receiver. We want our guys to be physical and give them a good shot but we're always trying to play fair and hitting them in the target zone. You know, Harrison's a big guy, and he's physical and tough, and he's going to get some of those shots. [Andrew] Sendejo does some of that as well. We have some big, physical, fast guys that we're always trying to hit them as hard as we can.
Q: Is that a textbook modern hit? It seemed like he did everything you're supposed to?
A: He did really good because the receiver caught the ball, and they throw a lot of those crossing routes on their boots, but the receiver caught the ball and kind of lowered like you do so you have to adjust your angle on how you're going and he hit him with his shoulder and head was up, everything was good.
Q: Did they say why they initially threw the flag?
A: No, they don't usually tell me when they pick them up. I think one of the other officials said that hey, no, it was a clean hit.
Q: Have you been happy with the way that your wide receivers have been able to block down field in the running game?
A: Yeah, they're doing a good job. It's important when we're able to spring these runs. Honestly, the tight ends blocked very well this week. [Rhett] Ellison, [Kyle] Rudolph and [MyCole] Pruitt all blocked very well to help get some of this. But the receivers, when they can get on the safeties and figure out who the support guy is – the corner or the safety, sometimes the linebackers – it's important to be able to spring runs and it makes the four-yard run a 10-yard run.
Q: Do you feel pleased with what you've seen from your team as they get ready for this home stretch?
A: I know we had the soft part of the schedule, the hard part of the schedule. We just try to go out and play every week and whoever we line up against, we just try to be better than them on that one Sunday. We were the worst 6-2 team there was a week ago. What was the terms they were saying? We were the least impressive 6-2 team? I can't worry about what other people think. I just worry about how my players play and the effort that they give, and if we're not impressive and we keep winning, more power to us.