Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
I think yesterday was a good team win. I thought in the second half the offense played a lot better. After the first quarter probably, we played better defensively. For the most part on special teams I thought we did a good job. [Jeff] Locke punted them down there a bunch of times. We had a punt return that kind of changed the momentum of the game. It was good to go down there and win.
Q: When did Cordarrelle Patterson at the gunner spot come about and how did he do?
A: He did well. We practiced with it a little bit last week. With some of the heat things Mike Priefer decided to put him in there and he did a nice job with it.
Q: Do you think that is something he would have bought into a year ago?
A: Probably not.
Q: Why the change?
A: I think he wants to play. I think he's trying to do everything he can to get on the field.
Q: How do you think TJ Clemmings performed?
A: I thought he did pretty well. He did a nice job in pass protection, used his hands well. There were some really good things in the running game. Obviously, there was some other issues. I think for the first time, it was pretty good.
Q: Did you see a step forward from his play last year?
A: Yeah, a lot better.
Q: What is he doing better than last year?
A: I think his sets, I think the way he is carrying his hands. He's not lunging.
Q: What have you seen from Danielle Hunter?
A: Danielle has a chance to be a really good football player. Dynamic in really a lot of things, not just in the pass rush. He continues to play a little more freer than he has.
Q: Have you guys been surprised at how quickly he has come along?
A: Yeah, I would say so.
Q: In what areas do you think the defense has come the furthest since you were hired?
A: I guess the comfort level of what we're doing. I think they're pretty comfortable being able to do that and being able to communicate. When we're on the sidelines, if we have to make some kind of adjustment or something like that.
Q: How has Linval Joseph been able to improve his pass rush?
A: He's been playing a lot more so that helps. He's a powerful guy. He's starting to understand a lot more on the pass rush. He's getting a lot of help, too, from the two ends and B-Rob (Brian Robison). We're giving him some opportunities to collapse the pocket so that's helped. I understand guys have sack totals and things like that, but at the end of the day a lot of these are team sacks. I think Everson's last, one Hunter actually beat the guy and he missed sacking him and Everson got the sack. So there's a lot of those kind of things that happen.
Q: Was there anything that stood out on the film to you?
A: I think a big key to it was being able to be pretty good against the run. That last scramble he got in the fourth quarter put them over 100 yards. I think stopping the run was actually a pretty big key and we gave up a nine or 12-yard run the first play of the game. Once we settled that down I think we were able to be more varied defensively.
Q: In a game like yesterday, do you get the sense that you're confusing and frustrating a quarterback?
A: I don't know, these guys are all pretty good players. It's hard to really confuse guys anymore. We try to do our best and really, I know people are saying that it's me against the guy or that guy. We've got good players. These guys execute the things we try to get them to do. It's a players game and these guys have been executing and doing a nice job. I can't go out there and cover a guy or rush a guy or anything like that. It really has nothing to do with me.
Q: How much do you enjoy the cat and mouse game with pressuring a quarterback?
A: Do I enjoy it? I don't know. It's just trying to keep the offense on edge I guess, the best we can. If we didn't have good guys, smart guys, and then guys that can win one-on-one we wouldn't be able to do a lot of stuff that we do.
Q: What is the update on Alex Boone's injury?
A: He had an MRI and he should be okay, I think.
Q: Do you think he will play next week?
A: I think so, I won't know until we get out there at practice but from what I understand he's feeling better.
Q: What have you seen from Jeremiah Sirles to make him the next man up?
A: Well, number one, he plays a lot of positions. We gave him a lot of work at guard this last week anyways. He went in there and did a really good job. He got to the second level. Did a nice job in pass protection, did a good job.
Q: What goes into the bigger emphasis on takeaways?
A: We're really careful about it because I want our team to be a fundamentally sound, disciplined football team. I think the more times that you can get pressure on the quarterback, that allows you to do some of those things. Some of it is when you have the opportunities, you're going to get opportunities in every ball game, whether it's a tipped ball or we were fortunate that (Terence) Newman caught one. Fortunate that Trae Waynes caught the one on the sideline. A lot of times the receivers are so much better at doing those things than we are. A lot of times it comes down to pressure and quarterback throwing it a little bit behind the guy and also being tight in coverage too, that helps.
Q: How does the continuity on the defense help?
A: It helps in, obviously, a number of ways. I think they can play a little faster. The communication, being able to… I can go up to Harrison (Smith) during the week and say, 'Hey, you know why don't you do this a little bit this week.' Like I say when we're on the sideline, being able to communicate things. I typically don't do this but in the last ball game, not this past one, we had one of the pressures that we practiced a lot, but we didn't have in the game plan this week. I went over and talked to the guys and said, 'Hey, you guys good with this?' And they said yes so we ran it.
Q: Does it help that the defense has not been giving up big plays?
A: Well we hope it continues but that's always the key, we gave up the big play right down the sideline the first drive of the game, which was a bad play. We gave up a third-and-12. Typically, we're pretty sound in what we do.
Q: Was that Xavier Rhodes on that play?
A: We were in a two-deep coverage and he thought he got the guy pushed out of bounds and he didn't get him pushed out.
Q: Do you have an update on David Morgan's injury?
A: He's got something with his knee.
Q: Will he be out for a while?
A: I don't know.
Q: Will he be placed on injured reserve?
A: No IR (injured reserve).
Q: What has the difference been when it comes to the run defense?
A: I think Shamar Stephen has made a big impact on that, obviously along with Linval (Joseph). Our (defensive) ends are playing well. The linebackers have been doing a good job in the fits and there has been times where the safeties get involved, too. I think it's been a combined effort. But, I think if you want to say one thing then it's Shamar Stephen. He's really solidified that.
Q: Did you hear from Bill Parcells?
A: Yeah, I talked to him. He texted me right after the game. Then he texted me at 5:30 this morning and called me after that. So, I've talked to him three times. He's just giving me advice.
Q: Did he like what he saw from your team?
A: Yeah, he's not real complimentary all of the time, but he's telling me how we keep going.
Q: What didn't Bill Parcells like?
A: I don't know. I don't even know if he watched the game. He didn't tell me if he watched the game or not. We just talked about moving forward.
Q: Are you surprised that he was awake that early?
A: He said that he's so invested in this team that he had to go get a workout in to get this stress relieved.
Q: You play the Giants this week, do you think that he's going to give you advice on them?
A: He doesn't typically give me advice on the other team. He gives me advice on my team.
Q: Did Parcells give you the 'don't get too happy' speech?
A: No, it's wasn't really that. It was really things to move forward with.
Q: Why hasn't the production been there for Charles Johnson?
A: I don't know. That's a good question. I don't know.
Q: Is Charles Johnson getting separation?
Q: What does Laquon Treadwell need to do to get on the field?
A: Continue to do better in practice.
Q: What has his attitude been like?
A: Good. His attitude is great. His attitude is really good. He's working, just biding his time until he gets an opportunity. It's like, kind of, [Stefon] Diggs was last year.
Q: Is it just comfort with the offense?
A: I still think he's thinking a little bit about the number of steps to take on each route and things like that, and it's just being at the right depth and things of that sort. But no, he's doing good. He'll be fine.
Q: Offensively, in the first half, what do you think of the issues on first down?
A: They shocked us a little bit at first. I think they shocked us a little bit, and we gave up a couple hits on the quarterback early with a couple pass rush games and things like that. We got ran over one time. So, some of it was getting settled down, and actually, there were some runs in there that we had blocked pretty good, and we tried to bounce or something like that. And we ended up getting zero [yards] instead of three. So, I think some of those things were factors as well.
Q: Were there still communication issues going with on Joe Berger and Alex Boone?
A: Well, there are always going to [be communication things], because things get redirected a lot at the line of scrimmage. There is always going to be some kind of communication things going on. There was another run that we had a chance to block pretty good that we – what's the best way to say it? – you have to combination [block] to a certain guy, and they didn't hear the call. So, there are a lot of things that go on with all that stuff.
Q: With all the hype and craze about your defense – people say historically good, comparing them to Denver and things like that – I'm sure you have a few tools to remind them of the task at hand?
A: Yeah, when I was in Dallas one year, we were – I think with four games left – we were fifth in the league in defense, and we were good; we had good players. We didn't play very good the last four games, and we ended up 13th in the league. So, this is three games. It's not like we've played … Typically, I don't even look at the stats until at least Thanksgiving. So, I don't know where we fall defensively or anything like that. I just try to get us better each day in the things that we're doing. Last week, I thought our guys felt pretty good, and I kept reminding them about the task at hand. I'll continue to do that, too – same thing when everybody says how bad we are. We don't listen to that, and we don't listen to how good we are.
Q: How much of that mindset do you think is coming from the players already?
A: Well, our guys are … I think they really pay attention to the things that we say as coaches, and obviously, I hear them repeat a lot of things. So, we haven't had enough success around here to think that we can just lineup and play against anybody and go win. We have to play really good, and like I always say, it doesn't matter where we play, it's how we play. And this is the same thing; it's how we play moving forward. It has nothing to do with [last week]. Last week is done, and this week, it's the Giants.
Q: What is it exactly that has allowed Shamar Stephen to be so successful this season?
A: Well, he wasn't here last year, because he was hurt, but fundamentally, he's a very good football player. He has become a better pass rusher; he's not all the way there yet, but he has become better. I think he feels really comfortable in the things that we ask him to do defensively, and he can play two spots.