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Transcript: Zimmer Addressed the Media Monday

*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *

After watching the tape, I thought it was a good team win yesterday. I thought all three phases played efficiently. The punt return that we had was a big play in the ball game. We a great job on third downs, really on both sides of the ball. The more we continue to get first downs offensively, I think that helps us to control the time of possession, get a chance to score. (Sam) Bradford played very well yesterday. Made some really good throws. The offensive line is still a work in progress in some things. We'll have to get better there. We'll have to get some more efficient runs than what we had, that'll be our focus going into next week during the bye. I think defensively we played the run pretty well and that allowed us to rush the quarterback and play a little bit more coverage and some things. Usually when you can do that, it bodes well for the rest of the game.

Q: What do you think is going on with TJ Clemmings and his struggles?

A: A lot of times during the game he played well. He'll have five just crazy things he does. He sets too wide, he lunges with his hands, he gets beat quickly. So, we have to get that fixed.    

Q: Was that what happened on the play that almost ended in a safety?

A: Yes, he lunged at him and tried to punch, got off balance and the guy beat him. 

Q: What do you do during the bye week?

A: With the coaches we're doing a five-game study of our cut-ups of different areas-Red zone, short yardage, two-minute, third downs, the run game, first downs, play-actions, and the first and second down drop backs. Trying to just see what we're doing good. What kind of tendencies we have. What we need to do better. What we need to change. Things like that.      

Q: What is the update on Andre Smith?

A: He's going to have surgery tomorrow.

Q: Will he be put on Injured Reserve?

A: Yes. 

Q: Will you bring in a veteran?

A: We're looking at all those things, yeah. 

Q: Do you think there is a chance Mike Harris plays this year?

A: Doesn't look like it, I don't know.

Q: Is Andre's surgery on his tricep?

A: Yes. 

Q: How do you explain how your offense keeps getting better even though you seem to lose a starter to injury every week?

A: Well, I don't know about getting better but they fight. I think Tony (Sparano) does a good job, really all of our offensive coaches do a good job. It helps Bradford has been getting the ball out quick. He's done that all along since he's been here. That helps. We're finding different guys to do different things to try and keep the things going. That's just part of it. You've got to give a lot of credit to our players. Zac Kerin came in there after six plays the other day and played well. [Jeremiah] Sirles went out to right tackle and played well this week. The thing that I like about this football team is they prepare, they study, they get ready to go play. They take this stuff serious so during the week when we get going these guys they're all into trying to get better. We actually were going to use Kerin, we had an extra offensive line package in there and we were going to use him as the tight end. When [Brandon] Fusco went out, he had to go to guard so [Nick] Easton ended up having to go to the extra tight end. Well, he was prepared to do it and late in the ball game and on the goal line and some things, he did a nice job. But, it was all about his preparation and really the team's preparation.* *

Q: Did Easton get work there during the week?

A: No, I don't think he got any work. He was getting work inside, but that was what Kerin was going to do. * *

Q: Are you going to sign another tight end?

A: I think they'll be back next week.

Q: What do you like in Sam Bradford?

A: Well, he's really accuarate, number one. And he knows where to go with the ball the majority of times. I think there was one time yesterday where he probably should have went to the other side of the field. He's quick getting the ball out. We've got to protect him better. We don't want our guy taking those kind of shots. One of them was a game up front that we missed. He got rocked pretty good on that but he made a great throw to Jarius (Wright) on the third down play. I think he just has a good feel for… maybe the word is throwing the guys open. Leading them to the right spot. He knows he's going to get hit, but he's going to stand in there and take it. He's a tough guy.

Q: On that stunt with Whitney Mercilus where he came through on Bradford, was there something in protection that got missed there?

A: It was a pass off, and we kind of got hammered in the middle. The guy knocked us off. So, we weren't able to go back to it.

Q: Sam Bradford hasn't even been here a month and a half. How much of a disadvantage is he still at in terms of learning the system, learning his receivers, his teammates?

A: I don't know that it's a disadvantage. I think it's just time of what's going on, because we've been throwing more receivers in the mix, and so, he has got to learn all the other receivers, as well. I don't feel like he has played at any kind of disadvantage. I think the offensive coaches has done a great job with getting him prepared. The one thing about Sam is that he will communicate the things that he likes to do, and if we have a play in the game plan that he doesn't like, he's going to say it. He's going to tell Norv [Turner], and we get rid of the play. So, we try to do things that he's comfortable with, even though it has been a short period of time.

Q: Do you think you guys will be able to sustain this success you've had, even if the offensive line continue to be up and down?

A: I don't know. We're just trying to win one game at a time. I don't know how much … I'm not going to worry about sustaining [success] for a long time. Each week, we're just trying to win one game, figure out how to beat this team we're playing and find a way with the guys we have, figure out defensively how we can beat the team. Hopefully special teams continues to play good.

Q: Were the direct snaps to Jerick McKinnon designed to give Sam Bradford a break?

A: No, we just wanted to get him out of the way. No, it didn't have anything to do with that.

Q: On some of those plays, do you think he had an opportunity to give when he kept, and vice versa? This is something he hasn't done in three years in a game.

A: You're talking about Jerick? *(Reporter: Yeah.) *Well, some of them are read and some of them are keeps; it just depends on the plays.

Q: What is it about him, though, that gives you confidence to trust him?

A: He has done it. He did it in college. So, he's pretty good at it, really, and he's quick and he reads things fast. I have a lot of confidence in him doing that.

Q: Is Jake Long coming in for a work out?

A: He worked out this morning, yeah.

Q: Do you anticipate him signing?

A: I don't know. We'll see. If we sign somebody, we'll let you know.

Q: Do you think you have the ability to play zone is because you play so well at the cornerback position?

A: In this ball game we covered very well. Xavier (Rhodes) played good. Terence (Newman) probably played the best game he's played this year. When Trae (Waynes) was in there he covered really, really well. Captain (Munnerlyn) played well in the slot. He got beat on one route and there were a couple of other short ones where the guy caught the ball on him. The safeties played good. I think the whole defensive back group played good in this ball game. The thing I like is that we're playing tight in coverage, we're challenging the receivers, and we're being aggressive. We got double-moved around four or five times in that ball game and we covered it well. So, those guys are doing a good job and Jerry Gray is doing a great job preparing them. You know, getting them to understand the plays they're going to get out of certain formations in down-and-distance and things like that and technique-wise as well. 

Q: How does having three former head coaches on the offensive coaching staff help with situations like this?

A: I think it's really been smooth. The communication between the groups from the running game to the passing game, each guy is kind of assigned to a certain area, but I think they've had great dialogue. I think they all listen to each other and kind of come up with the best ideas that they can. I think it's been great for them and I think it's been great for me.

Q: Even with all of your years in the NFL, do you feel like you're still evolving with how you gameplan for other teams?

A: Yeah, I think that's what this league is all about. I can go way back to when I first doing it and there were a lot of different things. So, you kind of try to figure it out the best you can, kind of see what the new trends are, figure out how you got to stop them and things like that.

Q: Are you kind of surprised by Sam Bradford's down-field accuracy?

A: I wouldn't say surprised, it's not the right word. He's thrown the ball great within the last two weeks he's had some really nice throws to (Adam) Thielen and throws to Charles Johnson. He's a really accurate thrower. You go out here to practice and it looks a lot like the games.

Q: Early on in the season a lot of people started to write you off due to the injuries and kind of used that as motivation, is it different now since you're the only undefeated team left?

A: Well first of all, I don't our team ever thought of us as being written off. Maybe other people did, but I don't think our team did. I don't think our defensive players did. I don't think anybody on our team really did. But, this team has kind of a bull's-eye sight with them. They just want to focus on what we have to do to win this particular ball game. In my opinion, they have not thought about three games down the road or who we play. I know everybody was asking me about the Bye Week and I think we played about as good of a game as we've played this year the other day. So, they weren't focused on going fishing or doing those things. They were focused on the task at hand. That's one of things I really appreciate about this team. These guys when they come into the building they grind in the meeting rooms, they listen to what I tell them, they study. There's still a lot of things that we have to clean up and get better at, but they try. When they come out to practice they have fun, but they really work, too. So, I think all of this is just about the singleness of the purpose at hand.

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