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Transcript: Zimmer Addressed the Media Monday

*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *

Good afternoon. After watching the tape, I think there was, honestly, a lot of things to be encouraged about even though we lost the football game. It's the first time in about a month that I've felt confident in the way that our guys know how to play football again. Now, we made some crucial mistakes in the game. We had three red zone penalties and a sack. We had, obviously, a missed extra point. We had a field goal blocked that turned into three for them, so that was a six-point swing. Then I messed up the last 27 seconds of the ball game there. We also had 11 missed tackles on defense and four penalties. But, I feel like we're moving in the right direction. I'm actually excited to continue to see this team play.

Q: What happened in the final 27 seconds?

A: We haven't practiced that particular coverage in about two and a half weeks. We didn't line up very good in it. So, consequently we played poorly there. 

Q: Were you looking for a touchback on that final kickoff in regulation?

A: We were trying to kick it between the 10 and the five-yard line. 

Q: What is the reasoning behind bringing in kickers to try out?

A: You haven't been watching all year? 

Q: What are the chances that you sign another kicker by Sunday?

A: I don't know, we'll see.  

Q: Was the blocked field goal due to a low kick?

A: The guy got pushed back a little bit but I think it was a low kick as well, yeah.

Q: Do you still have confidence that Blair Walsh can be a successful kicker here this season?

A: I think Blair can be a successful kicker, yes. 

Q: Can you give an update on Captain Munnerlyn?

A: He's got an ankle sprain and he is day-to-day.

Q: Did the MRI reveal any damage?

A: (Shakes head no).  

Q: Have you picked up on Blair Walsh's frustration? Have you talked to him about that at all?

A: I think everybody is frustrated about a lot of different things not just necessarily that. I know you guys, it's your job to ask the questions and ask how we're feeling and all those things, I understand that. But there's plenty of times I get frustrated with questions too. It's part of our job to answer the questions after we don't do what we're supposed to do. The answer is no, I have not talked to him.

Q: Would you approach the bye week any differently having gone 0-3 since?

A: Since we're 0-3 since after the bye, definitely, there are things I would do differently. I gave them an extra day off, so I won't do that ever again. So that was one of them. I may even go in pads.       

Q: What made you decide to work out kickers at this point?

A: At some point in time, you have belief and confidence in guys because you know what they've done in the past. You know what they've done. We've missed three extra points this year, we've missed several field goals. The way our games are being played, they're probably going to come down to a lot of close games, I hope so at least anyway. We have to look at all avenues as far as what gives us the best opportunity to win football games.

Q: Does confidence of teammates at all matter to you? Or is it strictly what you see on tape?

A: That's honestly a really good question. Let's just talk about our team in general, okay? After the first five weeks we were extremely confident, right? I guess that's kind of why I'm saying some of the things I'm saying today. Then the last three weeks the confidence level has gone down as a football team. But that's why this game is not just about the physical part of it, it's about the mental part of it and the way that a team feels about itself. You start out a game, you start out a season and you're 0-2 and everybody thinks you're awful. You start out a season and win two and everybody thinks you're great. But there's so many fluctuations and emotions throughout a 16-game season that once you get to the point where you're playing confidently all the time and you're sure of the things that you're doing. You're playing fast, you're playing physical and you're not making those mental mistakes. As opposed to, 'Well, I don't know if I should do that because if I do I'm going to get yelled at or if I do this because I might screw up.' That's all part of what we're dealing with in this kind of a season right now. I felt like our football team, I know I'm not talking about him specifically, but I felt like our football team has gotten some confidence back yesterday, even though we lost. I'm hopeful that they'll continue to carry it forward throughout the rest of the season. If we do that, we're going to win some games. So, I look at, to get back to your question, I look at the confidence level of really everything about the football team. Honestly, I don't know that after the Chicago game there was a lot of confidence in the offense. Now, I think there's some confidence in the things they accomplished yesterday. So, I just feel like we're moving in the right direction. Guys see the things that can be done and the way that they're being done.

Q: When you look at the last 27 seconds, do you wish you would have called a timeout later?

A: You mean before that? *(Reporter: You said the final 27 seconds.) *You're talking about before we scored? *(Reporter: Before Rhett Ellison scored on that one-yard run.) *Honestly, that doesn't really bother me, because we still have another timeout. I knew we were going to run the football. I didn't know we were going to score. We haven't scored. We're going to kick if we do score. We're going to kick it down. It's going to take six seconds or whatever it is. So, I would have waited it down and made it the last play of the game, probably, if we went to the fourth-down play. So, that part doesn't bother me as much as the execution and my poor decisions on the last 27 seconds.

Q: You guys were two for five in the red zone, but the two touchdowns came in the second half, including when you needed it at the end of the game. What worked on those two drives that maybe hasn't been happening on some of the struggles in the red zone?

A: I think we scored twice from the one-yard line, right, on those two touchdowns? *(Reporter: Yes.) *And we hadn't scored from the one-yard line in the past. I don't know how many times, but we haven't scored from the one-yard line. So, I guess that's the difference. The most disappointing thing that we did offensively yesterday was when we got the interception, we had two penalties on that drive, we took a sack and had to punt the football.

Q: Are those mistakes just magnified in the red zone whenever there's a negative play or a sack or a penalty?

A: Well, we have certain things that we try to do in the red zone, and when we believe we have points, we don't want to give them away. And we did that by punting the football. Points are always going to be a premium for us right now, the way that we're playing games. That's why on the fourth-and-one, when we went for it and didn't get it, I was really trying to instill some more confidence in the offense. It didn't work out that way, but that was my thinking going in. And I keep saying this, there are a lot of mental things going on in this game and with this football team, as well. So, the more that I can help them be aggressive or be confident or whatever it is, then I'm going to try to do it.

Q: Where do things stand with Adrian Peterson and his recovery? I know we saw him in the locker room.

A: I really don't know.

Q: Is the team still holding out hope that he will return?

A: I don't know. Honestly, I don't know what the situation is going to be.

Q: On that 42-yard run, that trap run, was that just a perfect play call that they had against your stunt?

A: Yeah, had a chance to tackle him, but we missed a tackle. But yeah, it was a good play call. The worst part about the whole thing wasn't necessarily the trap, but we didn't cup the ball with the back end, and so it ended up getting out to the side and then up around the corner. They make good calls, too.

Q: The back end in terms of the secondary?

A: Yes.

Q: On one of those third downs in overtime, it looked like Trae Waynes was playing a ways off, and they were able to run the comeback route to get the first down. Was that one of those where – as you've talked about in the past – you want him to play a little closer to the receiver there?

A: Yeah, understand the situation. Trae is doing a good job. Where he needs to continue to improve is starting to understand the situations of the game a little bit more and understand what the offense is doing and what the defensive call is and those things. So, they were in a two-tight end package there, so it was a maximum protection kind of thing. Those things will come. He has just got to continue to work on them.

Q: Do you think he's progressing, though, just in coverage in general?

A: Yeah, I think he's doing a good job. He played a lot of plays this last week, but yeah, I think he's doing good. It's interesting, because like out there at practice the other day, I'm talking to him about things and just trying to get him to understand all these little situations throughout the game, and he's very attentive and trying to learn and all that stuff with different techniques. It's first-and-10, the ball's on the 30-yard line, it's not that big of a deal, but when it gets into the crucial situations of the game, red zone, two minutes, things like that, that's when you've really got to be on top of it.

Q: You mentioned a feeling of growing confidence in the offense. What did you like that you saw yesterday?

A: I thought we had good communication. We had 79 percent of the time, the pocket was clean for the quarterback. 61 percent of the time we had efficient runs. We had good communication from the coaches to the offense, and I thought the adjustments we made were good. We had 360 yard, or something, so I thought there were a lot of good things.

Q: Was Pat Shurmur relaying plays directly to the quarterback, or was that still going through Scott Turner?

A: Does it make a difference? *(Reporter: I'm just curious about the good communication. You had said that you thought that was important.) *It went through Pat.

Q: How would you assess how Anthony Barr has played this season?

A: I think he has played well. The difference is, he had several tackles, he had a couple missed tackles this week, but he hasn't had the big splash plays that he has had in the past. That's about the only difference. He has played just like he always plays.

Q: Do you feel that T.J. Clemmings took a step forward in protection?

A: I thought he did better this week. There was one time where I thought he didn't, but I thought he did better. I thought overall we protected a lot better. The quarterback had a good pocket the majority of the day.  

Q: Rhett Ellison got a bit more usage, is that apart of the usefulness of having him stay in to protect?

A: Well I don't think it was just that. I think it was also some of the packages that we had in this week. It isn't all changes.  

Q: Is there anything you want Mackensie Alexander to learn from his time yesterday?

A: Yeah, but I'll talk to him about it.  

Q: Can you talk to us about the mental part of it and how does the defense feel about giving up three following the blocked field goal kick?

A: Well we went out there and stopped them on three and out I believe. (Reporter: You played well enough to win, but then you get put in the position where it's not complementary football and it ends up in a loss.) Yeah, well that's kind of what I was talking to them about today and talking to you. When you feel like you have to do everything, you try to do more than what you should try to do. I think in Chicago we tried to do that, especially at the end of the ball game in Chicago. I think a little bit this week. But, I think our team believes things are going to get better and we can just relax, kind of play and do what we do. I know everybody was acting like we were the '85 Bears for a while, but that's not who we are. We're a pretty solid defensive team that typically doesn't make a lot of mistakes, that typically doesn't give up a lot of points, that's usually good on third downs, which we weren't yesterday. But, we're not going to be the greatest thing on turf. We just go out and try to do our job. That's what made us good in the past. When we go out we do our job, everybody does their job, we play together, know where we're supposed to be, play smart and play tough. That's who we are defensively. So, teams are going to make plays. They're going to score some points once in a while. But, if we're going to hold them 16 points, 13 points or whatever it is in most ball games, then it's going to give us opportunities to win football games.

Q: Did you like some of the looks with Linval out there and how the defense reacted to him at fullback?

A: Yeah, they came at him pretty hard.

Q: Did all the 5-0 talk get to the team at all?

A: No, no. I don't believe that one bit. Like I said I would probably do it over, if I had to do it again. Throughout the course of the season there's several things I'd do over. Yesterday there's things I'd do over. That's what I thought was best at the time. But, I know who we are, I know who we are as a defensive football team and I'm hoping that the rest of the football is understanding of who they are now, too. Thank you.

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