Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good week of practice. Excited for this opportunity to go play this football game, obviously a very good team, very disciplined. We’re going to have to play a clean game in order to come out with a win.
Q: How hard does Stephon Gilmore make it to get away from his coverage?
A: Yeah, he’s a really good player. Quick, has good acceleration, does a nice job in press. He’s a good player.
Q: How long have you followed him coming out of the draft?
A: Yeah, I actually worked him out. I was down in South Carolina and worked him out.
Q: How much have you seen him progress over the years?
A: Yeah, he was a good player coming out. That’s why he got picked where he did. I think he’s continued to improve throughout the time he’s been playing in the league, but he’s always been good.
Q: How difficult does New England switching up your game plan make it to set up your own game plane?
A: Yeah, it is and they’ve got all their weapons out now. They can do a lot different things and they could end up going with a lot of tight ends, they could end up going with two tight ends. I’m sure we’ll get a mixture of everything so we’ll just have to be prepared.
Q: Does that mean you have to have more planned in your offensive and defensive game plans?
A: I don’t know if you have more. You have to be able to handle all the different things by being a bit varied.
Q: How are teams finding success taking away Rob Gronkowski’s red zone targets? He was 0 for 3 last week.
A: Yeah, but he caught a long one. It’s really hard because he’s got such great height and size. Sometimes he’s getting doubled, sometimes he’s getting the safety pushed into him. There’s a lot of ways, but he’s missed some games this year. I’m sure that if he was playing every week he’d have some more.
Q: How much work did the specialists get outside this week?
A: Not much. Not much, no. We’re on turf, it was cold in there.
Q: What are some of the factors as to why you think your team plays better in the underdog role?
A: It’s probably because how I am. I don’t know it’s just us against the world all the time.
Q: Is it easier to make the speeches and those kind of things as the underdog?
A: No, I mean the speeches don’t last very long really. It’s how you lineup, how you block, how you tackle, how you run your plays. That’s really what it comes down to. The speeches usually last until about kickoff.
Q: Have you looked at where you rank and statistics offensively or defensively?
A: Yeah. Yeah, I have. I don’t look at every single statistic, but I’ve looked at quite a few, yeah.
Q: How do you feel where you’re at?
A: Well, defensively we’ve climbed quite a bit since we started out the year. Offensively we’re kind of in the middle somewhere. I think that last week was a good week. What we have to do is maintain consistency offensively. I feel like there’s been some games where we’ve played really well and then we’ll sputter for a little bit, so I think the consistency is the most important thing.
Q: You’re number one in red zone and third down. Defensively are there any other important metrics in your mind?
A: Well, they’re important obviously, points would be good as well. Wins would be even more important. Those are two key areas that we work pretty hard in.
Q: What is the reason for the defensive success in the red zone?
A: We have a lot of certain principles that we play when we get down in the red zone so that is part of it. Then each week we might change some of the things of how we are playing things, just based on the teams that we are getting or the formation or routes that we are getting. More importantly, it’s knowing where the goal line is, playing underneath receivers in the end zone. Tighten the coverage up, not being able to allow them to run the football in. If they can run the football in, it makes it really difficult. Like I said, we change up some techniques. When space gets condensed, it is a little harder to throw the football so we try to take advantage of that, whatever that is.
Q: What do you think you need to do better offensively in the red zone?
A: One of the big things that we’ve talked about and we’ve talked about it quite a bit, is third downs in the red zone. There is a lot of situations where it might be third-and-four on the seven. If you get the four, then you have a chance to get a touchdown. And conversely, defensively you may have to play two areas there. You’re playing third-and-four but you’re also playing the goal line. That part of it we need to be better at is third downs in red zone, quite honestly.
Q: Does the run game play into that?
A: Yes, definitely. If you can run the ball in when the safeties are tighter and the coverages are all tighter and you can run the ball in, it makes it an easy day.
Q: When you look at the schedule and you see Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady back to back, what does that do for your defense?
A: We focus so much on each week that we don’t really focus on who the quarterback is the next week. Most of the time, the quarterbacks are different. Whether it’s [Drew] Brees or Brady or Rodgers or Russell Wilson, or whoever it is. Each week we just go about our business trying to figure out what is the best way to defend this particular team.
Q: What is the balance you are looking to strike with Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray and does it change week-to-week?
A: A little bit, based on the game plan. We got Latavius a little bit more last week and I thought that was a pretty good mix, actually.
Q: What is it about Xavier Rhodes and his resiliency to injuries?
A: That is just Xavier. Everybody knows that is just Xavier.
Q: Does Xavier Rhodes love the drama?
A: I won’t say that but I have a few nicknames for him.
Q: Any names you can say in front of the microphone?
A: Yes, it’s not dirty but I’m not going to say it.