Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
I thought it was a good team win yesterday. I thought we did some good things in all three phases. Special teams, we were able to get some yardage in the return game on the punt return. I thought we played fast on special teams yesterday. Eric Wilson played very well, Jayron Kearse did a nice job there. Offensively obviously the two receivers and [Kirk] Cousins played outstanding. Defensively I thought we did some much better things this week. We're going to try to continue to clean it up, get better and continue to move forward.
Q: Why has Kirk Cousins been so good at diagnosing blitzes and avoiding them?
A: He's had experience, and seeing a lot of these things is part of it. I would say that's the biggest thing, experience, and then having the ability to get into different protections.
Q: In what ways has Stephen Weatherly improved as a pass rusher?
A: I think I've said this many times, but when he first came here in the first little bit, he was a guy that would stop his feet on the rush, kind of measure. Now he's just rushing and using his athletic abilities. If the guy oversets he comes inside, if he sets too tight, he works the outside edge. I think he's just getting a better feel of it, but the number one thing is not stopping his feet.
Q: What are the keys to having two defensive ends that can play both the strong and weak side of the ball?
A: It doesn't really matter too much, honestly. Danielle [Hunter] feels comfortable on both sides, and Stephen [Weatherly] does too. It's really not as big of a deal, moving right or left.
Q: You've drafted a lot of pass rushers who didn't have a lot of sacks in college. How do you identify those players coming out, and how important has Andre Patterson been in developing them?
A: First of all, Andre is a great coach. I've been with him for 30-some years probably, but he's a great coach, good technician, he works really hard at it. Then we look for certain traits that these players have, and it's not just all athletic ability. Danielle Hunter is a guy that just wants to get better every single day, so that's part of it. I think it took Stephen a little bit longer to get to that point, but I don't think Danielle ever thinks that he's arrived. I think he's always trying to [say], "What can I do better today? What can I do better now? How am I going to get better?" He's always asking those questions, especially to Andre.
Q: Some of the throws Kirk Cousins made yesterday were thrown before the receiver even came out of his break. Is that a product of trust that's developed out at practice?
A: It really is, yeah. Knowing where the guy is going to be, trusting that he's going to go get the football. There were several times, probably three or four that happened in the game that he made outstanding throws under pressure and the receivers did an unbelievable job going to get them. I think [Stefon] Diggs is playing really well right now. He's been really good at trying to get extra yards after the catch. He's been very emotional and competitive all of the time. Obviously Adam has had some really good games, so it's been helping. I think these other guys are doing a nice job too.
Q: Is it encouraging that Cousins has had three strong games on the road in tough environments?
A: The Rams game we didn't play very well, but offensively we didn't blink in any of those games. We never flinched in anything that happened. This week we did better defensively. That's part of it, you go on the road and you go into a bad environment and no one thinks you're going to win the game and you just go out there and keep plugging away, keep fighting, don't flinch.
Q: How much do you coach Dan Bailey during a game like yesterday? Do you get involved with the kicker much, or just decide when you're going to kick the field goal?
A: No, I thought about talking to him during the game, but I didn't. I don't usually talk to him very much. I 100 percent believe he was going to make that kick. I didn't have any doubt in my mind.
Q: Some of the guys talked about Olympic cross-country skier Jessie Diggins' speech to the team last week about powering through adversity. Did you see that mentality take effect during the game when you were hanging on to a lead on the road?
A: Number one, she did a great job of talking to the team. Honestly, as you've probably seen the race and some of the video that she had, it was very emotional. Basically she talked about how everybody can do anything for ten things, whether it's ten pushups, or as she said, ten kilometers, but I would count ten strides. Who knows if any of that stuff is a big factor in winning, but it gets you to think about what's important and how you can overcome when you're tired, basically about sucking it up.
Q: What does the resiliency of this defense bring to the team?
A: It's always been pretty resilient. We didn't play good against the Rams. A lot of that is my fault, but this team and this defense has a lot of pride, a lot of heart. I think they came out with a purpose this week, to show that we can get back to playing good defense. Hopefully we'll continue it throughout the year.
Q: What have you seen from Mike Hughes through five games?
A: I thought he played well this week. He gave up the one deep ball, but he was in great position and the ball was a little bit underthrown. Most of the time he was doing everything correctly. He got beat on that last touchdown, he was a little bit misaligned on that. But he's improved. He's obviously got great quickness and talent. He's a good kid that works real hard at getting better, asks a lot of questions, so I've been pleased with him.
Q: Have you gotten another chance to look at Andrew Sendejo's hit?
A: I thought it was not a good call.
Q: Do you worry about a player getting a reputation with officials where they're more likely to flag them?
A: Yeah, probably. You know these officials watch tape too and they sit there. Because I was talking to one of them before the game and we were talking about some of the things their team does and I said do you have anything about us and he said, "Yeah, your one guy does this a lot." And it wasn't Sendejo, but it was someone else. They watch tape too, but I don't know.
Q: Last week you spoke about watching last year's tape on the Eagles and was confident it was only a few adjustments. Is that the case for all games with a margin like last year's?
A: Not always. Sometimes it's just bad play. If you go back and look at the championship game and you look at it real close they made every throw and catch, just about, even the short ones, the third downs. We got the quarterback sacked and the receiver takes off down the field and he makes a great throw for a touchdown. It was 14-7 with a minute something left in the half or something and we miss a tackle on third down to get us out, could have had us out. They threw the flea flicker early in the third quarter and one of our guys falls asleep. There's things like that and then it kind of got ugly at the end. They actually scored on defense, it was 7-7 for a long time. I'm not saying we should have won the game or anything like that, but when you go back and you look at things you find a lot of little things that you can correct – you hope you can correct.
Q: The onside kick seemed like it was pretty well executed. What was going through your mind there as it took a bad hop and bounces off of Adam Thielen at first?
A: We're going to get it, take a knee, and go home.
Q: What is it about Adam Thielen that makes him so good in that spot?
A: Competitor. There's isn't very many times Adam doesn't make the play when he's given the opportunity.
Q: With Jessie Diggins being here last week. How do you go about having someone come talk to the team?
A: I have a lot of help. People come and say would you be interested in doing this, would you be interested in doing that. I say yes or no.
Q: Do you see a point in the league when quarterbacks are not completing 70 percent?
A: No, probably not. I remember when I was in Dallas and I believe we set a record for 50 percent completions or less than that maybe for the year. It's kind of uncharted territory now.
Q: Is it hard to predict the ceiling of where that can go?
A: Last year was the lowest scoring in the league in a long, long time and they wanted to fix that and they obviously have. They're allowing things to happen – they're allowing receivers not to get touched, they're allowing quarterbacks not to get hit, they're allowing people to hold. There's a lot of things that when the league wants something they're going to get it. I think they're getting it. That's not negative on the league, that's just the way life is.
Q: Are guys throwing it better than they have in the past?
A: I believe so. Obviously, the great ones they're always going to be really good. The thing that's kind of showing up a little bit is some of these young quarterbacks. For instance Wentz, he's a guy that two years ago was kind of just feeling his way and then a year ago he played lights out. You go with the guy at the Rams [Jared Goff]. He's played so much better in his third year. I think these young guys that are in the league right now. I'm not watching them I'm TV scouting them like you all do.
Q: People talk about how the run game and passing game need to be balanced. With guys throwing better does that become obsolete?
A: The thing that I think is the defenses now, there's so many defense now that are playing single-high. I mean there's a lot them playing single-high defense. I can name them after and after and after. That makes it much more difficult to run the football into usually. These teams that are checking the ball and throwing it. They're taking a five yard throw as opposed to a two yard run. I think that's just kind of how it is. I do think it'll get more balanced as the season continues to progress a little bit. I could be wrong but I think it'll get more balanced.
Q: When you see so many teams spreading out and putting you in nickel situations, how does that affect your personnel and the way you
A: I kind of like it more honestly. Because I can get a lot more creative with a lot things we can do when we're in the nickel stuff than we do in the base stuff.
Q: Did you see similarities of George Iloka when you took Jayron Kearse in the draft?
A: Yeah, a little bit. They have similarities – the size, length, the athletic ability. Yeah, I think so, yeah.