Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good team win yesterday. Part of our goal this last week was to take care of the football which I thought we did well. Had four turnovers. I thought our punter, Matt Wile, had a good game. Flipped the field position. Special teams played well. It’s nice to finish out the game the way we did. It will be good to get back home in front of our fans this week. We need them to be loud and rowdy on a Sunday night.
Q: With the third down defense, how much of it is what you’re doing on first and second down and how much of it is the mentality of getting off the field?
A: It’s hard to say. The worst thing we’ve been doing defensively is first and second down. We haven’t been very good there. Recently, we’ve been better. We work real hard at third downs. We’ve been working real hard on first and second downs the last few weeks. Guys are executing. We change up some calls here and there every week and try to figure out what is the best way to stop them and guys have executed.
Q: When you have a streak on third down like you had going, is that a point of pride or discussed at all?
A: Not really by me. I don’t really know what everybody is saying over there because I’m not. The two that they converted, one was a quarterback sneak and one was a quarterback scramble.
Q: What are some of the keys with how the young guys on defense have developed?
A: We have good coaches, number one. I think that is good. I think they’re talented guys. Just because a guy isn’t drafted doesn’t mean he’s not a good football player. Nowadays with only seven rounds, there are a lot of players that are available after the draft that have opportunities to play. We’ve been very fortunate. We work real hard at getting those kind of guys.
Q: What is Holton Hill showing you that has translated from when you were looking at him as an undrafted free agent?
A: Obviously, the size and speed and toughness that he has. When he gets out there, the game is not too big for him. He just goes out and plays and does his job.
Q: What is the key to get young defensive backs playing as well as they have when they come in?
A: I think the biggest thing is these guys come in and pay attention to meetings. The older guys help these guys a lot. Xavier [Rhodes], Trae [Waynes], these guys all help these young guys. Marcus Sherels, all these guys. Terence [Newman] spends a lot of time with them. All that stuff helps them when they have to get out there. I wouldn’t say that Holton has everything down pat. But he has a lot of physical attributes that can translate into being a good corner and now we’re working on continuing to get better on technique, get better with fundamentals, get better with the knowledge of the game. That is usually what is different for young defensive backs in general coming into the NFL. It is a lot of technique, knowledge of the game, things like that.
Q: What do you think the biggest factors were in stopping the run game yesterday?
A: So one of the things we talked about all week long was perimeter run force, because a lot of their big runs had come from bounce outs to the perimeter with [Isaiah] Crowell. Trae [Waynes] made a couple of really nice tackles coming off the perimeter, I thought we were strong at the point of attack, I thought Jaleel Johnson played well, Sheldon [Richardson] played well inside. That helps, and then the linebackers were in the right place most of the time.
Q: What has Trae Waynes done to be so effective and being able to diagnose a play so quickly in the run game?
A: Part of it is reading your keys, that’s part of it, being able to read your keys. Talking about young corners, if their eyes are in the wrong place, typically wrong things happen. He still has some issues sometimes where his eyes are in the wrong place, but the majority of the time now in the last couple of years, he’s been really good with looking at his key. They get in all those different formations and they got three guys over there, if you’re looking at the wrong one, you’re looking at the quarterback, you’re looking at the running back, that’s where you get in trouble. If you focus on your key, typically that gives you a good read.
Q: How do you feel about Jalyn Holmes continued progress?
A: I thought he did better. I thought he played to his strength a little bit more than trying to be somebody he’s not, so I think that helped him to have a better game.
Q: What does the three-man front in the nickel package with Eric Wilson present as opposed to the four-man front?
A: There’s a number of different things. Usually with a four-down front in protection they’re identifying four guys and one more guy, and in the three-down front they have to identify three down and one other guy, that might be [Anthony] Barr, that might be [Eric] Kendricks, that might be [Eric] Wilson. There’s different ways to rush the quarterback, but you also have other guys in coverage, so you may have a guy covering a back, covering a tight end, doubling a guy. I guess it’s a little more varied.
Q: Is the Double A gap just an adjustment to the adjustment?
A: Some of it. Every team in the league now is running double A gaps, so five, six years ago, whatever it was, seven years ago when we started all that stuff, it was free runners all day long. Now [they say,] “Okay, we’re going to block it this way. We’re going to do this, we’re going to check to that, check to a screen, do this.” Gives us something else to work on, and at some point we’ll be back to our old self.
Q: Play calling plays a big part in having a successful defense, but how much does it come down to just having good tacklers?
A: Big. In today’s NFL, the way everybody is playing in space now, if you’re not a good tackler in space it makes it really hard to be a good defensive team, because they don’t bunch everything up anymore. Everything is rockets, don’t block this guy and leave this guy alone, five wide receivers. Yesterday they came out in three wide receivers and two tight ends a lot, and they had maximum protections and they had no backs, all five guys out. It becomes a space game, really, and that’s partly why you want to get more cover guys in there if you can.
Q: With did you see that worked so well on some of the interior runs from Latavius Murray?
A: We did a good job with cutting off the backside. The first touchdown they ran a shell coverage and I think we got on the linebacker and then he beat the safety and the second one, the long one we kind of cut them out of their gaps and he made a good cut. One guy over ran it, he made a good cut.
Q: How have you seen Pat Elflein progress?
A: Yeah, he’s doing really well. I thought he played well yesterday.
Q: Are you expecting the Saints to come in with a chip on their shoulder?
A: I think the Saints will come in with a chip on their shoulder because that’s who they are. They’re very aggressive on defense. They’re aggressive offensively. They got a good football team, so I don’t know. That was a long time ago.
Q: What is it like preparing for Drew Brees?
A: It’s different than it has been in the last few weeks. This guy is amazing. I’ve always thought when you talk about Hall of Fame quarterbacks, he’s going to be one, but he’s very cerebral, accurate. He’s moving well in the pocket. I was watching tape today and I thought, “How old is this guy? I thought he was getting old.” He moves well in the pocket. He’s not really a runner, but he scrambles and usually to find guys open and he knows where to go with the football, he’s extremely accurate. They’ve got a great scheme, all kinds of things. They’ve got all different kinds of personnel groups. They use their backup quarterback, [Taysom] Hill, as a tight end, they use him as a running back, they use him as a quarterback to run the options. There’s a lot of different things.
Q: Have you seen any physical deterioration from Drew Brees?
A: No. He should retire too.
Q: What did you see from Danny Isidora on film?
A: One of the runs for Latavius he cut the guy out. That was who it was, on the first run he cut the guy off. The guy was inside shade on him and he cut him off and allowed him [Latavius Murray] to get up in there. He did some good things in running and was decent in the pass game.
Q: Do you have an update on Tom Compton’s knee?
Q: Is there any update on Anthony Barr or Xavier Rhodes?
Q: What do you see about Drew Bree’s competitiveness?
A: Well, I kind of know from when my son was there and he knows and he says he’s one of the most completive guys there is. It didn’t matter what they were playing, he was trying to win. Whether it’s games out in the yard or whatever. From what I know, I know Sean [Payton] loves him.
Q: Do you see Brian O’Neill settling in on the right tackle spot?
A: Yeah, I thought he played well yesterday. Physical, much better in the pass protection, good in the running game. I thought he did well.