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Transcript: Zimmer Addressed the Media on Monday

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Thought it was a good team win yesterday, it was nice to see the running game get going. We had 195 yards rushing. Defensively I thought we played very well, 0-10 on third downs. I thought we pressured the quarterback well, pretty good in coverage most of the day. Special teams we flipped the field position a few times, had them down inside the 20 yard line a couple of times. We had good field position with some of our return game. A good team win, and we’re going to have to continue to play well on the road this week against a pretty darn good Jets team.

Q: What was the key to limiting the big plays that have been plaguing the defense the past few games?

A: We’ve been practicing these things that have been hurting us, and we’ve been emphasizing certain points that needed to be addressed, and so I think that’s really what the biggest reason [is].

Q: Do you have an update on the status of Mike Hughes after he had an MRI this morning?

A: Yeah, he’s going to go on IR. He’s got a torn ACL.

Q: What can you say about the progress of Brian O’Neill since he got here until now?

A: He’s progressed an awful lot. I thought he played pretty well yesterday. He battled, very smart, picked up a lot of the things that they were trying to do. He’s getting better all the time.

Q: How deflating is it for an opponent when you’re able to score going in and out of halftime?

A: It’s big. It’s a chance to go ten or 14 points up, if you’re getting the ball back in the second half. Quite honestly, that’s why I try to defer as much as we can, because we have a chance to get the ball in the start of the second half. But you know, if you get 10 points in an eight-minute span, or 14 points, then that’s pretty good.

Q: In terms of the defense’s success on third down against Arizona, is there a common theme that you saw on tape?

A: Guys made some good plays. The third down interception that Anthony Harris made was a big play. I think we had a couple sacks in there, maybe three. Mackensie [Alexander] made a good play on the first third down, Trae [Waynes] made a nice tackle on the shallow cross, and I think it was third-and-ten or something like that. The guys did a nice job of executing.

Q: What does losing Mike Hughes mean for the depth of the cornerback position? Will Holton Hill be expected to play a larger role?

A: This has always been a deal where somebody gets hurt, and everybody else has to continue to step up and play. We feel bad about Mike, because I think Mike is going to be a really good football player, but we got other guys here and we expect them to come in and do a good job.

Q: How much do you feel for Mike Hughes, with where he had been at in his development?

A: I do, because he was learning and continued to learn, and he’s got a lot of great attributes. I think toughness, and his skill set is really good. But he’s going to come back, and he’s going to be great. We’ve got great doctors here and great trainers. Sug [Eric Sugarman] has done an unbelievable job with every one of our guys that have had ACL [injuries]. We’re going to miss him, but we’re going to move forward.

Q: How much being able to play multiple positions carries over for Mike Hughes when he comes back?

A: We’ll worry about 2019 then. It’s hard for me to predict. I don’t know what date he’ll be back, how much he can do until then. It’s really hard for me to predict that part.

Q: How quickly did Mike Hughes adjust and took to coaching?

A: For a young guy, he was real professional about everything. Studied hard, asked good questions. Never afraid to ask anything. Not afraid to compete. A lot of times it’s just learning the speed of the game and trying to understand the concepts and coverage and things like that.

Q: How many rookie corners have you had pick things up as quickly as he did to get on the field?

A: There’s been numerous ones I guess. A long time ago was Terence Newman but I would have to really think about it. Like I’ve always said, some guys are quicker than others and some take a little bit more time. It just depends on the individual. Not really so much what they did in college or anything like that, it’s just how fast they can pick things up.

Q: Do you look for another cornerback to add depth with the roster spot open?

A: We’ll see.

Q: How rare is it to have this many defensive backs you feel comfortable rotating in?

A: Well the old saying, “You always need one more.” In today’s game, they’re really valuable. If you can’t pressure the quarterback and you can’t cover, then you are going to have issues. That is part of our deal here is we want guys that can rush the quarterback and guys that can cover, whether it be linebackers, defensive backs, safeties, whatever.

Q: Is there a reason to rotating guys like Jayron Kearse or Anthony Harris in where they are getting to see more time than normal?

A: Sometimes, honestly it is their personnel dictates it or the way they play their offense dictates it based on different game situations and things like that. Next week might be a completely different thing. I like to play guys that have earned the right to play. I like to play them it just sometimes, situations like Ben Gedeon, and he played ten plays or something. Ben is a good football player. Because of the offense that we are playing, he didn’t get to play that much. Some weeks are like that. It’s good for Kearse to get in there. It’s good for [George] Iloka to get in there, Anthony Harris. Those guys had different jobs to do this week.

Q: What do you like with the big nickel with Jayron Kearse in there?

A: It gives you some flexibility. There is a lot of reasons. I don’t want to get too complicated but it’s just better cover guys than typically when you get linebackers in there. There are other reasons, too, that I really don’t want to discuss.

Q: Is goal line a good spot for Jayron Kearse for using the big nickel in those situations?

A: I would have to think about that. I mean there were a couple situations. I don’t remember. He’s in a couple different packages on the goal line, so I don’t remember exactly which one you’re talking about, but it’s honestly just packages. It’s how we try to, what’s the word I’m looking for, put players in different spots. Its situations, packages, might be matchups, it’s a lot of different things. 

Q: What is it about Latavius Murray’s game that has enabled him to have success in the downhill runs?

A: Number one, he’s a great person. He’s a very diligent about his work, practices hard, but he’s got good feet and acceleration. He stayed with the reads really well yesterday, I thought. He runs with his pads forward. When he gets a chance, very seldom is this guy going backwards when he gets hit. A lot of those things I really like.

Q: Was it an emphasis to go to Laquon Treadwell early yesterday and how much of the impact can he make if defenses start paying him more attention?

A: It really wasn’t. It’s just the way the game started out. We had a couple calls in there. Kirk [Cousins] is a guy who is going to throw the football where it needs to go. He’s not really trying to get the ball to this guy or that guy, it’s mostly coverage dictated. Obviously, some plays are put in for each guy but the more that we can add, the more players that we can add that are spread the ball around the better it will be for everybody.

Q: What do about the tipped passes? It looked as if Kirk Cousins was trying to get the ball out quickly on those possessions.

A: I knew I was going to get asked that so I was prepared. Some of them were quick passes, right, where the line was sliding one way and the back was going the other way and we were cutting the defensive end with the back. There was two times they jumped over the top of them and tipped the ball down. One time he ended up sacking him, there was one when we ran a naked (bootleg) and we left a guy alone on that side who wasn’t blocked, so basically a few of the times were when we didn’t block. There were a couple times where we got pushed back a little bit and guys got their hands up. One of the early ones, maybe the third down or fourth down early in the game I think we got pushed back on those two.

Q: What did the interior offensive linemen do to open those runs up?

A: There walking guys up in the gaps. They basically had eight-man fronts against our one-back formations and we were having to come off the double teams, the combination blocks a little bit faster, and there was a couple times where we got them knocked off the ball and once it gets there, there’s nobody from here to past that back wall to make the tackle. We just have to stick with it. Like I told the team the other day, sometimes it’s going to be a two yard run and then it might be a two yard run, then it might be a 20-yard run. I think we had four of those yesterday. Sometimes you just have to keep pounding it until you pound it through the wall.

Q: How close of a call was it with Dalvin Cook yesterday?

A: It’s close. I mean we just have to feel comfortable with it.

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