Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
That was a good team win. I really liked the balance that we had offensively, the things that we were trying to get done, the way we’re spreading the ball around. We were really, really close on breaking probably five or six runs for big, big plays and didn’t quite get the last guy blocked. I thought we did a really nice job there. We made a couple big plays on special teams, we got to get touchdowns in those situations opposed to field goals. I thought defensively, especially after they scored the second touchdown, I thought we played really well. Guys tackled well, they did a great job with the rush plan, the two inside tackles, the three, four, however many played; I thought they did a nice job pushing the pocket and putting some pressure on their quarterback. Other than that, good team win.
Q: What made some of the outside runs so effective?
A: Well, there was a couple times they were slanting inside that we hit it pretty good. A couple times we kind of out ran them, that’s usually what happens on those jet sweeps.
Q: Do you have an injury update on Xavier Rhodes?
A: Yes, thankfully it’s a very, very mild and as far as the TV doctors that were reporting it’s very erroneous.
Q: Why is the three-technique so vital to what you want to do defensively?
A: Very good question. Most of the time the three-technique gets a lot of one-on-one situations with the guards. A lot of times the center is going away, the tackles – the way we play our ends have a tendency to sit on the inside just a little bit more, and they get chipped a lot more. The three-technique is the one that if he can be a pass rusher it really helps with the two ends especially because the tackles can’t sit in on him quite so long, because they got to get to the ends or vice versa.
Q: What made it a priority to bring in Sheldon Richardson after watching all of the three-technique film this offseason?
A: Well, he’s very, very athletic and he’s got really good strength. One of the things we look for in our three-technique is first step quickness and then lateral quickness and he has those things really well. But the thing that kind of surprised me a little bit is the power that he has with it. The good three-techniques I have been around have all kind of had those qualities.
Q: Is it important to change up things that you do or do somethings differently after playing a team once during the season?
A: I don’t know that it’s important, but you played them once, so you have an idea how they’re doing things. Then you see like if we did this or we did that, how are they going to change what they’ve done in the past? Sometimes it’s just trying to get them to think on the sideline just as much – get over there and get on that board and draw a little bit and try to get them working on some other things.
Q: How do you think Sheldon Richardson has rushed the passer or put pressure on the quarterback overall this season?
A: I think he’s done well. I think the thing with Sheldon it’s always the same thing we’ve been working on with him is when he clears not widening his hips to get outside to the quarterback. He had quite a few pressures a year ago before he came here, but this year he is starting to work a little bit more vertically with it and I think that’s helping him.
Q: Did you see a reduction in the volume offensively in the way the game was called last night?
A: Yeah. First, I think Flip [John DeFilippo] did an outstanding job last night. I know people have been on his rear end a little bit and they’ve been on my rear end a little bit and that’s fine. But he did a really good job of mixing the game, the flow of the game, trying to keep them off balance. I thought he did a really outstanding job and part of it was most of the plays were called we executed pretty well.
Q: Did you get a sense that the offense took Green Bay by surprise?
A: I don’t know. I mean they saw some of the plays prior. Usually what you do is format them a little differently, line up in different formations, show them a different motion and run some of the same plays. We had a couple different ones that we hit good on.
Q: Did you like that in Kirk Cousins moving his feet more last night?
A: I did. I had the opportunity to talk to Kirk. I talked to him two or three times last week about just some of the things that I felt like would help us offensively. When it opens up like that, run. If you have a quarterback, basically what I told him, “If you have a quarterback that’s not going to run, the defenses are going to play extra coverage, they’re not going to worry about that.” You’re playing a guy like [Aaron] Rodgers, you have to worry about it. You have to put an extra guy on him sometimes. I just think that adds to everything that we did last night.
Q: Was there something that was keeping Kirk Cousins from running more earlier this season?
A: I don’t think so because he did it all spring against the defense. Sometimes you talk about it but maybe you don’t emphasize it until it shows up big during a game and then, “I could get a first down here.” Maybe talking to him a little bit more helped this week.
Q: How does it make the offense much more difficult to defend Dalvin Cook on screen plays?
A: Really, really. When he gets in space he’s pretty good. He made several guys miss last night with some good runs. We got in space and that is another weapon. They’re really zeroing in on [Adam] Thielen and [Stefon] Diggs and rightfully so. But when you get the ball to [Kyle] Rudolph, you get the ball to Cook, you get the ball to [Laquon] Treadwell or [Aldrick] Robinson, that helps the entire deal. Then you get a better chance to get the ball to the other two guys.
Q: How tough of a block was that for Pat Elflein to make on the touchdown pass?
A: You have to be a really athletic guy. Not so much to get out there, to be able to block a good athlete in space.
Q: What does it say about how far the defense has come being ranked in several categories despite going through some ups and downs this season?
A: If you asked me that about seven weeks ago, I’d probably be pretty concerned. It’s a long season. There are a lot of things that go on throughout the course of time. We still have good players. They’re playing good, they’re concentrating, they’re focusing on the things we have to try to do each week. I just think we’ve had to change a little bit from where we started the season and these guys have handled it well. There are still six games left. I was with a defense one time that we were fifth in the league with five games left and we ended up 13th. There’s still a long ways to go but we have to continue to keep pressing the issue, keep doing the things we have to do to win football games.
Q: Do you take a lot of pride in having a top three ranked defense?
A: I take pride in wins. If it helps us win games, I’m good.
Q: What did it mean to you to see your team rebound from the Chicago loss and perform well in a big game?
A: That loss in Chicago hurt, and I know a lot of the guys felt that way. I know that they were concerned about the future schedule going on, but we had to focus on one game. You can’t win six games without winning one, and so it was really important. When I was in the locker room before the game with the guys, they were pretty juiced up and ready to go. They were in Chicago too, we just didn’t do well enough. I think we have a pretty smart team, they kind of know and I’m sure they peek at the schedule and know that we got to play on two [opposite] coasts back-to-back and a night game and all the other situations. We just need to continue to do the things we’re doing and play smart football, which I thought we did last night. We played smart in really all three phases, other than the first third down of the game and the 12 guys on the field again, from the week before it was about the same. Other than that I thought we played pretty good. We took care of the ball, we got a couple turnovers basically.
Q: Do you think the offensive line brought in extra edge last night, especially in pass protection?
A: It’s hard for me to say extra edge. I thought that they were ready to play, and I thought that they did a really good job in pass protection. Really in all phases I thought they did a good job, but they protected very well last night. One of the sacks was a total miscommunication, and we just let a guy free. I thought Latavius [Murray] had a really good pickup on a blitz one time when they hit [Adam] Thielen, when he caught the ball over the guy’s back. But it all goes hand in hand, and Flip [Coach DeFilippo] called some protections which helped on some of those things too. When we had to get the ball out quick, we got it out quick. A good example was when it was third and 10 and we had a crossing route and they threw it to Thielen and he converted it for a first down. They all don’t have to be past the sticks, there are times where there’s outlets where guys are chasing people in man to man that you have a chance to catch it and run.
Q: When Brian O’Neill pulled all the way to the other side of the line on Dalvin Cook’s big gain, was that the type of athleticism you saw in the draft process?
A: Well really the athleticism was the thing. He was still pretty green when he got here, but he’s a really, really good athlete. As far as trying to get to the second level, he’s always done a good job with that. He’s had to improve his pass protection, which he’s done quite a bit. There’s still some areas that he’s got to get better at. But the thing that he’s showed me the most I think in the last four or five weeks is his grit, and I like that. You got to be tough to play that position, because you’re banging guys every single down. You’re sitting back and taking on guys who are bull rushing you and all that stuff, and he’s shown a pretty good amount of nastiness, and that’s the kind of guys that I want to have here along with the guys that we have.
Q: How well do you know Bill Belichick?
A: I’ve talked to him on the phone one time, I’ve talked to him before we played them last time, but I really don’t talk to him much. Obviously I try to learn as much as I can from him.