Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
After watching the tape, obviously it was a really good division win at home. Definitely, I thought we played well. We had some returns, special teams, Dalvin [Cook] had a big run. Had a lot of good things going. We have to keep it up and keep pushing and see where this all takes us.
Q: Do you have certain things that you are going to focus on during the bye week?
Q: What are some of the things that you want to see?
A: Just some of the things we weren’t very good statistically at, just certain areas.
Q: Is that one of the better games you’ve seen from Tom Johnson in the four and a half years he’s been here?
A: Tom has had some good games in the past. But he played well yesterday, yes.
Q: What do you want to emphasize in the run game with the three of the last seven games being outdoors coming out of the bye?
A: That is a good question because I usually look at one game at a time, not seven. We just have to continue to be effective running the football. I do think with some of these games as it starts to get colder, it is going to be more of a factor. I think we are getting better at a lot of the areas in the running game. We have to continue searching for more ways to pound the ball. We have to look for ways when we get down inside the 15-yard line in order to run the ball. It’s just harder to throw the ball in there. So in order for us to get better in the red zone touchdowns, we have to run the ball better in there.
Q: Did Dalvin Cook’s run show a little bit more of what he brings with his ability to open things up?
A: Yes and actually there was one other run that I thought he was going to pop that he just got tripped on. He has got a chance to hit home runs. I think it was really good for him to get out there and get some game time action. When you haven’t played in six weeks and you haven’t practiced all that much I think he will continue to get better. See some of the cuts a little bit better as he gets going.
Q: What does that do for Dalvin Cook’s confidence to test his hamstring on the long run?
A: Dalvin is a pretty confident guy. But I do think him being able to go through there and come in today feeling great, I think that is all good for going forward.
Q: Is it harder to get red zone sacks?
A: Sacks are hard to get anyways. A guy who leads the league in sacks is somewhere 15-16 that’s one a game if he’s lucky. A lot of teams get in a lot more no backs or they get five guys out in the routes. Typically, there is a little less protection down there. Those are big when you can get sacks in the red zone, is big.
Q: How many sacks were due to good coverage and the line getting through?
A: It was probably 50-50. A lot of them were really good coverage. We got [Matthew Stafford] to hold the ball a few times, which was good. There were some other times we just beat people. The game where Tom [Johnson] and Sheldon [Richardson] was a good one. I’m trying to think, Danielle [Hunter] had a good one. He beat the guy quick. It always usually goes hand-in-hand, I think. But we made him pull the ball down a few times.
Q: Does having eight of ten sacks coming on a pass rush of four or fewer guys say more about the defensive linemen themselves or is that 50-50 split between that and scheme?
A: I think it’s both. They had an offensive lineman that went out during the game so that helps. I think we made him pull the ball down some in coverage. Really, it all goes hand-in-hand. If you can do it with four guys, that is pretty good. But that means they’re holding the ball and we’re covering in the back end.
Q: Is the continued teaching from Andre Patterson and the veteran players helping the younger players something you preach here?
A: That’s what we try to do. And I’ve heard that before, it’s just not how we do it. We stay on them to continue to work on their technique, rush angles, hand placement, all kinds of things. Andre does a great job, and the veteran guys do a great job as far as helping out the younger guys. Stephen Weatherly has come a long way in a short among of time, really. A year ago I wouldn’t have guessed that he would be playing this much or doing the things that he is doing. He had a nice rush and sacked Stafford one time, he had a couple of nice rushes where he hit the quarterback right after he threw it. There were things that he was doing that were not allowing him to rush as well as he’s doing now, but Andre has been on him about working on different things to get better. They all go down there to pass rush, and as soon as one of them gets done Danielle will come over or Griff [Everson Griffen] will come over and say, “Hey, here’s what you did, and here’s what you have to do.” I do think a lot of it, when you have success and guys see themselves getting better, I think it leads to more listening to the coaching and things like that.
Q: Has the first half of the season felt more draining to you or is that just how it goes?
A: Probably feels more draining because it’s this year. The NFL season is such a grind because you’re doing it since July and you’re sitting up there studying tape every day. If you get to go home when the sun is out you feel like a normal person. But it is what it is.
Q: How much of the scheme changing will you look at during the bye week?
A: Not too much really that way. I mean are self-scouting us a little bit, like I said some of the areas that we haven’t been as good in. Every Monday we come in we start on the other team after we’re done all this stuff and then we’ll sit down and we’ll look at plays that hurt us. We’ll go back through the season and look at plays that hurt us and kind of see if there’s a pattern going on. We’re kind of constantly doing that. Same thing offensively so we can figure out what we have to change or adjust the coverage or make different calls or game plan things so we don’t get hurt. For instance they tried to run two of those roll out screens yesterday and we got hurt with them earlier in the year – I think San Francisco had one and probably the Rams had one and there was someone else, so we’ve had to make adjustments on how we’re playing that. Yesterday I think they lost yards on both of them.
Q: Was there a Monday you remember where you realized something has to change?
A: It’s pretty much every week. I guess the best way to say it is when you’re watching these other teams, the offenses you’re getting ready to play and the week before you watch their offense and they’re all attacking with basically the same combination, route combination and things and you see it’s versus that particular style of coverage, that’s when it really shows up. You see everybody game planning the same coverage every single week. That’s why we’ve had to change.
Q: Was there a time when you noticed teams starting to implement your double A scheme?
A: It always starts out slow. One of our coverages when I first went to Dallas, not first but when I was in Dallas, we had Deion Sanders. I didn’t want him playing a certain style of defense, so we were trying to allow him to be man-to-man and so what we had to do was to figure out a way where he could still be man-to-man, but we could still get extra guys and play man within the zone combinations. Well, we were pretty good at it and then next thing I know I see Philadelphia playing it. They’re in our division and watch us all the time, so they’re playing it. Next time you see Buffalo, I don’t know who it was but you just see a gradual thing and I’ve had many coaches say they watch our blitz tape every week to see what we’re doing. That’s kind of how it starts and then they try and copy it. Quite honestly I don’t think we’ve run hardly any double A blitzes this year, because everybody is practicing them so we do something else.
Q: Of the guys that injured who do you think is going to benefit the most with the time off?
A: Probably the guys that missed the game. I think most those guys I’m hopeful that they’re all back.
Q: A lot of the college offensive innovation has trickled into the NFL. Have you noticed if the defensive innovations have kept pace?
A: Yeah, but it’s different. There is a lot of college coming into the NFL and it’s always kind of been like that. The rocket sweeps and the zone reads and the RPOs and all that stuff. The difference is most of those quarterbacks and I’m not trying to discredit anybody, they can’t throw like NFL quarterbacks. The NFL quarterbacks are always those that have thrown the best throughout the entire time, so that part is a little bit different defensively. They can get away with more things, but everything is cyclical. It’s the double As, Tampa-two, the RPOs, all the things it all goes round-and-around and guys study it and study it and they try to figure out ways to stop it. Once they do they have to go to something else.
Q: Are you still learning things about what this club can do?
A: Yeah. I think so. It’s been a process this year. We’ve had a new offensive coordinator, new quarterback, we’ve been missing some guys there, and defensively we didn’t start out well. Every year is a new year, but I do feel like we’re starting to look a lot more like I kind of expect us to and I hope we continue to do that. But yeah, I do think it’s still kind of a learning process.
Q: Is there something about the way your team approaches third down that is different than other teams?
A: I don’t know what other teams do. I know we spend a lot of time with it. We look at them on Mondays. No, we look at them on Tuesdays as a defensive staff. We used to spend a little more time on it now, but since we’re giving up a lot of big plays on first and second down we spend a lot more time doing that on Tuesdays and then we go back to third downs on Wednesdays. I probably look at the third down tape four or five times during the week. Honestly, our players are executing. We changed some of the calls yesterday that we haven’t called, but you go to execute anyway so whatever you do you have to execute and they’ve been doing a good job.
Q: The league flexed your game to Sunday night against the Bears. Does that effect anything?
A: Not really. I mean they just tell us when to play, we show up. Try to get a win somehow.