Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
We're excited to prepare for this first round of the playoffs. A very good New Orleans team, obviously good on all sides of the ball, well coached, great quarterback, great running back. They look very explosive and fast defensively, so we're going to have to go out and play well on the road to win.
Q: Were you watching the end of the Seattle-San Francisco game last night?
A: No, I was asleep. Woke up in the middle of the night and got a text saying that we're playing in New Orleans on Sunday.
Q: What was your reaction?
A: Cool. Went back to sleep.
Q: How good is New Orleans for a number three seed?
A: I think they're good for any seed. I mean, they're a good football team. Like I just said, they're well coached, play good on defense, play good on offense, solid on special teams. A very fast-paced offensive team.
Q: Adam Thielen talked about not overdoing it this week. How does a coach help players, especially younger ones, find a balance and not get overhyped for a game like this?
A: Well it's important that when you get in games like this, number one, you have to be able to execute. Do it like he (Adam Thielen) said, do what you've been doing all along. But mistakes are magnified now, every little thing becomes a lot more magnified because of the consequences of winning and losing. So everybody has to do a little bit extra in preparation so that we don't make those mistakes, we line up, play hard and play fast.
Q: Are the Saints changing what they're do offensively this season to best utilize Michael Thomas?
A: No, not really. I mean, Sean (Payton) has always been very innovative with what they're doing offensively, and they move guys around to a lot of different spots. I mean (Drew) Brees has had an outstanding year throwing, completion percentage wise, so he's going to get the ball to the guys that he feels are open.
Q: How loud is the venue in New Orleans, from your experience?
A: It'll be loud. It'll be loud. We'll be ready.
Q: How have the ways they use Taysom Hill evolved, and how hard is he to prepare for?
A: Yeah, they're using him a lot of different ways. Sometimes he's a running back, sometimes he's a tight end, sometimes he's a quarterback, sometimes he's an option quarterback. He's throwing the ball some like he did against us last year. So yeah, it makes it difficult, but we'll have a plan for it.
Q: How has Dalvin Cook handled his rehab in the past couple weeks to try to get back on the field?
A: Good. I think he feels good.
Q: What did you notice about the way Green Bay played you guys defensively when Dalvin Cook was unavailable in Week 16? How does Cook change the game when he is able to play?
A: It obviously changed quite a bit, the way they played us compared to when we have him (Dalvin Cook), especially the first game (against Green Bay) of the year. You know, New Orleans is going to want to try and stop the run, and then go from there.
Q: What does Cameron Jordan bring to the Saints defense?
A: He's a very violent rusher. Plays extremely hard, tough guy. He uses his hands well. He's a good matchup.
Q: How did you feel your interior offensive line played in their limited reps yesterday?
A: I thought they did pretty well. You know really, the offensive line, except for the safety, we blocked it wrong, but I thought they played well. I thought we blocked the edges good, they got some good edge rushers and we were able to open up some holes in the running game.
Q: Do you prefer your team's gritty, "why not us?" mentality?
A: Well I mean each team is a little bit different. I don't think anybody believes that we can win this game, so we go in there and we slug it out. All I really care about is that 53 guys believe.
Q: What stood out to you about the game where Drew Brees' performance against Indianapolis in Week 15, when he only had one incompletion?
A: What game was that? I've watched so many games already. I haven't watched that one yet.
Q: What is it about Drew Brees that allows him to have those type of games?
A: Well he's very smart. Drew (Brees) is a great competitor. He's moving well in the pocket. He's not a runner, but he moves well in the pocket when he gets pressure, goes to the side. He knows where the check downs are, and he's very accurate. His completion percentage because of those things I think is extremely high. I'll stop there.
Q: Does Drew Brees show any signs that his thumb injury still bothers him?
A: I haven't seen anything.
Q: In regards to what you said earlier, why do you think nobody thinks you can win this game?
A: We're eight-point underdogs. We're going on the road. They just had an NFL video of all the playoff teams except us. We'll just go from there.
Q: What have you learned about your defense this year?
A: They're pretty resilient. Throughout the course of the season, there's always some ups and downs throughout, injuries and different things. These guys are good competitors. They're tough guys and smart and I expect them to go out and play well.
Q: How do you feel about the process the pass defense has made since the bye week?
A: I don't know that particular timeframe, but I know that we've been playing better. We're doing things better technically. We seem to be in the right place a lot more often than we were before, so we seem to be playing with more discipline. We're going to keep staying on it, keep grinding this week. It'll be a tough test for us, but we're going to have to play well back there.
Q: What needs to happen for your defense to get off the field on third down like it was a couple years ago?
A: We're getting a lot of different things on third down. Some of it is we've been making mistakes. Some of it they've had good scheme. Some of it we've been getting beat one on one, so we'll just keep fighting our rear ends off try to get off, help if we weren't in third-and-threes a lot, too.
Q: With how well the offensive line has played a couple, what was the biggest difference in the loss to Green Bay two weeks ago?
A: I don't think they respected the run, basically.
Q: Just in terms of their pass rush, just unleashing it, you mean?
A: That was part of it, playing coverage. They dared us to run the ball and we didn't run it.
Q: What can you say overall about the season Anthony Harris has had?
A: I think he played well. He's a smart guy. Seems to get good breaks on the ball, typically is in the right place. Played well.
Q: There's a report that Cleveland has requested to interview Kevin Stefanski. Is that accurate?
A: I'm not going to talk about those things.
Q: What worked well in the first half against New Orleans in the 2017 divisional playoff game?
A: I think we had an interception. I'm trying to remember what else happened in there. Yeah, he underthrew one. We played pretty good in the red zone. There were several things that happened there. We're going to have to play like that again.
Q: Did something get away from you in the second half, or was that just Drew Brees being Drew Brees?
A: I think we had a punt blocked and we threw an interception. They ran it down in there. I don't know if it was for a touchdown or not, but it got down in there it seemed like. And then the game last year, we fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line going in or something. He ran it back right before the half. Something else happened, too.
Q: Can you take anything out of that divisional game against the Saints? Perhaps the way they used Alvin Kamara when they were coming back?
A: They use him lots of different ways. Rockets, him running the ball, screens, routes out of the backfield. They use him a number of different ways, and we'll have to be on our toes.
Q: When you have a quarterback with Drew Brees' experience, how hard is it to trick him?
A: It's hard to trick him because he reads things so quickly. He sees it and gets the ball to the quick plays. They have a bunch of varied things. They have the play actions. They have the quick throws. They have the screens and the bubbles and then they have their shots down the field on the play actions. Then they've got a big quick game. We'll have to try to do our best.