Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Must be a big game. Did you guys miss me? Nine days I haven’t talked to you. I thought about you a lot. Obviously, a big game this week. I think the Bears are a really good football team. Outstanding on defense. Special teams they do a great job. Offensively, I think they’ve really improved. They give you a lot of things that you have to deal with. A lot more speed offensively than they’ve had in the past. This will be a good contest, a great challenge for us this week.
Q: What stands out about some of the leaps Mitchell Trubisky seems to have made?
A: I think he’s done pretty much everything. There’s been times he’s had some free runners and it looks like they’re telling him, “Hey, you have to get the ball out.” He gets the ball out with accuracy. There’s other times he looks like Fran Tarkenton scrambling. Some of the runs he’s made are unbelievable. They’re obviously using him in a bunch of different ways. I think the command of the offense is probably his biggest thing is being able to go through progressions more, now. When they’re in their no-huddle, they’re telling him what plays to call and things like that. It’s a little bit of that style.
Q: What have they changed defensively with 16 interceptions?
A: They haven’t changed that much defensively except for Khalil Mack, which adds to some of those poor throws and pressure. Their defensive front is outstanding. I think Leonard Floyd is playing a lot better now. Their two corners [Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara] are both very good. Eddie Jackson is a little bit more of a ball hawk since they’ve added him, I think that’s helped and I think he’s playing with a lot more confidence.
Q: Have you put more emphasis on ball security this week with Chicago’s turnovers?
A: Yes and their points off of turnovers are huge. I think second in the league. We are going to have to do a great job of possessing the ball and keeping it. Making sure that we do a good job with being patient in a lot of ways.
Q: How much similarity between their offense with what you see from Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles from some of the misdirection stuff?
A: A little bit. It’s more Kansas City honestly. There is a little bit of all different styles. There’s no way you can practice every one of their plays. They’ve got 800 of them for every game.
Q: Is their running game better than anyone you’ve played this year?
A: I don’t know. Their running game is good. [Tarik] Cohen is a heck of a back. Jordan Howard is a guy that adds a lot of physicality and he’s always been a good runner. He had 144 against us the first time when we played him last year. It is a different style running game, I guess. The quarterback [Mitchell Trubisky] adds a lot of runs to it, they’ve got the zone reads and the options and things like that. It is a different style to me on some of the runs and some of the runs are normal runs.
Q: How has the pass catchers they’ve brought in helped Mitch Trubsiky take that next step, especially the last three games?
A: Their team speed is much better now. I think adding [Taylor] Gabriel, he is an extremely fast guy. [Trey] Burton, [Allen] Robinson. Those guys have all added a lot of things to them. Then you throw in there Cohen and Anthony Miller, who has done a nice job. They’re opening things up a lot more. This isn’t two yards and a cloud of dust deal.
Q: Is there enough out there on tape for you to know what Matt Nagy’s offense looks like yet?
A: We are going to get new plays. There’s no doubt in my mind we are going to get new plays. But they’ve got their core group of plays they are going to run. Every week you are going to get new plays, you are going to get new formations, you are going to get new personnel groups. That is part of the NFL.
Q: Do you have an idea how you are going to use Ameer Abdullah yet?
A: We’ll see how the week goes.
Q: Did you get any rest during bye week?
A: Yeah, a little bit. I kept waking up early like always. Maybe toward the end of the couple days off I slept in a little bit.
Q: What makes Andre Patterson such a good coach?
A: What makes all good coaches good, he develops his players, he’s tough on them. He’s got a great relationship with them. He works hard at technique. He sees things in how to improve players. I think those things are all what makes a good coach. You see a guy that has the ability to do something and you help teach him the technique and learn. Or he sees something and maybe he can try something a little bit better to become good. Andre has a great relationship with those guys. He’s tough. When he needs to be, he’s tough. But he’s like a mother hen the rest of the time. He’s always been a great sounding board to me and a great friend as well.
Q: Can you talk about what Ameer Abdullah brings to the team?
A: He is a guy that has great acceleration, quickness, catches the ball well, returner. We’re just hopeful we add another big play piece to the offense. Another thing that [John DeFilippo] Flip can use. I think similar to what the Bears are doing with adding some of their kind of guys. Maybe we can add a little bit more speed. Maybe we do a little bit more unique things with some of the things we are doing.
Q: Do you think you might have your full arsenal for the first time this year?
A: I don’t know yet. I think we are getting healthier. But I won’t know until later on in the week.
Q: With double the takeaways since Week 5, where have you seen the most improvement at this stage?
A: We’ve gotten a lot better with our running game. Our passing game has been pretty good all year long, but I think the running game has helped solidify the variation in the offense. Defensively we’ve obviously improved in the last five weeks a ton from where we were. We’re playing much better on the back end, not giving up near as many big plays. The run game, we’ve always been pretty decent against the run. I just think overall in some of the key areas we’ve improved quite a bit.
Q: Is there one area where Khalil Mack elevates the ten others on defense?
A: I think he’s added a lot of swagger to the football team. I think they have swagger anyway, but I think he’s added some to it knowing that they’ve got a guy of his caliber that’s in there. He really adds a lot of physicality to their defense, I think that’s part of it. Not just the rush part, everybody knows he’s a good rusher, but the physicality of defeating a tight end, defeating an offensive tackle, the aggressive nature that he plays with, I think that probably adds to all the other guys.
Q: Can you think of another player that has come in late and made a difference on a team like Khalil Mack?
A: I think Reggie White was kind of like that when he went from Philadelphia to Green Bay, but that’s a long time ago. They were a pretty darn good defense a year ago. They were I think a top-10 defense a year ago. Obviously they’ve improved, they’re healthy, I don’t think they’ve had a lot of injuries defensively, and adding a guy like him is going to be a big factor in getting them better. I think it allows them to play the style of defense that they would like to play.
Q: When you’re facing a quarterback that moves around as much as Mitchell Trubisky, how much does it help to have more depth in the defensive line?
A: It’s important. You kind of roll those guys a little bit. It’s also important to have athletic guys in there. All of our ends are pretty athletic, so I’m sure that will be a huge factor for us hopefully. But it’s being able to rush him the right way. If you just rush and you don’t care where he’s at, then you’re going to have a bad day, a bad night in this case.
Q: Is there anything you can do to practice turnovers drill-wise to negate turnovers? Does it alter your offense at all?
A: We have to do what we need to do to win. Some of those things are altering our offense in some ways. I guess I’m not going to tell you how, but yeah, there are some things that we have to do, and practice-wise I think it’s important that we try to punch the ball, strip the ball when we’re going through practice.
Q: What makes Danielle Hunter a special football player?
A: He is a great athlete, number one. Great length and size and strength. He is a guy that doesn’t think he’s a superstar. He thinks he is one of the guys. He just tries to get better every single day. Now he is playing a lot more free. A lot of times those young guys are a little paint by the number guys. He is a guy if the tackle oversteps him, he goes underneath. If he short sets him, he beats him on the corner. If he sits down on them, he will long arm him and work he second move off of him. That is the development I see in him and it’s been going on for maybe a year-and-a-half now, maybe a year now. He continues to get better. Comes in every day and asks, “What can I do to get better?” He works extremely hard in the offseason.
Q: Do you want your players to be a little bit more nasty?
A: We can be nasty when we want to. I think we are blue collar football team. I think we kind of try to do, some of the offense guys are a little bit more celebrities, [Stefon] Diggs. Our guys are the kind of guys that we want in here. Guys that are passionate about football. They care about the team. They want to get better. They care about one another. To me, that is more important. They have their own swagger. They have their own, nastiness, I guess. They’re good competitors.
Q: Is there an emphasis with how much they do run hurry-up plays getting guys in and out with their cardio coming out of the bye week?
A: It won’t be. I don’t think it will be too bad. They had a few days off. We will work him pretty good today and tomorrow and kind of go from there. The biggest thing for us during the bye was to get off their feet. I know some guys worked out. It’s about trying to get your legs back. Darryl Johnson one time said back when the CBA was different, we’d have two-a-days. They’d come into camp and they’d be in unbelievable shape. You beat the crap out of them for five weeks and then by the time you start the season you’re all beat up. What we try to do in these few days that we had off we tried to get back healthy again. Get our legs back, try to get refreshed. Honestly, I know the football team felt this way, when you go five weeks in the preseason and you have nine games. That is 14 weeks, three-and-a-half months, whatever that is. You get to the point where, “Man, I just need a break.” We got the break, this next week and hopefully they’ll feel refreshed. I know they were tired going into last week I thought. You kind of have to judge that. I think the biggest thing is that we come back refreshed, excited about this seven game stretch coming up. Excited about this opportunity we have against the Bears and try to play our best football of the year at this time.