Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good morning. Starting our preparation for Green Bay. They're a really good football team. They don't turn the ball over. They get turnovers. They play good in the red zone on both sides of the ball. They don't commit penalties and so that's why they're winning football games, plus they have good players. (Aaron) Rodgers is still amazing, the things he can do with the football and his legs and his mind. Defensively, give you a lot of different looks. They have some good edge rushers and good corners and so it will be a tough test for us. We'll need our fans out in full force this week.
Q: What all goes into Green Bay's ball security?
A: I think number one, (Aaron) Rodgers does a great job with it. Every time I watch Aaron Jones run, he's carry it high and tight. They do a great job of protecting the football. We're going to have to do the same thing.
Q: How have you noticed their offense shift to the running game?
A: They're running the ball well. I think their offensive line is doing a nice (job). They have a lot of veteran guys in there. The two tackles and the center are really good players. (Aaron) Jones and (Jamaal) Williams are both good backs. They're probably committed a little bit more to running the football. When he has good days running the ball, they typically have a good day offensively.
Q: What have been some of the keys to your team's ability to record takeaways this year?
A: We've been emphasizing it quite a bit. We show tape of all the turnovers on every Friday that happened throughout the league and why they happened and what they did. I think guys are starting to take a little pride in it.
Q: What does it take to play your best football in December?
A: It's about, number one, hopefully you're healthy, so you've got your good players playing. Number two, it's about execution, making sure that everybody's on the same page. I think the good teams, when they get going in this time of year, they still harp on technique and fundamentals and hand placement and footwork and things like that. That's what we've been trying to do.
Q: Does having players with experience in your defensive system make it easier to emphasize takeaways without sacrificing fundamentals?
A: Yeah, no, we still do the same things. We still make sure secure the tackle, second guy in, things like that. A lot of times, turnovers come with pressure on the quarterback, him fumbling the ball or blindside or strip-sack or you hit him and the ball pops up and you get an overthrow or an underthrow or something like that. We kind of try to do what we do, but we just emphasize a lot of those finishing plays a little bit more.
Q: Do you have an update on Dalvin Cook's shoulder, and will he practice today?
A: I don't know. We'll see. Yeah, I have an update. He seems to be doing good.
Q: How much did you focus on starting fast on both sides of the ball in the offseason?
A: Yeah, it's been important. That happened some last year. Defensively, we didn't start as fast, so it's been important that we do that. Green Bay is a team that is extremely effective in first series of the game and so we're going to have to do that again defensively. Offensively, I think the combinations, honestly, offensively, we're very similar to Green Bay in a lot of things, runs and play actions. They're taking shots down the field, and we've had a few shots. They're a good screen team. Usually we're a good screen team. I guess, just the emphasis of it and, obviously, we do presentations on all those things.
Q: How much have Preston and Za'Darius Smith improved Green Bay's defense?
A: They've improved it a lot. They're bigtime playmakers. Za'Darius (Smith) is a guy that is hard to handle on the outside, especially in the rush game. They play real wide guys so they're trying to create space for their guys to maneuver on the tackles the best they can. It just makes it difficult, but those two guys have added a lot to them. Kenny Clark is playing good. (Blake) Martinez is playing good and (Jaire) Alexander, the corner. The two safeties, (Darnell) Savage is a good player and (Adrian) Amos is also a really good player. They've got good talented guys over there.
Q: How fortunate do you feel to have a number three running back like Mike Boone?
A: Yeah, we have a lot of confidence in Mike (Boone). He's done a good job, did a good job last week. Hopefully, we don't need him.
Q: Where is Alexander Mattison at in his recovery?
A: He's doing better. He's got a good chance.
Q: Do you think Mattison will practice today?
A: I don't know. It's going to be a low-key practice today so we'll see.
Q: What about this team has allowed you to make in-game adjustments?
A: I think part of it is that number one, we have good coaches that understand how we're being attacked and what we have to do to try to correct it, different plays to run or calls to make or whatever. That's part of it. The second part of it is having smart guys and guys that have been in this system for a while. Defensively, we can change things pretty quick on the fly, which we do in just about every single ball game. And then offensively, being able to get to the correct plays. But I've said this many times, it doesn't really matter how smart you are as a coach, you have to do what the players can do. There's many times when I know we've said throughout the course of the year, "Let's do this, this would be really good," and then say, "I don't know if the players can handle that." But we have enough guys that have been in the system now for a while that they can handle things pretty good. And each guy is different, too.
Q: Considering how versatile Dalvin Cook is, if he's unavailable to play, do the responsibilities in the passing game for the running back group change?
A: No, they can catch the ball. They're good in protection, they can catch the ball. I don't know, they're just different guys. Really, the system doesn't change much. I mean, you always have plays for guys and defenses for certain guys and things like that that can help, but you don't wholesale change it.
Q: Is Aaron Rodgers holding the ball longer this season than he has in the past?
A: I would say not really. I mean, he's got a lot of quicks, but some of the play-actions are where he's holding the ball, and deep shots down the field. But he still scrambles and holds the ball there. And then these receivers now, Devante Adams is really good, (Marquez Valdes-) Scantling, 83, is a big speed guy. And then he's checking the ball down to (Aaron) Jones a fair amount and they're good on screens. When he starts scrambling, it's not necessarily a good thing, because he can run too and then he can make throws. I still remember when we were at TCF (Bank Stadium) and we blitzed off our left side, their right side, and he kind of got outside the pocket and threw about a 40-yard dart to pylon about four feet high for a touchdown. He still has all the attributes.
Q: Can you tell on film if Rodgers is just trying to play complimentary football because of the improved defense or the running game?
A: No, I think he's him. I think he's him. I think one of us needs to get out of the division, either him or me. I don't care who or which one.
Q: You can clinch a playoff spot if the Rams lose on Saturday. Will that play a role if Dalvin Cook plays or not?
Q: In Week 2 the Packers really committed to stopping your play action game. How do you account for that this time around?
A: Well part of it is those guys being really, really wide, so we have to be able to attack them back to the inside on some of this stuff. If they're going to get out there wide, we want to be able to take advantage of that as well.
Q: You and Green Bay are the only two teams that are top five in both offensive and defensive red zone. What have you seen from that area of Green Bay's game?
A: Well they've got four interceptions in the red zone, so that's always big. It saves a lot of points. (Aaron) Rodgers loves to scramble in the red zone, so that makes it extra difficult if he gets out of the pocket. So you have to put an extra guy on him, you got to put an extra guy in coverage, whatever it is. And then with us, we work hard on it.
Q: Kirk Cousins said he's aware that he hasn't won on Monday Night Football. How do you as a coach make sure that isn't a superstition that sets in?
A: Kirk has done a great job for us this year. He's been outstanding, he's played great all year long. If we get beat on Monday night, it's not going to be because of Kirk Cousins. It's because we didn't win as a team. When we've won games this year, it hasn't been because of Kirk, even though he's played good, but we've won as a team. So we're just going to stick to that mantra, that that is who we are and how we do things here. Hopefully he has a great game and hopefully we win, but it's not all on him. We have 21 other players, and they have to go out and execute just as much as he does. But unfortunately, him and I get all the blame.