Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Alright, good morning. We’re excited to start some of our preparations for Green Bay. They’re a good football team. Obviously, got an unbelievable quarterback. They’ve really improved defensively. It’ll be a tough test for us on the road, but we’re looking forward to it.
Q: What stands out to you most about the improvements they’ve made on defense?
A: We’re playing against some better plyers. A lot of those guys, the two Smiths (Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith), the two outside linebackers are both really good players. They had a lot of pressures last week. I like the safety that they drafted in the first round (Darnell Savage). The corner they took a year ago, (Jaire) Alexander, was another guy that we liked, very competitive kid. They added the safety from Chicago, (Adrian) Amos. So, I think they’ve added a lot of players. They gave a lot of different looks last week, played with a lot of DB’s. We’ll just have to see what they do against us.
Q: Last year you threw 48 times against Green Bay. Now, you’re coming off a victory where you only had to play 10 times. How different is the landscape in that regard from this year to last year?
A: Each game is different. Again, we didn’t’ go into last week’s game saying we’re going to throw 10 times. Maybe we’ll throw it 48 again. I don’t know, we’ll see. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win.
Q: When you look at the film of the Packers-Bears game, was it the Bears defense that threw them off rhythm or was it the Packers maybe just not being in sync with the short preseason?
A: Well, I think the Bears defense is pretty good. Those guys up front are very, very talented. The linebackers are talented, so it was a tough test for them but the bottom line is, they won the game.
Q: What’s a trademark of a Matt LaFleur offense?
A: Screens. They love screens, all down and distances, hurry-up offense. They’ve always done that wherever he’s been. A lot of the boots and nakeds. There’s a lot of similarities to some of the things we do.
Q: What does going against Aaron Rogers this early in the season allow you to learn about your pass rush and prepare for other quarterbacks going forward?
A: You have to be careful the way you rush him because he has the mobility to get out. When he gets out, a lot of bad things can happen. We have to be guarded in our rush. We have to understand the rush plan, how we’re going to do it and what we’re going to do. It’s not just lay your ears back and go with him because he’s too dangerous when he gets out of the pocket. We have to maintain our lanes and then we have to be tight on coverage. He’s very, very good at getting the ball quickly out of his hands, getting it in the seams. He’s got a great arm and he sees thing very well. He’s doing a lot of checking at the line of scrimmage. We’re going to have to play really, really good.
Q: Does a quarterback like that almost serve as a pseudo-litmus test?
A: Every quarterback is a litmus test for me. They’re all different. You try to do the best you can to play to your strengths and hopefully you can win a few of them.
Q: Does the increase in holding calls do anything to help the pass rush? What affect did you see with that in Week 1?
A: Yeah, I think they’re trying to emphasize this latch that guys are doing. Yeah, that obviously makes it better for the defensive linemen because that was a technique that everybody was using, so hopefully they continue to look for that.
Q: What separates this week from other games on the schedule just with the rivalry and meaning of the division game?
A: When I first got here, this was a team you had to bet every time in order to get to the top of the division. I don’t think that’s changed any. I think I’ve had to learn throughout the six years or whatever how big that the fans treat this. We always pretty much approach it the same way. They’re a really good football team and in order for us to do what we have to do, we have to beat them.
Q: Are there some disadvantages to going against a rookie coach?
A: Sometimes, I guess. There’s some tape eon him so we kind of do our homework but he could change based on the personnel that he has I guess would be the biggest thing and, obviously, the quarterback that he has. There’s similarities from what he’s done in the past, but yeah, we have to be prepared for whatever happens.
Q: Is there a Mike Shanahan or Sean McVay influence there?
A: Yeah, there’s both. I mean, he was with Gary (Kubiak) as a quality control guy. He’s obviously with (Sean) McVay, so you go back and you study all the different things. You look for plays that maybe the Rams were running last week or whatever.
Q: Does practicing against your own offense, which is similar to Green Bay’s, offer any sort of advantage?
A: I hope so.
Q: How do you feel about Anthony Harris getting NFC Defensive Player of the Week and his improvement as he continues to play?
A: We tend to look at these awards as team awards. I think on two of the interceptions that he had, we had great pressure on the quarterback. But Anthony continues to get better. He’s a smart guy. He plays sudden, because I think he’s got good vision. He does a nice job understanding his role within the scheme and within the play call of that particular play, so I think that helps.
Q: How long do you expect to be without Mackensie Alexander?
A: Who said I’m going to be without him?
Q: So could he play this week?
A: We’ll see.
Q: How did his MRI go?
A: It was pretty good.
Q: Coach Marwan Maalouf talked about rotating punt returners, but Chad Beebe got a lot of the reps in the first game. Are you comfortable with him in that role?
A: It was really kind of areas of the field we were in at the time, but we’ll continue to look at them both.
Q: Have you coached teams in the past that wouldn’t have handled only throwing the ball ten times well?
A: Probably not the Cowboys. But guys just want to win, really. I think we have a lot of unselfish guys. And again, the game dictated that we play that way. Each game is not going to play out like that.
Q: How did Garrett Bradbury handle his first game?
A: He had some up and downs. They got him a few times back door and things like that. But I think for the first time out, it was a good experience for him. I think he’ll continue to get better. He had some really good plays, and then he had some plays that he needs to correct.
Q: Did coaches send a lot of offensive holding plays that weren’t called to the league, which may have led to the change this season?
A: I’m on one of the committees that sends things to the competition committee, and there was a big emphasis on the backside of runs. There are some teams that are just really bad, and they just go out there and they grab the linebacker and do this, or they grab the offensive tackle or the defensive end and do this. They wanted to get that out of the game, so they made a point of emphasis on it. Actually, Tom Coughlin is on that same committee, and he put together the tape on that. It was so long you couldn’t watch it all. It was just really, really bad, and so that’s what they’re trying to get out of the game.
Q: Can you remember the last time there was an emphasis like this that favored the defense?
A: Probably not.
Q: Do you think it will level off?
A: I hope it gets corrected, that’s what I hope. I hope teams stop doing it, but if they don’t, they should throw the flag. It’s cheating.
Q: Do you have any update on Mike Hughes and whether he could play this Sunday?
A: I think there’s a chance.
Q: What does it mean for Anthony Harris to have Harrison Smith moving up and down in the box and shifting his position right before the snap?
A: Some of that is choreographed. They know where they’re going to end up at the end of the play or when the ball is snapped. It’s important we do that this week, as it is every week, really. Just creates a little indecision for the quarterback. I think they have a good feeling for one another now, played half the year last year or whatever it was and all the preseason. They have good chemistry going.