Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good morning. Getting ready to try to get back on the winning track against the Lions. A lot of good players, the running back (Bo) Scarbrough has been running really well, the two receivers (Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.) and (Danny) Amendola are really good players. Defensively, their front seven with (Damon) Harrison and (Trey) Flowers along with guys on the back end and Jarrad Davis, we have a lot of respect for them. We know it'll be a tough division game, glad to be at home with our fans and we'll try to get back on the winning track, like I said.
Q: Xavier Rhodes came out and apologized for his actions against Seattle. Is that something that he's told to do?
A: I haven't talked to him.
Q: How do you feel about him just coming out and apologizing?
Q: Rhodes talked for quite a bit about his season as a whole. How would you assess his play?
A: I'm not going to evaluate the players in the media. I'll wait until the end of the season to determine that. What did he say?
Q: He said that he can be better and that he's going to make sure that he's better down the stretch.
Q: Rhodes was an all-pro player and is a two-time Pro Bowler. Are you surprised that he's fallen off as much as he has in recent years?
A: I didn't say that he did.
Q: You think he's the same caliber player that he was two years ago?
A: I said that I'm not going to evaluate him in the media.
Q: What did you see from David Blough in the Thanksgiving game?
A: I thought he threw the ball well, moved in the pocket. He's a very smart guy, one of our coaches coached him in the East-West game, so we tried to get a report on him the best we could. But I thought he played really well, made some really good throws, had a chance to win the game at the end. It was 24-20, but they just ran out of time. He has our ultimate respect just like everybody else who we play.
Q: Does it feel like you've ran into a lot of quarterbacks with short track records this season?
A: Yeah, but that's part of the NFL. We're just glad our guy is staying upright.
Q: How have you seen Detroit's offense change as they've had to shuffle in new quarterbacks and running backs?
A: You know, they haven't really changed all that much. They still got a lot of deep play action shots, they still want to get the ball to Marvin Jones and (Kenny) Golladay. As far as the running game, it's still some of the gun runs, play actions. It really hasn't changed all that much, just continued to do what they've been doing.
Q: Can you take anything away from the first matchup with Detroit and how you played Marvin Jones, and how you might want to play different this time?
A: Yeah, we want to cover him. Yeah, he had a big game against us, and we were fortunate to win that game at the end.
Q: You're 7-0 when you score 27 points or more until the Seattle game. How do you get your balance back this week?
A: Well we got to play better defensively then we did the other night. For us to have the ball run on us like that was kind of a misnomer, it hasn't been like that in quite a while. We got to do a better job really all the way around. Perimeter run force, being in the right place, being in the right gaps, being more disciplined. We probably panicked a little bit the other night.
Q: When teams get extra time to prepare after playing in Thursday or having a bye, do you expect them to include new wrinkles?
A: Yeah, I mean you can always have new wrinkles, especially with the new quarterback that you've spent a little bit more time with him now. You've got some extra time, but for us to say, "Okay, well he's going to this" or, "He's going to do that" is just kind of guessing, and so we'll probably have to make some adjustments during the ball game like every other game and go from there.
Q: When you say panicked, how surprising is that?
A: I'm not saying panic. Sometimes when things aren't going exactly how you would expect them to go, they start doing things on their own. "Okay, I'm going to go make this play. Even though the block tells me to do this, I'm going to go do this." That's kind of what we did, and it happens from time to time. We just got to get back and get settled in and get back to work.
Q: If Dalvin Cook plays on Sunday, will there be thought given to a snap count or a certain amount of carries?
A: We'll see how it goes during the week, and then make a decision towards the end of the week. We're not going to pay a guy that's hurt.
Q: Do you see Matt Patricia making progress with that program in Detroit?
A: Honestly, yeah. I know they haven't won, and (Jim) Caldwell did a nice job, but I see a lot of good things coming from them. The physicality, I think the offensive line is better now. Defensively they've given up some plays, but they've got some ability over there. They get a great quarterback (Matt) Stafford, hurt and missing a bunch of games. They got two really good receivers, the tight end, the kid from Iowa, he's a really good player, (T.J.) Hockenson, so I guess I just look at the players and the team and kind of what they're made of and what they're made up of.
Q: Kirk Cousins has been complimentary of Garrett Bradbury. How do you feel Bradbury is playing this year?
A: Whatever Kirk said. I'm not going to evaluate the players in the media.
Q: How important is your relationship with players you've developed like Xavier Rhodes?
A: Well, it's important. Xavier's (Rhodes) a good kid. We've always had our little moments, I guess you'd call it, but at the end of the day, he knows I'm always trying to do what's best for him. He's always trying to do what's best for me. I have a ton of respect for him, not just him, every player. He's done what we've asked him to do. He tries to do it. He's a good kid. He's got a smile on his face all the time, comes out to practice and works hard. Yeah, I have a ton of respect for him.
Q: Given the nature of what Dalvin Cook is trying to play through, is ball security a concern?
A: No, I don't think so. He's been really good with that, and I don't think that will be an issue going forward.
Q: With three out of four games to end the year at home, do you feel good about controlling your own destiny as far as the playoffs go?
A: We've got to win games. We just have to go win games and count them up at the end. I'm not going to worry about, I know a lot of people jumped off the wagon after the other night, we're just going to try to win some more games and most important thing is win as many as we can and try to get in the tournament at the end and then see what happens. It starts this week. We have to win this week and then we have to worry about the next week and then the other four. Try to get healthy, try to execute better than we did, try to take care of the football better than we did, try to stop the run better than we did. We've got a lot of things that we have to work on in order for us to get there and that's really where we're trying to go.
Q: What has been the key to rookie contributors on offense being able to shoulder the load that they have?
A: Really, all those guys are pretty smart guys. (Alexander) Mattison is smart, obviously (Garrett) Bradbury and Irv (Smith Jr.). They're all pretty smart guys. I think the coaches have done a great job with them, not overloading them as much either, just kind of working them in along as the season goes. Now, they've been in there quite a bit. Bradbury makes a lot of really important decisions at the line of scrimmages and has done a really good ob. That's all part of it is being able to handle the load of the intelligence factor as you're going forward.
Q: Are you surprised that there are five teams with a 10-2 record with four games left in the season?
A: No, I don't know. I don't really look at the other teams too much. I don't worry who's this and who's that. I have an idea of what records are where. We are so focused on what we have to do and where we're at. We've got a month left in the season, and we need to take advantage of this thing now.
Q: When you have a player that has talked repeatedly about his struggles throughout the season like Xavier Rhodes has, what's your responsibility as a coach to help him through that funk?
A: Well, not particularly him, but what we're trying to do is in every one of the guys that when they've had a bad game or they're struggling, is try to get back to the basics, try to get them to focus on whether it be their footwork or their hand placement or their route depth or whatever it is, to kind of get back to the basics of where they're at and then kind of figure out where you're at. "Am I losing at the top of the route, if I'm a receiver or DB, am I losing at the top of the route, am I losing at the bottom of the route, at the beginning of the route, where's my body position?" I think all those things become a factor. You just try to analyze it. We did a lot of that last week, especially in the pass defense last week we did. Quite honestly, there was a lot of really good things pass defense, now obviously not the busted coverage that we had, but a lot of the other things I saw improvement. We got to get back and do that little bit more with the front guys and we got to continue to stay harping on the back end guys of the technique that we want them to play and get back to being us. I've gone through this thing 100 times looking at where we were before the six-week period and where we are last six weeks and try to get back to doing the things we can do. If we do that, we got a good football team in every phase, not just defense, but the offense and special teams.
Q: There's a cliché that by this time in the season, rookies aren't really rookies anymore. When do you see that transition take place as a coach?
A: Yeah, it depends on the person really. We have some young defensive players that are still rookies and then we have other guys that have advanced. (Armon) Watts, he's advanced to where he's been playing a little bit more. Some of them are different like (Kris) Boyd on special teams. He's probably not a rookie there, but he might be rookie out at the backend. The offensive guys, I don't really see those guys as rookies anymore. It's kind of like (Brian) O'Neill was last year, I guess.
Q: Kirk Cousins talked last week about what Sean Mannion brings to the room. How important is it to have a backup quarterback with experience?
A: I do think it's important. First of all, I think it's important that they have a good relationship. The backup understands his role. He's not trying to overtake the other position's spot or anything like that, but being ready in case something does happen. I also think it's good to have another set of eyes where he can be on the sideline or in practice and see, "Okay, what did you see here and kind of this is what I saw," and they can kind of communicate that. We've got Klint (Kubiak) and Gary (Kubiak) to help with that as well. Even Jake Browning, he's a smart guy that I think is learning that those kind of habits that quarterbacks need to do. Sean's (Mannion) been great here. He's been a really good kid. He does a great job on the scout team, puts in a lot of time and hard work and that's part of it as well.