Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
It’ll be a great test for us this week. I have the utmost respect for Green Bay and Coach McCarthy and the things that they do there. We’re going to need all of our fans in full force for this one. It should be a heck of a football game.
Q: What is the element that Aaron Jones adds to Green Bay’s offense?
A: Explosive running game. He’s excellent in the screens, very good with sticking his foot in the ground and making cuts. I think it looks like he’s got really good vision.
Q: Do you feel like he’s changed their philosophy in the last month?
A: I don’t know philosophy wise, but maybe I think they were doing a little bit more by committee before. I think he’s pretty much their guy.
Q: How have you seen Kenny Clark improve on film, and how does he stress an offense?
A: Well, he’s really getting better all the time. He’s got great quickness, lateral quickness and acceleration. Good strength and they do a lot of things where they’re giving you different looks which really causes the stress and again, one-on-one matchups.
Q: Is there something different that you notice when playing in primetime games?
A: Honestly no. I talked to the coaches about it. Talked to the coaches about it the other day and Terence [Newman] was in the room; do guys approach these games differently and really not so much. I don’t think maybe the players do as much as everybody else.
Q: Can you put your finger on what has led to Kirk Cousins’ struggles in primetime games?
A: I honestly don’t know. I guess we’re playing good teams, might be the real factor.
Q: When you see a game when two teams add up to 100 points, what goes through your mind?
A: It’s not my cup of tea. Might run me out of football.
Q: Can a defensive minded team win when teams are putting up points like that?
A: I think you have to have a well-rounded team, but I don’t think that you can give up 51 points or 54 points a lot of times and win games, in my opinion.
Q: What do you need to do to get the running game going?
A: You what’s kind of interesting I’ve been taking ten game stats from a year ago to ten game stats this year. Actually our run average a year ago at this stage was 4.04 per carry. This year we’re 4.01 per carry, so it’s really at the end of the day number of carries. You can look at our offense a year ago and we were 380 yards per game, this year we’re 378. There’s so many statistics that are like “oh my gosh” it’s the same thing. There’s a few that are different that we have to improve on.
Q: Does it feel like the running game is struggling more than it did last year?
A: No. I mean we ran the ball a lot more last year, I think. But we were converting third downs a little bit better last year. I think that combination allowed us to continually get some runs in there. It’s frustrating because you know you have a guy like [Dalvin] Cook who can get big plays and big runs. That part you get a minus one or you get a one, that’s what makes it frustrating more so than the runs really.
Q: When running backs are getting hit right after the handoff, how do you deal with that and stick with the run?
A: Yeah, well we got cut off. A guy beat us inside on two of those runs. I think really at the end of the day you have to be able to change up where you’re not just going forward, you got to go to the perimeter some.
Q: How much can you get out of watching the Green Bay tape from two months ago?
A: You’re always going to go back and look at the things that hurt you during the ball game, because they’ll come back and see if you’ve corrected it at that point – same with us. But you’re right, he’s much more mobile now, he’s moving much better. You can see it each week it got better. Now he looks like his old self, unfortunately. I mean you look at it, obviously, you look at everything.
Q: Has Anthony Harris done enough to make you consider keeping him in the lineup even when Andrew Sendejo becomes available?
A: I’ll worry about that when the time comes. I mean Anthony’s done a good job. I’ve said this before, he’s a very smart player, very visual, sees things well so he can anticipate and get breaks, very rarely does he make mistakes. There were a couple the other night, but yeah he’s doing good.
Q: Is Andrew Sendejo going to practice this week?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Where has Harris improved the most since you’ve been here?
A: Maybe the physicality part. I think he’s done a really nice job with that. When he gets an opportunity to go into the game he makes plays typically. Had a couple games two years ago and he had a couple last year, he’s had a couple this year. I think it’s probably confidence and understanding the system a little bit better.
Q: How do you approach the importance of Sunday’s game in terms of keeping pace in the division?
A: My philosophy is we play one week and we add them all up at the end, and we’ll see where it leads us.
Q: Is it possible to provide fresh looks against a team you see twice a year?
A: Yes, hopefully.
Q: How have you seen Green Bay’s young receivers grow throughout the year?
A: I think they are doing a much better job as they continue. They’re big guys. They all can run. I think he [Mike McCarthy] has confidence in the thing that they are doing. They are big guys so they use them in some blocking situations. They’re using them in some go balls. I think like all young guys, they’ve improved.
Q: How has David Morgan’s absence affected the offense?
A: A little bit. The fact, David had kind of a unique skillset as a tight end that we were able to do some things with. That has affected us a little bit.
Q: Would you like to see more play action with Kirk Cousins?
A: It’s important you have play action passes because a lot of your big plays come off of that. So I guess, yes, short answer.
Q: Is the hurry up offense something you’d like to mix in more?
A: Possibly. Each game is different. A lot of it depends on who you are going against. You don’t want to have too many 12-second possessions. You know what I mean?
Q: Is there anything different you can do to limit Kirk Cousins’ turnovers?
A: Honestly, I think most of the time it has been some time of miscommunication that’s happened so it’s just getting guys on the same page. I’m not disappointed in Kirk whatsoever. Miscommunication happens and that usually leads to bad things. We just have to clean up some of those details and make sure everybody was on the right page.
Q: Did the tie against the Packers feel like a loss? Are you starting to see the benefits as teams bunch up in the standings at the end of the year?
A: I wasn’t really sure. It felt like a loss, yes. We kick a field goal and we go home and we’re happy. Then around here, I do things for wins. So the first thing they asked me, “Are we doing this on Wednesday for the team?” I said, “No, we didn’t win.” That was the first time I had to deal with that. So I kind of preach wins around here more so than ties. But then again, I did think maybe it will help us but maybe it will hurt us, too. I don’t really know.
Q: With so many plays that could go back and forth in that game was it a good thing when Clay Matthews had a penalty and Mason Crosby missed the field goal?
A: Yes, we had a couple, too. [Eric] Kendricks had one that we got called for. I think at that time, there were a lot of things that went on that the game could have swung either way. For us to come back the way we did, that was big. And to have the opportunity to kick the field goal and to win the football game on the road in Green Bay was big.
Q: What is the difference between the screen game from last year to this season?
A: We haven’t been very good at it. I don’t want to go into details why but it’s been a concern, yes. They are a great screen team, but we have not been very good at screens and that would help us.
Q: What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Are you a pie guy or a turkey guy?
A: Probably a wine guy. Honestly, I played in Dallas for, I keep saying I played. I coached in Dallas for 13 years and we always played on Thanksgiving and we’ve had two here that we played on Thanksgiving. So 15 of the years we have been having games. So usually my wife and I, kids, we would either have it the day before or typically the day after. Hopefully we won then I would be in a good mood. Turkey and wine, red wine.
Q: Do you ease up the schedule tomorrow for the guys?
A: Yes. We are going to start, usually what I do at the end once Thanksgiving gets here, we go on a morning Thursday schedule. Just giving them a little bit more time to recover during the week. Thursday afternoons they get off, Friday afternoons they get off and get a chance to recover. We’ve been doing it for a while and it’s worked pretty good so far.
Q: What are you thankful for this year?
A: I am thankful for my players. I am thankful for this organization. I’m thankful for our fans. I am thankful for my family, my grand-dog. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity to have this job here with the Vikings and get a chance to work with these players every day and a chance to try to get them better. Try to get them to work together as a football team. Thankful for my ranch.