*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
We're excited to get back to U.S. Bank Stadium. We haven't been there in a month. We want our fans to come out and be loud. We want this to be the loudest game of the year. Should be an exciting, fun game. We need all the help we can get.
Q: Does it feel like it's been a month since you've been at home?
A: It feels like two months.
Q: Do you think it can make a difference just being able to get back in front of the fans?
A: Yes, our fans are unbelievable. They're loud. They've helped us in a lot of home games. I think this will be the loudest game of the year. [Andy] Dalton does a lot of things at the line of scrimmage trying to change things. It helps with our pass rush, it helps on third down with us getting off the ball and them maybe being a little slow. Fans can really help us in this game.
Q: Did you get the sense after three straight road games that the team might be wearing with all the travel?
A: No, not really. Somebody told me no team has beat three above .500 teams on the road in a row since 1967, so it's hard to do. It doesn't happen all the time but it's hard to do. We played three good teams and we got beat. We need to get refocused, get a new sense of urgency back for this last stretch and get back to work.
Q: Do you sense that sense of urgency is starting to creep in with the guys?
A: Well it's early now, but so for today, yes.
Q: With so many players injured across the league this year, is depth more important now than ever to win?
A: Yes, depth is extremely important. Quality depth. This time of year you end up getting a lot of injuries. Knock on wood, we've been fairly healthy and hopefully we continue to stay that way.
Q: Are you happy with how the depth has developed when you say quality depth?
A: Yes, I think so. We've had a lot of guys come in. I think the longest one, well Case [Keenum] is obviously the longest one, but Rashod Hill has been five weeks. But for the most part its game here, game here, two games, something like that.
Q: Have you seen any signs that some of your defensive players are wearing down?
A: No, I don't think so. I know you can't take those two plays away, but if you take them away, it's 2.8 yards per attempt. We messed up on two plays and caught us. We'll get back to work and we'll get back to being ourselves.
Q: How big of a difference do you think it made Rashod Hill right tackle and left tackle?
A: He's been practicing there all the time anyways. He was on a good rusher last week. Those guys were good rushers. Sometimes you have those games. Their crowd helped a little bit last week. All of that becomes a factor.
Q: How do you feel about the health right now of your offensive line?
A: I feel pretty good. I think we'll get a lot of them back. I think we should get [Pat] Elflein back this week. I think we should get [Mike] Remmers back. There's a good chance possibility of getting [Riley] Reiff back.
Q: Is it accurate that your offensive line has been a huge part of your success this year?
A: Yes, I think the offensive line has been a huge part. They played well. Case [Keenum] has been a huge part, the defense, the receivers, the tight ends. We've played good as a team.
Q: What is the biggest thing you noticed without Pat Elflein out of the game?
A: It was just different players. I'm not going to get into the difference between Elflein and [Nick] Easton.
Q: With your relationship with Marvin Lewis, is this game more difficult for you considering how big this game is for both of you?
A: I love Marvin Lewis. He's an unbelievable person, great guy. Heck of a football coach. He's done tremendous things there in Cincinnati. It happens. You get a chance to play your friends and people who you used to work with. This is a game of I see numbers, not faces.
Q: What kind of appreciation can you have for one guy being in one position for as long as Marvin Lewis has?
A: Well he's had success. When he first started they weren't very good. He got them to a place where they got to six playoffs games in a row. I think he's a heck of a coach. He does unbelievable things in the community. I learned a lot for him. I'm happy for him. In my opinion he should be able to stay there as long as he wants.
Q: When you look at their defensive line, is Geno Atkins the key?
A: He's part of it. Geno is a great player – unbelievable strength, unbelieve quickness, great kid, smart. [Carlos] Dunlap is another heck of a rusher. [Carl] Lawson has 7.5 sacks or something like that as well. He wasn't there when I was there, but Dunlap is a very long, good athlete. That defensive line is excellent. [Vontaze] Burfict is a great middle linebacker, comes out of his hips, very instinctive, fast, tough. Vinny [Vincent] Rey was there when I was there, both safeties – [George] Iloka and Shawn Williams were there, [Dre] Kirkpatrick. There's a lot of their defensive players that were there when I was there.
Q: How different are they from when you were there?
A: Not much.
Q: Does that help?
A: Well, it's probably a disadvantage because they've heard everything I've ever said in a defensive meeting to the coaches and the players. They probably know me a lot better than I know them.
Q: What sets A.J. Green apart from some of the other top players?
A: AJ is a great person. He's a lot like your son [Larry Fitzgerald Jr.] – doesn't talk crap to anybody. Goes about his business He's got exceptional hand strength, catches the ball. First thing I noticed about him when he was a rookie was how strong his hands were, where he can go up and get the ball. I've seen him go up against three guys and catch it many times. He's got great speed and runs good routes.
Q: Where does Kyle Rudolph stand?
A: I don't know yet. We'll see later on in the week. We're going to get a lot of guys back I think.
Q: What do you think of Kyle Rudolph being nominated for Man of the Year? What does that say about him since you've been coaching him?
A: I really appreciate Kyle. I've talked to him in the past about his blocking, he's worked hard at that. I've given him some homework assignments to do that he's done a good job at. He's got great catch radius. He's become a captain of our football team and off the field he's done some unbelievable things. I know he's got some function going on next Monday, but he's a great guy and has a good family. Actually, he's from Cincinnati and a lot of his relatives live by where my place is.
Q: Are teams scheming more to keep your pass rush off the quarterback?
A: Oh yes, definitely, definitely. I mean we see these teams that come out and get everybody out. It doesn't happen like that. Poor Everson [Griffen] gets chipped all the time and Danielle [Hunter]. These guys are very conscientious of our pass rush and our pressure package. It's something we have to deal with and it's the way it is.
Q: How much do you hide schematically from teams?
A: There's really a fine line, you can do a little bit each week. Typically we do and typically the other teams do, but at the end of the day, you have to be a fundamentally sound football team. Regardless if it's defense or offense and you have to be able to execute the things that you're being able to do. And if you start changing up a lot and can't execute then it's not good. But, if you can change up and execute and do things right then it can give you some advantages.
Q: You send Anthony Barr in a lot on blitzes, are you getting what you want out of that even if it does not correlate into sacks?
A: Yes and that's another thing, people are scheming against him as well. Sometimes it's not about getting the sack, it's to keep the quarterback in the pocket. Sometimes he may have a peel blitz on a back or something like that, so they have to be careful with how they rush. There's a lot of different factors that go on. Anthony has played very well this year and I'm hoping that all of our guys play well these last few weeks.