Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Q: Where does this group stack up in terms of the defensive communication and how on the same page they are?
A: They're pretty good. Each defense is a little bit different. These guys have been together for a while so they're pretty much on the same page. Even when we come off in between series, we are able to communicate pretty easily.
Q: Do you see them being able to solve issues before they arise?
A: They're pretty smart. I think they see a lot of things and are able to communicate with one another on things. That stuff has been really good, yes.
Q: How much more are you able to do with the playbook because of how long these guys have been together?
A: I feel like we can do whatever we want to do, most of the time. There are certain things. It's the same deal, you still have to be able to execute it. When we put something in, it goes pretty flawlessly usually.
Q: Are you surprised only four Pro Bowl selections?
A: I don't know, I don't really worry about that. When you look at it, they take three safeties, three quarterbacks. Do I think some other guys probably should've made it? Yes. The good thing about these guys, every one of them that I texted them last night that made the Pro Bowl, they all talked about that's not really their goal. That was nice.
Q: Is there a difference playing a team that is out of the playoffs and do you have to talk to your team about it?
A: They know that they're out of the playoffs. But I don't think that's a big factor. It's a division game. We have a lot to play for. What I talked to them about was two weeks ago we lost. We had a new sense of urgency and a new focus and that's what we need to do again. Just because we won this last week doesn't mean "Ok, we can go back to how we were," and end up getting beat. We just trying to stay on point with everything we do and continue to move forward and continue to try to get wins.
Q: When you got here three years ago, what did you feel about the Packers and how important was it for you to start to beat them regularly?
A: It was important that we try to beat everybody They're a great organization. They have a great coach, great players. I knew that was a team that if we were going to end up winning divisions, that's a team we probably would have to beat. For us, when I came here it was all about a process of trying to get better each day. Trying to get the football team the right way and get the right kind of guys in here and then continue to move forward from there. Division games are obviously really important, but we really didn't put more emphasis on a division game than we have, until you guys started writing about it then maybe I did a little bit more. Each game is really important for us because that's how it goes. I have a great deal of respect for the Packers and the things they've been able to accomplish. The history, everything about them. The organization, the head coach and everybody else.
Q: Have you spent more time looking at them and figuring out how to beat them even in offseason film study?
A: I would say no, not more than anybody else. No.
Q: Did you fully understand before you got here how much people here hate Green Bay?
A: No I didn't. I don't know.
Q: When you came here, did you look at Adam Thielen and say that someday he looks like a Pro Bowl wide receiver?
A: No, probably not. But I didn't know his heart. Now I know his heart.
Q: How do you feel like Danielle Hunter has grown this year and taken on a much bigger responsibility?
A: I thought last week maybe he played his best game. I'm hoping it continues to go forward here. Like a lot of young guys and when they first start becoming a full-time player, they never want to make a mistake. I think Danielle a little bit has that same, I don't know if it's a problem or issue, whereas times he just has to do like he did last week and just go. React and use his athletic abilities and not so much rely on his thinking or careful that "I might make a mistake here or there". I think that's been a process for him learning this year. Last week he did that and I hope it continues to move forward that way.
Q: What's the difference between Brett Hundley and Aaron Rodgers? Obviously there is the experience factor, but what else is it?
A: You can tell he's watched Rodgers for some years and he's got a lot of the same mannerisms and a lot of things. They've changed a little bit on some. There's a few different runs here and there and a few different throws. But, there's really not a lot, there's really not a lot.
Q: Does Aaron Rodgers change more stuff at the line than Brett Hundley does?
A: No, he changes a decent amount. He does signals and the hard counts the same and a lot of things are very, very similar.
Q: Why would they change the runs?
A: It's probably because of the backs, honestly. Because they have the two backs.
Q: Did you spend any time looking at the Devante Adams hit on Sunday?
A: I saw the replays on it, yes.
Q: What's you take on it? How'd you feel about it? Is the NFL doing enough? Are the players doing enough?
A: I think the NFL is trying to do an awful lot on it. I think it's important we try to take the hits to the head out of the game the best we can. You don't want to see people get hurt or get injured. One of the hardest ones, and I've said this many times, is when you're going backwards toward your own goal line and somebody's coming forward because typically the guy's not looking and my opinion doesn't matter, but I think those you should screen them like a basketball guy instead of hitting them. You can knock the heck out of them even if you don't hit them in the neck and head area. You can screen them get the job done and you know you're not going to get anybody hurt. I had Keith Rivers play Pittsburgh one time and he ended up getting his jaw broke on a very similar hit like that. He ended up missing the whole year. I think we got to continue to try to be safer with all those things.
Q: How much has the view on that changed in the 20 years you have been coaching?
A: Well, the whole league, I mean the whole league has changed in the 20 years that I've been in the league. I guess I'm a defensive coach and a lot times these quarterbacks throw the ball in the middle of the field and these safeties are coming to make a play on the ball. And to be quite honest, the ball shouldn't have been thrown – back in the day the ball wouldn't have been thrown. But, we have to adapt to the rules and the hard part, especially for the safeties is when they're catching the ball and the guy is going down and you've lowered your target and he continues to go lower and now you have to try to – well, you know about the time it take a golf ball to come off a club face to try to move your target another spot, which is almost totally impossible. But, I think they could take a bunch of these plays out if the quarterback wouldn't throw the ball into places that he shouldn't throw the ball.
Q: That would make it easier to defend too?
A: Well, yes. But, we wouldn't get guys hurt.
Q: It sounds like you're describing Andrew Sendejo's hit…
A: I don't know if it's Sendejo's hit, but it's something like that. I mean you see it all the time. I think there was one the other night in the Tampa Bay game in Atlanta. That's just my opinion, no one cares.
Q: Are these guys taught to put their helmet on the ball?
A: It depends on where the ball is. If it's anywhere up in here (points to shoulder area), you hit here and the helmet slides up and catches the bottom part of the face mask or something then it's helmet to helmet. Your target area is kind of small anyway, but when a guys is moving, catching the ball. Back in the day in cover three they didn't throw very many skinny-posts. The receivers them, "Don't throw that ball. Throw it on the outside" or something like that. Anyway, it doesn't matter.
Q: What is a catch?
A: Don't ask me.
Q: Have you had to tell receivers about how they approach how they catch the football?
A: Yes, if you're going to the ground the ball cannot move. Period. I don't want to get into it, but I mean I kind of know what a catch is. I've been doing it for a long time and if the ball moves this much (puts two fingers close together) it's not a catch and the guy caught it. Hey, I don't care. My philosophy of rules.
Q: Would you ever take a spot on the competition committee?
A: Yes, but they don't like defensive guys on the competition committee. They like offensive guys.
Q: Do you expect Riley Reiff to be able to practice?
A: I don't know, we'll see. I think there's a good possibility, yes.