*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
Okay, getting ready for this New Year's Eve game. We need to have this crowd as pumped up for this game as I am. It's a big game for us. Playing a good Chicago defense, excellent. Fifth in the league in scoring defense, eighth in the league in total defense, tenth in the league in run defense, pass defense, and they got two backs. A 1,100-yard rusher, offensive line is good, quarterback has improved a lot since we played them last. So, we need some help from our fans, just like they've helped us all year.
Q: What improvements have you seen from Mitchell Trubisky?
A: He's doing a lot better. I think he's got much better command of where he's throwing the football. He's using his legs to make some plays in some bootlegs. Seems like he knows where to go with the football a lot better now. Reading coverages better, but to me he's much improved.
Q: He doesn't have a lot of touchdowns, is he cautious?
A: Not really. They're pretty high in red zone touchdown percentage, I think they're fourth in the league. They just haven't gotten down there that much, but they run a lot of boots and they run the ball so dang good, a lot of times they run it in.
Q: Your team is now number one in scoring defense and total defense, what does mean to you?
A: I don't know. I think that we need to continue to play good this week and hopefully carry on into the playoffs, and if we do that and we get some home games and our fans are loud and helps us. I think that'll be big things, so hopefully we can continue to do what we're doing.
Q: Is this game mostly about keeping the momentum going?
A: No, we need to win. This isn't about momentum. We need to win. It's important to get a home game, to get a bye I mean. If you can get a bye it's like winning two games in one day. That's pretty huge, so we need to go out and win.
Q: Would you rather have something to play for going into Week 17 or have everything all wrapped up?
A: No, I'd rather have it wrapped up, but it is what is. We got to go out and we got to go play.
Q: What do you see from Mitchell Trubisky on third-and-long when he's taking it on his own?
A: He's very athletic. He does a great job when scrambling. Comes out in a lot of different places. Some quarterbacks come out the same way every time, he doesn't do that. He may spin to his left and come back out to his right. It's another thing that we have to defend and it's a pain in the rear end.* *
Q: At what point in the season did you start feeling comfortable with Case Keenum as your quarterback?
A: I'm trying to think back to throughout the course of the season. I mean how many games did he play? Ten. Maybe four or five games ago, maybe. He's played well.
Q: The success you have on third down, is that attributed to what you're on first and second or is there another level that they seem to rise to?
A: We spend a lot time at it. We spend an awful lot of time with it. Probably more so than most teams, I would think. I don't know that it's really anything fancy. We've got good players and they understand what we're trying to do. I think that's a lot of it. Chicago is, I think, fourth in the league in third down and four-to-six, so they try and get in that area quite a bit. We're going to have to be on our P's and Q's, especially in that down and distance.
Q: What is the defensive stat you are most proud of?
A: What is our record? 12 [wins]. That is the only thing that matters.
Q: How was that last game against the Bears gutting it out to start your eight-game win streak?
A: It was important. They all count and they all add up. Every game, the Redskins game was important. All the games that we won were important. I guess everybody said we couldn't win in Soldier Field, so I guess that was important that we go in there and win.
Q: What stands out about Jordan Howard?
A: It's almost like he has a different gear to get to the perimeter. He gets to the perimeter well. But he can also put his foot in the ground and cut back. When he makes contact with you it's an extra two or three yards usually. He's a big, physical guy. He's been a great back. When you watch him, his time speed is not his play speed. He plays a lot faster than his time speed. I like his physicality. For a big guy, they don't usually bounce to the perimeter. Their offensive line I think does a great job. They do a great job of turning things over to the next level. I think that helps him. But when he gets a crease, he can hit it and get down field.
Q: What is the process like of incorporating a new long snapper at this stage of the season and how are you trying to work on it?
A: It's timing mostly. Trying to get the timing down of everything. The hold, the snap, get the laces right on the field goals. The protection in the punt game. That's all important. There's quite a few things.
Q: Do they have to spend extra time together?
A: Yes. They spend a lot of time together anyways, but yes. They have to get to work.
Q: Is there a noticeable difference in the building when you know you're a playoff bound team versus the two years you've been here when there's been nothing to play for in Week 17?
A: I would assume so. When you get in the playoffs, you have a chance. Whatever it is, whether it's sixth seed or second seed, you have a chance. I think our guys feel good about that. This game is important and we need to win this game. If you go back through the history of the league, there's been some six seeds that made it. But most of the time, these teams that only have to play a couple games to get to the big one, there's a lot more of those.
Q: Do you anticipate Sam Bradford practicing at any point this week or next week?
A: Yes. Not this week I don't believe.
Q: Do you feel like he is at the point where he would be available for the playoffs for you guys?
A: We'll see when we practice. All I've done is talk to him. I haven't watched him work out or do any of those things. I think we'll get him back practicing next week.
Q: How in general is his knee doing?
A: He says he feels good. He's been working out and doing things. Getting on the field, he's throwing the ball and doing workouts. I've haven't seen him workout. I have seen him.
Q: When you go against a back like Jordan Howard who has had some success, do you see Linval Joseph taking that challenge personally when going against a back like that?
A: Yes, but I think all guys take it personally. This defense has a lot of pride in what they do. Quite honestly, we have quite a few leaders over there that are maybe not our captains that take a lot of pride in it. I think they like challenges.