Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good morning. Getting ready for what should be a great game on Sunday. Excellent team that we're playing, Hall of Fame quarterback, defense has been getting a lot of turnovers and putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. It'll be a great test for us.
Q: You saw a lot of success in the deep passing game in Week One's win over New Orleans. Have you seen improvements in that area when watching New Orleans on film?
A: They haven't given up as many big plays recently. They seem to be playing tighter in coverage. They seem to be more on the same page, I guess that's the best way to say it.
Q: What has been the key to New Orleans generating so many turnovers?
A: They give you a lot of different looks, and they have some very athletic guys in the front. Obviously Cam Jordan affects the quarterback in a lot of different ways. Their safeties play tight in zone coverages, so they tend to jump some things. That's one of the reasons I think.
Q: Does Drew Brees's elusiveness and experience require you to rush him differently?
A: Each week we have a rush plan going into the ball game, depending on who the quarterback is and where he sets, how fast he gets the ball out and all the different things. They move the pocket well, sometimes they run sprint-outs and sometimes they run boots that are maximum protection things, shots down the field. All those things you have to be aware of. But yes, we have to rush him differently than we would some other guy. I've always said that when you play a great quarterback it's always a combination of rush, coverage and disguise.
Q: How do you feel Tom Johnson has improved since becoming more of an every-down player this season?
A: He's been a lot more consistent, he's played the run much better. There's been times he's probably played too many plays throughout the course of some of the games, we've had some guys hurt in there. Tom does a great job of understanding what we're trying to get done, and I think he continues to mature in a lot of different ways.
Q: It's been two years since you lost to Seattle in the playoffs. How long did that stick with you, and how eager are you to play in the playoffs again?
A: Obviously it's good to be in the playoffs, that means that you're one of the better teams in the league. But it didn't drive my whole life. I think we have a great opportunity to play in front of our home fans, hopefully they're going to be loud as all get out. They were good in that playoff game, but it was minus-six degrees. It'll be a little better weather this time. Our fans have been great all year, and I expect them to be outstanding in this ballgame, and I expect us to play well.
Q: Could you have the doors open for this game, or is there a minimum cutoff temperature?
A: If it's minus-two, we're going to have the doors open so they have to wear their long johns. No, they won't open the doors. They're afraid the pipes might freeze, and then we'd have a lot of issues.
Q: What are you seeing from your long snapper, Jeff Overbaugh?
A: He's done good, we haven't had any issues at all. He's done well.
Q: When you came here, did you have a specific profile in mind for the type of defensive player you'd want to draft or sign?
A: Yes. I think you have to have some kind of vision in your mind for what you want each side of the ball to look like at some point. Obviously we've been able to get some really good players, and some of them were here before I got here.
Q: Generally speaking, what does that player look like?
A: Well you want to have pass rushers, you want to have guys that can cover. Without giving away all my secrets, I like a certain body type with guys. You can kind of look at most of them and tell what we're trying to get. Athleticism, guys who can think quickly on their feet, safeties that have versatility, corners who can cover.
Q: Do you have the defense where you would like to see it?
A: You're always looking for a little bit more. Rick [Spielman] has got my wish list for next year already. There are some things where I think we could be really good on defense if we get a couple other things.
Q: Did Everson Griffen fit your look for a defensive end?
A: Well he was a little shorter, but the thing about Everson was that he had great quickness, great power, and great strength. I've had some shorter guys, but they've all had those qualities, without going and naming some of those guys. Quickness, power, and strength to overcome the lack of length, and I think he has that. Plus, his motor is outstanding.
Q: Is his attention to the run game unusual for a pass rusher that racks up so many sacks?
A: Not with our scheme. That's part of our deal, we don't just run up the field and try to play the run on the way to the quarterback. That's never really been the way I want to play. They typically have to buy in to what we're doing.
Q: Is there a typical time when you give that wish list to Rick Spielman?
A: I talk to him here and there. Make sure you're looking for this for me in the draft, things like that. It's not really a wish list, but I tell him when you're out on the road, this is what I'd like to have.
Q: Coach does postseason quarterback playoff experience matter to you?
A: Obviously, you like to have a Hall of Fame quarterback playing for you. I think the thing about all these guys, at one point in time, never had playoff experience, at one point in time. I think that part is important, but once you get into it, it doesn't really matter on game day. I think for us, we have some experience in the playoffs, from two years ago, but that doesn't really matter now. What really matters is how we play on Sunday, and we play as a team, and we do the things that got us there, we're a smart football team, we take advantage of opportunities. I think all of those things are important and at the end of the day, it still comes down to football, the things we've done during the season, offensively with the quarterback, taking care of the ball, throwing it to the right spot, getting us in the right checks, so on and so forth, are more important than playoff experience. I do think playing at home is an advantage for a young, well I don't know about young, but inexperienced playoff quarterback.
Q: Would you describe Case Keenum as being a pretty level guy and you don't have to worry about him getting too charged up?
A: He's pretty much charged up all of the time, so I don't worry about him getting too much more than what he is. He's an excitable guy, but he's always excitable, so I don't see that being much of a thing. The thing I appreciate about him is, besides his big balls, is that he pays attention to detail, he studies, he works real hard in preparation and so I think all of those things come into factor.
Q: Do you get the sense that your defenders still being even keel, are still going to be that way with all of their rankings?
A: I think they're pretty levelheaded. I think they're confident in their abilities as a group, but I think they're pretty levelheaded. I think they feel like if they all do the things that they are supposed to do, everybody is on the same page, and I think they feel comfortable in playing every Sunday.
Q: Do you even look at the film of the win in Week One against the Saints or does that even matter at all?
A: Yes, I've looked at it several times. Yes, we do. Sometimes I get ticked-off about "well they have to find their identity" and "that was week one." Did anyone in this room think we were going to be 13-3 and play in a divisional game that week? Did we know our identity? Everybody said we weren't going to be worth a lick anyways, so I just think everybody is like that.
Q: How important has Tom Johnson been for you and your defense?
A: Tom has been very important. The three-technique is an extremely important position for us, especially when he gets a lot of double teams and a lot of wide runs. For him to be able to come in and play the run this year like he has, it's been good. It's another position that will be important this week, being able to get some pressure up the middle. I think all those things will be important.