Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Getting ready for the regular season here. Should be a really good test for us. I think Kyle Shanahan does a great job at play calling and scheming and getting the guys in a lot of different spots. Their defense is very solid and fundamental. Big guys up front, linebackers can really run, some good corners. It will be a heck of a test for us.
Q: What did Jimmy Garoppolo do best in those five games last year?
A: He took really good care of the ball. I thought he was accurate with his throws. He threw under distress well a couple times. He moved in the pocket well.
Q: Do you agree with Everson Griffen's comparison of Tom Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo?
A: I don't like comparing guys. Tom Brady is pretty good. This guy is good, too, but Brady has done it for a long, long time.
Q: How closely did you look at Jimmy Garoppolo when he was coming out of the draft?
A: Very. We looked at him very hard.
Q: What did you see in Jimmy Garoppolo as a college player?
A: A lot of similar things. Good arm, guns it in the seams. Moves in the pocket, plays confidently and free.
Q: With the noise factor at U.S. Bank Stadium, how does that affect opposing quarterbacks?
A: I hope it's loud. I hope it affects them. I think that it makes it a little bit harder for the communication for them. Hopefully we get some false starts and things like that. But it also makes communication hard for us as well.
Q: Are you going with Danny Isidora at center this week?
A: I don't know. I saw the report and it didn't come from me.
Q: Why do you think that center is a natural position for Danny Isidora?
A: Just watching him, he stays in balance there pretty well. He keeps his hips square. He has some power on the double teams. Maybe a little condensed quarters, maybe.
Q: How do you size up DeForest Buckner as a threat to the offense?
A: He [DeForest Buckner] is really good. He is a guy that we are going to have to know where he is at all the time. We are going to have to play special attention to him. He is a very, very good player. All of their defensive line is very good, but he is really good.
Q: What helps their ability to sustain and generate a pass rush without that true pass rush impression?
A: Well they do a really good job in coverage. They're a defense that makes you be patient. Offensively, they're tough to run against because they've got eight guys in the box typically all the time. Coverage-wise, they make it difficult to throw the ball vertically down the field.
Q: What can you say about your ability to make undrafted free agents to make the team?
A: We can't count him [Brandon Zylstra] because I have to pay the coaches 1,000 dollars every year that they get an undrafted free agent. So we are only counting three this year. It is really the scouts. They do a great job of looking for those guys. Rick [Spielman] and George Paton and all of those guys, they do a fantastic job of narrowing it down and then obviously the coaches recruit them in and try to get them here. It's really not what I do. The coaches do a good job with them but that has nothing to do with me.
Q: How much of the success on third downs is being good on third downs and how much of it is putting people in adverse situations by what you do on first and second down?
A: That is a lot of it. Trying to get them into third and long is great. I think then if you look at the statistics of the team that are really good on 3rd-and-1, which last year I felt like we were pretty good. Being able to defend the percentage from two to four and five to seven and things like that go up quite a bit. You have to be really good at six and lower categories typically and hopefully you're decent in the longer yardage ones. We spent a lot of time at it. We have some good cover guys, we have some good rushers. I think that all plays a part of it.
Q: What do you think made San Francisco so good on first downs last year?
A: They have a really good running scheme that they use and play-actions off of it. Inside short post, then you've got some big shots to Marquise Goodwin. All those add up when you're getting six or seven yards a pop and then the running game they stretch you flat in so many ways and then they have play-actions off of it. The fullback in my opinion is a great player. He does a great job, so all those combined and they pretty much stay in one personnel group probably 70 percent of the time.
Q: Does the way Kyle Shanahan and John DeFilippo use the fullback position seem like a resurgence of the position?
A: I don't know if there is a resurgence. Fullbacks are hard to find. If you don't have one it makes it more difficult. They have a bunch of tight ends and sometimes they use them as fullbacks and things like that. They obviously found a really good one who has been to two Pro Bowls now. I think he's a good blocker, he's a good receiver, he lines up all different places, so the versatility for that spot, instead of just being a pound it up in there and run leads on linebackers, that's the biggest thing.
Q: How do you feel about how things stand now with Kirk Cousins?
A: I've got a lot of confidence in Kirk in the things that he's done in practice. I've got confidence in our football team. I've got a lot of concerns because it's the first game, but that's just the way it is. I like this football team. They work real hard. Getting into meetings and they're very attentive, pay attention to what we're trying to accomplish in this football game, and I think we'll go out and play hard.
Q: Does this end up feeling like a really long, drawn out week of preparation?
A: It always does. A few years ago, we started prepping earlier than we did this week. It didn't turn out well and I thought we didn't play very good. We are trying to stay as close as a normal week as possible. We had one extra day. I talked to some coach and they had been working on some team for two weeks. I'd rather get their attention right now, get them focused on what we are trying to get accomplished, they plays that they have to do and go from there.
Q: Have you seen enough from the preseason that the new kickoff rules will make the game safer and keep the return relevant?
A: I don't think it will. My opinion.
Q: You don't think the kickoff rules will make the game safer?
A: I don't but that is just one man's opinion.
Q: Can you foresee a day a game without the kickoff?
A: I don't really foresee that either. I think they'll keep tweaking it and figure out a way to do it. I hope it is safer, but guys are still running back. Guys are running forward then they get back there and they are hitting guys going full speed. I don't' care if they start at the 34-yard line or the 30-yard line. They are still running full speed and to me, it looks really similar what it always has.
Q: How important is special teams as a place for young players to prove themselves?
A: Really important. A lot of our really good players started out with special teams. You talk about [Andrew] Sendejo, you talk about [Adam] Thielen. [Stephen] Weatherly has been good on special teams. Heck, I wasn't here but [Everson] Griffen was on the punt cover team. That is really important for these young guys. Typically, when they play really good in special teams as rookies, like [Ben] Gedeon for instance. He's played really well on special teams. They typically become good football players because they know how to find the ball, they know how to get off blocks. That part has been good.
Q: Was that 2015 you were talking about starting to prep too early and why didn't it work out?
A: I don't know the years. I don't know the years I was in Dallas. I don't know the years I was in Cincinnati. I don't even know what year this is. I think this is '18, right? They still write '17 on my checks.
Q: Were you referring to that San Francisco loss years ago?
A: No, I wasn't really referring to that. I was just talking about in general.
Q: Have you been a part of any carryover when a team like San Francisco wins five in a row?
A: Yes, I think in Cincinnati one year we weren't very good at the beginning of the year and we won three out of the last four. I think we went to the playoffs the next year and we were pretty good. I think it can. A lot of it depends on the players you keep, the attrition. I think my first year there I was with the defense. [Kyle] Shanahan has done a really nice job of implementing the offense and then get better throughout the course of the season. They probably implemented the defense. They've gotten better throughout the season. Now they've got carryover for this year. I think that would be big, yes.
Q: What do you think makes Marquise Goodwin special as a wide receiver and a former track athlete?
A: I actually watched him workout. I was down working out a safety at Texas and I watched him work out. I came back and said, "Man, this guy is really fast." Catches the ball good and he caught a touchdown pass against us when I was in Cincinnati I believe, and Buffalo. He's got such great speed, and that's always been there, but now he's become an all-purpose receiver. He goes over the middle, he catches underneath balls. He's improved a lot.