*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
I think yesterday there was a lot of good things that happened, number one winning obviously. With all of these games in the NFL coming down to a seven-point game, a three-point game, coming down to the wire, there were some great situations for our team to learn about that I think will be big factors as we continue on throughout the season. Hitting a 3rd-and-15, 4th-and-1 conversion offensively, a 4th-and-1 stop defensively inside the 10-yard line, them throwing four incomplete passes in the two-minute drill when they had a chance to come back and win the game. The more these things occur in the course of the ballgame, the more we get a chance to learn to be in these positions when it matters, continues to matter, that we have some things to draw back on. I think it was a good team win. Obviously there's a lot of things we need to correct and get better at, but we had a lot of young guys step up and play well.
Q: When you have a close game like that at home, is that something you can build on and transfer when you go out on the road these next couple of games?
A: I hope so. We had some of those situations in Denver the week before and so now we get into these situations and your guys don't panic. They've been through it now two weeks in a row. Hopefully we'll have more to build on and guys will continue to play good in these situations. It's so important, these critical situations of the ballgame. That 4th-and-1 inside the 10 was a huge play and that 3rd-and-15 was a huge play. Captain [Munnerlyn] made a couple really good plays at the end of the ballgame there in the two-minute drill. Those are all good deals.
Q: When it's a 4th and 1 for the offense or defense, is it the play call, the scheme or is a lot of it just will?
A: Little bit of will, sometimes it's scheme. It's mentality a lot of it I think. That's kind of what I'm trying to get our guys to understand in those situations too. I talked to them a lot and the mentality has to change. It's not just 1st-and-10 on the 20-yard line now. This is a big play in the ballgame and if we decide to go for it offensively or we have to stop them on defense, it's critical.
Q: What are some of the things this team has to be better at to win on the road?
A: Probably start fast would be a good one. I think we've started fast at home pretty good. I think if we will continue to start fast, I think that helps. But again, handling the crowd noise, making sure we don't turn the ball over. We've got to protect the quarterback better than what we've done on the road, those will all be big things. We haven't had hardly any sacks at home, but we've had several on the road.
Q: What have you seen from Stefon Diggs and how hard he works in practice? How big of a role is that playing in his recent success?
A: He works really hard and he runs good routes, he catches the ball good, he's competitive, he really wants to be good and so I think that's why he works so hard at it. And he's talented as well.
Q: Has circumstance dictated how much you have been playing your rookies? Why do you think they have been able to become difference makers?
A: I think they're good players, number one. I tend to not look at guys as rookies, I tend to look at them as Viking players and their expectation is no different than anybody else. But one thing that I do think is important is all of these guys that are playing, they're all pretty smart guys and so that allows them to get on the field a little bit sooner. They can get to the things that happened throughout the course of the game, be able to react a little bit quicker. I think all of those things are important.
Q: Do you think Stefon Diggs is equipped to handle the success he has gotten in the past couple of games?
A: Yeah, I would say so. I plan on keeping him humble.
Q: Do you see Diggs remaining as your starter or do you stick to the philosophy that you don't lose your starting job due to injury?
A: You don't lose your starting job because of injury, but you lose your starting job because of performance. But no, I have not decided that yet.
Q: Mike Wallace says that Stefon Diggs was better than he was as a rookie. Do you think your rookies can grasp things faster compared to other team's rookies?
A: I don't know, I think there's a lot of rookies and young guys that can play in this league and really they're all different. Some of them are faster than others, but I do think intelligence has a big part in it. Obviously athletic ability has a lot to do with it and Rick [Spielman] has done a good job of bringing guys in here that are athletes. We do have a belief in our coaches that we can help athletes become better players. I'm sure everybody believes that, but I do too.
Q: It seems the running game and defense have been carrying this team so far. Are you okay with Teddy Bridgewater going out there and winning you a game when the time comes?
A: Yeah, number one, I think if it gets into that situation where he needs to go win the game, I do think he will. Does he need to do better and keep improving and keep going forward? Yes. There were several areas offensively that we probably needed to do better than we did yesterday. But they came out and they had a lot of run blitzes especially early in the ballgame. They brought the safety off the edge and used some line games to try to affect our running game. We probably didn't react well enough to it early in the ballgame.
Q: What has changed with Captain Munnerlyn this year as he plays a bigger role on the defense?
A: He's doing what I ask him to do pretty much. He's trying to do everything we ask him to do and that's important. I think he's studying better. I think he's understanding the things that we're trying to get done. That happens a lot with free agent guys, to be honest with you. They come from a different system, especially if they're an older guy, they come in and they may not play as well their first year in your system but they tend to figure it out the second year usually.
Q: Has Sharrif Floyd been a guy that has made the leap you expected so far this season?
A: Well, I think he had a good game yesterday. I want him to continue – there are times when Sharrif can be a dominating player and sometimes Sharrif kind of gets in his own way a little bit. He thinks too much about all of the different things. He's a better player when he just lets it loose and that's what I want him to do and I think once he takes that step, then he'll start to become even more that way.
Q: Is Floyd a guy that has benefitted from that freedom you've talked about giving to your defensive linemen a little bit more?
A: Yeah, a little bit. I would say you're probably right there. Sometimes Sharrif, he's a pleaser. Sometimes guys, they want to be perfect all the time and sometimes you've just got to cut it loose a little bit and I think that's him in general. He's a great kid and if he will react as opposed to think so much, I think that he will continue to get better.
Q: Last week you complimented Kyle Rudolph on his blocking abilities, do you think it was nice to take a little pressure off and get him a touchdown reception?
A: Yeah, it was good. I actually talked to him last week and I said, 'Hey, I understand that you're helping a little bit more in the blocking parts of things,' and I said, 'You never know when it's going to be your day.' Yesterday he caught two or three balls, one obviously for a touchdown. To me, those are all important things about being a team, doing what you can do to help this team win and you never know when it's going to be your time. [Stefon] Diggs had a bunch of catches yesterday, maybe next week he doesn't get any and someone else gets them. I'm all for that, I'm not into all of the statistics, sure I'd love to have 10 sacks a game, but I know it's not going to happen. I don't worry about it. I worry about how we perform.
Q: After watching the film, what did you observe that may have hindered the team's ability to run the football?
A: I think part of it was some of the run blitzes that they threw at us. I think secondly, they have a physical, stout front that they defeated us sometimes and then sometimes I think in some of the runs – and they tightened their linebackers up a little tighter than they normally play – and I think some of the times we tried to help other guys a little bit too much instead of - hey, that's my guy, I've got to block him, but I'm going to make sure that I nudge this guy, or hang on this guy and not get up to where my guy is. Those are all things that I think they're all correctable.
Q: Is the feast or famine in the run game a concern?
A: It's going to be like that sometimes. I personally want to make sure that we continue to run the football good, but the more they take chances to stop the run, the more it's going to benefit us, because what you're going to see is eventually you're going to see the 23-yard run by Adrian [Peterson] or whatever it was, or the couple long runs that he had the two weeks before because people are gambling to stop the run. It's the same thing with anybody, any defense.
Q: What did you think of Danielle Hunter in his first chance at extended action?
A: I thought he did some really good things. He's very athletic, he had a couple of nice rushes. He's another guy that does a little bit like Sharrif [Floyd], he does a little bit of thinking sometimes and so his true athletic ability doesn't always show up, but when he's just getting off the ball and doing some things, I think it starts to show up. It's very typical of young guys. He's a terrific athlete, he's a great kid, he's smart. I think he will continue to get better as we keep going, I'm hopeful of that.
Q: How do you think T.J. Clemmings did, especially in pass protection?
A: Pass protection, I thought he improved. It was a tough matchup for him on #50 [Justin Houston] and I thought he improved. He didn't do as good in the running game as I'd hoped, but in pass protection he did improve.
Q: Last year you lost a few games by last minute drives by opponents, what changed in yesterday's win?
A: I don't know, we made plays. I just think the more situations we get put in, and I think we did a good job in coverage. I thought Captain [Munnerlyn] did a nice job. They tried to throw the, really, double-move on Xavier [Rhodes] twice late in that drive. It's guys just doing what they're supposed to do, really.
Q: How is Everson Griffen and what do you know about a report about the NFL investigation to his inactivation?
A: I don't know anything about the NFL investigating. All I know is the guy was sick because I saw him. So, we're hopeful that he gets back in here on Wednesday.
Q: How is Griffen doing today?
A: Good, I saw him today. He seemed to be good. Everything I know is we did everything that happened, we didn't know about it until that time.
Q: When you decide to go for it on 4th down does Coach Norv Turner's play call go through you?
A: Usually I talk to him during the week and then I ask him how they are on 4th down. Do you have a couple of good plays that you want to run? Then during the game, what I try to do is, the play before in this area of the field, if it's close, I tell him so he can get the 3rd down call. I said, 'Hey, Norv if it's close here, we're going to go for it on 4th down.' I don't decide really until then and then he makes the call. I listen to it, but I haven't overruled him yet.
Q: Was that 4th-and-1 play call just showing how committed you were to running the ball even with the limited success you'd had running up to that point?
A: I have confidence in our running game, it didn't look like it. Adrian came up to me, there was a 4th-and-2 later on in the game, he said, 'Let's go for it.' I was almost going to say, 'Have you been watching the runs today?' I said, 'No, we're going to kick the field goal,' because they always want to go for it anyway. I have confidence in our running game, I have confidence in Adrian, I have confidence, even the 3rd-and-2 at the end of the ballgame, when we ran the boot and Teddy [Bridgewater] overthrew him, that's a good play, too. If we hit that, then those are good short yardage plays. I think we have a good short yardage package.
Q: Did your film show the holding penalty against Sharrif Floyd being in the endzone?
A: I couldn't tell, I couldn't tell. I really thought the officials did a good job this week. I thought they communicated with me very well. The one time I challenged, what happened was, they said we were short and I was trying get them to give me a measurement and then the clock started running down, they wouldn't give me a measurement, so I threw the flag out there just because we have different plays, if it's this far [holds up hands showing six inches] or it's this far [holds up hands showing 18 inches]. They even communicated with me on that, as well, too.
Q: Why didn't they give you a measurement?
A: Well, in retrospect, because I was telling him the same thing, 'If it's this close or this close,' he said, 'We could tell you were short.' I said, 'Well, I need to find out, so if I go for it.' He said, they probably should have in 4th-down situations, a situation like that. That's all I was trying to do was see how far away it was. I thought they did a really good job yesterday. They communicated with me great, they explained everything to me like that. They said that the hold occurred before we got into the endzone. As long as they're telling me what they saw, I'm good with it.
Q: You talked about some of the negative runs, do you feel like Adrian Peterson was indecisive or was there nowhere to run?
A: I don't believe he was indecisive. I think one time he probably made a bad decision, but there was a couple at the point of attack that we got knocked back and he decided to bounce it. His read told him to go there and then there was nothing there. I don't really feel he was indecisive. We'll keep working on getting better at it.