Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good afternoon. After watching the tape from yesterday, I thought that we are developing some intensity at the end of football games, being able to come back and finish. We've been in a lot of these close ballgames. I think some of the team is starting to really believe that we can win in these situations. I think that we ran the ball offensively, we did a nice job in the running game especially with the offensive line. Adrian [Peterson] ran the ball good downhill. The special teams continues to play well. Six out of the 10 possessions for Chicago started at the 20 or inside the 20. We had a big punt return, we're not getting penalties, [Jeff] Locke is doing a good job punting the ball, especially the plus-50 punts and defensively, I thought we played decent in the first half and probably not as good as I would have liked in the second half. Questions?
Q: What has changed for you guys since the bye in your success to stopping the run?
A: I think it's just understanding where you're supposed to be better maybe. We've changed a few techniques a little bit here and there, but I don't know. It's just setting the mind to it. Linval [Joseph] has helped a lot the way he has played.
Q: Adrian Peterson got things going on the ground with more positive runs. Did Chicago play him differently than other teams or send as much pressure?
A: They were pressuring, yes. I think we did a good job of getting to the guys that were pressuring better than we have. They were playing a lot of different coverages and different things with it.
*Q: Do you feel a difference of how players are responding on the sideline with these close games? *
A: I don't know. I just think we're getting a mindset that we're pretty battle-hardened. We've been in a lot of these situations on the road, we've been in maybe some situations at home where we've started well. But we've got a lot of fighters on this football team. I do think they believe when it gets to the crucial situations of the game that we can perform.
Q: Can you think of a good example in a game situation where some players are starting to believe they can win these close games?
A: In yesterday's ballgame, we're down by 10 with 2:30 left. I think we get sacked and then Teddy [Bridgewater] scrambles for 18 yards and we go down and win [on the next possession]. We've been a smart football team. We don't make a lot of mistakes when the game is on the line and that's part of really what we're trying to preach is you don't have to do something that is out of your character. It's still about the team. Like with Charles Johnson, he gets six plays in the ballgame but when his opportunity comes up he makes a great play. It's just depending on your teammates, understanding your role, what your job is to do and then doing your job and then usually things work out.
Q: Your record is now over .500 since joining the Vikings, are you generally pleased with how you have been able to help rebuild the franchise?
A: I don't really think about that stuff yet. We've got a long way to go. I would say we're moving in the right direction, rebuilding would not be my word. We've still got a long way to go.
Q: When you look back, is the team making strides than what you initially envisioned or preached when you first got here?
A: We've only played seven games, so we've still got nine more to go. I think that this team has a lot of smart guys on it. I think that they take to coaching very, very well. I think we have a lot of guys that care and just hope things continue in this direction.
Q: As confidence grows and expectations begin to rise, how do you think your team is equipped to handle success?
A: That's one of the things we have to learn. I talked to the football team a long time ago and I continue to talk to them about there's four learns in football. First you learn how to compete, then you learn how to win, then you learn how to handle winning and then you learn how to be a champion. So we're somewhere in that stage of learning how to win and learning how to handle winning. But we're still young. These are things that we have to understand. The one thing that I have noticed about this team, they're not tight, they're not a tight, nervous kind of team. I think they're confident but they're also focused on the job. When you haven't had success, it's easy to fall into that trap, but I think we have enough veteran guys to remind them of these kind of things and Norv [Turner] does a good job with it and George [Edwards] does a good job with it and we kind of stay on their rear ends a little bit.
Q: What is the next step you'd like to see your defense take?
A: Yesterday, I didn't think we played tight enough coverage in a lot of areas, so we've got to do a much better job there. It all starts – if you can stop the run you have a chance to do some things. We've been playing good in the red zone, we didn't play really good yesterday. I think they had two touchdowns in the red zone because we had a couple busts, so we have to eliminate those things. I probably did some things yesterday that were out of character as well. I could have helped the team a little bit better.
Q: What are some of those things?
A: I'm not going to discuss them, but I know.
Q: What is your motivational statistic for this week? Do you have something for the Rams that you will be able to dig out?
A: Yes, but I've been advised to quit doing that – not that I care really; I don't really care. But yeah, I was reminded of one as soon as I walked in the locker room after the game. I'm sure it'll come up before the week is over.
Q: Who advised you not to?
A: It's a long story. I take coaching well.
Q: Would Charles Johnson have been in that receiver set if Stefon Diggs wouldn't have banged his knee?
A: Probably not. But that's the good thing about having depth and having guys that you can count on, guys that are reliable, guys that you trust. He is really a perfect example of what I'm trying to get this team to be like – somebody that was playing a lot, not playing near as much now, but still does his job, concentrates, works real hard in practice and then when his opportunities comes about, you go make a play. It was a great catch. Hopefully it's a good learning experience for the rest of our guys, when they get the opportunity, it's go make a play, because everybody is counting on you to do your job. That's kind of what I talk about with the standard that we're trying to have here.
Q: How is Todd Gurley going to test your run defense this weekend?
A: He's obviously a big, physical guy that has great acceleration, vision, actually catches the ball well, too. They do a good job in their run-blocking, they've got a lot of misdirection runs, so we're going to have to make sure that we have a lot of people at the ball.
Q: Do you see some comparisons between Todd Gurley and a young Adrian Peterson?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think he runs with violence, explosive, a lot of those things.
Q: What did you see on film that you like with the 40-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Stefon Diggs?
A: Well, Teddy [Bridgewater] actually came off his first read and he moved a little bit in the pocket and then [Stefon] Diggs started to move to uncover, that's when he came open. I think that was guys starting to understand that. I thought for the most part that protection was good yesterday. Teddy had some time in the pocket to try to hit some of those deeper throws. It was a good play on both of their parts, good play on the offensive line.
Q: Did you talk to Coach Priefer or Blair Walsh about which part of the field he wanted to kick the game winning field goal from?
A: I already know where he wants it, I don't have to ask him.
Q: Why did you decide on a limited defensive rotation against the Bears?
A: Some of it was because of them going no-huddle and then some of it was because we got some new guys on the front and we had them in certain packages. It's how it works out sometimes.
Q: How has Danielle Hunter progressed so far?
A: I think he's getting better, understanding what we're trying to get done. He's a guy that goes in there and gives some change of pace for the offensive tackle because of his speed and length. A lot of the things that we're working on with him, I think he's starting to understand rush angles better. He made a couple of nice plays in the running game yesterday.
Q: What was the thought process behind Danielle Hunter rushing from a two-point stance some?
A: I was watching him in practice one day and he was standing up because we were playing a 3-4 team. I just watched him, sometimes these guys with length when they're down in a three-point [stance] they kind of pop up a little bit, so they don't gain that first initial quickness off of the ball. I just told Andre [Patterson], 'when we go in nickel, let him stand up some and let's see how he does.' It's nothing earth shattering.
Q: Was yesterday's pass protection some of the best that you've seen from the offensive line this year?
A: I thought they did a good job, we got beat a couple of times, but I thought they did a nice job. I thought [T.J.] Clemmings did better, in the running game especially, but he had a good matchup and I thought he played well. Actually, all of those guys played well, Mike Harris played well, [Brandon] Fusco probably had his best game and [Matt] Kalil did like he has been doing.
Q: Are there some key points you want to emphasize with the offense to finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals?
A: I did talk to them about that and that's just something we're going to have to continue to work on, finishing the drives. Don't take for granted when it's 3rd-and-5, let's make sure we get the 1st down. I think there were some times yesterday that we missed some areas where we could have hit something else. It's just more work to do.
Q: Can you rush Everson Griffen in different ways?
A: Yeah, he's very athletic, very talented athletically. He's becoming a much, much smarter football player in everything. But yeah, we can do a lot of different things with him. I think as we move forward, you'll probably see some more of it. Both of our guys really, Brian [Robison] and Everson [Griffen] and [Danielle] Hunter, they all have a lot of different qualities that I think we can use as we continue to go forward.
Q: Do Everson Griffen and Tom Johnson feed off of each other in different situations?
A: Yeah, I think Tom [Johnson] benefits a lot from Everson's speed because he allows the guy to get up the field a little bit more, so it creates a little bit more space between the tackle and the guard, especially if the protection is going the other way. I think they both have a good chemistry between them.