Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good afternoon. It was a good team win yesterday. We started out fast, which was good. I thought special teams did a really nice job yesterday. We looked fast on our coverage teams, obviously the punt block helped, but we’re pretty good in protection. So, that was good. We got out in a big lead on them and there really was no need to throw the football. The clock was our friend, so we just kind of kept going. There will be other games that are different than that, but the way the game unfolded, that’s the way it played out.
Q: What stood out to about how the offensive line played?
A: They did a really good job in the running game. We had a couple tough matchups in the passing game with some of their guys, some of the things that they were doing that we have to clean up technically and our footwork. They fought and they scratched and we got some guys cut on the backside. I thought Kyle (Rudolph) blocked pretty well yesterday, which was good to see. Garrett (Bradbury) had a couple times where he was going one way and they back doored him a few times, but those are all clean up things that’ll get fixed.
Q: How would you assess the play of the defensive line and getting pressure on Matt Ryan and how important is it for this weekend?
A: I thought we did a good job getting pressure on the quarterback. They made it one dimensional which is a lot easier for defense. They were one dimensional after midway through the second quarter, I think, which is a lot easier, just lay your ears back and try to get after the quarterback. We did a good job. I thought Everson (Griffen) played really, really well. Violent, aggressive, ran to the ball well, so that was good to see and the other guys did a good job, too.
Q: Did you get a sense in camp and practice that Everson Griffen was back up to speed?
A: Yeah, I felt pretty good about it. He looked a lot like when he was at the Pro Bowl.
Q: Is there a fine line between confidence and over-confidence after a game like that?
A: Oh yeah, I talked to them yesterday about it after the game. It’s overreaction Monday. Everybody is going to tell you how great you are today and we have to get back to work. There’s still a lot of things we need to clean up. The penalties, I thought we got sloppy in the second half in coverage. We got a little bit tired there so we got sloppy in that. Had way too many little dumb penalties, really they were dumb penalties, so there’s a lot of things we can clean up.
Q: What’s the biggest thing Jayron Kearse has learned about being a bigger nickel corner than most guys at the position?
A: I think, usually if he gets his hands on guys, he’s pretty good, so that’s part of it—using his length in that position. That’s probably his strength and that’s where he needs to continue to do.
Q: Are there ways he can work on his lateral movement? How does he do that?
A: Not very often is going to be by himself on a guy. He’s going to get help from either the inside or the outside or wherever it is. I think understanding leverage is the best part about that, where his help is.
Q: Did you get any more news on Mackensie Alexander?
A: No. He was getting his MRI today.
Q: Is playing for each other, not just with each other something you’ve seen among the defense?
A: I don’t really talk to them too much about that. We talk about doing your job so someone else can have success, so maybe that’s what they’re talking about, I don’t know. It’s a pretty tight-knit group. The defensive guys have been around for a while, so I think they rely on one another quite a bit.
Q: What did you see out of Anthony Harris? Was he in the right place at the right time to make those interceptions?
A: Actually, both the interceptions he made were really, really good plays. The second one in the end zone, (Danielle) Hunter did a really nice job of putting pressure on (Matt) Ryan, and Ben (Gedeon) did a good job of covering the guy coming out in the flat. I don’t know if he was trying to throw it to the tight end or trying to throw it away, but Anthony made a great play on that. On the other one, he was actually in man-to-man on a guy, and his guy blocked and he sunk back and he really out-muscled Julio (Jones) for the ball.
Q: Alexander Mattison said he was disappointed he didn’t get in the touchdown, but looking at the tape he would would have had to lunge. Would you prefer someone to play it safe and not outstretch for a touchdown?
A: Yeah, I’d prefer he not stick the ball out. But I thought Alexander ran the ball very effectively yesterday. He ran hard, and the offensive line blocked some of the plays that he had in there pretty good. But he’s got a chance to be a good back, good complementary back to Dalvin (Cook), so that was good to see.
Q: Can Jayron Kearse use his physicality to his advantage against smaller receivers?
A: Yeah, actually I stuck him in there earlier in the game before Mackensie (Alexander) got hurt just because I wanted to get a bigger guy in there. It happened to be a run, and he (Kearse) did a really good job on the play and out-physicalled their slot receiver.
Q: Do you like how stout your defensive backs are against the run, allowing you to play in the nickel and not see a big drop-off in run stopping?
A: Well, Ben (Gedeon) is a really good player, so I don’t know if there’s not any drop off, but our corners and the safeties all did a really nice job in run support yesterday. Xavier (Rhodes) had a couple really nice (plays), Trae (Waynes) caused the fumble on the one. Unfortunately, on the one long one Xavier should have contained the ball, but for the most part our secondary guys, Harrison (Smith) and Anthony Harris, usually are pretty good in the run game.
Q: As you look at Anthony Barr, what’s the next step for him to make this season?
A: I hope he plays like he played yesterday. He played very physical, very fast. Really the play on the first third down, he ran (Matt) Ryan down from the backside, that was a great play. He really had a good football game yesterday.
Q: What are your expectations when you get Mike Hughes back? Do you think you’ll have to ease him in?
A: I don’t think so. He’s been conditioning pretty good. I’m sure we’ll have packages for him. We’ll just kind of see where he’s at when he’s ready to roll.
Q: Will he be ready this week?
A: He’s got a chance.
Q: After previously talking about using Hercules Mata’afa in pass rushing situations, what did you think of his performance against Atlanta?
A: I thought he had three really good rushes. There’s one thing that he’s got to work on a little bit more as far as finishing to get the sacks, but he did some good things. He’s continuing to work.
Q: What have you seen that you really like about C.J. Ham as a lead blocker?
A: Well C.J. (Ham), number one, does a great job on special teams, and then he also is very good in protection. He’s very good at knowing who to block. Having a lead blocker in there is important, because you can do so many things with him. I believe on one of the long runs Dalvin (Cook) had, he was in there and led him up through there. There was another time I remember, he led up through and he actually ended up knocking the linebacker into the corner or safety, whoever it was.
Q: What are your thoughts overall on special teams and some of the calls Marwan Maalouf made and his organization?
A: Yeah, it was good. Obviously the blocked punt was good, but like I said before, I think the coverage units were good. The communication with myself and him was good yesterday as far as when to put the hands team out there, when to run a return as opposed to trying to go block the kick, things like that.