Presser Points: Zimmer Evaluates Cousins’ Play, Emphasizes ‘Playing Within Himself’

EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer isn’t ignoring mistakes by quarterback Kirk Cousins in Sunday’s loss to the Packers; he isn’t turning a blind eye to the positive moments, either.

During his postgame press conference at Lambeau Field, Zimmer said that Cousins had “ups and downs,” with the end-of-game interception being “the worst one” but also emphasized the level of talent Cousins has.

“We just need to continue to coach him the way that we want him to play,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer spoke with Twin Cities media members Monday afternoon and was asked to expound on the previous night’s response.

“I just think play within himself, as far as if the play’s not there, throw the ball away,” Zimmer said. “He knows that. It’s not anything different.

“I think, like every position, we’re coaching the heck out of him and trying to do the same thing with the offensive line and receivers and DBs and everybody else,” he added.

Zimmer pointed out Cousins’ on-point passes during the Border Battle, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Stefon Diggs on third-and-13.

“He made some really good throws and then he missed some,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes that’s going to happen, but we’ll continue to work on it and make sure the receivers and quarterback and everybody else is on the same page. There was some miscommunication there yesterday.”

Asked about Cousins’ performance in the red zone, Zimmer said that Minnesota’s offense has “got to do a better job” inside the 20-yard line.

“[Cousins] was high to [Kyle] Rudolph on the one,” Zimmer said. “The [defender] made a good play on [Stefon] Diggs on the one, and then he’s got to throw the ball away on the [interception in the end zone].”

Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his podium session:

1. Continued praise for the run game

Dalvin Cook racked up a career-high 154 rushing yards in the Vikings comeback effort.

While the ground game wasn’t enough for Minnesota to take home the “W,” Zimmer is pleased with how the Vikings run game has looked through two games.

“I think Dalvin Cook is tremendous, the things that he’s doing. The way that we’re blocking with the offensive line,” Zimmer said.

He later added: “We’ve been running the ball effectively. I think we’ve been running violently. We’ve had some big runs in there, so it’s been good.”

2. Sustainability on the ground

Heading into Week 3, Cook already has 41 carries for 265 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Is the pace sustainable?

Zimmer said “I don’t know,” but pointed out that the Vikings used rookie Alexander Mattison to complement Cook. Minnesota also has running backs Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah on the active roster, in addition to fullback C.J. Ham.

“Mattison went in there and ran the ball four times for 25 yards … He ran the ball pretty good, as well,” Zimmer said. “Each game will be different, like I said before, we’ll just have to see where it goes off that.

“Cook is running extremely hard, physicality, breaking tackles,” he added. “I think the offensive line is doing a good job with him, and the tight ends have being doing a pretty decent job blocking the edges.”

3. Hurt by self-inflicted wounds

Zimmer is frustrated by the number of penalties the Vikings have accrued in their first two games.

Even in a convincing defeat of the Falcons in the season opener, Minnesota was flagged 11 times for a loss of 100 yards. Against the Packers, the Vikings were charged with eight penalties for 100 yards.

The 200 penalty yards through the first two games are the most under Zimmer’s regime. (In 2017, the Vikings committed 16 penalties for 181 yards through Week 2).

Zimmer responded to multiple questions about the team being flagged for offensive pass interference, but he also spoke generally about “undisciplined” play by his team.

“I know [Garrett] Bradbury had two, I think [Stefon] Diggs had two, I think [Adam] Thielen had two,” Zimmer said. “They’ve got to start playing within the rules. And they know the rules; it’s their responsibility to do what they’re supposed to do.”

View images as the Vikings take on the Packers at Lambeau Field during Week 2.

4. Fixing slow start defensively

The Vikings defense struggled out of the gate, and Minnesota was outscored 21-0 by Green Bay early in the game.

Zimmer pointed out on Sunday that the Packers keyed in on a couple reserve players who stepped in due to injuries. When he was asked on Monday if there was a “common theme” on big plays that Minnesota gave up, he said, “Yeah, there was.”

“We made some mistakes – basically on the back end of some things, but that included some of the running game,” Zimmer said. “We’ll get that fixed.”

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