EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Dolphins were an unfamiliar opponent, but the Vikings defense looked less recognizable in Miami, Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday, a day after a 37-35 loss.
"That was the worst we've played all year, maybe one of the worst defensive performances I've seen in a long time, but definitely this year, for sure," Zimmer said. "I think for the most part I know who they are. I don't know who they were Sunday. It's disappointing to me that, I mean we had guys who are normally good players that played poorly, I mean really poorly. That surprised me. Guys that you know you can count on that didn't play good, that's frustrating. I don't know. I don't know what it is."
Minnesota allowed 23 points in the fourth quarter, which is more than opponents have posted in eight complete games against the Vikings this season, and Miami racked up 493 net yards, including 396 through the air.
There were alignment mistakes before the snap, coverage errors during plays and two unsportsmanlike penalties after whistles.
"There were times when guys lined up where I didn't know where they were lining up," Zimmer said, "so that's probably an issue, isn't it?"
Zimmer said the Vikings, who were credited with two sacks and 10 total hits on Ryan Tannehill, said rushers allowed him to escape the pocket and buy time for big gains.
"We did not rush well, I mean we hit him a lot, but we didn't allow ourselves to finish a lot of the sacks because you get to the edge and the guy runs around the outside, and as teams are doing, they're getting the ball out quick on us so we've got to cover better," Zimmer said.
Sharrif Floyd said Zimmer was justifiably "livid" at the performance that Floyd called a "disgrace for us as a unit."
"We went out and did our own thing instead of playing in the scheme," Floyd said. "I think we all took turns coming up with penalties and with bad plays. I think in those instances, we've got to stop what we're doing, come back as a unit and understand we have to go back to our technique and keys and play defense."
Linebacker Jasper Brinkley said a lack of communication in coverage and defensive penalties stacked up.
The unfortunate part for the Vikings was that their second-most points allowed this season trumped their second-highest point production.
"If we could understand as a group, as a team, as a unit, if we do what we're supposed to do, good things will happen," Zimmer said. "Throughout most of the season, the defense has done that. They've done what they're supposed to do, lined up and done this and done that, and for the most part good things have happened for them. So, those things bother me, mistakes bother me, penalties bother me, selfishness bothers me.
"I've tried to preach the team is important and understanding your role and understanding where you're supposed to be and everybody else understanding, that's why we have this (team meeting) room in here is so that we can all understand what we're trying to get done and that's what bothers me the most," Zimmer added. "Our guys care on both sides of the ball. The football team cares. They didn't perform defensively yesterday."
GREENWAY IN MOURNING: The communication mistakes appeared to become more prevalent after Chad Greenway, who usually wears the in-helmet communication device, left the game with a knee injury.
Zimmer said he didn't have an update on Greenway's physical condition but had spoken to the nine-year pro, who played Sunday despite the death of his father, Alan Greenway on Friday after a battle with leukemia. The veteran linebacker returned to his home state of South Dakota Monday for Tuesday's funeral service.
CUTLER BACK IN: The Bears on Monday announced Jay Culter will start at quarterback. After Cutler started the first 14 games and went 5-9 with 24 turnovers, Chicago started Jimmy Clausen on Sunday, but Clausen developed concussion symptoms Sunday evening after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Detroit's Ziggy Ansah earlier in the day.