EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings will travel to Seattle this afternoon to face the Seahawks for the sixth time – but just second in the regular season – under Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings played against the Seahawks in Week 13 of the 2015 season and again in the Wild Card playoff game that January. The NFC teams have also met in the past three preseasons.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spoke to Seattle media members this week and was asked about playing a Minnesota defense that doesn't have a "glaring flaw," and he pointed to Zimmer before turning attention to his players.
"They have Coach Mike Zimmer, [and] he calls it up great for them," Wilson said. "They've got a lot of different guys that can make a lot of plays. Harrison Smith, watching him on film, he's one of the most talented guys on the field every time he steps on the field. It's fun watching him and seeing what he can do on the football field.
"The two linebackers, [Anthony] Barr and [Eric] Kendricks, they're all over the field, too," Wilson continued. "The defensive line, they've got so many guys rushing and getting to the quarterback and everything else. They have a really good [defense] from the corners to everybody. Like I said, there's not a weak link. What we're going to have to do is just be really sharp in terms of our preparation. Be rock solid on third down, be rock solid in the red zone and see where that leads us."
Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll called the Vikings a "difficult team" to play and said several factors make that the case.
He added the familiarity with Minnesota's players because "they've done so much" and with Zimmer's system, predicting the Monday Night Football contest to be a tough one.
Carroll is most recently familiar with Vikings defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson, the latter having spent 2014-17 in Minnesota before signing with the Seahawks in free agency and starting the 2018 season with them. Seattle released Johnson in September, and the Vikings brought back the veteran.
Carroll said he had initially "hoped" to bring Johnson back to the roster.
"He's been a terrific player over a long period of time with a really good motor, savvy, [and] the consistency was always there," Carroll said. "Last year, he had played the most he played probably in his career in a season, and he just showed that he could be an every-down guy for you. We thought of him as an older guy that we would want to make sure we counted his reps and took full advantage of that. We just didn't get the chance to stay steady with it, and he's doing well. He's got 3.5 sacks or something. They're doing a good job."
Here are other highlights of the Seahawks talking about the Vikings this week:
C Justin Britt on familiarity with Richardson and Johnson:
"Well, me and Sheldon, we go back to college [at Missouri]. Having Tom Johnson here in the preseason, got a good look at him and a lot of reps. But, he got the same amount with us, so it's a chess match. It's a chess match anyways, and you add the aspect of us playing with each other, it kind of elevates that even more. We'll know what they're going to do, they'll know how I set, how I run-block. I'm sure they'll say the same thing; we've just got to be right and not worry about them being on the team in the past. You're just going out there and seeing a defensive tackle and going out there and taking care of business."
Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., on Minnesota's offense:
"They're good players. They have a good quarterback. I think they have a really good scheme. I think the quarterback knows how to get the ball to them, and they know what to do when they get it. The guys understand how to receive, and they understand how to run routes, and they're a really, good skilled football team. I think they work really well together."
"They're really skilled in the backfield. They're explosive, they're fast, they catch and run really well. They're good receivers. They hit the hole pretty hard, and they break tackles. I think we're going to have our hands full. They're, again, a talented group. They're explosive, and they do things really well. Their run game has been really solid."
LB Bobby Wagner on the Vikings balance offensively:
"They like to pass a lot more. But they use their running backs a lot more in the passing game. They try to get them out in the flats, they try to set up screens and different types of things, but you kind of see that they want to run the ball, they want to establish the run and things of that nature. I wouldn't be surprised if they come in and try to run it a little bit more and try to balance up their offense. But yeah, you watch them, they pass a lot, and we have to really be on our keys."
Britt on the Vikings defense:
"Their technique is very sound. They're not over-complicated. Their third down is excellent – they're one of the best third-down groups in the league. We've just got to stay on schedule, stay right, not get behind the sticks. Technique-wise, they're very sound and they're very disciplined with their gaps. Again, it's about us and doing right and understanding the schemes of the plays and the ins and outs. The film study and preparation, I think, is everything."
Carroll on dual threat of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs:
"They seem extremely well connected with [Kirk] Cousins. The intricacies of the things that they're running and the timing that they're able to show consistently on really good concept stuff. The guys come through and make the catches, they're both good after the catch, they both get down the field. They're possession guys, they're down-the-field guys, they have all of that ability in them. So, it just makes it really hard, and the QB knows it. They seem to really have hooked up well with the quarterback, too. The execution is as good as you can get."