Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
After watching the tape, again, last week I was upset about the way that we did things. This week I was more frustrated because I felt like we had the opportunity to win and we didn't do the crucial things at the end of the ball game to win. There were some good things that happened in the ball game, like most games. We've got to just eliminate these things that are allowing us not to win. We just keep preaching to the team about what caused you to win, what caused you to lose, and where we go from here. We worked hard last week, we practiced hard, we studied hard. I think the mindset that they had going into the ball game was a good way to go and we didn't get the win. Frustrated is the best word for this week, I would guess.
Q: Were the frustrations on the final drive or what else do you feel frustrated about?
A: It's mostly frustrating because we didn't win. We had situations that we could have handled better. I talked to the defense this morning about the last drive, we did some great things even during that drive, but we reverted back to some of the things that allow us not to win. We rushed the quarterback all day great. In the right places, did things correctly and then we, for some reason, we do something different in the crucial part of the game. We allow him to get out, he hits the ball down to the sideline. The 4th-and-20, I should have called a timeout and settled the team down a little bit. They were going on the ball. I think we miscalculated the down and distance that it was in. I think they all knew it was 4th down, I just don't know that they knew the distance that they had to go, so we ended up being short on the route. There was a 3rd-and-12 in the drive that we played with not very good technique. We allow them to get 20 yards or something like that. And then there were some good things, too. The sacks in that situation were big, but we didn't come away with the win.
Q: Does it bother you that you make some good plays to get in those situations and then you can't get off of the field?
A: Yeah, and we've been working on these situations, actually, quite a bit. On the 3rd downs, we've been getting better and better and better. The 3rd and real longs, which you don't practice near as much, we've been practicing quite a bit more just because we've had some conversions in those situations. The conversion rate in the NFL is very small in that. fourth-and-20, you'd think the odds are pretty good in our favor. I probably should have used a timeout. We'd just sacked them the play before, it was about a three-yard loss, I think. They had been huddling for the most part, they'd been huddling. They got up on the ball fast, we made the call in, they were communicating it, the sideline was communicating it to the back-end. They were running back because we had sacked the guy, so they were way down the field and they're trying to get the calls. They're trying to communicate to each other, I think we lost track of the distance that we needed to be at. It's another unfortunate learning experience that we have got to go through.
Q: Do you think that is guys falling into bad habits of trying to do too much?
A: I think that has been the tendency here some this year. It seems like when we play good, we play pretty disciplined, technique football and get in the right place, do the right things. And we don't play as good, we say, "Well, I'm going to do this, or I'm going to go make that play, or I'm going to do that." And it's really all of the way across the board, offensively, defensively and special teams. Instead of understanding what allows us to win games, we're going to take it upon ourselves to try to go win the game as opposed to just keep doing what you're doing and let the play come to you and it will be alright.
Q: Was Chad Greenway not deep enough in coverage on the 4th down conversion?
A: He was not deep enough, number one. He had vertical carry off of the tight end. He turned a little late on him, but that was a product of being too shallow and the other part was, when the ball was snapped, he was communicating to the nickel and the safety. He was trying to get them lined up, which is part of his job. But his main job is to do his job, too. That's why I say, I take more responsibility for that. I saw them getting up on the ball so I called it fast. If I would have thought a little quicker I would have just called a timeout to say, "Hey, let's just get lined up, let's do this. Here is what the situation is." If we stop them there, more than likely we win the ball game.
Q: At the time were you debating on calling a timeout?
A: Nah. It's more hindsight. I probably should have. I mean, thinking on the plane last night and after the play. I should have done it. We still had chances to stop them there at the end. Just because we gave up the 4th-and-20, we still have a 3rd-and-12 later on. They had a 10 second runoff. We still had chances there.
Q: Is calling a timeout something you train yourself to think about? Is it almost counterintuitive given the situation and the running clock?
A: Yeah, and really, the clock was running. That was the other thing, the clock was running, that's in our favor. The chances of them hitting a 4th-and-20, the clock is running, the game is on the line. You've got a lot of things in your favor at that point in time. Right, wrong or indifferent, I've always worked for a lot of guys that don't like calling timeouts on defense because you don't like wasting them. That is a little bit of my mentality, too. "Hey, let's just lined up, do what we're supposed to do and everything will be good," Whereas, probably, in that situation, the hecticness of everything that was going on, I probably should have used it and explained to them. We saw their 2-minute routes before, the routes they ran were not any surprise.
Q: Yesterday you talked about reminding yourself about where the team is at and where you want to go. Is that about the actual team or the decisions you make?
A: No, I don't want to ever give the indication that we're thinking about the future or anything like that. I understand that we're a young football team, I guess is what I'm saying, in that we're going to have some learning experiences with some of these situations. We've got a young quarterback, we've got some young guys in the back end. These things are all learning experiences for them. Like with Xavier Rhodes, he's played very, very well the last four or five ball games and there is a couple of situations there at the end that he needs to realize where he's at. I think all of those things are going to come from experience of being in these situations, understanding the clock and the timeouts, and the field position, and everything else. That's what I meant by understanding kind of where we are at. It's not about anything other than the inexperienceness that we have.
Q: With being 2-5 do you have to maybe rethink expectations?
A: I think the biggest thing is that I always look at one game at a time, anyway. My expectations weren't going in the year and we're going to be this record or that record, it was about how we perform each and every ball game and then kind of add them up at the end. I still feel that exact same way. I don't know that you can say after seven games we are what we are, only because of the fact that there's been so much change of what's going on. I think the quarterback will continue to get better, I think the young secondary will continue to get better. I think that the emphasis that we've been placing on certain things, we've continued to get better. I think if they'll realize the importance of all of these little things that we're talking about, we'll continue to get better. My expectations really have not changed whatsoever. It's always been about this game, this week and where we are there.
*Q: Was there anything else Xavier Rhodes could have done on the catch by Chris Hogan that put them on the two-yard line? *
A: Well it was a double move and when the receiver made the first move, he transfers his eyes back to the quarterback and then he kind of got out of position, just a little bit, not bad, but he recovered because he does have outstanding recovery speed. He recovered, he pinned the guy on the sideline, had him on his back and the guy went up and made a catch. Other than when you get in that position, making the play, and that's the thing I talk to the players about – part of my job is to get them in the right position to be able to make the play and when they get in position their job is to make the play. He's been in those positions a lot and made an awful lot of plays. With the receivers in the NFL and the quarterbacks, they're going to make some plays too.
Q: On the touchdown following that should he have covered more outside with inside help?
A: Yeah, he had inside help and it's one of the things that we've been working on him with understanding the formation, understanding where he's got his help in the red zone, understanding where he's at on the field and that has been a process for us in the red zone quite a bit, defensively, and really offensively too. We're spending a lot of time in the red zone down there and again, getting to understand splits, getting to understand help, getting to understand formations and where they're supposed to be. I anticipate that he'll never make that mistake again.
Q: How did Anthony Barr perform in coverage?
A: Very good. Barr is a good player. He's a good player in a lot of different ways - he's good in the running game, he's good in pressure, he's good in coverage. I can think of one time he was a little short in the coverage but other than that, he's a good a football player, a really good player. He has the chance, if he continues to improve, to be a great football player.
*Q: Do you expect John Sullivan or Vladimir Ducasse to miss any time? *
A: Sullivan is going through the concussion protocol, so we'll find out more as the week goes on. Vlad, he bumped his knee, so we'll see.
*Q: On third-and-12 is there anything Josh Robinson could have done differently? *
A: It was poor technique, poor technique.
*Q: How did Mike Harris do stepping in at guard? *
A: I thought he did well. He competed well, he did some good things.
*Q: Will Vlad Ducasse have an MRI? *
Q: Will that be today or when will that be?
A: I don't know when he's having it.
Q: How did you assess the overall performance of the offensive line?
A: You know it's kind of like how it's been all year – a little bit of good, a little bit of bad. We kind of take turns. I thought there were some good things. I thought our pad level was much better in the running game. I thought we came off the ball better. I thought we stayed down with our pads and continued to push people. In the passing game we had some things that again went on that shouldn't have happened.
Q: With Mike Harris are you comfortable with him in a guard role outside of an emergency?
A: We'll evaluate all of that as we get going here. Like I said before, part of my job is to continually look at how we can do things and I'm not opposed to making any changes. It doesn't mean we are going to, but we have to look at if we make a change, what are the options that we have at that change and what are the best options that we go for. We've got to continue to get better in that area with the offensive line and actually in a lot of areas.