Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good afternoon, first of all, I would like to say congratulations to Sid (Hartman) for being in his 70th year with the newspaper, Chris (Tomasson) we're expecting you next, to go 70. I thought it was a great team win yesterday. It wasn't the prettiest of wins, we did a lot of things that we had to overcome, but we came back three times from deficits, I think we showed some resiliency there. I think our team grew up a little bit, like I said yesterday, and I thought there was a lot of good performances. We had five sacks again, we had a couple others that we had penalties on that we could have had more and we hit the quarterback a number of times. I do believe that we are building what I envisioned this football team to look like, we've still got a long way to go. But the mindset of being able to overcome any kind of obstacle and continue to play hard and, obviously, we have got to play smarter in a lot of situations. I've always said, I like how this team works and how they continue to compete in practice and I think it's starting to show up a little bit at the end of games. Defensively, we had three penalties on 3rd downs that allowed them to keep drives going and score points, so we're going to have to clean that up. We're going to have to be better in those areas. The offense is doing some very good things, their third down percentage yesterday was 52%, was only sacked once or twice and we're running the ball efficiently. We still have got a lot of things to clean up, but I think for the overall confidence of the football team, the overall morale of the program of where things are going, I felt like that was a good victory for us.
Q: What are some particular areas you feel you are growing in as a team?
A: There were some times earlier in the year when things were going bad and we didn't muster up what we needed to do. This ball game, there was a lot of fight going on, a lot of heart. Even though it wasn't pretty at times we were able to overcome them. The last three weeks especially, even the loss in Buffalo, and Tampa Bay how we continued to fight the entire time. I believe the team has a lot of confidence in Teddy (Bridgewater) and the things they can do. I just see it offensively how guys go about their business and what they believe in.
Q: When you talk about your vision for the team is it happening faster, slower or right on pace with what you were expecting?
A: I'm not very patient, so we'll just leave it at that.
Q: Why did you ask specifically for 28 points from your offense?
A: Really, it was just about, we hadn't been scoring very many points so I wanted to give them something to shoot for. I probably should have asked for more, sooner. We got down there and scored touchdowns and when we needed to. That's a mark of a good football team, I think, is when the other team goes down and scores, you have got to respond. Somehow, some way you've got to respond, whether it's going down and scoring or being able to punch them off the ball, or whatever it was. I felt like we did that a few times yesterday.
Q: Is there any draw back to a bye week with the momentum you have from two-straight wins?
A: I don't believe that's the case. I guess the one thing that I've noticed a little bit about this team, sometimes is when they have a little bit of time off they seem to forget quicker than I would like for them to, some of the things. We'll have to see when we get back to work tomorrow on some of that and then next week. I think it's a good time for us, being a little past the halfway point of this season to kind of get refreshed, get our legs back. Players-wise get away from football a little bit and focus on their families and the things they need to do with their lives a little bit and then get back and give me their lives back again.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with one practice on the bye week?
A: We're going to review the tape tomorrow and then we're going to hit some situations that I want to cover that we haven't covered for a while and refresh their memories that way. And then I want to work with some of the younger guys quite a bit tomorrow.
Q: There is a possibility of Adrian Peterson returning, what are your thoughts if it happens how the offense will adjust?
A: I only go by what I see and Adrian has always been great around me. He's been top-notch, first class, did everything I asked him to do. I'm not going to speculate on what happens if and when, when and if it happens then I'll be glad to talk to you about it.
Q: How are you going to spend your bye week?
A: The coaches have some assignments to get done the next few days and they're going to have the weekend off. I'm going to get away a little bit, too. I never get too far away. I usually take my iPad with me and I'll probably sit by the fire and watch some of the things I need to watch on the cut-ups. It's good for the coaches, too, to get away and get with their families some as well.
Q: Are you expecting Kyle Rudolph to be ready following the bye?
A: I don't know, I don't know yet, we'll see. I think he's going to work a little bit tomorrow in some of the individual things so we will kind of see where he's at and where he's going to go from there.
Q: Have you seen anything from Teddy Bridgewater's past that suggests that he will get better with deep-ball accuracy?
A: I honestly don't believe that he has a problem with the deep ball. What I do believe is that we probably need to throw it some more and we will hit it. I do know one thing about Teddy, if it is a problem, that he will work extremely hard at whatever his deficiencies are. If he believes that's one of them, I'm sure he will work at it. We're going to continue to do it and continue to practice it. I thought it was important this week that we took some shots down the field and even if you don't hit them, that's not necessarily a bad thing. What's the difference in just missing a 50-yard shot or you gain one yard? It's 2nd-and-9 or 2nd-and-10, it's the same deal. There is a lot of strategy involved with some of those things that we are doing.
Q: With the deep shots were you trying to spread the Washington defense out?
A: It wasn't that. It's just kind of what we thought we could get. You're not going to get those all of the time, you're completion rate on long balls are not real good all of the time, but you have to throw them because the defense has to respect that you're going to do that. You can get pass interferences, illegal contacts, you can get all kinds of things that are also good for the offense, as well. We always want to be a team that can be explosive, not just running the ball, but good play action team and a team that can throw the ball vertically down the field. He threw a great inside-breaking route to (Greg) Jennings early in the ball game, I believe it was on 3rd down, it was an 18-yard gain. There's a lot of different ways to do it, but we want to be able to do that. We want the defense to be on their heels some, as well.
*Q: When you went back and looked at the miss to Cordarrelle Patterson, what did you see on that? *
A: Well, I thought he lost it in the sun, but apparently he didn't. He had a different route that was called, the defensive back blew the coverage and so he can take it up the field but Teddy was expecting him to be a little bit more inside and so it was more of a miscommunication than really anything else honestly. He should have hit it. I think maybe Cordarrelle could have done a better job of catching it too.
*Q: Teddy was 1-of-7 targeting Cordarrelle yesterday. Is there something that's keeping them out of sync? *
A: Yes. I'll leave it at that. It's nothing between the two. We're not precise enough in a lot of areas. We're trying to get Cordarrelle involved in the offense, we'd love for him to be involved but guys have to make sure that they are in the right places all the time.
*Q: Is he fully healthy or is his hip still bothering him? *
A: I think he's healthy. And he did some good things yesterday. He beat the guy on the one coverage bad and there were a couple of other times that he was open but the ball went to the other place and that happens as receivers. I think one of the great things that we're doing honestly is we're spreading the ball around. It's not just one guy catching the ball. Greg [Jennings] had a lot of catches yesterday, the tight ends had a lot of catches, Asiata had a couple, McKinnon had a couple. This isn't ever going to be a one-man show.
Q: Where do you see the offensive line heading into the break compared to maybe two or three weeks ago?
A: We're doing better. We've still got a long ways to go but we're doing better. You know I think two things – I think we're keeping the pocket cleaner, number one, and number two, Teddy is moving in the pocket better, which helps the offensive line. I think it's a combination of both.
Q: You've had a lot of contributions from rookies this season. Can you talk about the progress of this year's draft class and how it compares with other draft classes you've seen in the past?
A: Well it's really hard to compare draft classes because you could have 10 picks, you could have five picks, and some guys take longer than others but as far as this draft class, I've been extremely excited with the contributions of Bridgewater and Barr and McKinnon. Yesterday we got [Scott] Crichton involved a little bit more. [Antone] Exum and [Jabari] Price have been involved quite a bit in the special teams. They're kind of learning on the job. But I think this is a good nucleus to build from and the thing I like about it maybe even more so is they are good kids. We're trying to implement the kind of program that we want here, the kind of people that we want, the way they handle their business in the weight room, in the meeting rooms, out on the field, we're trying to implement all of those things. I just feel like when you continually get guys and kind of teach them the right way, at least the way we believe that we're doing things, it will continue to build from here.
*Q: Jerick McKinnon said he would like to be more consistent. Would you agree with that? *
A: I've been extremely impressed with him with everything. His pass protection is getting better, he got beat once yesterday but he's doing some great things running the football. I think Jerick has a very bright future in everything that he's doing. I'm glad that his expectations are always high. That makes me happy.
*Q: How have you evaluated Chad Greenway's play since he returned from his injury? *
A: I think he's played well. He didn't play as well yesterday as he's played but he's doing a lot of good things. He missed a couple of tackles that I thought he should have made but he's also doing a lot of other good things. He's been in the right place in coverage for the most part; he's been doing a good job in the running game. I wish he would have just sacked him on the first play instead of trying to get the ball out but he did get a sack yesterday so his rushes are getting better. I think he's been a very good influence on Anthony as far as getting him in there.
Q: Does having Chad Greenway and Gerald Hodges healthy give you more freedom to maybe move Anthony Barr around more like he had earlier in the season?
A: Yes and no. I like all of those guys and we're going to look and continue to look and see what we do good and where we feel like we can get some advantages. I think some of the things we are doing with Anthony right now we get him mismatched on a lot of different ways and honestly he's helping the defensive line a lot on some of the things that we do with him. I would think that the defensive line would like us to keep doing kind of what we are doing, but we're always open to looking at different avenues of how we can use guys and that's part of what we'll do this week as well. I feel like if we have some tendencies in what we're doing, how we can change things around and also continually use guys that are ready to play like Hodges.
Q: What are your thoughts on bringing in Pat Devlin to the practice squad?
A: Yeah, well he did a good job in the workout so we'll see. We're always trying to develop players from the practice squad. I'll just leave it at that.
Q: Is keeping Anthony Barr upright just a product of how well the defensive line has played this season?
A: I think we get some matchups protection-wise when it's time to do some things. I don't know how many times we rushed him yesterday but it was quite a few. I think he gives us an advantage in a lot of things we are doing against some of the offenses. I think because of the things that we're doing with him, it allows the defensive line to get freed up a little bit. We're not just sitting back and rushing four guys all the time. Sometimes we're dropping defensive ends and rushing him. Sometimes we are doing numerous things with these guys so he's going to continue to get rushes, there's no question about that, but it's nice when a situation like yesterday comes up and Greenway has an opportunity to get two sacks because they are concentrating on Barr. Our sack totals are probably up a lot because our defensive line is, I think, rushing the correct way and then when you add Barr into the mix with a fifth rusher or sixth rusher it kind of helps.
Q: How closely are you monitoring the Adrian Peterson situation?
A: I have not monitored it whatsoever to be honest with you. I've been so involved in what we're doing here as a football team and the only things I see is what I read and I don't read very much stuff other than the weather reports. When all of that happens we'll talk about it.