EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer received high praise from a highly regarded foe on Wednesday when Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers said Zimmer was at the forefront of a defensive revolution during a conference call with Twin Cities media members.
"Coach Zimmer is an excellent football coach," Rodgers said. "He does a great job of having his guys prepared every single week. They understand their scheme and make things look very similar and bring different types of pressure behind it. Anytime you're at the forefront of revolutions in this league, to say, as they do with their seven and eight up looks they started at Cincinnati, that says a lot about the type of coach you are."
Rodgers and the Packers (6-3) will visit the Vikings (7-2) at 3:25 p.m. (CT) Sunday as Minnesota tries to defend first place in the NFC North.
The two-time NFL MVP said he's seen other teams try to copy the scheme that Zimmer developed as a longtime defensive coordinator and brought to Minnesota in 2014, "but not to the same success that he's had over the years."
"Obviously he's an incredible teacher of the game and gets his guys on the same page," Rodgers said. "They understand timing of the defense based on the front and pressure. There's not a lot of discipline mistakes or mental errors. It seems like they get the most out of their guys."
The Vikings rank second in the NFL in points allowed (17.1 per game; 154 total), just behind a Bengals team that maintained many principles Zimmer developed there. Cincinnati (8-1) has allowed 152 points (16.9 per game).
Minnesota also ranks eighth in passing yardage allowed and ninth in total yardage allowed and is the only team to keep all opponents to 23 or fewer points this season.
Zimmer said he has mutual admiration for Green Bay.
"They've got great coaches," Zimmer said. "[Defensive Coordinator] Dom Capers is a heck of a coach, I have the most respect in the world for Mike McCarthy. Their organization is one of the top organizations in sports and honestly we're just trying to get in the mix with these guys. They're the top level and we're just trying to get into the mix."
And of Rodgers, Zimmer said he has the "utmost respect for him."
"Same guy to me – great movement in the pocket, great vision, throws the ball anywhere at any time, gets the guys in the right protections," Zimmer said.
Wednesday wasn't the first time Zimmer has drawn praise from a Super Bowl-winning quarterback this season. In leading up to hosting the Vikings in Week 4, Peyton Manning described his admiration for "The Zimmer Defense."
"You hear about the different types of offenses out there, the West Coast offense, the Bill Walsh type of offense, I mean Zimmer, in my opinion is the founder of the defense he runs, that Cincinnati runs, Miami runs, different disciples," Manning continued. "There may be somebody above him that was his founder or mentor, but we kind of refer to it as they're running, kind of the Zimmer defense. You've got your own defense, you're doing something good, right? That's big."