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Zimmer: Shaky Performance Not All on O-Line

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A day after the Vikings first loss of the season, Head Coach Mike Zimmer was still sifting through a disappointing performance in Philadelphia.

But Zimmer said all of the blame for Minnesota's struggles in Sunday's 21-10 loss couldn't be placed on the offensive line.

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked six times and hit 12 other times, according to press box stats, but Zimmer said there were plenty of people responsible for the poor play.

"There's some other things that happened in the pass protection, too," Zimmer said. "One back got run over by the safety; he got beat. Another back missed two pickups in the ball game.

"We didn't get the protection turned the right way a couple times," he added.

Zimmer didn't shy away from critiquing the performance of his players. But he said there were technical issues that frustrated him as well.

"There was a lot of different things that happened throughout the course of the game," Zimmer said. "Those are the things that as much as I'm upset about the performance, I'm upset about as well. The things that we didn't do right."

Zimmer said left guard Alex Boone, center Joe Berger and right guard Brandon Fusco did alright in pass protection. But the rotation of tackle T.J. Clemmings, Jeremiah Sirles and Jake Long left much to be desired.

"Guys got beat 1-on-1 several times, I guess, both sides," Zimmer said. "T.J. [Clemmings] actually played better on the left than he did on the right. Jeremiah [Sirles] got beat a few times by 55 [Brandon Graham] and 51 [Steven Means].

"[Jake] Long got beat when he was on the left, twice I believe," he added. "Inside, we kind of protected pretty good for the most part."

Long, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, was signed as a free agent by the Vikings two weeks ago.

"I thought he was rusty, but I knew he'd be rusty going into the ball game," Zimmer said. "He has been in pads one time in a year.

"Part of it was to get him some plays in there, because he had one day of pads this week, and we knew he'd be a little bit rusty," he added. "It's just the way it goes."

As to how to fix the woes along the offensive line, the Vikings could keep an extra tight end in to help block, something Zimmer acknowledged Monday. Tight end Rhett Ellison played 13 offensive snaps while rookie tight end David Morgan didn't play any snaps on offense.

"I wish we'd have done some things different, yes," Zimmer said.

Zimmer said he will also rely on his defensive experience with attacking protection schemes to help his own offensive line.

"I pride myself in knowing protections, so I've got a pretty good idea on protections and how to help things," Zimmer said. "We're going to see what we can do." 

Zimmer said Monday was "a gut-check day" for the Vikings, who dropped to 5-1 with the loss in Philadelphia.

With 10 games to go in regular season, Zimmer said he had a strong belief in his team.

"I do have faith in this football team," Zimmer said. "Obviously, faith is belief without proof. 

"So, right now I don't any proof, so I have to have faith that we'll get it done and I think we will," he added. "But, until we prove it, it's just throwing stuff against the wall."

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