Mike Zimmer met the media Wednesday ahead of the Vikings’ week six matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. The following questions and answers are unedited, but some are rearranged for relevance purposes and others are omitted due to short answers. To read the presser in its entirety, follow this link.
Q: What things have stood out to you about Larry Fitzgerald throughout his career?
A: Probably first of all his professionalism. I think he’s not one of those rah-rah guys, he’s just tries to do his job the best he can for his team. Runs great routes, has great hands, excellent blocker.
Q: In the times that you’ve had to defend him over the years, what has been the biggest matchup challenge?
A: He lines up so many different places, it’s tough. He’s always been a tough matchup, but [J.J.] Nelson is a big speed guy, [Christian] Kirk is another big-time speed guy. They’ve got a lot of weapons. [Jermaine] Gresham was with me in Cincinnati, and the other tight end, [number] 86 [Ricky Seals-Jones], is an athletic guy. Their team has a whole lot of team speed, both offensively and defensively and on special teams.
Q: What have you seen from Josh Rosen so far?
A: He’s got a big-time arm, very smart, knows where to go with the football, and uses his legs to move on occasion. He throws a really good deep ball.
Q: You talked about Larry Fitzgerald being able to move around so much. Is that required more of a number one receiver in today’s game more so than it was ten years ago?
A: I think it makes it harder to defend, because you never know where guys are going to be. If you’re playing zone, if you’re playing man, if you’re doubling a guy, there’s a lot of different factors that enter into it when they’re in a lot of different places.
Q: When you’ve had to move a player like Mike Hughes around as much as you’ve had, how much does it require of a rookie to be able to jump in and be able to handle all the things that he has?
A: It does, a lot. Obviously the corner is the easier learning [position] than the nickel, but when you have a normal week and you’re practicing three days and you get to study five days for a team, being able to really double-role things, it makes it a little more difficult to study all those different combinations.
Q: How important is it with Kirk Cousins’ pressure numbers to utilizing play action?
A: I’ve said this many times, with the play action, number one the quarterback is generally in a different spot in the pocket. Number two, typically you have more guys protecting. Number three, if you do a good job in the running game, you can get some of the underneath guys sucked up a little bit and possibly safeties, depending on coverage and things like that. It just opens up a lot more areas to manipulate the field.
Q: What do you think you need to do to get the running game more consistent?
A: All of our runs are different. Sometimes we have double team runs where we have to pound off the double teams and get to the second level. Some are zone runs, where we have to cut off guys or pushed to the next progression in the run. Really all of them are a little bit different. I thought again early in the game we had some pretty good balance and really at the end of the game we ran the ball effectively to win.
Q: How important is the screen game if you can’t get the run game generating?
A: The screen game is huge. You see more and more of it and all around the League now, especially off of play action, because linebackers start to hopefully get depth and get out of there and then the line has a chance to sift over toward to where they’re in front of the running back. Screens and play actions are typically things that we want to be really good at.
A: Yeah, not just his but everybody’s. At the end of the day, it’s like Courtney [Cronin] asked, some of those are quick screens where you got two-on-two where you’re trying to block. There’s different ways to get to it some of them are basically that.
Q: How did the two tackles hold up when Riley Reiff went out?
A: Pretty good. I thought they did pretty well. [Brian] O’Neill battled really well, did some good things and then honestly Rashod [Hill] when he went over there [to Left Tackle] his technique was probably a little bit better.
Q: Do you feel like you’re making progress with the offensive line after five games?
A: Yeah, I mean we’re always trying to get better in all those spots not just with the offensive line. I really respect the offensive line and the things they do because they’re in my opinion they’re tough guys. They work real hard. They don’t say “boo” they just keep fighting. They’re getting better every day and that’s what we have to do as a football team. We have to do it in the secondary, we have to do it in the linebackers, we have to do it with the defensive line too.
Q: Are you fine with Kirk Cousins being on track to throw for 5,000-plus yards if that is what it takes to win games?
A: I don’t really care about statistics. I just want to get wins. I don’t care how we do it. Obviously, I have a philosophy but we have to do what we have to do to win football games. If you watch some of these teams have been great throughout the years. They may throw it 60 times per game then they may run 50 times per game. Whatever we have to do to win the football is really what is important to me.
Q: Did you like using all three running backs and is that something you might do until Dalvin Cook comes back?
A: We’ll probably use a decent amount. I think each of them have their own little niches that you try to incorporate into the game plan.
Q: Can you talk about Linval Joseph’s athleticism and did he show you anything new with the touchdown return?
A: No, because I know what kind of athlete he is for a big, big man. He’s got a lot of physicality. He’s a very, very good athlete and it shows all the time when he’s making plays on the perimeter. I knew he could run. In practice every day he shows something that is very athletic for his size and strength.
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