Vikings coach Mike Zimmer met the media Wednesday in advance of their week seven game at the New York Jets.
Note: A few questions with short answers were omitted, but all answers have been left unedited. For the full interview, click here.
A: I would say I don’t think he’s done anything different than when Everson was here. The guy has been getting better all the time. I think he’s obviously playing with a lot of confidence. His reaction times maybe a little quicker now, but I don’t think it has anything to do with Everson.
Q: What do you see from Sam Darnold on film?
A: Very strong arm, very accurate, moves well in the pocket, scrambles well and gets out of there fairly quick. Seems to be going to the right place with the ball. He’s thrown some great deep balls.
Q: What has Sam Darnold shown you in his ability to adjust?
A: Yeah, what everybody tells me he’s a very smart kid, a really good athlete. I’m sure they work with him each week on what to try to accomplish throughout the week; their wide receiver screens. They’ve got some really good players – the back coming out of the backfield, the different packages they use they try to keep you off balance.
Q: What do the Jets do best?
A: They get a lot of turnovers on defense. They’re second in the league in getting turnovers and offensively they run the ball very well; 130 yards a game rushing. I mean if you talk about the punt returners, a great punt returner Andre Roberts. I think you talk about their lines they’re both big and physical, offensive and defensive lines. Jamal Adams is a heck of a safety that plays in the box a lot, but a lot of different areas, blitzes and things. They do a good job.
Q: What do you remember about Todd Bowles being on your defensive staff?
A: Todd was really a good coach, smart guy, very dedicated with his work, and I can’t say enough good things about him.
Q: Do you see Todd Bowles’ concepts in your approach to defense?
A: Sometimes, yeah. I mean there’s obviously some carry over in some of the coverage things we used to do, but Todd had his own package I guess you’d say in Arizona when he was there. You can kind of see it going with the Jets along with Casey Rodgers, he was my defensive line coach there in Dallas, so yeah you see a lot of similarities.
Q: Where has Brian O’Neill made the biggest strides since training camp?
A: Pretty much everywhere. When he came in he was raw I guess is the best way to say it. I think he’s improved his technique quite a bit. He’s been a good battler. I would say probably the pass game is the best. The run game he was always pretty good, so I think probably in the pass game.
Q: Would you say if you ran for 200 yards every game you would be tough to beat?
A: I would like it. I don’t know how many games we’d win, but I’d like it. I think it’s important that we run the football. That takes some of the pressure off the offensive line, it takes some of the pressure off the quarterback. Those kind of things help to open up play-action passes, but I think all those things are good anytime you can do them.
A: I think dependability and being able to trust him that he is going to catch the ball wherever it is delivered. It is a combination of both of those guys, really.
Q: What do you need to do to keep the ball away from the Jets defense?
A: They’ve done a good job of getting their hands on a lot of balls. I feel like we have to make sure that we open up some of the spaces in there so it doesn’t get congested in there on some of these things. When it does, a lot of bad things happen for the offenses.
Q: What has been the key to Kirk Cousins being so good on the road so far?
A: I don’t know. He’s been pretty good everywhere I think. I don’t really think the road matters. It’s not who we play or where we play. It’s how we play.
A: Yes, I think so. But Linval is a good player, too. Having Sheldon’s presence in there I think has helped maybe more so the ends than Linval.
Q: What is the identity of a Mike Zimmer football team and does it change the idea of a Viking team with Kirk Cousins coming in?
A: No, I don’t think so. Hopefully we are a smart football team, we’re tough. We are passionate about the job that we do. Typically we know how to win games in the fourth quarter. I think how we move the ball has changed that part of it. Obviously, we want to be a tough team that can run the football. Some of the situations haven’t dictated that yet but that was good to see this last week.
Q: How do you feel your ends are holding up playing more snaps than anticipated?
A: Good. I think Danielle [Hunter] can play a million plays if he wanted to. He is 22 (23) or something and he is built like Adonis.
Q: Is now the time where the team will start to explore the trade market with two weeks left?
A: I haven’t talked to Rick [Spielman] too much about that lately. I’ve been in my own cubby hole and he’s been in his so we haven’t talked too much about trades. Typically that comes down to that last week but we have not said. I haven’t talked to him about trades at all.
Q: How has Sheldon Richardson played since he turned a lot of heads the first two games?
A: I’ve been really impressed with Sheldon. Not just his play, but the way he’s come in here and try to learn the techniques we are trying to teach him. His professionalism, how he handles himself in the meetings. He’s been really good with everything. There has been some plays that a lot of people don’t recognize that I see on tape that I’m like, “That is a heck of a play.” Everyone sees the sacks and the hits on the quarterbacks. But they don’t see sometimes when you split the double team and you make a tackle or you run 20 yards down the field to make a tackle. Those things are impressive to me.
Q: Who will the weight fall on after losing Mike Hughes?
A: It could be a lot of people. Obviously Mackensie [Alexander] will get some more work, but Holton Hill might get some more work, Anthony Harris and [George] Iloka, all those guys. We’re just going to try and do best we can to move guys around to where we can feel comfortable with playing the things we’re trying to get done that particular week.
Q: What have you thought of Mackensie Alexander’s third season so far?
A: I thought he played a lot better this last week, did some good things. He’s been more disciplined in coverage, I guess that’s the best way to say it. I think he understands things so much better now, being there. Sometimes these young guys have a hard time moving around to different spots, so I think it’s just good to settle things down.
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