Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. I also scanned the Minnesota media websites and the Vikings website to see what else Vikings players and coaches are saying about this Sunday's matchup with the Lions at Ford Field.
Here's what they had to say:
1. Zimmer thinks Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing the best he's ever seen him play.
"He's throwing the ball into a lot of tight windows, he's pulling the trigger, he's still scrambling like he has," Zimmer said. "I feel like he's making the right reads, getting the ball out quick."
2. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs said he's always looking forward to the matchup with Lions cornerback Darius Slay. He considers Slay one of the best in the game. Diggs is expecting a lot of man coverage from Detroit Sunday, and says there's a chance for some opportunities to make plays against man coverage.
3. Linebacker Anthony Barr was a guest on Kirk Cousins’ weekly podcast on Vikings.com, where he was asked about Detroit's offense. The one area where Barr's seen the biggest improvement with the Lions' offense is their ability to attack teams at all three levels of the defense with the weapons they've added. Barr talked about the addition of T.J. Hockenson being big in that regard as an upgrade at the tight end position.
4. Zimmer is a defensive-minded coach, so he can appreciate good defensive football when he sees it. He said Detroit's defense is playing well together right now. He especially liked how aggressive the cornerbacks and safeties have been playing, and how well Detroit's been mixing up their coverages.
Meet this week's opponents, the Minnesota Vikings.
5. Slot cornerback Justin Coleman has arguably been Detroit's best player on defense early on this year. Zimmer said the value of having a player like Coleman in the slot for Detroit's defense is that he can match up with anyone. Teams often view the slot as a crucial matchup area on the field.
6. Cousins got off to a slow start, but has really come on strong the last two weeks with over 600 yards passing and six touchdowns. Zimmer said part of that is attributed to the offensive line protecting Cousins better and receivers doing their part down the field.
7. Running back Dalvin Cook told Vikings.com that the Lions know they want to come in and run the football. Minnesota plans to take what Detroit gives then in the run game. The Lions haven't allowed a lot of explosive runs this year, but Cook said if they stay with it and wear the Lions down, the big runs will come.
Cook was also mindful of Detroit's ability to force fumbles (8), and said Minnesota's runners will have to be good protecting the football.