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.
Here's what he had to say:
1. Zimmer's defenses have been known to be aggressive and to limit scoring. The Vikings are allowing on average 30.6 points per game this season, more than 10 points more per game than last year.
Zimmer said injuries have played a factor, and Minnesota is relying on so many young players on defense this season. He said there was one point when seven rookies were playing at once on defense. Minnesota's defense was pretty good last week in Green Bay (22 points allowed). Can they make it two weeks in a row against the Lions?
View photos of the starters for the Minnesota Vikings.
2. The Vikings really liked Lions second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson when he was coming out of Iowa in 2019. They even interviewed him at the Combine, Zimmer said. Zimmer thinks the biggest improvement he's seen on tape from Hockenson this year is in his route running. The way Hockenson leans at the top of the route and has incorporated some wiggle to get separation are things that have stood out to Zimmer on tape.
"He does look much better," Zimmer said of Hockenson.
3. The Vikings have gotten after Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the past. I'm sure most fans remember that 10-sack performance back in 2018. But this is a different Vikings' pass rush without Everson Griffen (now a Lion) and Danielle Hunter (out for the year with an injury).
Zimmer said Stafford does a good job moving his feet and scrambling away from pressure. The Vikings' pass rush by committee approach this year might not look to pin their ears back and turn it loose on Stafford Sunday. Zimmer said Minnesota has to be careful with the way they rush Stafford, and try to keep him in the pocket. I thought that was interesting.
4. Speaking of Griffen, who the Lions acquired via trade with Dallas, Zimmer said Griffen was the "energizer bunny of the defense" in their time together in Minnesota. He said Griffen was a terrific pass rusher who learned to play the run as good as anyone. Griffen could play a big role for Detroit Sunday with defensive end Trey Flowers on IR.
5. Will running back Adrian Peterson be looking to do some damage on the ground this week against his former team? Zimmer said Peterson looks to do damage every week, but admitted Peterson might have some extra juice this week playing in Minnesota. Zimmer said he still sees a powerful runner and a guy who runs hard when he watches Peterson on tape.