Thu, 22 Oct 2020

Presser Points: Zimmer's Message to Team After 0-2 Start

Minnesota Vikings
24 Sep 2020, 04:37 GMT+10

Eric Smith

EAGAN, Minn. - Through two games, Vikings miscues have shown up in all three phases, and in all four quarters.

And as a result, Minnesota is one of 11 teams across the league that has started in an 0-2 hole. (There are also 11 teams at 2-0, while 10 teams are an even 1-1).

The Titans, who come to town for a Week 3 matchup on Sunday, are 2-0. Tennessee has won both games by a combined five points.

As Week 3 looms, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked if he feels like his team's back is already up against the wall so early into the season.

"Yeah, all the time our backs are against the wall. Every week, it's like that," Zimmer said. "Unfortunately, we have not played well enough to win.

"What we have to do is get back to being ourselves, doing the things that we do good, eliminate the mistakes we're making," Zimmer said. "You know, the second quarter has been awful for us the last two weeks, the last five minutes of the second quarters, basically.

"My message to them," Zimmer added, "has been, 'Before we start winning, we have to stop losing.' Right now, we're losing because of the mistakes we're making."

The Vikings have a minus-31 point differential in second quarters, creating situations in which the team must play from behind in the second half. Minnesota also ranks last in the league with an average time of possession of just 20 minutes and 10 seconds.

Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed Wednesday:

1. Remembering Gale Sayers

Zimmer opened his press conference by expressing condolences to the family of Gale Sayers, the Hall of Fame running back who passed away Wednesday.

He also offered a personal anecdote on Sayers, who starred for the Bears from 1965 to 1971.

"I was sorry to hear about the passing of Gale Sayers," said Zimmer, an Illinois native. "When I was 11, I was fortunate enough to go to his house and play pool with him, my dad and one of my dad's players. He was a great man, and I'm sure everyone is going to miss him."

Zimmer couldn't remember who was victorious at pool, but noted he did get Sayers' autograph on a football.

Sayers played in just 68 career games due to injuries, but was a five-time All-Pro who averaged exactly 5.0 yards per carry in his career. He twice led the league in rushing, finishing with 991 carries for 4,956 yards and 38 scores.

"I watched him a lot," Zimmer said. "He was so elusive the way he could run the football, the way he could hit the seams and accelerate through. It just seemed like he was always making big plays."

Sayers was just 34 years old when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. He died at age 77.

2. Tannehill's turnaround

From 2012-2018, Ryan Tannehill was a sub-.500 quarterback who threw double-digit interceptions in each season with the Dolphins.

Yet after taking over as the Titans starter a few games into the 2019 season, Tannehill has been one of the NFL's most efficient quarterbacks. He started 10 games for Tennessee and led the league with a passer rating of 117.5.

Zimmer talked about how the former first-round pick has turned his career around with the Titans.

"Well, I think the biggest thing with Tannehill right now is that he's playing with a lot of confidence," Zimmer said. "He's got a running game with him. I feel like he's seeing coverages and getting the ball out quick, understanding where to go with the football right away.

"He's been really good on the play actions, been extremely accurate. He can also move in the pocket and scramble. The bootlegs, the play actions, the screens ... have been effective for him," Zimmer added. "I think they're doing a great job with him with the scheme, and I also think he's been making a lot of very good decisions."

Tannehill completed 18 of 24 passes for 239 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2. His passer rating of 145.7 was the second-highest of his career when attempting at least 20 pass attempts.

3. Evaluating the Vikings offensive line

The Vikings have used a pair of starting offensive line combinations through two games.

Minnesota went with Riley Reiff, Dakota Dozier, Garrett Bradbury and Brian O'Neill in back-to-back starts, with Dru Samia replacing Pat Elflein at right guard after Elflein went on Injured Reserve during Week 2.

Zimmer was asked to evaluate the offensive line and about the plan for blocking Jadeveon Clowney in the trenches.

"Our guys are good, tough guys. We did some really good things in the game," Zimmer said of the unit's Week 2 performance. "Obviously there were some miscues like everywhere.

"Clowney, they move [him] around quite a bit. Sometimes he's on the right, sometimes he's on the left, sometimes he lines up over the center," Zimmer added. "So they move him around. Identification will be big for us."

Zimmer was also asked if second-round rookie Ezra Cleveland, who was worked at guard since being drafted, could be in the mix soon.

"We'll see," Zimmer said. "Every week we look at these guys in practice and see how they're doing and where they're at."

4. Praise for Vrabel

Mike Vrabel made his name in the league by being a hard-nosed linebacker who won three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots.

He's been the head coach of the Titans since 2018, and Zimmer said he sees Vrabel's impact on the team.

"I think Mike's done a nice job. I think his personality shows on his team," Zimmer said. "He's a tough, aggressive guy that really kind of shows on their overall football team, I believe."

The Titans went 9-7 in each of Vrabel's first two seasons, but they advanced to the AFC title game this past season after upsets at New England and Baltimore.

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