Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer spoke to the media Thursday from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Unlike the team’s general manager, Rick Spielman, Zimmer was a little more “fruitful” as far as expressing his thoughts on the team.
On the quarterback situation:
Zimmer was asked how tough it is to resist reaching for the “forbidden fruit,” or Kirk Cousins, in free agency to solve his team’s unique quarterback predicament.
“The thing that I told Rick [Spielman] was…we’ve won 40 games the last four years because we’ve had a good football team,” said Zimmer. “I want to make sure that with our team, that we continue to build and improve [and] continually improve on defense.”
He later added:
“It’s important we continue to keep putting pieces in place on defense. What I don’t want to do is say ‘Okay, this is just one thing. We’re going to do this and we’re going to take away from the rest of the things that have gotten us to this point.”
Zimmer said the team is in the process of trying to answer questions regarding all three quarterbacks currently on the Vikings’ roster.
When asked about his confidence in Sam Bradford’s health, Zimmer answered, “It’s really the $64,000-question will all three of these guys. Right? I mean, can Sam stay healthy? Is Teddy what he was? Is Case the guy that he was last year or that he was two years ago? With Sam… I think he’ll stay healthy, but, who knows. I have a crystal ball but I didn’t bring it with me.”
Asked Zimmer about the level concern medically with Sam Bradford. He referred to Bradford’s knee as degenerative but also said Bradford was skiing last week. Getting through a full season is the unknown.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 1, 2018
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network asked Zimmer about the details of Bradford’s knee injury before the presser. Zimmer told local media that Bradford’s knee issue is “degenerative,” which essentially means it’s deteriorating.
Despite the concerns, Zimmer expressed confidence in all three in-house quarterbacks, stressing how crucial it is that all three know how the Vikings operate.
“I love all three of them,” Zimmer said. “They’re great people. I love how they work. They understand how we do things there as a team and the way we go about our business. It’s important for myself and Rick the organization we pick the right guy that is going to help us continue to move forward. If we don’t do that, I’ll probably get fired.”
Zimmer said that the decision will likely come down to “some financial things” for all three players, adding:
“Maybe some of them don’t get to free agency. We’ll see. We’ve still got some time.”
On Teddy Bridgewater:
“I love Teddy. I’ve said that before,” Zimmer stated. “This kid is a great competitor. He’s got the heart of a lion — a champion. He’s going to do everything he possibly can to be ready. I wouldn’t have dressed the guy if I didn’t think he was ready during the season. If he would have had to go in I was comfortable playing him.”
“I’m hopeful for Teddy, number one, that he has an outstanding career. He’s earned it. He’s deserved it. Hopefully it’s with me but if not, then I’ll wish him the best of luck, I’ll give him a hug and hope for the best for him.”
On workload between running backs Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook:
“Dalvin will probably get the majority of the carries, but we have to mindful of the fact that it’s a 16-game season -—hopefully even longer than that — and he’s going to take an awful lot of hits, so we have to […] understand that this is a long season.”
Zimmer echoed Spielman’s sentiment of having multiple running backs with different skill sets. Both agreed that it makes things tougher on opposing defenses.
“Dalvin’s a three-down back, Latavius can do the same thing. But I think it’s good to have that change-of-pace in there with those guys.”
On improving the defense:
“They told me today that we’re 30-4 when we score 21 points. So it’s important that we don’t lose the defensive part of the game because we keep the game close.”
On Laquon Treadwell making a jump:
Unlike Spielman, Zimmer did not take a patient approach when discussing the third-year receiver.
“You know I think the big thing is Laquon needs to get out of his own way. He’s a guy that works extremely hard. Probably doesn’t do things the right way all the time. We’ll be in training camp and he’ll run the stadium steps at night, which is not helping him for practice the next day. But he think he’s trying to get better…he’s just going about it the wrong way.”
Speaking earlier on KFAN radio, Zimmer said:
“Laquon has had every opportunity to succeed. It’s up to him. One of these days, you either got to figure it out, or maybe get a change of scenery, I guess.”
On John DeFilippo:
Zimmer, who said he didn’t know John DeFilippo before hiring him, reiterated his new offensive coordinator will have an input on the quarterback decision, but that it will ultimately be a collective group effort. Zimmer added that the offenses’ terminology will likely remain the same as last season, but the playbook will change to fit the abilities of the quarterback.
- According to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the Vikings would like to retain DT Tom Johnson, but likely in a slightly diminished role.
- Krammer also reported that RB Dalvin Cook might be back for OTAs, per Zimmer.
- The Combine “Underwear Olympics” begin tomorrow and run through Monday.
- The Vikings have until this Tuesday (March 6th) to designate the franchise or transition tag.
- Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price suffered a potentially serious injury while performing the bench press, per Ian Rapoport.