Don’t ask Mike Zimmer who’s going to start at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings in their Week 2 showdown against the Green Bay Packers.
His players included.
“I did last week. I don’t know if I will this week or not because it started leaking,” Zimmer said in his Wednesday morning conference call. “Usually I like to inform the team of everything that’s going on here and what I’m thinking, but I was a little disappointed that some of the things go out. We’ll just see how it goes. I may talk to them. I don’t know. Maybe I will.”
Perhaps Packers coach Mike McCarthy has a mole embedded in Vikings HQ because he said his “understanding” is that it will be newcomer Sam Bradford, not veteran Shaun Hill, who will start Sunday night’s clash. Either way, though, McCarthy said his team will be prepared for whichever quarterback will be handing off the ball to Adrian Peterson.
“I think it’s part of your personnel evaluation. It’s part of your scheme evaluation,” McCarthy said on Wednesday. “You tilt toward certain schemes with one quarterback, as opposed to another. Those are the questions you ask through the game-planning process, but the fact of the matter is it’s going to start with giving the ball to Adrian Peterson. Every time we play the Vikings, that’s the focal point of our defense.”
For what it’s worth, Peterson said he knew who was starting at quarterback. Then again, in a follow-up question, he said that he’d be that player.
“I’ve been practicing throwing the ball deep and everything,” Peterson said. “Once I’m back there, I’m just going to let loose.”
Wherever Peterson lines up, he’ll be the focal point of the Packers’ defense. Peterson, of course, is used to being the target. As he pointed out, that didn’t even change in 2009, when Brett Favre had an MVP-caliber season in his first season with Minnesota. The presence of Teddy Bridgewater last season did nothing to change that defensive mentality. With Bridgewater out with a season-ending knee injury and Hill getting the first crack at replacing him, the Tennessee Titans loaded up the box last week and held Peterson to 31 yards on 19 attempts. That puts the Vikings in the unlikely position of exiting Week 1 ranked 24th in rushing and 31st in yards per carry.
That’s why the decision at quarterback is so critical for this game. Hill couldn’t throw the Titans out of their defensive game plan, with the Vikings needing two defensive scores to avoid the upset. Perhaps that’s why McCarthy was reasonably certain that Zimmer would make the change to Bradford, who has been a bust as the first overall pick but at least has first-overall-pick talent.
The Vikings acquired him from the Eagles 10 days ago for first- and fourth-round draft picks. They didn’t make that trade to watch the offense be shackled because of Hill’s inadequacies.
“I think he’s doing a great job of picking up the offense and calling plays and understanding and knowing what he’s doing in the huddle,” Peterson said in his call. “I would say he’s picking it up extremely well.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.