Zimmer ‘disappointed,’ players say ‘livid’

Mike Zimmer expressed his frustration with the Vikings’ defensive performance on Sunday, with players saying he was “livid” and deserved to be.

The day after a 37-35 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was still “disappointed … frustrated” and “bothered” by the play of his defense.

Those were Zimmer’s words. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd described Zimmer as “livid.”

“He was livid and in his position I would be, too, watching the defense do what we did,” Floyd said. “I think that was a disgrace for us as a unit … I think that was the worst game we played this year.”

Safety Harrison Smith agreed it was the worst the Vikings have played all season and the statistics back that up.

They gave up 493 total yards to the Dolphins, sliding past their previous worst – 468 against the Chicago Bears – by a pretty wide margin. It was the fifth time this year that total exceeded 400, and most of the damage was done in the air. The Dolphins had 377 net yards passing against a Minnesota pass defense that entered the game ranked sixth in the league, with the Vikings’ previous worst being 330 yards surrendered in the passing game.

“That’s the worst we played all year, maybe one of the worst defensive performances I’ve seen in a long time, but definitely this year for sure,” Zimmer said.

“Defensively we were very, very poor. I’m trying to figure out how we can go from playing so good one week to so poorly the next week. That’s kind of disappointing to me.”

While Zimmer was pleased with the play of QB Teddy Bridgewater and the offense, and the special teams minus a bad snap that led to a blocked punt and game-winning safety, the defensive problems ran the gamut.

Ryan Tannehill completed 35 of 47 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns and a 118.8 rating. The Vikings also had eight accepted penalties for 74 yards, the third-worst showing of the season, and by Zimmer’s count they had 11 penalties total on defense (not all were accepted).

“It just bothers me when people don’t do what you ask them to do. It bothers me that guys don’t – if we could understand as a group, as a team, as a unit, if we do what we’re supposed to do good things will happen and throughout most of the season the defense has done that. They’ve done what they’re supposed to do – lined up, done this, done that – and for the most part good things have happened for them. So those things bother me. Mistakes bother me. Penalties bother me. Selfishness bothers me.”

The Vikings were without rookie linebacker Anthony Barr for the last three games, and were without veteran linebacker Chad Greenway for the second half, but Zimmer downplayed the injuries and emphasized a lack of discipline and toughness.

“There’s times where guys lined up where I didn’t know where they were lining up, so that’s probably an issue, isn’t it?” Zimmer said.

“I think for the most part I know who they are. I don’t know who they were Sunday. We had guys that normally are good players that played poor, I mean really poor. So that surprised me. Guys that know you can count on that didn’t play good, that’s frustrating.”

The Vikings gave up 36 first downs to the Dolphins, nine more than their previous worst and tied their season-worst 69.2 percent of third downs being converted against them.

Zimmer said the players care, but said how they respond in the season finale against the Chicago Bears will be an important question.

“At some point in time I’ll get this defense fixed,” Zimmer said. “It may not be this week, it may not be until the middle of the year, but it will get fixed. You can bet your butt on that.”

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