When Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and head coach Mike Zimmer spoke on Monday, both of them had nothing but good things to say about the Denver Broncos defense. For good reason. It’s currently the No. 1 defense in the NFL.
Both the quarterback and head coach said that there are playmakers on all levels for the Broncos and they believe it is going to be a strong test for the Vikings.
“They’re aggressive,” Zimmer said of his Week 4 opponents. “They play tight coverage, bump and run, they have got not just two good rushers, they have four rushers – the guys inside can rush, the two guys on the outside are obviously special rushers. The two linebackers can run. They’re giving up 18 percent third downs. They can be suffocating.”
But it appears that it is a mutual respect. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and head coach Gary Kubiak also have a lot of respect for the defensive performance that they Vikings have put on over the last two weeks. Since the day Zimmer has arrived in Minnesota, he has wanted to put together a physical team and that is exactly what has caught the eye of the Broncos head coach.
“Just in general I’m very impressed with how physical the football team is,” Kubiak said. “I think all of us as coaches want to say our teams are physical and they play hard. I know one thing, when you turn the film on and look at Mike’s team, there is no doubt about that.”
Manning is now playing in his 18th season in the NFL and has made a career of studying opponent’s defenses and knowing what they are going to do before he even snaps the ball. This ability has made him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and a future Hall of Famer.
He said that he is still working on studying the players, but he has been very impressed by what he has seen so far.
“All three levels, the front, you got linebackers and secondary – you’ve got talented players everywhere,” Manning said. “And they’re well-coached, they’re communicating, they’re on the same page and that’s why they’re playing as well as they are. Because, like I said, they’ve got good players and they’re really playing together, playing with a lot of confidence.”
After their Week 1 debacle on Monday night, the Vikings defense has seemingly settled down and completely dominated their opponents in the past two weeks. A big part of that is because they have almost shut down the running game completely, allowing 38 rushing yards to the Detroit Lions and 90 to the San Diego Chargers.
This ability to shut down the run has been important for their recent success because it has allowed them to key in on the pass more and really get after the quarterback.
The Broncos have struggled to get a running game going this year, averaging 57 rushing yards as a team through the first three games. Manning knows that they need to be able to get the running game going this week against the Vikings so they can have some semblance of balance.
“I think you’re shooting for balance against any team that you’re playing,” the quarterback said. “I think everybody wants to have some sort of balance in what they’re doing and you have to be able to adjust in the course of a game if one phase is working, one phase is hard to score sometimes, but I think we’re always looking to be good in all the phases of our offense, the play-action, the drop-back pass, the run game. It’s our job to execute the plays that are called and everybody wants to do their job better each week, I think.”
With two stout, physical defenses playing in this Week 4 matchup, the winner of this game could very well come down to which team is able to extend drives and eat up the clock. The Broncos have been struggling running the ball, but they have Manning as a quarterback and that alone could cause a lot of problems for the Vikings.