As part of the weekly ritual of head coaches, they conduct interviews with the media from the opposing city, so, on Thursday, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Sam Bradford sat down for conference calls with the New York media.
As would be expected, a lot of questions centered on Bradford coming to the Vikings eight days before the start of the regular season and they even found a way to get Big Tuna questioning in.
When asked about his relationship with Bill Parcells, who is most often associated with his time in New York, Zimmer said he talked to Parcells after the Bradford trade and got the advice that one would expect from someone who has been there, done that and won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback.
“I talked to him after it happened and basically the message was that things like this will happen, no one is going to feel sorry for you, you just have to move forward and you have to get your team to believe that they can win and understand how your team has to play in order to win,” Zimmer said.
The Giants were also no strangers to Bradford, who was the starter in Philadelphia in 2015. Zimmer praised the job that Bradford has done under less-than-ideal circumstances in Minnesota, saying he has been a leader by example with his hard work – although he had no clue what to expect early on.
“I didn’t really know because I have never been around him,” Zimmer said. “He has studied real hard and he is very smart and he has done a nice job of coming in here and getting a grasp on the offense, so it is hard for me to say what I expected. I didn’t know how long it would take, but we kind of planned that it would, that the second game would be his game, so he has done a nice job.”
For his part, Bradford believes he is still a work in progress when it comes to grasping the Vikings offense – the sixth different scheme he has had to learn in seven years.
He’s feeling more comfortable with the offense as he gets a better handle on it and is incorporating more of the wrinkles in it than he did when he first arrived and got a crash course on Norv Turner’s offense.
“I feel good with our game plans each week,” Bradford said. “I think it is one of those things, regardless of whether you have been in an offense for five weeks, or five years, you are normally going to have a few wrinkles each week or plays that are new. I feel like in the past three weeks I have been able to get a grasp with what the core of our offense is, and then obviously each week there are some change-ups and there are some things that we do a little bit different, but I feel comfortable with where I am at and it seems like I learn something new every day.”
Bradford has been able to pick and choose some of the plays that go into the weekly game plan. As Zimmer views it, if a quarterback is uncomfortable with a specific play, it’s better to just take it out of the play-call list than force him to run plays that don’t play to his strength.
“We do that a lot of times with the quarterbacks,” Zimmer said. “They throw out plays that they don’t like. The communication on the offensive staff has been good. I think it has helped that Pat Shurmur was with him in St. Louis and Philly, so I think maybe some of the translation helped that way, but Sam has done pretty much what we have tried to do.”
It hasn’t been an ideal situation for Bradford, who replaced a popular quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and, within two weeks saw his franchise running back, starting left tackle and starting left guard go down to injury.
All things considered, Bradford feels good about how the team has stood up to adversity.
“I think that everyone has done a great job,” Bradford said. “I think that is one of the things that I noticed when I first got here – just how close this locker room was, how tight these guys are and I think that everyone believes in everyone in this building. It has been cool to just see the ‘next man up’ mentality that we have had. We have had a lot of guys step in and make meaningful plays, take meaningful snaps for us and everyone rallies around them, kind of the way they did with me. From the day I have been here, everyone has really embraced me and been behind me. Having that support has made my transition easier, but I think it does make it easier on everyone. While it is unfortunate when someone goes down, I think the attitude has been great around here.”
- When asked about the impact of former Giant Linval Joseph Thursday by the New York media, Zimmer said, “Linval is a run-first mentality player. He has had to play a little bit more because we have had a little bit of injuries on our defensive line, but also we have played some no-huddle teams, so he has had an opportunity to play more. I think he is starting to relish the role of trying to become more of a pass rusher. He is excited about having three sacks in three games. He is a big, strong, powerful man that if he developed a little bit different with his mentality as more of a pass rusher, I think that he would even continue to get better.”
- Former Viking Randy Moss will be in town this weekend as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage team.
- Due to injuries, when the Giants opened practice on Thursday, they had only two healthy safeties – Landon Collins and rookie Andrew Adams, who was on the practice squad until last week. Starter Darian Thompson will be out until late October at the earliest with a foot injury and Nat Behre, who was pushed into duty when Thompson got hurt, is in the concussion protocol.
- Monday will be the first home game for the Vikings on Monday night since Dec. 20, 2010. Fans will remember that as the game played at TCF Bank Stadium after the Metrodome collapse and marked the last game of Brett Favre’s NFL career.
- The Vikings have lost their last seven Monday night games.
- The Vikings have had an NFC Player of the Week in each of their first three games. Eric Kendricks was Defensive POW in Week 1, Stefon Diggs was the Offensive POW in Week 2, and Everson Griffen was the Defensive POW last week.