Yes, they were playing without two starting defensive backs and saw Terence Newman leave early. And yes, they were on the road against a quarterback who’s made a living out of crossing defensive wires with his ability to throw on the run. But the Vikings still need to be better in coverage, Mike Zimmer said on Sunday, and their performance against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks on Friday night left them with some things to work on.
Zimmer wasn’t terribly thrilled with the way the Vikings covered during their first preseason game in Buffalo, either, saying they needed to do a better job of pressing receivers and not giving too much cushion in situations where the Bills could convert a first down with a short throw. On Friday night, the Vikings had a different issue: They allowed too many big plays.
“We got to do better in the coverage aspect,” Zimmer said Sunday. “We had, I think, two or three twenty-yard or more plays, so that’s going to be a big point of emphasis for us.”
Wilson hit five throws of 20 yards or more for the night, though his 22-yard touchdown to Mike Davis came off a swing pass and his 37-yard connection with Doug Baldwin was buoyed by a run after the catch. Still, the former Pro Bowler was able to find space in the middle of the Vikings’ defense, hitting Nick Vannett for 32 yards and Jermaine Kearse for 20.
Zimmer said the Vikings were tinkering with some coverages on Friday night, and they had cornerback Trae Waynes and safety Andrew Sendejo back at practice on Sunday. Newman, who came out of the game for Marcus Sherels early on Friday night, was also back at practice, and the Vikings should have a much better idea of where they stand when they get to see a healthier version of their secondary on Sunday night against the 49ers.
The Vikings will expect better from that group against San Francisco, though, in what figures to be their longest night of work for the starters in the preseason before a date with Drew Brees on Sept. 11.
“We were working on some different coverages in that game,” Zimmer said. “I think we need to continue to get that, and it will be good to get back home, get back to U.S. Bank Stadium in front of our fans for a little bit after being on the road for a couple of weeks.”