A day after he called for a greater commitment to the run game for the second time in three weeks, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer praised John DeFilippo, saying he thinks the offensive coordinator is “doing a good job” and adding he can do more to be involved with the offense during games.
The Vikings offense, which surpassed 400 yards in three of the team’s first six games, has averaged a modest 333.7 since then, and scored only 10 points in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., two weeks after posting just 268 total yards at Chicago.
Following the loss to the Bears, Zimmer said the Vikings needed more balance and less volume in their offense; after the Vikings gained 95 yards on just 13 rushing attempts Sunday, Zimmer said they did not run the ball frequently enough. Asked what the Vikings could do to get their offense going, he replied, “Same thing I have been saying all year.”
On Monday, however, Zimmer said he needs to do a better job of helping with the offense — though he added, “It’s hard when I’m trying to correct things on defense and trying to help with special teams” — and mentioned the possibility of delegating more in-game defensive adjustments to defensive coordinator George Edwards.
“I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. So we’ll just have to see,” he said. “You know, when things are going smooth, it’s no issue. Then I can go talk to the offense all I want. When things are helter skelter on defense, I’m spending a little bit more time with them, or with the special teams. So it’s just part of it.”
Zimmer said his interaction with DeFilippo during the week is about the same as it was with Pat Shurmur, the former Vikings offensive coordinator who became the Giants head coach in January.
“We talk all the time. We talk about the things I think are important,” Zimmer said. “And I think he tries to do those.”
In the first half on Sunday, the Vikings called seven runs and nine passes on first and second down, before a two-minute drill produced their first touchdown with six passes and a run.
But in the second half, the Vikings ran the ball only six times, with just three coming after the Patriots took a 17-10 lead.
“We might have panicked a little bit,” Zimmer said.
The coach also said he didn’t have a problem with quarterback Kirk Cousins’ decisions to check out of certain plays at the line of scrimmage, saying one of the Vikings’ long runs came from a Cousins audible.
The Vikings are ranked 16th in the NFL in yards and 18th in points this season, opting to throw on about 67.4 percent of their offensive plays in DeFilippo’s first year with the team. That percentage is similar to the Vikings’ 66 percent rate under Shurmur in 2016, as he took over for Norv Turner in the middle of the season while trying to mitigate the effects of an injury-ravaged offensive line.
As the Vikings get back to work before a pivotal game against the Seahawks on Monday night, they will try to rediscover their offensive rhythm while again looking to cut down their turnovers; they have given the ball away seven times in their past three losses, after a pair of Cousins interceptions in the game’s final 4:30 on Sunday.
A victory in Seattle — or rather, a stretch of consistency in the final quarter of the season — would go a long way toward assuaging their issues.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play this game,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got four games in front of us — all games that we can win if we play good — and if we do that, then everything will be happy again.”