A quick turnaround following Monday’s loss in Seattle and Tuesday’s firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo meant the Vikings had to quickly refocus, with their playoff prospects still in their control if they can get their struggling offense turned around.
Coach Mike Zimmer said he and interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski met with the Vikings’ offensive players, though Zimmer would not discuss what either of them said in the meeting.
“I didn’t feel like we could continue to do what we’ve been doing the last few weeks and accomplish much that we want to do,” Zimmer said of DeFilippo’s firing. “It may work, it may not work. You get feelings and you trust your gut and it’s no difference than it’s fourth-and-8 and you have to call blitz. You meet it head on and you go. That is just the way we are going to do it. Are we going to talk about Miami or are we going to keep talking about this?”
Though the Vikings announced in a Tuesday news release that Stefanski would call offensive plays, Zimmer would not confirm that Wednesday, only smirking and saying, “Maybe,” when asked if Stefanski would be in charge of the offense against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Zimmer did say he thought quarterback Kirk Cousins would be more open to making suggestions during game-planning meetings, thanks to his relationship with Stefanski. On Wednesday, Cousins praised Stefanski’s approach and his experience from 13 years in the organization.
“He’s got an even-keeled demeanor about him,” Cousins said. “He’s been with multiple systems, going back to Coach [Brad] Childress and Coach [Leslie] Frazier and Coach [Pat] Shurmur. He’s been with Coach Zimmer for a while now. I think he’ll do a good job.”
The Vikings have averaged only 324 yards and 17.5 points per game over the past six weeks, losing four times in that span to fall out of first place in the NFC North. The Vikings’ lack of execution that cost DeFilippo his job weighed on the minds of the offensive players.
“Hopefully now as an offense, we have to take it upon us,” receiver Adam Thielen said. “Coach ‘Flip’ took the blame for our offense’s lack of success as of late, and we need to turn that around as an offense and make sure we’re proving that we’re a good offense and that it doesn’t matter what play is called, we’ve got to make it work.”
Beebe out; Morgan returns
Receiver Chad Beebe was the only Viking to miss practice, sitting out of a light walk-through because of a hamstring injury.
Tight end David Morgan returned to practice for the first time since a Nov. 4 knee injury, working in a limited capacity. It remains to be seen when Morgan could return, but his presence as a blocker could help the Vikings’ 30th-ranked run game (85.4 yards per game), where tackle Rashod Hill has been working as an extra tight end in recent weeks.
Blocked FG questioned
Zimmer said he’d called the NFL about Bobby Wagner’s blocked field-goal attempt Monday night, where the Seahawks linebacker put his hands on two teammates who’d pushed down Hill and Danny Isidora, helping Wagner leap over the line to block Dan Bailey’s fourth-quarter kick.
Asked what he’d learned from the league as to why Wagner was not penalized for leveraging other players to block the field goal, Zimmer said, “I am not allowed to say.”
ESPN’s microphones picked up Thielen letting loose an expletive after a 35-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter, when he said the play had been there all day.
On Wednesday, Thielen said the comments came out of “frustration of not moving the ball.
“When you’re an athlete and a competitor, you feel like you can win,” he said. “So you want the ball in your hand, you want opportunities. So that’s probably where that came from.”