Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s limit on questions about t-shirts that say, “Beat the Packers!” appears to be two.
He was asked during his press conference earlier who was behind the t-shirts that players were wearing in the locker room today.
“Me,” Zimmer said before taking a few more unrelated questions.
Then it was back to those black t-shirts that had the NFC logo and the word “North” on the front and “Beat the Packers!” on the back. What, Zimmer was asked, prompted the coach to have the t-shirts made.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re making way too big a deal out of it. It’s just a t-shirt. A t-shirt. You can go down to the store and print them up. It’s not a big deal.”
But it’s a nice kickoff to Packers week. Something to do between now and when the 7-2 Vikings play host to the 6-3 Packers at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
“I think it’s more about understanding who we are, how we got here, how we have to continue to be,” Zimmer said of the week ahead. “I understand, I guess, the heightened part of this game. But it’s still about us and how we play.
“I think our players will know this is a big game. I don’t think I’ll have to pull out any magic wands or anything like that. I think they’ll understand. But, to me, it’s all about preparation. How you prepare. Make sure you focus. Like I told the team today, ‘One day, one week, one game.’ That’s all we worry about.”
Zimmer also took a swipe at anyone who still doesn’t respect how the Vikings have reached the point of being five games over .500 and in first place in the NFC North.
“We had the ‘soft’ part of the schedule, the ‘hard’ part of the schedule,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know. We just try to go out and play every week. Whoever we line up against, we just try to be better than them on that one Sunday.
“[People said] we were the worst 6-2 team, it was, a week ago. We were the least impressive 6-2 team. I can’t worry about what other people think. I just worry about how my players play and the effort they give. If we’re not impressive and we keep winning, more power to us.”
Other highlights from Zimmer …
— On quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s game on Sunday: “I thought Teddy played very well yesterday. We had 59 plays on offense. There were 10 of them that he took what could have been really bad plays and made them into manageable plays. We did want to throw the ball down the field. So we had some maximum protection things in, so you’re going to hold the ball a little longer. You also have less receivers in the route, so if they get covered, there are less places to go. And if the protection breaks down, it looks worse than it was.”
— On whether he’d like to see Bridgewater run more: “I think he’s good. I think when it’s wide open, I want him to run. I still want him to be the quarterback and do what he needs to do. The run he made on third-and-13 or something like that, where he made a 15-yard run or something like that, he juked two guys, stiff-armed one. No, I’m comfortable with how he’s doing things.”
— On molding the team into what he’s looking for: “We still have a long ways to go to get to where I really want it to be. I think we’re developing toughness and smartness. I think we’re developing a tough-minded attitude. All those things, I think we’re heading in the right direction that way. But I always want to be more dominating. There’s a lot more to what I want.”
— On why rookie defensive end Danielle Hunter sometimes plays in a two-point stance: “It really wasn’t anything earth shattering. We were playing Denver and he was DeMarcus Ware [on the scout team] that week. He looked like he got off the ball better, so I said let’s look at him some doing that.”
— On Chad Greenway playing middle linebacker for the entire game: “He played really good in this ballgame at the mike linebacker spot. I think it’s good for him. He got off of blocks this week. He was physical at the point of attack. They had a bunch of plays where they pulled the guard around on him. So I thought he did a really good job.”
— On Anthony Barr’s injured left hand and how much it bothered him in the game: “It’s bothering him some. But he’s feeling better about it. He sucked it up in this ballgame. The last two ballgames, actually. I think he’s feeling a lot better. I think he has a lot more confidence in the things that he can do. But, yeah, he was playing a little bit one-handed.”
— On facing Aaron Rodgers: “I wish he wasn’t so great. Hey, I’m just being honest.”