Upon further review, Anthony Barr wasn’t as dumb as his coach thought he was Sunday.
After calling the league office to discuss another matter, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he struck up a conversation about Barr’s personal foul penalty late in Sunday’s 26-16 victory over the Lions at TCF Bank Stadium. The linebacker shoved quarterback Matthew Stafford as he was going out of bounds, sparking the penalty flag, a sideline skirmish and accusations a day later from Lions receiver Golden Tate that the Vikings were engaging in cheap shots.
Zimmer himself called what Barr did a “dumb penalty.” That was Monday. Wednesday, the coach was reversing course.
“I probably owe Anthony Barr an apology because I talked to the [league] officials [Tuesday] night,” Zimmer said. “These quarterbacks now, they’re starting to slow down as they go out of bounds. Kind of egging these things on. That’s one of the things we talked about and [the official] said, yeah, [Barr’s penalty] probably should not have been called.
“What [the league official] told me was they do not get protection if they slow down.”
Apology accepted, Barr said.
“Coach just mentioned that he was sorry,” Barr said. “I didn’t really know what he meant at the time. But now I do. [Stafford] did slow down. That’s why I continued on with the play.”
Barr said he doesn’t expect to be fined by the league.
‘We’re not a dirty team’
Meanwhile, Zimmer appeared unruffled by accusations that the Vikings were a dirty team.
“That doesn’t bother me,” Zimmer said. “I know what kind of team we are. We’re not dirty.
“We try to coach within the rules. We try to do things the right way. We want to be a football team that’s known for teaching proper technique. … I want our guys to know the rules, play by the rules and play fair.”
Starting left guard Brandon Fusco missed practice Wednesday because of a concussion.
Fusco would have to pass the league’s protocol process to be cleared for Sunday’s game.
Jeremiah Sirles, acquired in a trade from the Chargers in early September, replaced Fusco with the starters at practice.
Misses are on Walsh
Whatever is malfunctioning with kicker Blair Walsh, the woes are his, and his alone.
Asked if the snapping and holding on placekicks has had any effect on Walsh’s misses, Zimmer said, “No. I think the holds have been good. I think the snaps have been good. He just has to continue to do it in the games. He’s been good in practice.”
In games, however, Zimmer said he’s noticed that Walsh’s technique is “a little sped up.”
Setting out the cheese?
On Monday, Zimmer warned his players not to “take the cheese,” meaning they shouldn’t fall for lavish praise from the outside. On Wednesday, he seemed to be setting out some cheese for this week’s opposing quarterback, Philip Rivers.
“He’s really tough,” Zimmer said. “I really love everything about him. I’ve had some big battles with him, he’s won some and we’ve won some. In my opinion he’s one of the best quarterbacks of all-time just because of the way he wins, the way he competes and fights. I love the guy.”
As Bengals defensive coordinator, Zimmer was 3-2 against Rivers, although that includes a 27-10 playoff loss in 2013.
“In every game we’ve played against him, it’s been a real nail-biter,” Zimmer said. “You’re always holding onto your rear end because of the things that he can get done and the throws he can make.”
Muffle muddle huddle
Zimmer was asked if TCF Bank Stadium was loud enough for his liking on Sunday.
His response: “I think we want it louder this week.”
The Chargers run the kind of offense that Zimmer says can be “unnerving for defenses” because of how it varies its tempo. The Chargers use some no-huddle and some “muddle huddle,” which is a slower-paced form of the no huddle.
“We’re going to need our fans this week, especially with the no-huddle offense that they run, the muddle huddle,” Zimmer said. “I think [the fans] can really help us by being loud.”