Mike Zimmer’s day-after assessment of his defense’s colossal letdown on Sunday pointed the finger at himself, among other places.
The Vikings surrendered season-worst totals in rushing yards (161), total yards (411) and points (34). Linebackers and safeties were beat in coverage. Their front couldn’t stop the Colts running game, which left Zimmer wondering if he has been “over-coaching.”
“A lot of times you talk about doing your job, it’s taking on the block and staying in your gap,” Zimmer said. “But at the end of the day, when the ball goes somewhere else, it’s getting off it and getting to it. Maybe I’m over-coaching them.”
Previous shortcomings have led the Vikings coach to wonder if players were thinking too much through their assignments, but Zimmer said that wasn’t the case on Sunday inside U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I don’t think they were thinking too much,” Zimmer said. “I just think when I tell them, ‘Hey you got the C gap or D gap,’ they’re holding in there a little bit too long. In the end of the day, it’s winning on your block and going off and making the tackle. We were locked out and stalemated a lot of times and we didn’t get off and make tackles.”
Colts running back Frank Gore became the third player to top 100 rushing yards against the Vikings this season, doing most of his damage in a 27-0 first half. Andrew Luck became the first quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns longer than 20 yards on the Vikings this season.
“We weren’t hitting, getting off, flying to the football like we normally do,” Zimmer said. “I think [the Colts] did a good job scheming some things we had, too. Really just an uncharacteristic performance.”
Despite the terrible outing, the Vikings defense still ranks sixth in scoring. Their playoff chances are all but diminished, however, ahead of a trip to Green Bay on Saturday. As of Monday afternoon, Zimmer was still contemplating his next step.
“Well, I’m still thinking about it,” Zimmer said. “I’m trying to figure out what’s the best way to approach this. They’re obviously disappointed. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in the way we performed. This isn’t the first time I’ve been here that we’ve had some bad defensive performances. I can think of Seattle a year ago; Green Bay a year ago, I think. It was early last year or something. We need to fix it. I need to do a better job. I need to get these guys on point.”
Regarding the Vikings’ penalties in critical spots, Zimmer: “Pretty poor. That’s kind of been the deal we’ve been dealing with all year long. I know we’re making these mistakes that really, for all four of those are can’t do it, so. But it’s been rearing it’s ugly head for a long time and I can’t get it fixed.”
On Adrian Peterson’s day (seven touches, 23 yards and a fumble), Zimmer: “Good. There were some runs he probably needed to do a little bit better. There were some times there wasn’t much there. He only had 12 plays, so.”
An early assessment of the Packers (8-6), Zimmer: “They’re playing really well right now. I think they’ve changed quite a bit offensively, a lot of different personnel groups. They’ve got some motions, they’re huddling now. They’re running the ball with Montgomery. Their run game is similar to what it’s been, but there doing quite a few new things last five weeks.”