When asked of his impressions of cornerback Xavier Rhodes, about halfway through his Wednesday news conference, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer pivoted to a different topic.
“I know everybody wants to evaluate everybody after four weeks, but I think if you remember last year, early in the year, Xavier had some penalties, but we cleaned them up. This isn’t time for ‘woe is me,’ ” Zimmer said. “If you remember, we were 2-2 at this time last year; we finished 13-3. We were 5-0 the year before; we finished 8-8. We were 2-2 the year before that, and we finished 11-5. All the predictors are really — this isn’t a good time to predict.”
It remains to be seen whether the Vikings’ 1-2-1 start is as poor an indicator of their final record as their starts the past three years turned out to be, but Zimmer seemed intent on sending a message as the Vikings began preparations for their NFC Championship Game rematch with the Eagles on Sunday.
The defense allowed 556 total yards last Thursday against the Rams, and equaled the most points they’ve given up in a game under Zimmer by surrendering 38 in Los Angeles. Now, as the Vikings try to get back to .500 while delivering a blow to the defending world champions, Zimmer said their problems can be fixed with a greater attention to detail.
“I obviously addressed some things with the team the last couple days,” he said. “We’ve had some points of emphasis we’ve got to continue to get better at. It’s doing things the way we’re supposed to do them, the way we’ve always done them.”
No clarity on Griffen return
The Vikings won’t have defensive end Everson Griffen for a third consecutive game in Philadelphia. The three-time Pro Bowler continues to deal with the personal issues that became public after Griffen’s erratic behavior led to two run-ins with police Sept. 22.
At this point, a timetable for Griffen’s return remains unknown; Zimmer said there was “no clarity” on the 30-year-old’s status when asked about it Wednesday.
Pederson, Thielen connect
Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Vikings receiver Adam Thielen have played the past two summers in the American Century Championship, the star-studded celebrity golf tournament held each July along the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada.
The chance to meet Thielen there, Pederson said, helped him get to know the receiver and develop even more respect for him.
“He and I have spent time in Tahoe every summer,” Pederson said. “I get a chance to visit with him, and I think the world of him. [Stefon] Diggs is the same way; Diggs has done an outstanding job for them. [The Vikings have] two explosive receivers.”
Like the Vikings, the Eagles have struggled to limit opponents’ big plays. They’ve allowed 16 plays of 20 yards or more this season, only one fewer than the Vikings. The Vikings allowed only 41 such plays last season, which was the second fewest in the NFL; the Eagles gave up 51.
“It’s been something that’s been kind of our Achilles’ heel on defense — giving up explosive plays,” Pederson said. “They’ve got two guys that can be very explosive, so our work’s cut out for us.”
Waynes remains out
Cornerback Trae Waynes, who sustained a concussion during the Vikings’ loss to the Rams, remains in the league’s concussion protocol and did not practice. Waynes, Griffen and running back Dalvin Cook, who was rehabbing his hamstring injury, were the only players not to practice.
Punt returner Marcus Sherels returned to practice in a limited capacity after missing the Vikings’ past two games because of a chest injury. Nose tackle Linval Joseph also was limited because of a shoulder injury.