A confident Matt Kalil wasn’t shy about expressing how well he thought he played in Monday’s loss to San Francisco.
“I thought I played great,” the Vikings offensive tackle said. “At the same time, it’s kind of bittersweet ’cause I care more about winning. Obviously you still want to play well, but the most important thing at the end of the day is winning games. So I can’t be completely happy. It’s a good start for the season, but I want to do well as a whole on offense.”
On an otherwise poor offensive night for the Vikings, Kalil’s statement wasn’t so off base. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed only two quarterback hurries against the 49ers physical defense. His performance was in line with a strong preseason effort that has carried over for at least one week into the regular season.
The quality start for Kalil is the progress the Vikings hoped for after a disappointing 2014 season in which he gave up a league-worst 12 sacks while playing with a bad knee. Two-and-a-half of those sacks were allowed against Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who comes to town Sunday.
The Lions totaled eight sacks in their last visit to TCF Bank Stadium and picked up four more when the divisional series shifted back to Detroit.
“If you dwell on that stuff from last year there’s going to be a negative attitude,” Kalil said. “So I think our thoughts are that we’re a lot better [this year] even though we didn’t show it Monday. But we definitely are improved and I guess we can use it as motivation to not let it happen again.
“It’s a long season. I know last year when we had those pieces mismatched we got a lot better toward the end of the year, but our plan is to get better right now and get stronger towards the end of the year.”
Kalil was asked to elaborate on why he thought he was “great” on Sunday and he quickly changed his tune.
“I didn’t say I was great, I thought I played well. Obviously I want to keep getting better. Losing the game, I don’t feel too good about it.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn’t have much to say about his offensive tackle’s effort in Week 1.
“Fine,” Zimmer said when assessing Kalil’s performance. “I really want to talk about Detroit. We’re not talking any more about the [49ers] game.”