The Vikings need better starts on the road, coach Mike Zimmer said Monday while shifting the focus to Week 7 at Detroit. His team is 3-0 at home, but 0-2 away from TCF Bank Stadium. Their next two games will be on the road against divisional opponents.
“I think we’ve started fast at home pretty well,” he said fresh off a 16-10 win over Kansas City. “If we could continue to start fast I think that helps.”
That’ll require the Vikings to tune out the opposing crowd among a list of other things they need to better at.
“Handling the crowd noise, making sure we don’t turn the ball over, we’ve got to protect the quarterback better than what we’ve done on the road, so those will all be big things,” Zimmer added. “We haven’t had hardly any sacks at home, but we’ve had several on the road.”
The Vikings fell behind early and trailed at halftime in each of their road losses this season. At home, they built early leads and held on for the wins.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has only been sacked three times at home and wasn’t sacked at all in Week 3 against San Diego. On the road he’s been sacked 12 times — at San Francisco five time and at Denver a season-high seven.
Zimmer liked the way his team finished strong on Sunday, even his star running back Adrian Peterson who rushed for only 60 yards on 26 carries. However, he considered having a little fun with Peterson late in the game.
“I have confidence in our running game. I know it didn’t look like it [Sunday],” Zimmer said. “Adrian came up to me there when it was a Fourth-and-2 late in the game and he said ‘Let’s go for it.’ I was almost going to say, ‘Have you been watching the run today.’ But I said ‘No, we’re going to kick the field goal.’ ‘Cause they always want to go for it anyway.”
The comment got a good laugh from the media.
Wide receiver Charles Johnson missed a second straight game with injured ribs and his starting job could be on the line. Rookie receiver Stefon Diggs has combined for 216 reception yards in Johnson’s absence.
“You don’t lose your starting job ’cause of an injury,” Zimmer said, “but you lose your starting job because of performance. But no, I haven’t decided [if Johnson will keep his starting role] yet.
Zimmer is hopeful that defensive end Everson Griffen will be healthy enough to practice Wednesday. He was a late scratch from Sunday’s game due to an illness. The coach said he didn’t know anything about an NFL investigation into why Griffen’s health status wasn’t reported earlier to the local media and the opposing team’s staff.
“All I know is the guy was sick ’cause I saw him. And we’re hopeful he gets back here on Wednesday,” Zimmer said. “I saw him today, he seemed to be good. … Everything that happened we didn’t know about until the time [it occurred].”