For all the money the Vikings gave Kirk Cousins this offseason, coach Mike Zimmer still wants to play a certain kind of football.
And he wasn’t bashful about saying so last week, suggesting the offense was getting bound up in their volume of plays, and hurt by the lack of balance.
Those things began to move back in the direction he preferred, helping Cousins to a significant win over the Packers.
“I think a lot was made out of what Zim said this week, but that’s all stuff we know,” veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph said, via Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He’s not telling us anything that we didn’t already know about ourselves. Our identity was the team that was out there tonight. We ran the ball efficiently. We threw the ball to everyone. We have so many weapons that when we involve everyone on offense, you can’t stop us. The only time we stopped ourselves again tonight was when we had penalties, or got behind schedule. This offense is just so talented, and the guy handling the football is one of the best in the league at sharing the football. It’s hard to stop.”
The Vikings still threw more than they ran (38 pass attempts to 29 rush attempts), and they only gained 91 yards. But late in the game, they were able to chew up some clock, and that led Zimmer to open his press conference by praising the game called by offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. But the direction comes from above.
“He’s been really good with communication from Day 1,” Cousins said of Zimmer. “He came out to Michigan to see me this summer, just out of intentionality to make sure we’re on the same page. When we talked this week, he finishes the conversation with the question, ‘What can I do to help?’ When you have a head coach that approaches you with that kind of mind-set, it makes a big difference. I just want to play well for these guys, not just for coach Zimmer, but for our staff — they work so hard — and for our locker room.”
The smart play was still to peck away at an injury plagued Packers secondary, and most of their big plays came through the air. But by getting back to Zimmer’s wishes, they took a significant step toward the playoffs.