That’s the typical NFL method for the first preseason game, but Zimmer said he won’t put much effort into planning for the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday or even the third preseason game – typically when NFL teams play their starters most extensively.
“This is still about us. I know everybody worries about the third preseason game. I’ve never, ever really game-planned for the third preseason game,” the Vikings head coach said Wednesday. “The only thing we want to try to do is get them on a routine a little bit of how we’re going to do things. It’s still so early in the progression of this football team and where we’re at on both sides of the ball that it’s still more important about how we play.”
The Vikings’ first-team defense looked solid in the preseason opener, sending the Oakland Raiders offense to the sidelines after three plays on each of the first two series. After that, the starters on defense were pulled to give the second- and third-team defenders a more extensive look. That part was typical for a first preseason game.
Offensively, starting quarterback Matt Cassel played the first series and led the Vikings on a 10-play touchdown drive before he was pulled. He gave way to Teddy Bridgewater, who worked with the first-team offense – sans Adrian Peterson, who didn’t play – and led them on a field goal drive.
“Teams that do the right things – they play good together, they use good technique, they can win football games. Sometimes I think the game-planning part is a little bit overrated, and especially in the preseason games,” Zimmer said. “Obviously when we play the regular-season games, there will be a lot more of that involved. It’s more about teaching them how we’re trying to study our opponents’ tape as opposed to putting in some defense to try to attack them.”
Zimmer’s defense is expected to feature many more different looks than the previous defense under Leslie Frazier, and some of those looks will be saved for the regular season. Still, the head coach wants to be sure his players are prepared for the regular season.
“It’s a fine line. I think everybody has to kind of do what they do for the most part. We always hold some things that we practiced and we’ll hold them for the regular-season games,” Zimmer said. “It’s still about playing good, and just because you hold something or you don’t do it very well and one guy makes a mistake at it, you tend to screw those things up.
“When I was in Dallas, I think my first year as a defensive coordinator, I’d come in after the game on Sunday and on Monday I’d watch tape and I’d say, ‘Well, that dumb guy, he should have done this and that dumb guy should have done this and that dumb guy should have done this.’ And then I said, ‘You’re the dumb guy. You’re trying to have guys do things they’re not ready to do or they’re not capable of doing or they haven’t had enough time to work on it.’ I try not to be a dumb guy anymore.”
WEDNESDAY A.M. NOTES
“It’s not affected his confidence at all. Obviously we don’t throw interceptions in the red zone and that’s one of our core goals. It happens,” Zimmer said. “Like the (defensive backs), I always tell them, ‘Sometimes you’ve got to get beat in practice to find out how tight you can play a player. If you never get beat in practice, you’re probably playing too far off of a guy, but if you’re going to get beat, let’s get beat out in practice. Let’s learn from what we do out here.’ I think that’s for every position. This is where we learn, and when we go out to play we have a better feeling for our talent and the guy we’re going against. But his confidence is not shaken. He’s fine.”
“Come to the game Saturday,” he said.
“We’ll have to see after the procedure,” Zimmer said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.