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On front-office assurances the Vikings will be able to keep their defense together after laying out $84 million guaranteed to Cousins:
I did mention that a lot of times to those guys. But sometimes I said that to the media just so you’d think we’re going in a different direction as well. That wasn’t lying. I still feel that way. This was the decision we thought was best.
On former defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd saying Zimmer defamed him with malingering comments after he suffered a 2016 knee injury, which led to botched surgery that caused career-threatening nerve damage and a grievance against the Vikings:
I suppose I say a lot of things about players during the season. But I had a good relationship with Sharrif, like I did with all the players. I haven’t seen him in two years, maybe? It was a long time before we figured it out.
On reconciling a great regular-season defense with yielding 55 points in final five postseason quarters.
Honestly, I don’t look at it the way everyone else is saying that. The Philadelphia game, we didn’t play good. New Orleans, we played good. We played against a great offensive football team. It was 17-0 late in the third quarter. We throw an interception. We get a punt blocked. We’re playing a hall of fame quarterback (Drew Brees). That game they came back and played good and made some plays on us.
The last four games of the year we didn’t rush as good as we had the entire season. (Everson Griffen) was dealing with his plantar fasciitis. We were probably playing Tom Johnson too many plays. He probably ran out of a little bit of gas. I think it was the end stretch there, the last quarter of the season, where I think we should have rotated players a little more. I didn’t do a good job with them. That’s another lesson learned.
On wanting to protect his defensive line more in 2018:
Yeah, I hope so. When the game’s on the line, you’ve got to play your best guys. I don’t want to be taking our best players out and have them not in there to win the game. We stayed fairly healthy, which was significant. Seventy-two (total quarters in the season) and we’re talking about five quarters. I have to look at the entirety of the season. The Philadelphia game, none of us played well. But the New Orleans game we played well. They just made plays.
On whether reserve cornerback Terence Newman, who turns 40 in September, will return and if it will come down to his salary demands:
It’s a little bit of that. I talked to Terence about a week ago. We’ll just see where he’s at and what he wants to do. I think he’s still thinking about it.
On starting over in 2018:
I think it really is completely fresh. Kirk is our guy. Hopefully, we can continue to do some of the things we did last year. We were good on defense most of the time. We have a good football team. We have a great organization, great owners. If we can just try to keep getting a little bit better every day, maybe we can finally get over that last game that we didn’t get done last year. I wish we could start out at 13-3 with a bye in the first round but it doesn’t happen. You have injuries. You have all type of different things that go on throughout the season. We’re going to have to manage it when it does.
On new defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson:
The 3-technique is a very important position for us. He’s a guy that gets a lot of one-on-one matchups with guards. I think it will help our two defensive ends when those tackles can’t sit in there and those guards can’t sit in there without help. I feel he’s a disruptive guy, and with Andre Patterson, who I think is the best defensive line coach in the NFL, with his expertise and the way we do things defensively, I think (Richardson) can be a big factor for us. He’s got a lot of room to grow. He’s got all the traits. Now we’ve just got to continue to take him to the next level.
On relinquishing play-calling duties to defensive coordinator George Edwards:
I would really like to get away from it at some point, maybe because of the last five quarters (of the playoffs), I should, I guess, I don’t know. But I think it’s something I do well. I don’t want to be a second-guess coach if George calls something — ‘Oh, I hate that call.’ I’ve had that happen in the past. It’s not good. We’ll just see how it goes.
On running back Dalvin Cook’s rehab from an October torn ACL and his prognosis for participating in offseason workouts:
Dalvin is ahead of schedule. I think he’ll be doing some things in OTAs but he won’t be doing everything. He’ll start getting back into football a little bit as we go.
On retaining running back Latavius Murray:
I think it’s good to have two different styles of backs. I think Latavius did a great job coming in. I love talking to him, his demeanor and everything about him. He’s a good short-yardage guy, a good goal-line guy. He had some explosive runs for us after Dalvin left. I thought it was important, after losing Jerick (McKinnon), that we kept another back.
On expectations being sky-high for Vikings in 2018:
Oh, yeah. Expectations will get coaches fired. I don’t have that fear of God in me. I like my football team, and it’s really, really hard to win the Super Bowl. I’ve won it once with a really good football team (defensive backs coach for 1995 Dallas Cowboys). Vikings fans understand because they’ve never won a Super Bowl.
I’m going to preach to them every day, ‘Let’s get better today.’ The Philly game might be a great example. All week long, human nature, everyone’s telling us how great we are, the greatest play ever (to defeat the Saints), and we don’t come off the field forever (celebrating). Now (Stefon) Diggs is a celebrity. We’re not a bunch of celebrity guys. But it’s hard to do. I think our players understand that.On using humility as motivating tactic:
On whether he will show the team the Philadelphia game tape on Day 1 of offseason workouts:
Hell, no! I don’t want to watch that either.