The Redskins on Sunday take on the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall (@wobby on Twitter) gives us an insider's look at the major storylines for the opposing team heading into the matchup.
Redskins.com: The Vikings, like the Redskins, are coming off a dramatic, overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What was the feeling like in the locker room after that win, and how much confidence did it give Minnesota heading into Sunday's game?
Wobschall: "It was a very fun atmosphere in the locker room last Sunday. It's easy to see how closely-knit this team is, and I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff, particularly Coach
Zimmer, for that. Another enjoyable aspect of last week's win was that it truly was a team win. Our defense dominated for the vast majority of the game, but our offense put us in position for crucial scores twice – at the end of the first half and at the end of regulation. Special teams chipped in, too, with P Jeff Locke landing three punts inside the 20 and K Blair Walsh hitting a clutch kick as time expired to send us to overtime. All wins are fun, no question, but when every phase of the team contributes I think wins are that much better."
Redskins.com:Mike Zimmer is in his first year as head coach of the Vikings. How would you characterize his coaching style, and how has that translated over so far? Wobschall:"Coach Zimmer is the head coach and so, by definition, he has to consider and manage the big picture. But he does not let that personal responsibility seep into the locker room. He wants his players to focus on their jobs and how doing their jobs will help put their teammates in position to make plays. Zimmer wants his players to be worried about the little picture – the next snap, the next drive, the upcoming game – and not worried about the division standings, or who has the most sacks, or how many games it will take to make the playoffs. Another point of emphasis for Zimmer has been accountability. He does not shy away from making it known when someone does something good or something bad, and he is always candid with his team about how he feels they are performing. I feel players appreciate that aspect of his personality and style."
Redskins.com:Teddy Bridgewater has taken over quarterback duties for the Vikings, and has played well for a rookie, but has obviously had a few bumps in the road, too. How has Bridgewater handled the starting gig, and what is this kid's ceiling?
Wobschall: "Perhaps Bridgewater's most redeeming quality is how consistent and steady he is – he never loses control of his actions or emotions. Bad play or good play, win or lose, Bridgewater is the same and is unflappable. We are far from a point where we can have a good idea of what kind of player he is going to be, but it's hard not to have a good feeling about him given his calm demeanor, his performance in clutch spots and his natural athleticism and arm talent."
Redskins.com:Obviously, the Vikings are without Adrian Peterson for some off-the-field issues. But it seems as though they've done a quality job picking up the slack in the run game, for the most part. How have they been able to do this?
Wobschall: "It's been a work in progress, but I give a lot of credit to our offensive line. They've been a much-maligned group, but they've responded of late and have done a nice job of opening running lanes for our backs, particularly rookie Jerick McKinnon. We
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.
have great buy-in from our receivers in terms of run blocking, TE Rhett Ellison is a very good run blocker, and FB Jerome Felton is a Pro Bowl-caliber blocker, as well. We don't have the homerun-hitting potential in the running game that we used to have – at least not right now. But Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and his staff have done a nice job of reinventing themselves mid-stride."
Redskins.com:What has been the Vikings' M.O. on defense this season? Obviously with Zimmer, you have a defensive-minded head coach, but what has been their emphasis, and how has that played out?
Wobschall: "The emphasis has been 'do your job.' True team defense. When you watch the tape and see Everson Griffen collecting one of his 8.0 sacks or Anthony Barr making one of his seemingly countless splash plays, you also see four or five other guys doing something productive to create that opportunity for their teammate. This, to me, is what defines a Zimmer defense. My perception of him before he arrived here was that he was a blitz-happy, ultra-aggressive play caller. While there may be elements of that to his strategy, my estimation is that it's more about execution and technique on an individual level, with individual successes coming together to create team results."