EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — If there’s one thing the Minnesota Vikings have done consistently well under Mike Zimmer, it’s play good defense.
Which is why it was so weird to see it so bad in their previous three games. But that all changed on Sunday in Philadelphia, and made a huge impact. WCCO’s David McCoy tells us why it was all better again.
That was more like it, wasn’t it? More of what we’ve come to expect from the Vikings defense: Three sacks, two forced fumbles and one touchdown.
The difference? Not changes made to strategy, players said, just better execution.
“Yeah just focusing on what we already do. Just getting back to the basics of what we do in our scheme. So doing that helped us out a lot,” defensive back Mike Hughes said.
The reason for the better execution? Speeches, it turns out. Players referenced two of them. Olympic skier Jessie Diggins addressed the team during the week, then pregame Sunday, it was quarterback Kirk Cousins. Words that put the players in the right frame of mind.
“This game is as much mental as it is physical. I mean, if you ever look at any NFL schedule, it’s mostly meetings, right? And so, if you’re mind’s in the right place, your body’s going to go wherever your mind tells it,” defensive end Stephen Weatherly said.
“She (Jessie Diggins) just talked about when you’ve hit that wall, what it’s like to push through it. And she really hit home with that. And that really hit with everyone. I don’t know if you heard the pregame speech that Cousins gave us, but it talked about finishing. And that’s something that Zim has been talking about all week,” Weatherly added.
And for the first time in three weeks, they finished with a win.
“This defense has a lot of pride, a lot of heart, and I think they came out with a purpose this week to show that we can get back to playing good defense. And hopefully we’ll continue it throughout the year,” Zimmer said.