The Seattle Seahawks (7-5) and Minnesota Vikings ( 6-5-1) tangle on Prime Time Monday Night (5:15 p.m. PT) looking to create some distance between the other squad in the race for a National Conference Wild Card position.
The Seahawks have won the last three contest between the two clubs and hold a 9-5 series lead. Here is what each of the head coaches had to say about the upcoming pivotal game in front of a National television audience.
Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
(On Sheldon Richardson)
“Sheldon’s done a nice job for us. He’s come in here and fit into what we’re trying to do and he’s been a good teammate. He’s played well all year.”
(On losing Tom Johnson and getting him back earlier this season)
“It was nice because we’ve known Tom for a while and we felt like he was a good addition to us. He’s been good for us for about four or five years before that. It’s nice to get him and he’s helped us.”
(On the Vikings season as a whole) “
It’s been a little bit up and down. We play good some and then not near as well in others so that part has been disappointing but I have a lot of faith in this football team.”
(On Dalvin Cook)
“Nothing really different than what we saw when he was a rookie. He’s got great feet, excellent explosion, really good vision, good in open field (and) catches the ball well.”
(On the Seahawks revamped offense)
“Well, it’s going to be difficult. I think they do an excellent job in the run game, obviously. I think (Chris) Carson is maybe one of the best backs in the league, really, watching him run. He’s physical, he’s downhill, he hurdles, he does so many good things. They do a great job in their scheme and the way they block (with) the different schemes they have off of it.
Russell (Wilson) keeps the ball and makes another added dimension, and then quite honestly they’ve got really good receivers too. (Tyler) Lockett is always really dangerous. (Doug) Baldwin, I think, runs exceptional routes (and) catches the ball great so they do a good job there. I think the two tight ends are playing well, so it’s going to be a tough test for us to be able to hang in there with them.”
(On if the Seahawks seem to be using Russell Wilson any differently)
“They still use him and move him on passes out of the pocket with the boots and things like that. I mean, to me, it looks like – he’s always been really good. He sees blitzes. I can remember a few years ago, we had a zero-blitz and he checked it and hit a touchdown.
I remember the scramble he made in the playoff game where the ball went over his head. He’s still an excellent scrambler, he still throws the ball very accurately – maybe his deep ball is better than I’ve seen it, it looks like to me. That’s just off the top of my head. I know he’s throwing it good now. I don’t see a whole big difference, maybe just relying on the backs a little bit more.”
(On the new-look Seahawks defense)
“I think they’re really good. Jarran Reed has really helped them a lot. I think that Frank Clark is a really good player. Obviously, Bobby Wagner is exceptional, but the corners that they have, they’re big and long and they can run. I think (Tre) Flowers and (Shaquill) Griffin do a great job there, so they’ve changed a little bit with some of their scheme but they’re pretty much the Seattle defense. I think sometimes, the youth adds to more energetic play.”
(On Adam Thielen)
“He’s a very competitive kid. He runs great routes. He’s very smart. Probably more importantly is that he makes great catches. I mean, this guy has unbelievable hands and I think he understands coverages, understands how to set up defenders and things like that so all those things, and then you throw his competitiveness in and it makes him difficult to defend.”
Head Coach Pete Carroll
“Well, it’s a comp (competition) Wednesday on a Thursday. We’re getting ready to go. Really an exciting matchup. This is a difficult team to play in many ways. They are such a good team across the board. Their numbers are great. The players, we know so many of these guys – so familiar to us because they’ve done so much. Coach Zimmer’s system is a problem. This is the kind of matchup that we need.
On how big of a test the Vikings run defense will be) “They’re doing great. All the guys up front, the guys that have played, they know the game. They mask what they’re doing exceedingly well. They’re fast, they’re athletic and the experience really makes them really difficult.”
(On why he enjoys the challenges of facing competitive teams)
“Every game, games are all amazing challenges. These guys pose more challenges because of their background and their history than others. They’re such a good situational team that red zone is good, third down is good, explosive plays are hard to get.
Everything about them, their run defense, everything about these guys. The passing numbers are crazy. The quarterback’s completing 71.3 percent of his passes this late in the year. It’s crazy that he’s that sharp, but that’s who they are. They’ve got a receiver that’s got 98 catches, another guys got 84 catches. It’s a really terrific challenge.”
(On how Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen progressions as players will make this matchup different than previous ones)
“They seem extremely well connected with (Kirk) Cousins. The intricacies of the things that they’re running and the timing that they’re able to show consistently on really good concept stuff. The guys come through and make the catches, they’re both good after the catch, they both get down the field.
They’re possession guys, they’re down the field guys, they have all of that ability in them. So, it just makes it really hard and the QB (quarterback) knows it. They seem to really have hooked up well with the quarterback too. The execution is as good as you can get.”
(On how Kirk Cousins is different in the Minnesota Vikings offensive system compared to being in the Washington Redskins offensive scheme) “
It just seems as he’s at his very best. As the guys keep growing – he’s the same year I think as Russ (Russell Wilson) – they just keep getting better as they grow and they learn. They have great coaching and they just take advantage of it. They continue to become more in command of the game. He looks like he’s totally got it wired.”
(On the Viking’s passing attack consistency throughout the game)
“It’s a west coast origin, the background of the scheme they run – which has always been about possession and catching and running and all of that. When you complete over 70 percent of your passes, you can move the football with your short game – which they can do, as they do. Their running attack, they’ve got good runners.
Dalvin (Cook), he’s really good. Latavius (Murray), he’s really good. They’ve got big time strike ability, they’re both averaging over four yards a carry. Last week, they averaged almost eight yards a carry in the game (against the Patriots). It’s just a really loaded up team that they can go either way – they can run it or they can throw it.”
(On if the Vikings offensive versatility will shift how the Seahawks defensively scheme for them) “Because of the efficiency of their throwing game, it totally attracts our attention. We have to be on it because they’ll throw you out of the stadium. Again, it goes back to their efficiency is so good – it makes it really hard. But, I hear the coach talking a little bit about wanting to run the football a little bit more too, so we have to start where we always start. Start with the running game first. It does take a lot of focus to even have a chance to slow them down. They’re averaging 275 or something a game throwing, which is crazy numbers.”
(On his favorite part about going into the final quarter of the regular season)
“We have a chance to finish and do something with this season. There’s a chance. Hope is alive. Hope is strong in the building and in the locker room and we’re in control of it. If we play really good football this week, then we set up next week. Each one of these weeks, they’re playoff weeks and they’re championship games. I know you hear me say that a lot, but this is what we’ve been preparing for – to play at this time and play really well and be familiar and comfortable with the challenge of that. Nothing better than finishing in sports. You finish well and you do right at the end of the games and the end of seasons, and this is it. It’s fourth quarter time.”
(On the traits of teams that he’s coached in the past that have finished the season strong)
“I think they know themselves really well. They know who they are, so they know how to recreate the consistency and bring it back to life again. There seems to always be a focus that separates those teams and they’re playing visibly, obviously on game – they’re on their stuff.
I don’t know how you can do that unless you really know yourself. That means you know what you can count on and where your strengths and your weaknesses are and you maximize those. That’s really the makeup of the teams that finish well.”
(On if he sees the similarities in coaching styles between himself and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer)
“Yeah. As a matter of fact, I do. He’s, more recently, been involved with running the defense – all the great years that he had in Cincinnati. My years of totally being in charge of the defense are a little bit farther removed. Most defensive guys, they’re going to emphasize playing tough on defense, they’re going to emphasize getting after you, they want to run the football – that’s kind of the way most of us have been brought up. I think we’re similar in that regard.”