Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talked with the Atlanta media on a conference call on Wednesday in advance of Sunday’s game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Zimmer, who was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator during the 2007 season under Bobby Petrino, has the Vikings off to a 9-2 start this season.
Here’s what Zimmer had to say:
On what's been working for the Vikings during this seven-game winning streak: "We've been pretty efficient offensively. We are starting to score some points. We are converting on third down. The quarterback is playing good. Just overall as a team, I think we've been playing pretty solid."
On the key to Adam Thielen's development this season: "He's a very good route runner, but more importantly he's a great competitor. He catches the ball well and has a good catch radius. ... I think the guys have a lot of confidence in him when he gets the one-on-ones in the area that he can catch the ball in."
On the Falcons offense: "It's a huge challenge. Julio (Jones) is an unbelievable player. ...Matt Ryan is obviously one of the best in the league. He throws the ball great and is very smart. They've got (Mohamed) Sanu and the offensive line is playing well. The running game is good. (They have Taylor) Gabriel and they've got some other fast receivers. Just defending their whole offense is difficult, let alone trying to defend against (just) Julio and Ryan."
On Xavier Rhodes versus Julio Jones: "Xavier has played well. He's a good kid. He works hard. Tries to do the best that he can every week."
On what Terence Newman brings to the Vikings defense: "Terence is extremely smart. He's a great person. He does a great job in the meetings with the players. There are some separate meetings where they talk about routes and combinations and things like that. How to play certain things. He's been with me for a long time, so he knows exactly how we are trying to play things typically. He’s just been a great mentor for these guys. Other than that, he's played well. He's been in the right positions. He's made plays. He's tough guy. He's a smart guy."
On facing Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman: "They both have a little different (running) styles. Part of it is knowing who's in the game when we are playing them. Freeman is explosive. A great stop-and-start guy. Runs physically with his pads. Looks like he's got great vision. Coleman is a speed guy. I've been impressed with the way he's run the ball between the tackles. They both catch the ball well out out of the backfield, so just another pain in our rear end."
On the play of Case Keenum: "He's done great. This last game he played within himself and I thought that was good. He's typically made really good decisions. He typically does not make poor throws in a lot of situations. He gets us in the right plays and I think Pat Shurmur has done a nice job with him as well. It's been a combination of things, but we're happy with how it's been going."
On running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon (Sprayberry High and Georgia Southern): "They are both good guys. They both have different styles a little bit like Atlanta does. Jerick is an unbelievable person. I love him a like a son. He catches the ball well. He does a lot of the dirty work with a smile on his face. He runs the ball well. He's explosive into the hole. He's a good kid. I'm sure he'll be excited, probably not to play the Falcons, but to go back to Atlanta."