EAGAN, Minn. -- The day after a Nov. 18 loss at Chicago, Mike Zimmer said the Vikings’ offense was spending too much time trying to “trick” defenses and not enough trying to run the ball.
After Sunday’s 24-10 loss at New England, Zimmer had a similar complaint. Asked if the Vikings ran the ball enough, the head coach said simply, “No.”
If that sounds as if Zimmer and first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo aren’t on the same page, well, that’s not necessarily the case, he said Monday, Dec. 3.
“I think he’s doing a good job,’’ Zimmer told reporters at TCO Performance Center. “We talk all the time, we talk about things, what I think are important. And I think he tries to do those.”
Nevertheless, Zimmer, who calls the Vikings’ defensive plays during games, said he needs to “do a better job” of paying attention to what DeFilippo’s offense is doing. That could mean, he said, giving defensive coordinator George Edwards a bigger role on game days.
“Maybe letting George do a little bit more of the adjustments on defense, maybe, but I don’t know; I haven’t decided yet,” he said. “When things are going smooth (on defense), it’s no issue. Then I can go talk to the offense all I want. When things are helter skelter on defense, I’m spending a little bit more time with them, or with the special teams.”
The Vikings (6-5-1) have been held to under 300 yards of total offense only four times this season, three coming in the past four games. They had 283 yards in a Nov. 4 victory over Detroit, a season-low 268 yards against the Bears and 296 against the Patriots.
After a 25-20 loss at Chicago, Zimmer wondered aloud if the offensive playbook were too big -- “Too much volume,” is the way he put it -- and suggested the Vikings “need to focus a little bit on not trying to trick the other team quite so much.”
The Vikings ran 13 times for 95 yards Sunday, and Dalvin Cook earned 84 of those on nine carries. But the Vikings, with Kirk Cousins attempting 44 passes, threw greater than three times more than they ran the ball. Cook had just four carries after intermission.
“When you go into a game, you don’t worry about carries, you don’t worry about how many times you get the ball,’’ Cook said Monday.
After beginning November ninth in the NFL in total offense, the Vikings have dropped to 16th, and Zimmer’s indirect criticisms of the offensive play-calling has raised eyebrows.
On Monday, Zimmer’s former boss in Dallas, Dave Campo, suggested the offense could be Zimmer’s undoing in Minnesota, tweeting that he offered Zimmer some advice when Norv Turner quit as offensive coordinator midseason in 2016.
“Well, it looks like Zimmer is not heeding my advice, and making the same mistake I did when I was Dallas’ HC!” Campo wrote. “When Norv Turner quit, I texted him and said, ‘Make sure you are doing exactly what you want done on offense or you’ll be the next one out!’ It looks like he’s on his way!”
Campo was the Cowboys’ head coach from 2000-2002. In his first season, he promoted Zimmer to being an NFL defensive coordinator for the first time. Messages left with Campo were not returned.
Zimmer said Monday the Vikings “might have panicked a little bit” after the Patriots scored a touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter to take a 17-10 lead. On their next possession, the Vikings started with Cousins overthrowing Aldrick Robinson on a long pass and went three-and-out.
The Patriots took a 24-10 lead on their next possession.
Cook said DeFilippo “has been calling great calls all year.” Still, Cook didn’t deny the Vikings need to pick it up on offense heading into next Monday’s key game at Seattle (7-5).
“We’ve just got to be more consistent,” he said. “Just go out there and have fun and play football and be consistent with it. … We’ve just got to do the little things.”