Mike Zimmer: Vikings have chance 'to be a really good team' despite 0-1 start

Head coach Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings watches his team warm up before a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 14, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images))

It’s "Overreaction Monday" across the NFL as teams who played Sunday go through film study, correct mistakes and wipe the slate clean for Week 2.

The Minnesota Vikings are 0-1 after a 27-24 overtime loss at the Cincinnati Bengals. Fans are furious at the team’s offensive line struggles, and the officials for not overturning Dalvin Cook’s fumble in overtime. The team, more specifically Mike Zimmer, is not overreacting to Sunday’s loss.

The overall message? It’s a 17-game season, learn from the mistakes and move on. There were plenty of them for Zimmer to address with the team on Monday.

"I think we still have a chance to have a really good team. I know we didn’t show it really in all three phases, but there’s a lot of things I see that are pretty darn good. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to correct. I think we can be good, but we’ve got to go out and show it," Zimmer said.

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from Sunday’s loss:


Adam Thielen, after playing one series in the preseason, had nine carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Jefferson had five catches for 71 yards after a slow start. K.J. Osborn had seven catches for 76 yards, including a 25-yard gain on a 3rd-and-24, and a 4th down conversion that allowed the Vikings to force overtime.

Michael Pierce had two sacks in his Vikings’ debut. In his first game in two years, Danielle Hunter had six tackles and a sack. Nick Vigil, in his first start, had 10 tackles and two tackles for a loss. The Vikings sacked Joe Burrow five times.

Greg Joseph was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points, and nailed a 53-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.


Driving to kick the potential game-winning field goal, Dalvin Cook fumbled in overtime and the Bengals recovered. Video review wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn the call, though it looked like he was down by contact.

Bashaud Breeland had a rough game in the secondary, allowing Ja’Marr Chase to run past him for a 50-yard touchdown just before the end of the first half. He also got flagged for pass interference, and allowed five catches for more than 100 yards when targeted. Zimmer put the blame on himself for the long touchdown.

"The one honestly was a bad call. I tried to blitz them in the two-minute drill, and he stared at the quarterback too long. Other than that, he did some really good things," Zimmer said.


Simply put, the offensive line was a disaster. The Vikings’ offense had 10 of the team’s 12 enforced penalties in the loss. Four of them came on the first drive, with fullback C.J. Ham getting flagged twice for a false start.

The Vikings had six false start penalties, four holding calls and Oli Udoh took a penalty for unnecessary roughness. Zimmer has crowd noise pumped into practice on a regular basis, so communication wasn’t the issue. He asked players what the problem was, and they just blamed themselves.

"The guys that had them just said it was just on them. You would never guess C.J. Ham would ever jump on the first play of the game, he would be the last guy I would think about. We’ve got to do a better job focusing this week," Zimmer said.

Kirk Cousins was also sacked three times, and pressured on numerous occasions. The starting unit is currently Rashod Hill, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Oli Udoh and Brian O’Neill. They didn’t give Cousins, Cook or the offense in general a chance on Sunday.

"We’ve got to clean up the penalties. When you have 10 penalties in the first half, you just put yourself in bad situations. That’s not how we’re built," Zimmer said.

The good news? There are 16 games left, and they sit atop the NFC North by virtue of margin of loss. But with Arizona, Seattle and Detroit ahead, there’s already a sense of urgency one week into the season.