Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are 1-1 coming out of a bye week under coach Mike Zimmer. How they'll do Sunday at Philadelphia remains to be seen, but Zimmer already likes what he sees after the players reconvened Monday for their first practice since last Tuesday.
"My first year, when I'd give them some time off, they'd come back and forget everything they had learned," said Zimmer, whose 2014 team lost 21-13 coming out of the bye at Chicago. "Today, it wasn't like that. There were some things that I saw that we had to correct quickly. But their recall right now is so much better than what it was. That was the important thing to me (today)."
The Vikings (5-0) are the NFL's only undefeated team. They lead the league in scoring defense (12.6) and are the only team to hold every opponent under 20 points this season. Offensively, they still have not turned the ball over in one game with journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill and the past four with Sam Bradford, who is riding the first four-game winning streak of his career as he prepares for his return to Philadelphia, which traded him eight days before the season opener.
"We know we got something special going right now," linebacker Anthony Barr said when asked why the players are more focused coming out of this year's bye. "So we want to make sure that we stay on point and continue to build on what we have."
Zimmer said the coaching staff did its usual bye-week self-scouting to identify areas that need attention. Offensively, the league's worst running game (70.6 yards per game) is the top priority. Defensively, it's hard to find any glaring blemishes, but the team wants to improve on its No. 23 ranking in red-zone touchdown percentage of 63.6.
The bye also allowed the players to heal. Right guard Brandon Fusco, who was knocked out of the Oct. 9 Houston game with a concussion on the first series, returned to practice. But still sidelined as of Monday were receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee). Diggs missed the Houston game. Floyd has not played since the season opener.
"We got a nice week off," defensive end Brian Robison said. "But we've got to keep doing the things we've been doing to put ourselves in this position and we can't relax. We've got to keep our foot on the gas pedal."