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Playoff Type Game for Vikings Tonight

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December 10, 2018

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Enjoy a Monday morning notes column “colored mostly purple” with Vikings items.

Maybe I know something (or if you prefer, just assume I am speculating), but the Vikings offense likely will have an aggressive plan for tonight’s game against the Seahawks in Seattle. That unit has been under scrutiny for not producing enough points, lacking a running attack and faulty play calling.

A week ago the Patriots offense used early plays to spread the field and sometimes attack the flanks of the Minnesota defense in a game New England went on to win 24-10. Might the Vikings do something similar tonight, including misdirection plays to counter an aggressive Seahawks defense?

Minnesota hasn’t scored more than 25 points in a game since October 28. Head coach Mike Zimmer has regretted not having a better running game and after the New England loss the Vikings ranked 30th among 32 NFL teams in rushing. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has been scrutinized for his work.

John DeFilippo

The Vikings, 6-5-1, have four remaining regular season games and while some people within the organization don’t want to publicly place extra importance on the outcome tonight, others are willing. “We’re treating this game like a playoff game,” said wide receiver Brandon Zylstra. “Two…teams (Vikings and Seahawks) that are really fighting for a playoff spot right now. We’re going to bring the fight to them. Just be as physical as possible. We know a lot rides on this game.”

The NFC rival Seahawks are 7-5 and one of the teams that could potentially keep the Vikings out of the playoffs. Zimmer, who is often cautious about his comments with the media, was asked if the game has a playoff feel to him.

“I think going on the road with that crowd and the type of football team that they are, I think yeah, a little bit,” he said. “These next four games will determine what we do, and where we go, and how we perform in the clutch. Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

Vikings safety Harrison Smith: “We’re right where we need to be. That’s it.”

Not only do the Seahawks annually field competitive teams, but playing at noisy CenturyLink Field is challenging. The Seahawks are 41-12 in their last 53 home games and fans will be extra charged for tonight’s game that is so important to both teams and is being played on national TV. Since 2010, the Seahawks are 24-5-1 in prime time games, outscoring opponents 775 to 427.

How much pressure is there on coaches to win in the NFL? One way to look at it is that Zimmer, who has coached the Vikings since 2014, is the only remaining head coach in the four-team NFC North Division from last season.

Zimmer on first-year offensive coordinator DeFilippo: “I think he’s doing a good job. We talk all the time. We talk about things…I think are important and I think he tries to do those.”

First-year quarterback Kirk Cousins has some impressive stats including his 3,289 passing yards—the second most in team history for the first 12 games of a season (Warren Moon is first at 3,511 yards in 1994). Cousins needs 328 yards to set the franchise record for 13 games.

Zylstra, who attended New London-Spicer High School, plans to be at Saturday’s Minnesota Football Showcase at U.S. Bank Stadium. He played in the annual all-star football game that recognizes outstanding prep seniors. “Sure, I loved my time (as an all-star), that was something I really enjoyed out of high school,” Zylstra said.

Quarterback Cole Kramer from Eden Prairie and running back-safety Jason Williamson from Owatonna, both Gopher verbal commits to become freshmen in 2019, are among those playing in the Saturday afternoon game.

Former Vikings head coach Bud Grant, who was at the Triple Crown Sports Card and Bobblehead Show last Saturday in Bloomington, was surrounded by memorabilia including from his playing days with the NBA Minneapolis Lakers. Grant said he is the only living member of the 1950 Lakers team.

Kansas State could make a savvy coaching hire by convincing North Dakota State’s Chris Klieman to replace Wildcats’ legend Bill Snyder who has retired. If Klieman were to take over at K-State, it would make sense for he and his staff to continue recruiting undervalued Minnesota prep players just as he has done in winning FCS national titles with the Bison.

Renowned emcee and public address announcer Dick Jonckowski is pleased with sales of his book that came out last summer, and reports over 940 copies have been sold. It’s All About Me, Dick Jonckowski: A Minnesota Treasure is filled with tales and jokes from the Minnesota native’s colorful life. More at Polisheagle.com.

Holiday spirit: The Minnesota Wild hosts a coat drive to benefit the Salvation Army Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center when the team plays Montreal. Coats and monetary donations will be collected at Gates 1-5 from 5:15 p.m. until midway through the first period. New and “gently-used” winter coats for children and adults are needed. Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn will deliver the coats to the Salvation Army on Dec. 17.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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