This week’s Monday perspectives includes Vikings defensive-minded coach Mike Zimmer loving on his offense, advice to Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears from Drew Brees, the beastly Justin Tucker, and the Brady-Belichick reunion is off to a rousing start.
Plus we look at an achievement for Joe Burrow, chilly feelings between Matt LeFleur and Kyle Shanahan and Derek Carr having awesome perspective on his life.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the New England Patriots next Sunday evening and that means quarterback Tom Brady returns to his old stomping grounds for a reunion with Bill Belichick.
And normally these two open, transparent men would share their innermost feelings about their time together. But, you see, both are coming off a disappointing loss.
And neither is too fond of disappointing losses.
So expect bland, one-dimensional quotes from these two this week — at least until after the matter is settled late Sunday when we know what happened between the favored Bucs and Pats.
Let Belichick kick it off. His team is in some trouble with rookie quarterback Mac Jones coming off a three-interception game in a loss to New Orleans.
So what’s his appetite for sharing insightful Brady information? You judge:
Question: Why were the Patriots not the best choice for Tom Brady in free agency in 2020?
BB: “Well, I mean, I’m not going to go back and rehash all that. We’ve talked about that, and really the focus is on the game here, and look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom and everything he did here and for me and for our team, and we’re just getting ready to compete against Tampa this week, and we’re going to keep our focus on that.”
Question: Can you explain your feelings about Tom Brady’s departure from New England in free agency:
BB: We made a statement when Tom left, and that covered it.
Question: Are you surprised how well Tom Brady is playing in Tampa Bay this season:
BB: “Tom’s a great player. Nothing surprises me that he does.”
Expect more of the same the rest of the week, folks.
Vikings beat Seattle — Zimmer ecstatic about offense, Cousins not as much
Minnesota shut out the Seattle offense in the second half this game but after it was over, head coach Mike Zimmer couldn’t say enough about an offense that produced 453 yards, including 313 through the air, had 28 first downs, and converted 9 of 14 third downs (64.3 percent).
“I told the team, I thought that’s the best offensive performance that I’ve seen in the eight years that I’ve been here,” Zimmer said. “Kirk (Cousins) played outstanding. I thought (Alexander) Mattison ran the ball well. The offensive line blocked great. Tight ends, receivers blocked great in the run game, but also in the passing game. Very, very proud of the way that they performed today.”
It was indeed impressive, especially when one considers the Vikings were without playmaking running back Dalvin Cook, who is the catalyst of their offense.
Cousins, who completed 78.9 percent of his passes, was pleased but not quite as thrilled as Zimmer:
“I think it says a lot about our coaches,” he said. “I think it says a lot about balance as an offense. We’re going to throw to the tight ends, we’re going to throw to the running backs, we’re going to throw to the receivers, we’re going to throw to several different receivers.
“So I think being a multiple offense, I think, really helps. I do think today just the time of possession, I think, anytime we can stay on the field it becomes a great defense for us when their offense isn’t on the field. So I think time of possession was big, which goes back to converting third downs, running the football well.
“But if you have to nit-pick, I do think that we can be better in the red zone. I think we kicked three field goals down there, and that will come back to bite you. I was frustrated on the sideline a couple of those drives stalled in the low red. We’ve got to find a way to get touchdowns.”
Justin Tucker is a beast
The best player on the field at Ford Field Sunday afternoon was not Lamar Jackson or Mark Andrews or anyone else. It was Justin Tucker.
Tucker connected on four field goals this game and his last one, the game-winner, was historic. It was an NFL record 66-yard kick as time expired that handed the Ravens the victory.
And, yes, the kick bounded on the cross bar before falling over. Who cares? It was awesome.
“Best kicker in history,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “And you have a kicker like that, you want to give him an opportunity like that, and for him to come through like that is just historic.
“You know someone came up to me on the sideline and said to me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like that before’ and it came to me right away — because no one’s done anything like that before.”
Drew Brees has thoughts about helping Justin Fields
Whenever pundits are suggesting ways to handle business, that signals trouble for an NFL team because pundits don’t typically make suggestions when things are going well.
The Chicago Bears are in trouble.
Their offensive line stinks. And that’s already affecting the development of prized rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
By “affecting,” we mean the Cleveland Browns sacked Fields four times on Sunday — in the first half. The Browns got Fields five more times in the second half.
Fields completed all of six passes for 68 yards.
The guy had more sacks than completions. The Bears averaged a dismal 1.1 yards per play.
What to do? Enter former Saints QB Drew Brees, now an analyst on the Sunday Night Football telecast.
“They need to start building that offense to the rookie’s strength and put him in a position to succeed,” Brees said. “That’s the run game, that’s play action, that’s RPOs, that’s getting him on the perimeter and allowing him to see throws. That’s where he’s at his best. that’s where he’ll make good decisions and also be able to make plays with his legs.
And how does that help when the Bears are trailing and he simply has to be a more conventional quarterback?
“They’re going to have games like this where he’s going to have to drop back at times, but let’s help him out by chipping, nudging these guys, giving him an opportunity to process and find completions.”
This and that
— Best passive-aggressive answer to a reporter question award goes to Belichick, who was asked what he saw in the three interceptions Mac Jones threw on Sunday.
“Probably the same thing you saw,” Belichick growled.
— Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had a fine game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in completing 14 of 18 passes with three TD passes and he was rewarded with his first career road win.
— That was a very cold postgame meeting of coaches at midfield between Kyle Shanahan and Matt LeFleur. The two men are close friends but there have been reports the relationship was strained during the Aaron Rodger saga this offseason, that included Shanahan calling Green Bay about trading for the quarterback.
After Sunday night’s 30-28 Green Bay victory, the two basically shoved past each other on their way to the locker room.
“I think I was just pissed about the game and the last play and I wasn’t trying to hang out too long in the middle of the field,” Shanahan said.
— Finally, Derek Carr rode a roller coaster performance against the Dolphins and after the Raiders’ 31-28 overtime win over Miami had a great explanation for the ups and downs during a postgame interview:
“I’ve been through this before when I snapped my ankle, the fans chanting MVP, and all that kind of stuff,” Carr said. “All the self-glory, that stuff is fleeting. I’ve already been through that. God took me to a place where all I want to do is glorify Him. And wherever He’s going, that’s where I want to go. If it’s a win, awesome. If it’s not, I’m still going to glorify Him.”