MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has said at various points during the past 2½ years that he enjoys proving people wrong. During the Vikings' five-game win streak last year, as they ascended out of obscurity and to the top of the NFC North, Zimmer occasionally went searching for naysayers, or asked team officials to find him a statistic he could use to rile up his players.
He shouldn't have to search too hard for those things now.
The Vikings are 2-0 and one of three undefeated teams in the NFC, but they'll have a coterie of doubters nearby now that they've lost Adrian Peterson for at least a good chunk of the season because of a torn meniscus. The Vikings put offensive lineman Matt Kalil on injured reserve Wednesday with a lingering hip problem, and they're beginning just their second week with Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater tore multiple ligaments in his knee at the end of August.
It increases the degree of difficulty, yes, but in Zimmer's mind, the Vikings' task isn't impossible.
"We’re not talking about just an average, run-of-the-mill guy [in Peterson]," Zimmer said. "To me, again, it’s all about the team and how the team plays. How the quarterback throws the ball to get us in the right plays, the protections, how the defense plays, special teams. I know everybody is all concerned about we don’t have this or we don’t have that, but it’s a team. That’s why we have 53 guys here, so that we can try to win as a team. That’s all I’ve ever done since I’ve been here."
It helps the Vikings have a defense ranked fifth in the league in yards and points (and second in takeaways) through two weeks. The group might be the identity of the team, with three first-round picks, a second-rounder and two prominent free-agent additions playing significant roles. One of the few veterans who predates Zimmer, defensive end Brian Robison, sounded ready for the Vikings' defense to carry the team.
"I'd like to win some 3-0 kind of games, shut out some guys," Robison said.
However the Vikings have to do it, they're not likely to fold now. Their head coach won't let them.
"I just told them what was going on and I expect them to perform the way I always expect them to perform," Zimmer said.