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Mike Zimmer pleased with hurry-up offense. Will Vikings use it more?

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer on the side line during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 2, 2018. Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- Sometimes it seems Mike Zimmer can’t help himself.

After opening Monday, Dec. 4’s news conference by defending offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Zimmer quickly pivoted to put the onus on himself, saying he must “do a better job” monitoring the offense during games.

While Zimmer wouldn’t explain exactly what he meant by that, he did express an interest in using more hurry-up offense. Late in the second quarter of Sunday’s 24-10 at New England, he noted, the Vikings moved methodically up the field for a touchdown using a hurry-up offense.

The 97-second drive featured a handful of long gains and ended with Kirk Cousins throwing a touchdown pass to Adam Thielen to pull the Vikings to within 10-7.

“I’ve always said that I think there’s a place for that,” Zimmer said Monday. “It puts a lot of stress on the defense. That’s part of why we do it.”

And part of why the Vikings (6-5-1) might want to consider doing it more in the final month of the season.

To make the playoffs, the Vikings likely need to go 3-1 over their last four regular-season games, and with games against the Seattle Seahawks (7-5), Miami Dolphins (6-6), Detroit Lions (4-8), and Chicago Bears (8-4) waiting, it won’t be easy.

The Vikings can’t afford for their once-potent offense to continue sputtering. They have been held to less than 300 yards of total offense three times in the past four games, including losses to the Bears and Patriots.

Could the hurry-up offense help make the Vikings more explosive?

“I don’t know,” Cousins said. “It’s something we’ve got to talk about. Anytime we do as well as we’ve done in that two-minute drill, it’s got to say something about what we do well.”

Perhaps the most effective part of the hurry-up offense is that it gets a defense off schedule, something Zimmer understands firsthand.

“You know, when teams get in the huddle, and get out of the huddle, and get up to the line fast, and (the quarterback) snaps the ball or doesn’t snap the ball, and changes the tempo throughout the course of the ballgame, all they’re trying to do is take our breath away,” Zimmer said. “You know, “Oh, I can’t catch my breath. We are doing this. They are doing that. Where do we line up?’”

That stress is exacerbated when an offense has as many play-makers as the Vikings, whether it’s Cousins and his NFL-leading 350 completions, Thielen and Stefon Diggs getting open down field or a healthy Dalvin Cook gaining large chunks out of the backfield. It’s difficult to account for everyone when when play is sped up.

“It’s hard when a team has to hurry up on the ball like that and account for everybody on the field, because everybody can make a play,” Cook said. “You’ve seen it. Once we picked the tempo up, guys were making plays all over the field. It just shows what type of play-makers we’ve got.”

It remains to be seen whether the Vikings use the hurry-up offense more down the stretch, though it’s safe to assume Zimmer will have a significant say it whether or not that happens.

“That’s up to the coaching staff to decide what they want to do,” Cousins said. “We have seemed to be productive out of it. I’d even argue the two-minute drill at the end of the first half against the Packers (in Week 12), and some other games this season, we’ve done a good job in the two-minute drill going down the field to get a touchdown or a field goal.”