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Mike Zimmer: Vikings 'have to run the ball better'

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Mike Zimmer identified the crux of the Minnesota Vikings offensive problem in 2016: No running game.

"We've got to run the football better than we did. I think that was part of the problem we had way too many negative-yardage runs," Zimmer said of his offensive in 2016, in an interview with the team's official website. "We have to run the football better this year."

Minnesota's running backs were often hit in the backfield, creating long down-and-distances, hamstringing the offense. The Vikings allowed 45 negative runs last season, according to NFL stats.

The coach was not asked on camera about Adrian Peterson, which is the biggest question mark surrounding the Vikings' backfield this offseason. All Day is not expected to return to Minnesota under his current deal, and has spent the past month discussing which other teams with which he might sign. Whether those talks are in hopes to fuel a better deal from the Vikings when the time comes remains to be seen.

Beyond Peterson and the ground game, Zimmer noted that protecting the quarterback also would be a priority in 2017. Both the run and pass causes would be greatly aided by fixing the offensive line. One of the worst units in the NFL killed the rushing attack and got quarterback Sam Bradford nearly killed several times.

Without a run threat, play action was futile and defenses could tee-off on Bradford, forcing the Vikings to become a dink-and-dunk offense.

Entering his fourth year as Vikings head coach, Zimmer said he's spending more time in the offensive meeting rooms than he has in the past to help fix that side of the ball.

"We finished 8-8, which is disappointing, and that's probably a good thing," Zimmer said. "We're not happy to be where we are.

"There's an old saying where the first step in going somewhere is deciding you're not going to stay where you're at."

The first step on offense for Zimmer is finding a run game that disappeared last season.

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