5 Questions You Wish You Could Ask Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
5 Questions For Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
The Minnesota Vikings surprised everyone in 2012 by finishing with a 10-6 record and securing a wild card spot a season after finishing with three wins. But that wasn’t enough to secure head coach Leslie Frazier a contract extension, and after a disappointing 5-10-1 record in 2012, he was let go. The Vikings then hired Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to replace him.
Hailing from the esteemed Bill Parcells coaching tree, Zimmer has led a Bengals’ defense that has been one of the top units in the NFL over his time as coordinator. He’s been heralded as a great motivator and teacher. Now he inherits a team flush with cap room, the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft and plenty of work to do.
On top of the list is finding an answer at quarterback -- a position that hasn’t been comfortably filled since the days of Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. He’ll also be tasked with converting the defense from a cover-2 scheme to the more aggressive man-to-man version he ran in Cincinnati. The Vikings' defense was a big flop last year, so returning the unit to its former glory won’t be an easy task.
While Zimmer’s background is firmly steeped in the defensive side of the ball, offensive coordinator Norv Turner will assist him on the other side. Turner is a former head coach and thought to be a quarterback guru who brings an aggressive passing attack with him. He was instrumental in the development of Hall-of-Famer Troy Aikman when the two were together with the Dallas Cowboys.
With all the change and questions surrounding the Vikings, here are five questions I wish I could ask the new Minnesota head coach.
5. What Was It Like To Coach Under Bill Parcells?
Parcells is a two-time Super Bowl winner and has been instrumental in building strong programs for several different franchises. During that time his coaching tree has grown into one of the more impressive lists in NFL history, with Bill Belichick, Sean Payton and Tom Coughlin highlighting that group.
Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for Parcells when the two coached together for the Cowboys. Since that time, Parcells has become a mentor for Zimmer and given him plenty of advice heading into Zimmer’s first head coaching job.
While Zimmer worked with Parcells near the end of the Hall-of-Famer’s career, what was it like coaching under him? How much did he learn from him, and what was the most important advice Parcells imparted upon him?
4. How Excited Are You To Work With Norv Turner?
Turner and Zimmer were almost on the same coaching staff earlier in their careers. In fact they missed each other by just one season. Turner coached the Cowboys' offense from 1991-93 with Jimmy Johnson while Zimmer joined the Cowboys' coaching staff in 1994 under Barry Switzer.
For a coach leaving a team with questions at quarterback to join a team with questions at quarterback, it must be reassuring to have a coach who has a strong track record developing quarterbacks. Was that why Zimmer reached out to Turner first? With so many viable offensive coordinators available, what made Turner the obvious choice?
3. Which Position Is The Strength Of The Vikings Defense?
The Vikings have questions at every level of their defense. The secondary was arguably the worst unit in the entire NFL and lacks true veteran leadership. The linebacker unit might be the most devoid of talent and has already released former starter Erin Henderson. The defensive line has been a strength for the Vikings, but their two most prominent players, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, are free agents and aren’t expected back.
On the other hand, the Bengals' defense is stacked at pretty much every position. While plenty of the players were high picks, Zimmer and his staff did an exceptional job of developing unheralded players as well. With such a keen eye for scouting and development, which unit does Zimmer think he’ll have the most success developing this season? Has he already spotted some diamonds in the rough?
2. What Are The Plans For The Quarterback Position?
Currently the only quarterback under contract for the Vikings is Christian Ponder. Unfortunately for the team, the former first-round pick hasn’t performed the way they would’ve hoped. It’s unlikely the team would want to lean on Ponder or a rookie to start their first game. Who in free agency are the Vikings looking to target? Would they be interested in bringing Matt Cassel back?
There aren’t any long-term answers for the position in free agency, so how are the Vikings planning on addressing the position? Both Ryan Mallet and Kirk Cousins have been popular trade candidates. Are the Vikings interested in trading for one of them? With the eighth pick they might be too low to land a top prospect in the draft. Do they have plans to trade up or is there a quarterback they like in the second-round?
1. What Does Your QB Draft Board Look Like?
There are three quarterbacks that have been talked about as the top of the class: Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. But even after breaking that down, there is no consensus top prospect. All three have been projected to go the Texans with the top pick at one point or another. There are also a lot of secondary prospects that could be available to the Vikings later in the first-round, or even in the second or third.
Zimmer knows how important the quarterback position is. Talent wise, the Bengals' lone question resides under center. It’s been enough of an issue that the team has failed to advance past the wild card round of the playoffs for three straight years. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was responsible for the Ponder pick, so he also has an appreciation for how important it is to draft correctly.
With so many differing opinions on the prospects in the draft, it would be great to know how Zimmer and his staff have ranked them. It certainly helps that he has Turner on his staff.