La Canfora: Vikings Hires Say a Lot About Zimmer

Posted Feb 9, 2016

Last week’s lead up to Super Bowl 50 provided an opportunity for’s Scott Kegley to ask’s NFL Insider Jason La Canfora about recent hires made by Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer added two coaches as assistants — Tony Sparano (offensive line) and Pat Shurmur (tight ends) — who have previously been head coaches. He shifted longtime Vikings assistant from Kevin Stefanski from tight ends to running backs.

Zimmer spoke about the hires when he was at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, saying he looks forward to receiving insight from Sparano and Shurmur.

“When you’re a head coach, you’re never afraid to speak your mind, so the possibility of all of them sitting in there and the personalities of the guys like Tony and Pat, they’re not afraid to speak their mind and ideas,” Zimmer said. “I just think the more good coaches you can get, the better it is and the more they’ll communicate with it.”

La Canfora told Kegley the hires say “a lot” about Zimmer and the state of the Vikings after two seasons with him at the helm.

“It says, first, that it’s not about him,” La Canfora said. “Some coaches, especially, I’m going to call him a young coach in that he hasn’t been a head coach that long and it took him so long to get there, might be a little territorial, might be worried about looking over their shoulder, ‘Well, I don’t want to bring too many experienced guys in because, man, if it goes south, they might just bump me off, right, and hire one of them.’

“He’s the exact opposite, ‘Let me surround myself with as many people who have done this before as possible, who have been at the top of their craft in one capacity or another and if they’re willing to come in and join my staff in a somewhat ancillary role, all the better,’ ” La Canfora continued. “I think it speaks to the growth of the organization, I think it speaks to the nature of Mike Zimmer and the kind of team builder and consensus builder that he is, and you also have to have a certain degree of confidence to do that as well.”

Minnesota is 18-14 in its first two regular seasons, including an 11-5 mark in claiming the 2015 NFC North title. The Vikings pressed Super Bowl 50 champ Denver to the wire on the road in Week 4 and are one of four teams to beat NFC champ Carolina in the Panthers past 26 games (regular season and postseason combined).