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Offseason’s 'Quiet' Part Ends; Zimmer Welcomes Vikings to New Facility

Posted Apr 15, 2018

EAGAN, Minn. – Time flies when you’re having fun.

After the Vikings deep playoff run and staying busy with self-scouting and evaluating, free agency and pre-draft meetings, the “quiet” part of the offseason went quickly by for Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer spoke recently with Vikings.com’s Mike Wobschall and said he’s excited for players to be back in the building for the voluntary offseason training program that kicks off today. And it’s a shiny new building, at that.

Some players will be getting their first look at the Vikings new headquarters, Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. They’re likely to be impressed.

“I think they’ll like everything. Everybody that’s been in here is amazed at how big and nice it is,” Zimmer said. “I’ll probably remind them that this building will not win any games for us – we’re going to have to go and work.”

Zimmer quipped that hopefully he doesn’t need to “go back into the old gym and get down and dirty.”

And while the new facility is state-of-the-art and will offer the players a number of luxuries, a few of those amenities also will “allow” the team to practice in the Minnesota elements late into the season – and that’s something that Zimmer is looking forward to.

“One of the players was here and I said, ‘You know, we have two heated fields outside now … You know what that means, right?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we’ll be outside,’ ” Zimmer told Wobschall with a chuckle.'

So what exactly happens during the first few weeks of the offseason program? Zimmer explained that it’s helpful for players to get back into conditioning and into the weight room, but he also emphasized the benefits of being back around teammates again and fostering that camaraderie.

The bonding aspect also will include new teammates getting to know each other.

The Vikings signed a handful of free agents over the past month, including Kirk Cousins, and Zimmer was glad to see the quarterback already connecting with a few of his receivers earlier this month.

“We feel like they’ll fit into the organization, fit into the culture that we’re trying to build here, really well,” Zimmer said of the additions. “Kirk had a chance to go down there to Atlanta and throw the ball to [Stefon] Diggs and [Adam] Thielen, so they kind of organized that [meet-up].”

With most of the players now returning to Minnesota to get back to work, Zimmer said he has the opportunity to go back through cut-ups of last season.

“[We’ll] show them some of the things that we did good and why we’re doing the things that we’re doing, and then we’re going to hit them with some football game things, where we can learn to be a better football team overall,” Zimmer said.

“In the past, we’ve done why we won games, why we lost games,” Zimmer added. “This year we’re going to do a little more game-management type of things – understanding the situation of the game, understanding what we need to do in each situation – and I do think that helped us win some games last year.”

This season, Zimmer will be working with Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo, whom the Vikings hired after the conclusion of the 2017 season.

Zimmer has spent a lot of time with DeFilippo prepping for 2018, and he is impressed with the former Eagles quarterbacks coach.

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me at the [Annual League Meeting] … and talk about how good of a coach he is, what kind of a person he is and how detailed he is,” Zimmer said. “He’s been very detailed. He’s done a great job in these draft meetings, looking at guys way down on the list, and I think he’s already got the first three OTAs scripted.”

Draft meetings have been underway with the scouting and coaching staff, and Zimmer said this year’s class has talented prospects who could fit the Vikings specific positional needs. The head coach said the draft is an interesting process because it’s common to “get your heart set on a guy and he might get picked a little bit [earlier]” than the Vikings are slated.

“But our guys – [General Manager] Rick Spielman and George Paton and Rob Brzezinski – they do a great job of trading, moving up, moving back, finding players that we feel like will fit into our organization and, really, our culture and what we’re trying to build here,” Zimmer said.

So what will Zimmer’s message be to his players as they start looking ahead to hopefully build off of last season’s success?

Zimmer emphasized that while the Vikings have won 40 games under his leadership, have been division champs two of the past three years, racked up 13 regular-season wins in 2017 and advanced to the NFC title game, it’s important to remember that this year starts with a blank slate.

“We do have some really smart guys on our team, and I think they understand that part,” Zimmer said. “When they get in here, we’re going to talk to them about why we have to get better, the things we have to do to get better, that we can’t start at 13-3; we have to start at 0-0.

“Every year’s a new year. I think that’s one of the things that these players understand,” Zimmer added. “But we have a good team and a good nucleus of guys, and hopefully if we continue to do the right things, we’ll continue to do well next year and win games.”