Bill Parcells was last an NFL head coach in 2006, but he still has countless ties to coaches around the league and organizations as a whole.
This week the Vikings take on the New York Giants, who Parcells led to a pair of Super Bowl titles.
When Head Coach Mike Zimmer was a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, he coached four seasons under the legendary Parcells.
Parcells relationship with Zimmer is one that makes him a nervous Vikings fan this year, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
But to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, Parcells is a mentor and confidant, who kept Zimmer as his defensive coordinator when he became the Dallas Cowboys' head coach in 2003, and often told Zimmer, "Mike, write this down for when you're a head coach." Parcells' sayings reverberate through the Vikings' locker room in Zimmer's voice. When the coach gave every player a game ball after Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears that got them to 9-5, and told them, "They can't ever call you a loser again, because we're winners from now on," Parcells said the same thing when the Cowboys won their eighth game in 2003.
Parcells, now 74, is five years removed from running the Miami Dolphins, and his only official connection to the NFL is as a courtesy consultant for the Cleveland Browns. He spends his summers in Saratoga, New York, and his winters in Jupiter, Florida, "racing horses and playing golf."
He also watches every Vikings game, recording the ones he doesn't see live. He texts Zimmer a comment — a word of congratulations, an observation or a question — after every game, and though Parcells downplayed the content of his advice ("Usually, that would be two incomplete sentences — that's it," he said), it's clear Zimmer regards the texts as treasured gold.
Zimmer optimistic injured players will return
Last week the Vikings were without defensive starters Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph and Anthony Barr.
Zimmer said he is optimistic about his defensive players returning this weekend, writes Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune.
"I think there's a good possibility," he said. "They're getting really close."
Smith has missed three out of the past four games with knee and hamstring injuries that are related. He was officially ruled out two days before the win over the Bears even though he practiced Wednesday and Thursday.
Barr has missed two straight games with a groin injury.
"[Joseph] was close [to returning Sunday] but sometimes there's a possibility that you go in there and you re-injure it when it's not quite totally there," he said. "But he was close."
Bridgewater's third down efficiency
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater's performance of four touchdowns threw the air and one on the ground drew attention around the NFL.
Bridgewater completed 85 percent of his passes (17-20) and threw for 235 passing yards.
The young quarterback's efficiency on third down stood out for the Vikings on Sunday, writes Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com.
Particularly impressive to head coach Mike Zimmer is that Bridgewater is connecting on third down. The Vikings offense has had trouble all season long, and has been one of the least prolific units in the league. Staying on the field and extending drives can help that, as Minnesota showed in Sunday's convincing win.
"Teddy [Bridgewater] in his last two weeks has completed 16 out of 18 on third downs, not all for conversions, but those completions add up," Zimmer said, after calling Sunday's a "team win."
Bridgewater and the Vikings faced third down 12 different times Sunday (among non-penalized plays). Bridgewater passed for a first down six times, including three touchdowns, and the Vikings ran for two more first downs. (Bridgewater was sacked once on third down and the team had three passing plays called that didn't result in a first down.)
"We moved the ball well, we converted on third downs and we scored touchdowns," Zimmer said.
Vikings C Joe Berger has a real shot to make the Pro Bowl writes Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.
Pro Bowl rosters are scheduled to be announced at 7 p.m