Bud Grant, Sports Illustrated Talk Vikings Super Bowl History
As part of the lead-up to Super Bowl 50, Robert Klemko with Sports Illustrated's The Monday Morning Quarterback caught up with storied Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant to talk about Minnesota's Super Bowl history and his thoughts on the current NFL.
Grant took the Vikings to all four of their Super Bowl appearances in 1970, 1974, 1975 and 1977, but they lost to Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh and Oakland, respectively. Klemko asked Grant about the mindset of a team after repeatedly making it to the big dance but not pulling out a win. Grant said the following:
The reason they call it the Super Bowl is because it is one game. If we played three out of five or more, like baseball and hockey and basketball, it's different. Kansas City beat us in that Super Bowl [IV]. Next year they came here and we beat them handily. I don't think we were that much better, but if you play a series of games, you get a much better feel. It's just about when you're playing your best and when you're healthy. There's a lot of luck going into this game.
Now 88 years old, Grant has witnessed lots of change to the NFL since his time at the helm, some of which he advocated for. The former coach spoke with Peter King in 2013 about the relevancy of the extra point. Prior to the 2015 season, the PAT was moved back 13 yards.
What other rules would Grant contend to modify? He told Klemko that he would like to see the fair catch done away with.
In Canada they don't have a fair catch. You catch the ball, and you have five yards around you where nobody can be when you catch the ball. It gives you a little start. You'd be surprised how that can help; you gain five or 10 or 15 yards. And it's a play that people like.
Grant's history with the Vikings includes the longtime rivalry between Minnesota and Green Bay. For Grant, however, the competition went beyond team wins and losses. To wrap up his interview with Klemko, Grant discussed his experiences with legendary Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi. He said the following:
Okay, well, Lombardi and I didn't get along. He's a tyrant, and he coached that way. Great coach, but he coached with fear, and he treated everybody — whether you're the president or the secretary of the club — with bombastic fear.
According to Grant, he and Lombardi had a handful of run-ins with each other, from arguments over players to an interaction after the Vikings defeated the Packers on the road in a close game.
So my first year with the Vikings, the first game I ever won as an NFL coach, was against the defending champion Packers in Milwaukee (Oct. 15, 1967). We beat them in a very close game, and I think we only threw for about 80 yards, played good defense, ran the ball, got a couple breaks and won. After the game we're walking off the field. I've always shaken hands after games, but your heart's not in it. It's a ceremony. So I put my hand out, and he wouldn't even shake hands with me. And that was the last time I ever talked to him.
Rick Spielman pleased with progress of Bridgewater, Hunter
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman joined SiriusXM radio Thursday night to discuss Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his future in Minnesota. According to 1500ESPN.com's Andrew Krammer, Spielman emphasized Bridgewater's ability to remain composed under pressure:
Teddy, he's just so calm through the ups and downs as he's growing as a young quarterback. His demeanor never changes and the one thing I know is he's always the first one in the building and the last one to leave the building. That resonates down through that locker room and all those guys see that. I think the key to that position is showing your teammates you're willing to do everything you can to give them the best chance to win.
Spielman added that he and the Vikings coaching staff believe Bridgewater "is really going to be something special down the road."
After starting 29 games over his first two seasons, Bridgewater is 17-12 and has a career 64.9 percent completion rate. In 2015, Bridgewater threw for 3,231 yards and led the Vikings to their first NFC North title since 2009 and first playoff appearance since 2012.
Spielman was also asked about the biggest surprise among Minnesota's 2015 rookie class, and he identified defensive end Danielle Hunter. Spielman said the following about Hunter's performance in his debut season:
*Our defensive line coach, Andre Patterson and George Edwards, our defensive coordinator, and [Head Coach Mike Zimmer], just to take a kid like [Hunter] who's so athletic but didn't have a lot of production at LSU and to turn him into a pretty good player. *
The Vikings drafted Hunter 88th overall, and he made an immediate impact on the field in 2015. Hunter finished second among all NFL rookies with 6.0 sacks and finished the season with 34 tackles (24 solo).
Pat Shurmur's potential contributions to Vikings coaching staff
With the Vikings making recent coaching changes, adding offensive line coach Tony Sparano and tight ends coach Pat Shurmur, the talent on Zimmer's staff just keeps growing.
Chip Scoggins of *The Star Tribune *commented on the offseason hires:
In simplest terms, head coaches should strive to hire as many quality coaches as possible, regardless of roles or titles. Zimmer checked that box with the additions of Shurmur and [Sparano].
Scoggins said that the coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball could influence offensive coordinator Norv Turner's methods moving forward.
He handpicked two former head coaches with different schematic backgrounds and 34 combined years of NFL experience. They should bring fresh ideas and input to Turner's offense.
Shurmur's influences in the West Coast under [former Eagles Head Coach Andy] Reid and the hurry-up under [former Eagles Head Coach Chip] Kelly don't mean Turner will revolutionize his own way of thinking. Changes might be minimal. No one knows yet.
Shurmur worked for Reid from 1999-2008 and for Kelly from 2013-2015.