EAGAN, Minn. – There might not be a duo who knows Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer as well as Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson do.
Adam has spent a lifetime learning from his father – and now seven years coaching with him at the NFL level. Patterson and Mike Zimmer have spent most of their careers together. They first overlapped back at Weber State in 1988 when, for reference, Adam was 4 years old.
Since Mike Zimmer took the Vikings helm in 2014, Adam has coached linebackers and Patterson has coached the defensive line.
Now, Adam and Patterson will join forces as Minnesota's co-defensive coordinators.
Sharing the role is a unique situation, to be sure, but Patterson assured that there are "no issues" with co-piloting the Vikings defense.
"I've known Adam since he was a little boy," Patterson told Twin Cities media members on Tuesday. "And obviously, Zim' and I have coached together a long time. So other than his three children and his mom, I'm probably the only other person that knows him better than he knows him.
"To me, that transition is very smooth," Patterson continued. "Adam and I have had great communication in the six years that we've been together [with the Vikings]. When Mike called us both in and asked us would we consider doing this, Adam and I got together and talked a lot of things through.
"I think it's going to be a great thing for our players, for our defense and for the Minnesota Vikings," he added. "So, I have no concerns about it whatsoever."
Adam spoke highly of the chance to work with Patterson in this role.
He emphasized how the two go "way back," recalling memories of his father and Patterson working together at Washington State from 1992-93, and similarly pointed out the respect and rapport they've had for one another over their time in Minnesota.
"We've already worked really closely together, so I don't think that will be a change now that we're both trying to put this all together in the grand scheme [of the defense]," Adam said.
The 2020 season will mark the first for Patterson and Adam to assume defensive coordinator positions.
Both called it an honor.
"It was a proud moment for me," Patterson said. "I've been doing this a long time. Anybody that does this always wants to try to find a way to advance in their career.
"It felt good that Zim's giving me this opportunity," he continued. "And it's definitely something that I wanted to do, that [I take pride in], and I'm going to do the best of my ability to make sure we do the best job we can to make the Vikings family proud."
Adam called it an exciting opportunity as a young, but experienced, coach entering his 15th NFL season.
Asked if Mike specifically expressed "you're ready" sentiments in elevating Adam to co-defensive coordinator, Adam said he didn't need to.
"I know he wouldn't have made this move if he didn't think I was ready. He's just like that," Adam said. "He's not just going to do something because I'm his son or anything like that. I think he believes this is the time and I'm ready, and I'm going to try and prove him right."
As the Vikings move toward the 2020 season with Adam and Patterson sharing coordinator responsibilities, the question has surfaced whether Mike Zimmer will retain or delegate play-calling duties.
Echoing Mike's comments from earlier Tuesday morning, Adam said that "whatever he thinks is best for the Vikings" is the direction they'll take.
"If he thinks it's best for him to continue to call the plays, we'll help him as much as we can. If it's best for me or Andre to call them, we're open to that possibility," Adam explained. "Whatever we go through in training camp and OTAs and however he feels comfortable, I think that's how we're going to approach it."
What is certain, however, is that Adam and Patterson will continue to oversee their respective position groups.
Mike Zimmer explained that he felt it was an important aspect of the transition.
"Both of those guys do a great job," Mike told media members via conference call. "I just felt like if we could combine those guys and still have them coach their same positions, because the position players that they've had have all played really well … I thought it would be the best of both worlds."
Patterson, who stood on a table to draft Danielle Hunter in 2015 and has helped develop players like four-time Pro Bowler Everson Griffen and up-and-comer Ifeadi Odenigbo, couldn't agree more.
"You know how I feel about my guys. Those are my boys," Patterson said. "I take a lot of pride in how they play and how they develop, so to be able to do both is great for me – and I think it's great for the guys in my room."
View photos of the Vikings 2020 coaching staff.
Patterson will continue to call on his background as a high school science and physical education teacher while working with players, though his mentorship will now extend to all three levels of the defense.
His coaching philosophy may differ most days from that of Mike Zimmer – "You've heard of 'good cop, bad cop,' right?" – but the contrast also is why the two work so well together. The longtime co-workers and friends share a common bond for getting things done on the football field.
"There's no gray with Mike Zimmer. Whether you want to hear it or not, he's going to tell you the truth: what you're doing good, what you're doing bad and what you need to improve," Patterson said. "I'm more of the motherly type. I'm going to put my arm around you and teach you.
"[But we] both strive every day to be great, and we both strive every day to overturn every rock that we can to put our players in a better position so they can succeed," he added. "All the years we've been together, it's always been about that."
And this season will be no different, as Mike and Adam Zimmer and Patterson collaborate to help the Vikings defense be the very best it can be in 2020.
"He knows that Adam and I understand what it's supposed to look like. I think that's the biggest thing," Patterson said. "You can't achieve it until you know what it's supposed to look like. And Adam and I know, when this defense is right, what it's supposed to look like."