After taking his team from 7-9 last season to 11-5 in 2015, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer earned Division Coach of the Year honors from ESPN's crew of NFC North Writers. The decision was unanimous.
ESPN staff writer Jeff Dickinson wrote the following:
*Zimmer won in a clean sweep, garnering all four first-place votes and doubling the points total of runner-up Mike McCarthy of the Packers. Bears coach John Fox, who finished 6-10 as his former teams (Carolina and Denver) play in Super Bowl 50, finished in third place, two points ahead of his former assistant and current Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. *
View some of the best images of Mike Zimmer from 2015.
*In just his second year at the helm, Zimmer coached the Vikings to an NFC North division championship for the first time since 2009 and to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Prior to taking his first head coaching position, Zimmer served as the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, Falcons and Bengals. In 2015, Minnesota's defense improved in almost every statistical category under Zimmer, including ranking No. 3 in the NFL for third-down conversions allowed (34.5 percent).
The full voting results are below, with first-place votes in parentheses:
Mike Zimmer: 12 (4)
Mike McCarthy: 6
John Fox: 4
*Jim Bob Cooter: 2 *
Lions Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter received votes over Head Coach Jim Caldwell by the ESPN Writers.
Zimmer was not the only Vikings name to top the charts for NFC North Writers. The group voted linebacker Eric Kendricks Rookie of the Year for the division, and running back Adrian Peterson received unanimous first-place nods for NFC North MVP.
'Super Bowl 50 Golden Team' Assembled, No Vikings Included
In honor of the Super Bowl's 50th anniversary, the NFL asked the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 46-member selection committee to put together a Super Bowl lineup highlighting the greatest players from the first 49 rounds of the Big Dance.
The selectors included Mark Craig of the Star Tribune, who wrote the following:
The names that didn't make the list would be enough to tell you just how difficult it was to choose the 27 men who make up the "Super Bowl 50 Golden Team" that was just announced by the league.
View photos of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Vikings Ring of Honor member, Alan Page, who celebrates his birthday on August 7.
As one of the selectors, I helped choose eleven offensive players, led by quarterback Joe Montana; 12 defenders, led by four Steelers from the 1970s; three specialists and one head coach, Chuck Noll, one of a league-high eight Steelers represented.*
The all-star team features 22 Hall of Famers, including defensive tackle Joe Green, receiver Jerry Rice, cornerback Deion Sanders and running back Emmitt Smith, among others.
*"The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team is an amazing list of incredible individuals," said Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Vice President Joe Horrigan. "Each name conjures up memories of some of the sport's greatest games showcased on its biggest platform, the Super Bowl stage." *
No Vikings made the list, although Craig said he voted for Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page, who played in four Super Bowls over an eight-year span.
Minnesota played in Super Bowl IV (1970), Super Bowl VIII (1974), Super Bowl IX (1975) and Super Bowl XI (1977) but was defeated by the Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders, respectively.
Senior Bowl Highlighting Several Wide Receiver Options
All 32 NFL teams sent representatives to Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama this week to scout potential draft targets for their rosters. Several players attracted attention during drills and workouts, including a handful of wide receivers.
ESPN's Ben Goessling highlighted Baylor senior Jay Lee, Oklahoma Senior Sterling Shepard and Ohio State senior Braxton Miller, who turned plenty of heads during the week.
The converted quarterback has been the talk of Senior Bowl week, thanks to slick footwork and fluid route-running skills that belie his one year of experience at the position. Miller, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighed in at 204 pounds, should see his draft stock rise after the Senior Bowl, and he could push it up further at next month's NFL scouting combine if he does what he talked about on Wednesday. Miller said he plans to run at the combine, and added he's shooting for a 40-yard dash time of 4.28 seconds.
Miller previously clocked a 4.36 at one point but says he has implemented a strict diet and training program and has dropped from his previous 215 pounds.