EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is taking a little different approach to the first few days of the offseason this time around.
In past years, Zimmer and the rest of Minnesota's coaching staff have delved into player evaluations immediately following the season's end.
But after the Vikings loss to the 49ers in Saturday's Divisional round game, Zimmer thought it best to take a brief hiatus – mentally and physically – before getting to the tough stuff.
Zimmer spoke with Twin Cities media members Monday morning and explained his thought process:
"Part of the reason why I didn't want to do player evaluations today or this week was because I want to get away from everything for a little bit of time, evaluate the players," he said. "You know, if you win, everything is great; if you lose, everything is the worst in the world.
"So, I think it's important that we take our time, get away from it for a few days, then we evaluate and we'll go from there," Zimmer added.
He emphasized the emotional toll of an NFL season for both the players and the coaches who pour so much into their craft.
"You play your rear ends off for 18 [games], and just like the players, they can have a good game or a poor game, or the coaches, we can have a good game or a poor game," Zimmer said. "I just feel like the more we kind of separate the emotional part of it and sit down and really take a good, hard look at the players and the coaches as far as what we did good, what they did good, what they didn't do good and where they're at in their careers and kind of go from there.
"Whether it's a young guy or an old guy, we have to evaluate each and every one of those players," he added. "We have to take an honest and good evaluation without being sentimental or biased, either one."
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed during his end-of-season presser:
1. Comments on personal contract situation
Zimmer, who just wrapped up his sixth season in Minnesota, is under contract through the 2020 season.
He is 57-38-1 through six regular seasons and 2-3 so far in the playoffs since taking the Vikings helm in 2014. Zimmer and Hall of Famer Bud Grant are the only two (out of nine) head coaches in franchise history to lead the Vikings to 10 or more wins in three of their first six seasons.
On Jan. 3, Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf voiced his support for Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman, saying that ownership has "every intent of Mike continuing as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings … next year and beyond."
Zimmer was asked during his media session if he hopes to be extended this offseason or if he is content going into a contract year.
"Like I said a couple weeks ago when we were talking about this, I love these players, this organization," Zimmer responded. "The owners have been outstanding to me. I believe that there will be conversations here in the near future, and whatever happens, I'm happy with it."
2. Hitting a 'buzz saw' in the Bay Area
The 49ers convincing defeat of the Vikings smarted even more coming off a Wild Card weekend in which Minnesota showed up and stunned the No. 3-seed Saints in New Orleans.
When asked what lacked at San Francisco as opposed to other opponents, Zimmer said, "We kind of ran into a buzz saw a little bit, I think."
"We didn't look as fresh in that ball game as we did the week before," he added. "Obviously, I'm not making any excuses; they're a good football team. They played really, really well."
When you say you didn't start fresh, was that the short week or something else?
Zimmer couldn't put his finger on it exactly.
"I don't know. We emptied our bucket pretty good the week before, maybe that had something to do with it," he said. "Maybe it was the short week. Maybe it was them. They got after us pretty good. We didn't run the ball very effectively. We didn't stop the run near as well as we needed to. It could have been a lot of factors."
Added Zimmer: "I've only watched the tape once, so I can't get too specific with it."
3. Trying to get over the hump
Every Monday morning, Zimmer talks with Hall of Fame head coach, mentor and friend Bill Parcells on the phone.
This week was no different.
Prior to meeting with the media, Zimmer connected with Parcells and discussed Minnesota's early exit from the playoffs – and the fact that it's not a first-time thing.
"I was on the phone with Coach Parcells for an hour this morning talking about trying to get over the hump," Zimmer said. "We've been to the Conference Championship, we've been to the Divisional game, we've been in a Wild Card game where we lost by a field goal, and just trying to figure out how do we get over this hump of getting to the next level and eventually winning this thing."
Parcells is a two-time Super Bowl champ, having won Super Bowls XXI and XXV with the Giants. Zimmer worked with Parcells in Dallas from 2003-06, during which the Cowboys made the playoffs in two of four seasons but were eliminated in the first round each time.
4. Injury updated headed into the offseason
Zimmer was asked specifically about the status of cornerback Mike Hughes, who was added to Injured Reserve after the regular season with a neck injury.
"He should be good to go. I mean, it will heal," said Zimmer, who added that Hughes should be ready to go for voluntary Organized Team Activities this spring.
He then added the following:
"No one's asked this yes, so I'll just throw it out there. I don't think we really have any surgeries this offseason, that I know of."
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who also was added to IR with a knee injury, did post on social media that he underwent surgery prior to the Divisional round game.