EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — There was no rousing, fiery speech by Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer when his team returned to Winter Park Monday after a few days off.
Zimmer didn't meet with the media Monday, but went on Dan Barreiro's Bumper-to-Bumper radio show on KFAN 100.3-FM and told him that while there is a message to take from last season, he's not going to pound it into his team's head over and over.
"I think there is, but I also don't think you want to dwell on things that happened a year ago," Zimmer said. "This is a different football team.
"Our guys are pretty smart … I think they understand what we have to do moving forward," Zimmer added.
Multiple Vikings players echoed Zimmer's words, saying they weren't concerned with trying to erase the sour taste of 2016 a year later.
Minnesota's post-bye struggles in 2016 are well-documented, as the team saw a 5-0 start turn into a .500 season that saw the Vikings miss out on the playoffs a year after winning the NFC North.
"Last year is last year, and we don't even think about that. It's a whole new year," said Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes. "We've just got to continue to play ball and with a chip over our shoulders and see where it takes us from there."
Added Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon: "Last year is last year. This is a whole different team. Each and every guy is different from previous years. It's going to be about us refocusing, and focusing on the task at hand, which is Washington."
The Vikings currently sit at 6-2 and are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Minnesota resumes the second half of its season on Sunday in the nation's capital with a noon (CT) matchup with Washington.
The Vikings were off this past weekend, giving the team a chance to rest up both physically and mentally after a stretch of four straight victories.
A pair of Vikings players said they already had the itch to play again after only being away from the team facility for a few days.
"I'm excited. I'm excited for this week, get back to playing football," said Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. "Sitting around yesterday was, it was nice to be able to just watch football, but it also made you hungry and made you want to play football."
Added Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr: "Getting away for a week, I think it definitely makes you want to refocus and get back in the swing of things [once you get back]. You kind of miss playing. I don't like watching other teams play."
While many will look back at Minnesota's struggles in 2016 as a talking point going forward, a peek into the past shows the Vikings had plenty of success just two years ago coming off a bye.
The Vikings were 2-2 entering the bye week in 2015 before rattling off five straight wins. Minnesota eventually finished 11-5 and won the aforementioned division title.
Thielen said it's important to distinguish that each season presents opportunities to write a new chapter of success.
Hence the reason why Zimmer didn't give an impassioned lecture Monday morning at Winter Park.
"I think people look too far into that stuff," Thielen said. "I think we're a totally different team this year than we have been in the past, and I don't think it had anything to with, last year, I don't think it had anything to do with going into the bye week.
"It was just the fact that we didn't play well enough coming out of those games, and we weren't doing the things that we needed to do to win," Thielen added. "So it had nothing to do with going into a bye week and being 5-0 and then whatever after that. For this year, we're just going to keep playing football and take it one game at a time."