In his third season with the Vikings reins in hand, Head Coach Mike Zimmer quickly earned the trust of his players and Minnesota fans. Respect from his coaching peers, however, grew long before Zimmer received his first head coaching gig.
Around the NFL writer Marc Sessler caught up with past and present coaches from around the league to get their thoughts on Zimmer. Sessler wrote:
*And when it comes to a shared regard for one of their own, I'm not sure there's a more beloved brother than Mike Zimmer, the vastly respected, salt-of-the-earth leader of the Minnesota Vikings. *
Passed over repeatedly, Zimmer was described to me this week by his peers as a man who always knew what he wanted to do. The earth is littered with engineers, painters, tax men, hobos, mathematicians, film stars and anonymous souls filling cubicles in every city east to west.
Zimmer didn't want any of that. He wanted football.
Hall of Fame Coach – and Zimmer's former boss – Bill Parcells said the situation in Minnesota is special for Zimmer.
"[H]e wanted to be a head coach, and this is that opportunity now," Bill Parcells told Sessler. "Experience is a great teacher. So the more experience you have – and he's been in the league for a long time – I think the time he spent as an assistant coach was absolutely beneficial. Others get it at a younger age, and they get a chance at a younger age, but his time came now, and it looks like he was pretty well-prepared for it."
Parcells said that Zimmer is built for facing the type of adversity the Vikings have in losing starting players Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Matt Kalil.
"His father was a coach, so he lived that life at the dinner table his whole life," Parcells told Sessler. "So he's mentally prepared for the ups and downs that go with coaching and with the ups and downs of the people who critique how his job is done. So, he's prepared for those things."
Hue Jackson, in his first year as Head Coach of the Browns, is a friend and colleague of Zimmer's. Jackson worked under Zimmer with the Bengals in 2012, and he said he learned from Zimmer that "you don't have to be somebody that you're not."
Jackson called Zimmer a "straight shooter."
"He doesn't sugarcoat the truth, and I believe all pro players want to know the truth, and they want to know what they're doing good and what they're doing bad," Jackson told Sessler. "And I think if you have somebody who's going to be honest with you and tell you what you need to do to improve and show you how to do that – you've got to respect that. And you're going to want to play to that."
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Eagles.
ESPN's Goessling: Vikings, Eagles seem to be heading different directions
After Week 3, neither the Eagles nor the Vikings had experienced a loss after their preseason trade that sent Sam Bradford to Minnesota. Since then, however, the Eagles have lost back-to-back contests to Detroit and Washington, and the Vikings remain the league's only undefeated team heading into Sunday's game in Philadelphia.
ESPN's Ben Goessling said it appears the two teams are "headed in different directions." He wrote:
The Vikings breezed into their bye week with a commanding 31-13 win over the Houston Texans. The Eagles, on the other hand, lost to the Detroit Lions two weeks ago and got gashed for 230 rushing yards in a loss Sunday to the Washington Redskins, raising questions about whether their 3-0 start was nothing more than a mirage.
Goessling included a Philadelphia scouting report from NFL Nation Eagles reporter Tim McManus. In it, a number of Eagles players were highlighted, including rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, whom McManus wrote is coming off "his worst performance as a pro."
He completed just 50 percent of his passes for 179 yards with no touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to the Redskins. Some of that is the byproduct of shaky offensive line play. Wentz was sacked five times and hit 11 times in the game. Playing behind a leaky front, he was uncharacteristically erratic and sailed several throws. The 23-year-old has otherwise been very accurate this season and has earned high marks for his ability to decode defenses despite being brand new to the league.
McManus also covered linebacker Mychal Kendricks, the older brother of Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, as well as offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, tight end Zach Ertz, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and cornerback Leodis McKelvin.