EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings.com is using Thursday's one-year anniversary of Head Coach Mike Zimmer's hire to reflect on his first season at the helm.
General Manager Rick Spielman met with reporters the day before and spoke on how the coaching and personnel staffs have grown their **working relationship**.
Spielman praised Zimmer's leadership through challenges and the way the coaching staff worked to develop the team's young players. He said Zimmer "is a really good guy" and is "everything I was hoping and envisioned" when the Vikings went through the hiring process.
"I think the biggest thing is out of any new coach, he probably had to deal with more adversity than anyone," Spielman said. "He should be highly recognized for how he handled that adversity, because no matter what hit us, it was never an excuse."
Zimmer managed the loss of Adrian Peterson after the season opener, season-ending injuries to quarterback Matt Cassel and right guard Brandon Fusco in Week 3 and other injuries along the season. He and his staff, however, helped guide the progression of Teddy Bridgewater that helped the quarterback set franchise rookie records for wins (six), starts (12), completion percentage (64.4) and passer rating (85.2).
Zimmer also implemented changes that helped Minnesota's scoring defense make the biggest improvement in points allowed to offenses (438 in 2013 to 325 this season), teaching the scheme and techniques on which he built his career as a defensive coordinator before receiving the opportunity to take the helm with the Vikings.
Spielman said he and Zimmer have open and honest discussions when evaluating the current roster and plans for this offseason, as well as in reviewing decisions on the days that followed games.
"I thought he did a great job," Spielman said. "We sit there, and just like Monday, I ask what he was thinking, but he's even going to grow because this was his first opportunity to be a head coach and there's no question about his leadership and the respect he has from those guys in the locker room."
Spielman said Zimmer also did well in laying out expectations for the future.
"You ought to sit with him after the games. We have some very interesting chats," Spielman said. "One thing I know is he is so demanding, and we both have such high expectations. I think it was the Jets game, where we won the game but we didn't play well, and that game, I've never seen him as upset as any of the other games. That just tells you where his expectations are for our team and he's going to do everything within his power to make sure our players and team meet those expectations. It's not a win, and 'Great job.' It was a win, but, and after the but, came the rest of the story."