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Spielman: Zimmer is 'Right Leader' for Vikings Future

MANKATO, Minn. — A central tenet of Mike Zimmer's coaching philosophy is "do your job, so the guy next to you can do his."

Zimmer will be doing his for the foreseeable future thanks to a contract extension that was announced Thursday when the Vikings reported to Minnesota State University, Mankato for 2016 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.

"I feel very, very fortunate to be the coach of the Vikings," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "It's a great organization with a lot of great people. There's no reason we could have the success that we've had to this point without the help of the people in the front office and in the business. It's good to get that done and get a chance to move forward."

The Vikings celebrated the grand opening of U.S. Bank Stadium last Friday, held a "Purple Gala" event Tuesday and recently began work on a new team headquarters in Eagan.

Zimmer said he's ready to swap a neck tie for his whistle.

"I'm just trying to get out of that suit and get ready to go to work," Zimmer said.

Zimmer and the Vikings are preparing for his third season at the helm. The team has an opportunity to defend the NFC North title the Vikings claimed with an 11-5 mark a year ago.

General Manager Rick Spielman, who led the exhaustive search that resulted in Zimmer's first opportunity to be a head coach, announced the extension to members of the media.

Spielman declined to specify the length of the extension, but said, "There is no doubt that Coach Zimmer is going to be our football coach for a long time."

He recalled the initial conversation and how the relationship has continued to improve.

"We talked about philosophy, we put a plan in place and had the same vision," Spielman said. "In my 26 years in the NFL, I have not had the experience and cohesiveness with the head coach as I do with Coach Zimmer. We're all in this business here to win championships. It's why we come to training camp and what our focus is each year.

"Our ownership deserves a championship, our fans deserve a championship, and there's no doubt in our organization's mind that Coach Zimmer is the right leader for this football team heading into the future," Spielman added.

Zimmer joked that he and Spielman are like "The Odd Couple."

"He's messy, and I'm the clean one," Zimmer said. "Rick's a football guy, and we're able to talk about football and a lot of things."

"We're able to discuss things openly," Zimmer said. "Honestly, we haven't had hardly any differences where we've had disagreements. We're both kind of pointed in the way we tease people and things like that. It's been a real good relationship, and I look forward to more."

The longtime defensive coordinator is 18-14 in his first two regular seasons, tallying the second-most amount of wins behind Dennis Green's total of 20 from 1992-93.

In a short time, Zimmer has rebuilt a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league in 2013. He guided the Vikings through difficult circumstances in 2014, and continued to climb in league rankings.

The Vikings were fifth in points allowed per game (18.9) in 2015, the fourth time in five seasons in which a Zimmer defense has ranked that high.

View images of the Vikings arrival to training camp in Mankato for check-in day.

"Mike has instilled a very positive atmosphere over the past three years, and our players have thrived under his tutelage and leadership," Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf said. "His focus on helping our players develop and maximize potential, individually and collectively, is critical for our current and future success. We believe the continuity established with Mike leading our football team is a very positive step for our organization."

Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said the organization is "very excited about the direction of our football team with Mike Zimmer as our head coach."

"His leadership and the strong partnership he has with Rick Spielman has helped transform the culture of our football team," Mark Wilf said. "They have established a positive identity for this team with tough-minded, disciplined, and smart football players, and we believe Mike's continued leadership bodes very well for our future."

Minnesota also was the least penalized team in the NFL, reflecting the head coach's dedication to details and discipline.

Now, Zimmer will turn his attention to what he loves most: helping players improve and push for new goals.

"What pushes me is someone else could come and take my job or we don't play as good as we can play, or you know, proving people wrong," Zimmer said. "That's just my mentality."

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