Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
As I start here, looking back on some of the things from the season, I thought there were a lot of good things that happened. Obviously we didn't get to where we wanted to finish up, but we have a good, young nucleus of players that we can work on further developing them, and add some pieces and we'll come back at this thing with a vengeance and get after it again starting in April.
Q: How do you feel like you're set up to continue what you've done offensively into next season?
A: I think well. You know, I like the scheme, I like the continuity that we have offensively with the coaches, and I feel like if we add a couple more pieces and continue to work on the execution of staying with the same play calls, the same system, the same motions and formations and things like that, it'll definitely help the offensive players.
Q: Are you looking internally to find Kevin Stefanski's replacement for offensive coordinator?
A: Well right now, it's a little early. We're going through a process of all that, and then we'll determine that as we go. I haven't made any determinations yet. Obviously we've talked about it a little bit, and we'll kind of go from there.
Q: Do you get any indication from Gary Kubiak that he would take the offensive coordinator role?
A: I'll leave the conversation between Gary (Kubiak) and myself kind of private.
Q: Could Klint Kubiak be considered for the role?
A: We'll discuss it a little bit more at another time.
Q: Is there any sort of time frame in which you'd like to make a decision on the offensive coordinator position?
A: It may be by the end of the week, but it may be a couple weeks. I want to make sure the fit is right. Those guys over there, they do an outstanding job. I love the way that they work together and communicate, and so if we do bring somebody in from the outside, I want to make sure that it's the correct fit.
Q: What was your reaction to Kevin Stefanski getting the job in Cleveland?
A: It was great. Kevin (Stefanski), he's a good young coach. He wanted to get this opportunity, so I'm happy for him.
Q: What is your thinking regarding defensive coordinator?
A: The same thing that I was just talking about with the offense. I'm going to take some time to think about it, and go from there.
Q: What were your conversations with George Edwards, and why was the decision made to move on?
A: He (George Edwards) was at the end of his contract, so it was kind of a situation where it was probably best.
Q: Kirk Cousins talked last offseason about taking his game to another level. Did he do that in your eyes?
A: I think Kirk (Cousins) played a lot better this year than he did the year before. I think obviously the scheme helped him quite a bit, and so I think yeah, I think this may have been his best year that he's played in the NFL.
Q: In terms of stability with the offensive scheme and coaching staff, is keeping consistency on offense a priority going forward?
A: Yeah, it'll be the same system. Obviously he (Kirk Cousins) is going to have a new offensive coordinator. It'll be his fifth coordinator in five years, I think he told me yesterday, or at least voice in his ear on game day. So I mean there's nothing I can do about that, but I think it's important not just for Kirk, but for the entire offense, to have the same system, the same calls and things like that so that when they come in here on day one it's not completely foreign to them.
Q: Do you want to get Kirk Cousins locked up long-term?
A: To answer the question, the best way to answer it is: 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. 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. Not just on Kirk, on everybody.
Q: Do you anticipate having to make some tough decisions in the secondary, with three free agents in that group?
A: I think we'll have to make some tough decision in a lot of areas, not just in the secondary. Again, we're going to have to sit down with Rick (Spielman) and Rob (Brzezinski) and George (Paton) and talk about where we're at with salary cap, where we're at with the age of players, who we feel like are going to be core players for us in the future, and kind of make all those decisions. But again, we've always done this player evaluation thing with the coaches right after the season, and I just felt like it's not the right time and we should get away from it so that we're not biased in whatever happened in the last ball game or the last two weeks or whatever it was.
Q: Are people just going to head out for a week or so, and then reconvene?
A: The coaches are, yeah.
Q: Is this the first year that you've done that?
Q: Is there a fine balance between making changes and keeping consistency? Is that another reason to take some time?
A: I don't know that there's a fine balance, I just think the season is so emotional. You play your rear ends off for 18, or however many games we played, and just like the players, they can have a good game or a poor game, the coaches, we can have a good game of a poor game. 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. We have to take an honest and good evaluation without being sentimental or biased, either one.
Q: Can you put your finger on what was lacking against San Francisco as opposed to other opponents?
A: 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 for. Obviously, I'm not making any excuses, they're a good football team. They played really, really well. I was on the phone with Coach (Bill) Parcells for an hour this morning talking about trying to get over the hump of 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.
Q: What are some of the things that you need to do to get over the hump?
A: We're not going to talk about it.
Q: When you say you didn't feel as fresh, was that the short week or something else?
A: I don't know. We emptied our bucket pretty good the week before, maybe that had something to do with it. 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. I've only watched the tape once, so I can't get too specific with it.
Q: You've been with some of those core players a long time. How difficult will it be to make a purely business decision with some of the guys that you've been with for a while?
A: It's definitely hard because I really respect these players. These players and the ones that have been with me for six years now, they've busted their rear ends and they've done everything I've asked them to do. That's always going to come into play, how you feel about them as a person, but I think you really to look at, "Alright, he's a great kid. He's worked his rear end off. We love him here. Can he still play? If he can still play, at what level is it?" Then you have to match that with the salary and every other thing and then match it with the salary cap, so there's so many different variables. I've been extremely fortunate here that the players that have been here 99 percent of them are outstanding people. They work really, really hard. If you guys saw the way that this team approaches each day, each week, going into meetings, going to practice and saw all those things, you'd be very impressed with the way that they handle themselves.
Q: How much does it help in that turnover process to know how well some of your young players stepped up this season?
A: At the end of the day, it ends of being a young man's game. The more that we as coaches can help develop these young guys, the quicker that we can help develop them, the better it is for them. You always like to see guys have success whether it's a young guy that you've grown and he becomes a free agent and goes to have success with some other team or it's a guy that's here that you've helped develop to become a good player here. All those thing are important to us, so yeah, I guess.
Q: Speaking of young players, what's the prognosis for Mike Hughes following that neck injury?
A: He should be good to go. I mean, it will heal.
Q: Will it heal by the start of offseason workouts or OTA's?
A: Yeah. No one's asked this yet, so I'll just throw it out there. I don't think we really have any surgeries this offseason that I know of.
Q: How do you feel like the offensive line improved this year?
A: I think they improved quite a bit. I think Rick Dennison did an outstanding job with them. I think the scheme helped them. I thought that was a good group. I think we've got some young guys that we basically redshirted this year that I think are going to have opportunities to be good football players. I'm hoping that becomes even more of a strength for us next year, and we'll be looking to continually try to improve not just that position, but all of them.
Q: How about your situation? Are you hoping to get a contract extension, or would you be fine going into next season with just one year left?
A: First of all, like I said a couple weeks ago when we were talking about this, I love these players, this organization. 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.
Q: Was there something this year that you learned about yourself as a coach, or something that you felt you can use going forward that you haven't done in the past?
A: There's several things that we did different that we hadn't in the past. I think the players appreciated, from what I've been told, I think they appreciated the way that I took care of them in a lot of situations throughout the course of the season, but every team is different. I thought we had a little bit of an older team, and so I had to take care of them a little bit more. Next year might be different. We might have to go a little bit harder. We did change up a lot of things this year. I'm sure there's other things as well, too, but I can't think of them right now.
Q: What do you like about Marcus Sayles?
A: I don't know anything about him.