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Transcript: Zimmer Addressed the Media Tuesday

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

First, I want to thank all of you for your professionalism throughout the year – two years actually – and I appreciate you trying to do the best job you can and us working together the best we can. I also think it's been really a great two-year run at the University of Minnesota. There's a lot of people to thank for the coordinated effort that it has taken to do that. It's been good. It'll be different for me now because that's all I really know is going over there to that place, but hopefully we can get in the new stadium and get excited, but we've got a ton, a ton of work to do. I've been looking at a lot of different things already. It'll be a big, important offseason for us as far as moving forward to where we want to get to. We've got so much work to do and we've already started the process of some of it. Questions?

Q: What is the schedule like for the coaches this week?

A: Well, we turn in evaluations on players, then we have meetings on each player and kind of figure out where we're going to go as far as start talking about unrestricted free agents, the players that we have here and kind of just do an in-depth self-evaluation.

Q: Do you want to bring Chad Greenway back next season and what did you think of his effectiveness this season?

A: I love Chad. I hope things work out for him. He's a great Viking. I sat and talked to him for a while yesterday. I think his leadership is immense in the locker room, especially with a young football team. I think he took active ownership in the role that he had this year, so I hope it works out. He's always going to be one of my kind of guys.

Q: What are some of the things you are looking at for next season?

A: Just the areas that we need to improve on. We've got to get better really in all three phases, but offensively we've got to get better; we didn't do enough there. Defensively, there's quite a few things that we still have to get better at that I'm not satisfied with. We gave up some returns in the kicking game that we have to get done. It's really at the starting point of right now.

Q: Do you plan on bringing in another quarterback to compete with Teddy Bridgewater?

A: I think that we always want to look to bring quarterbacks in. Not necessarily to compete with Teddy. Teddy is our quarterback, he's going to be our quarterback and there's no doubt about that going forward. But we're always going to be looking for quarterbacks. I think it's an important position that whether it be in the draft or free agency or wherever, that we continue to have guys at that position.

Q: What does Teddy Bridgewater need to work on in the offseason?

A: Really just coming over the top a little bit more.

Q: Do you attribute that to some of the balls batted down at the line of scrimmage?

A: I don't think that had anything to do with the ones batted down, but sometimes when you're throwing the ball over the middle, it's a shorter trajectory throws, but you still have to find windows to throw it in.

Q: Do you like his desire to be willing to take on more responsibility in the offense?

A: Yeah, everything about Teddy I love. There's not one thing I don't love about this kid. He's got the right demeanor, the right heart, the right competitiveness and he's a worker. He makes quick decisions and so, we need to continue to move forward with him and keep going.

Q: Do you think this offseason there will be more of a push to surround Teddy Bridgewater with more pass catchers or offensive linemen?

A: I think there's some areas on offense that we need to get better at – a lot of areas, but I think it's more about getting good football players in here and figuring out a way. The more good football players we can get, the better it is. And last year, we didn't go in saying, "Hey, we're going to draft [Eric] Kendicks and Trae Waynes." And all of that at the beginning. Sometimes those kind of things just happen – a guy that you really like is there when you pick and that's kind of really the mentality is to get good football players in here however you can get them.

Q: How would you assess the offensive line as a whole this year?

A: Sporadic I would say. We've got to do better.

Q: Did T.J. Clemmings show enough that you want to roll with him at right tackle next season?

A: I think at times he did and at times he didn't, so he's going to have to come back and compete.

Q: Where are Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan at in their rehabs and do you have confidence that you can plug them in next season?

A: I don't know. I haven't seen them in six, seven months now, so we'll just have to see how all of that goes. I have no idea. Right now, I think we need to compete at that position. I think guys need to come in and compete whether it's [John] Sullivan or [Phil] Loadholt or [Matt] Kalil or whoever it is. They need to compete, but that's really what I want this football team to do as well.

Q: Do you see Terence Newman coming back?

A: I think Terence has value. A lot of it depends on what Terence wants to do. I did not talk to him yesterday before he left, but I'm sure that Terence and I will have conversations as we go forward.

Q: What was the reason for your offense ranking 29th in the league overall this season?

A: Well, there was a lot of areas that we didn't do very well offensively. We didn't get enough first downs, we weren't a very good passing offense, we were good in rushing offense, but we've got to get a lot better there, that's for sure.

Q: In what areas do you think you became a better coach this year?

A: I'm not sure that I have become a better coach. I'm trying to become a better coach every day. I don't know, I have my mind going forward trying to get this team where I want them to go and how we can improve and how we can get better. Trying to figure out what's the best way moving forward to go.

Q: How do you think the core group going forward will be able to handle the heightened expectations for next season?

A: Well, the one thing that I love the most about this football team is that we have a lot of great guys on this team, a lot of high character guys that know how to work. Somebody called me the other day and asked me, "How do they work? How do they compete?" And I said, "I've never had an issue with this team since I've walked in the door about competing or working or trying to get better." That's the one thing like I said before, there's no guarantees moving forward. Next year is a whole new year. Things happen, you don't know, different schedule, all kinds of things. But the one thing that I know about this football team is the work and they're high character guys. So that to me, that's a really good starting point to have these kind of guys. I think in that aspect, they're very well-equipped to handle it.

Q: Have you been contacted by anyone to speak to Norv Turner of George Edwards as a potential head coaching candidate?

A: I have not been contacted, no.

Q: Which areas exceeded your expectations and which areas failed to meet your expectations?

A: I don't know. I have such high expectations that I don't think we exceeded expectations anywhere.

Q: What didn't meet your expectations?

A: Well, everything else.

Q: Have you talked to Blair Walsh yet?

A: I talked to him in front of the team.

*Q: Can you gauge where he is at a couple days after the miss? *

A: I think our team handled it remarkably well, the things they said. And let me go back, I know people are giving me a hard time about saying he needed to make that kick, but if it would've been Kyle Rudolph in the endzone, I would've said he needed to make that catch, or if it would've been Xavier Rhodes, you need to knock that ball down. That's my expectations going back to that. I expect our guys to perform all of the time, but I thought our team handled it remarkably well. He wasn't on the field when we didn't cover the guy when [Russell] Wilson grabbed the ball and ran it and threw it down to the one-yard line. He wasn't on the field when we fumbled. There was a lot of other situations throughout the course of the ballgame. One play does not win or lose. Unfortunately for kickers, it's the finality of the situation. It happens and we had many, many opportunities to win the football game.

Q: What can Adrian Peterson do technique-wise to decrease his number of fumbles?

A: I do think, and I've talked to Adrian [Peterson] about it as well, I had a nice, long talk with him yesterday about things that I think he needs to do. I go back and I happened to be in the NFC East when Tiki Barber was a veteran guy and had a lot of fumbles and he worked extremely hard on holding the ball correctly and fixing that issue – Adrian can do that as well. Those are the kind of things that, trust me, I'm going to stay on his rear-end about it as well.

Q: Adrian Peterson talked about being more versatile in the offense, where do you think he was in terms of his impact in the passing game from the expectations you had of him?

A: I thought he'd probably have some more catches, but you know, I probably made some mistakes going forward – he's out for the year, we come back, I don't play him in the preseason games and then we're kind of figuring out things. I felt like we were figuring things out a little bit at the beginning of the year, especially offensively with that whole dynamic. That was probably a mistake that I made. I probably should have been more involved with trying to get things, and I don't know, maybe playing him. Just different things that I probably should have figured out. I think Adrian Peterson can do anything that he sets his mind to do, I do believe that. If it's being more versatile, being more involved in the passing game or it's protection or running routes, any of those things, I do believe he can do anything that he sets his mind to do.

Q: Do you think you need to get Jerick McKinnon involved next season a little earlier?

A: Next season, I can't think about next season touches yet. I'm just trying to figure out how we manipulate this a little bit better to get to where we want to get to. 

Q: Do you think Adrian Peterson lining up more in shotgun would help Teddy Bridgewater be more comfortable in the offense?

A: I don't know, you'd have to ask Teddy [Bridgewater] that. I think he does a good job when he's under center. I think Adrian can do a better job when he's in the gun, there's a combination of things.

Q: How do you feel about the young defensive group that you have?

A: I like this group. I think we have some playmakers, I think we have some competitors, I think we have guys that are starting to really kind of figure out this system and the things that we're looking for defensively. I think it's a good starting point for where we're at – we've got a long way to go, though. We're not anywhere near where I want us to be.

Q: Do you feel like Trae Waynes is ready to take on a starting role if needed next year?

A: I do, but he needs to come in and compete. I feel like he could be a starting corner next year, but it's up to him. He's got to come in and compete just like everybody else. I'm not really going to hand out jobs on January 12.

Q: What does Trae Waynes need to do better?

A: I think he's improved in a number of different ways. He's still got technique work to do, he's starting to cover guys a lot tighter than he initially was. He's been better with his grabbing, penalties, or whatever. The biggest area to me is, consistently not allowing your guy to catch the ball.

Q: Have you seen enough of Cordarrelle Patterson to make the determination that kick returning is what he's going to do in this league?

A: I don't know that for sure. Unfortunately, this is kind of a broken record, I said this a year ago, I have hope for him. There's times when the proof's got to be in the pudding. He's got to do this and if he doesn't do it, then that's what he's going to be – he's going to be a returner. At the end of the day, it's really up to him.

Q: What happened to Charles Johnson this season?

A: It came down to a numbers game a little bit. [Stefon] Diggs came in and had a big role. I wanted to dress more guys on defense.

Q: How did you feel about how Mike Wallace's year went overall?

A: I was disappointed and really - I'm disappointed more so that it wasn't the season that he wanted or we wanted. I say this from my heart, I love this kid, I love the way he works, I love the way he competes. I texted him last night basically and told him the same thing. I said, 'You know, I know this wasn't exactly how we planned it out.' But I love him as a person, a competitor, a football player and I'm disappointed that it didn't pan out the way I envisioned it and that really and honestly, he's always going to be one of my kind of guys. I like this kid.

Q: Do you think Mike Wallace will be back?

A: I don't know. Those are all things we have to determine here in the next week moving forward. I would like him back, I love the kid, I love his heart. He didn't bitch one time about not getting the ball. He just went and worked every day and tried to get guys better. He loves it here, he loves Teddy. If it can get worked out, I'd like to have him back. But I want to do what's best for Mike Wallace, too. I told most of the players that are free agents, that I want them to do what's best for them. Obviously, I want them back. It's important to me, they have shorter careers, not always than coaching, but they have shorter careers and it's important for me to make sure that they get to the right place, whatever they feel is right.

Q: What was the reason Stefon Diggs wasn't as productive as he was his first four games and can he be the explosive playmaker you want?

A: Can he? Yes. Why he didn't? There's so many different numbers of factors that go on. We played some pretty good receivers that had two catches in games that we played against them. Things happen throughout the course of a ballgame. I don't know, you run the ball as much we do, you're not throwing it 50 times a game, I mean there's a lot of different factors. But can he be? Yes.

Q: A lot of players talked about turning this loss into motivation heading into the offseason. Is that a mindset that you like to see from them?

A: Yeah, and I think that's kind of what I'm talking about with this football team – they've always kind of moved on to the next challenge that we've always had. I think, and that's why I like this team so much – is the way they go about their business. There's a lot of places where I've been where you get beat on the last day and everybody is happy and joking around and can't wait and they've got their U-Haul's packed in the back, this team was not ready to go home. We have a lot of really good competitors on this football team.

Q: Is it a relief that you won't have to field Adrian Peterson questions any longer?

A: I respect all of your questions. This is the last time you're going to see me for a long time, so I'm in a good mood. I feel like Rocky, I've got it over with. 

Q: How is the ranch coming along?

A: It's coming along really well, really good. It's under roof, got all of the windows up, looking good.

Q: Do you expect the coaching staff to remain the same?

A: I don't. 

Q: Anybody that you can say now that you think will be missing?

A: Yes. I've not renewed the offensive line coach's contract.

Q: Is Dan Campbell a possibility to replace Jeff Davidson?

A: Everybody is a possibility.

Q: Why didn't you renew Jeff Davidson's contract?

A: I didn't want to.

Q: After the game did you sleep at all or what was it like?

A: No I didn't. I went home and my mom cooked me spaghetti, had a little wine. Woke up at 4:00 a.m., like I always do and came to work. Just a creature of habit I guess, but no I didn't sleep very good. Disappointing. It was a tough day.

Q: Will Norv Turner be back?

A: I anticipate, yes.

Q: Who evaluates you on your job?

A: Well, besides you and the fans – Rick [Spielman] and the owners.

Q: Bill Parcells is a friend of yours does he evaluate you?

A: Yeah, I probably talked to him five times in the last two days, so yeah. He's always evaluating me, he's always coaching me. But he's not going to fire me, I don't think.

Q: What offseason surgeries do you know of?

A: I have to get a knee operated on. Yes I do. Let's see – offseason surgeries, let me think about it. Linval [Joseph] is going to get his toe, it's not very many. [Adam] Thielen's shoulder. Everson [Griffen] may have to get something done if he doesn't go to the Pro Bowl. I think that's probably about it that I can recall.

Q: Rhett Ellison?

A: He's already had it, yes.

Q: What happened with your knee?

A: I don't know, old age, stress.

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