EAGAN, Minn. – There weren't very many smiles in the locker room Monday morning, but cornerback Xavier Rhodes flashed an easy grin when asked about his confidence level in Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
"He's still the guy," Rhodes said in quick response to a reporter's comment about the turnover of NFL head coaches.
"He ain't cutting no corners. He's a straight shooter," Rhodes explained. "He's going to tell you how it is [whether] you like it or not. He's trying to find ways to win."
Added Rhodes emphatically: "So yeah – he's the guy."
Rather than beginning preparations for the playoffs, the Vikings found themselves cleaning out their lockers at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center a day after a tough loss to the Bears Sunday afternoon. The end of the season came abruptly and painfully, and it's safe to say that disappointment permeated the space.
Disappointment in falling short of the postseason. Frustration in not accomplishing goals the team had set out to accomplish in the 2018 season.
But amid self-criticism and lamenting of the season that could have been, there wasn't any talk about losing belief in the head coach. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Adam Thielen, who finished the season with 113 catches for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns, called Zimmer a "phenomenal leader" of the team. And he explained that it goes beyond the Xs and Os.
"He's a guy who cares a ton about us as players and about winning," Thielen said. "We respect him, we love him as our guy and we want to fight for him.
"I don't think there's anybody in this locker room or upstairs that's questioning his ability to help us win games," Thielen continued. "We have to do things to take care of him as players, and we didn't do that well enough this year."
Latavius Murray spoke extensively and openly with Twin Cities media members about the season's ups and downs but expressed confidence in Zimmer's leadership. Murray, having completed his second season under Zimmer, said he's "right for the job" – and the season's conclusion doesn't change that.
"It's hard to win. Let's not make any mistake about it – it's hard to win," Murray said. "Last year, yeah, we're fighting for everything we want, we have an opportunity. This year, we still had an opportunity but came up short. He knows what he wants, and he's going to make the right decisions to get that done.
Added Murray: "That's why he definitely deserves to be right where he is."