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Zimmer & Belichick Share Parcells Coaching Tree, Mutual Admiration

Neither Mike Zimmer nor Bill Belichick has given the impression that press conferences are their favorite parts of the job.

Time spent talking at a podium or on a phone is time away from breaking down an opponent or conducting a round of internal fine-tooth combing.

But in sessions this week, the fellow members of the Bill Parcells coaching tree took a few moments to express the mutual respect that exists between the 62-year-old Zimmer and 66-year-old Belichick.

Talk about complimentary football.

Zimmer is 45-29-1 in 75 games with Minnesota, has led his team to two NFC North titles in four seasons and one appearance in an NFC Championship game. He worked as Cowboys defensive coordinator for Parcells in Dallas from 2003-06.

The schemes that Zimmer has developed are respected enough that others have borrowed from them, prompting another innovation from Zimmer last Sunday.

Zimmer weathered a tough first campaign in a 2014 season with a home opener against the Patriots, multiple seasons with injuries at the quarterback position and several procedures on his eye.

Add it all up, and the most successful active NFL coach told Twin Cities media members this week that Zimmer is "one of the best coaches in the league, no question about it."

"He's done a great job with that program," Belichick said. "He's been one of the great coaches in this league for a couple decades. We always watch what [the Vikings] do, always try to look at the things they're doing, give us ideas. They do things fundamentally very well. … He's got a long track record of being a great defensive coach with very sound and very challenging elements in his defense."

Belichick said the Vikings capitalize on mistakes and added there is "just not a lot of margin for error with the way the Vikings play on defense."

Sunday will be Belichick's 300th regular-season game in New England. He's 222-77 and has led his teams to AFC East titles and the playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons. In postseasons, Belichick is 27-10 with the Patriots. Belichick was Parcells' defensive coordinator with the Giants from 1985-90 and Jets from 1997-99.

Zimmer said Belichick excels in understanding an opponent's personnel throughout the roster and negating specific strengths.

"Each week seems to be a different type of game plan based on who they're going against," Zimmer said. "They're always going to try to make you beat them left-handed if they can. You know what I mean? If you're right-handed, they want you to win left-handed. So I think that's got a lot to do with it.

"He's going to try to take your best players away all the time," Zimmer added. "He's going to try to exploit your weaknesses the best he possibly can. He does a great job in everything, as well. I have a lot of respect for him and the fact that his teams are extremely disciplined. They don't beat themselves."

The Patriots have feasted on foes' mistakes, totaling 76 points off turnovers, which ranks third in the NFL.

Minnesota and New England are tied at seventh with 18 takeaways apiece, but the Vikings have scored just 46 points off turnovers.

Zimmer also pointed out the consistently high level of success the Patriots have enjoyed. New England has won at least 12 games in the previous eight seasons and advanced to three of the past four Super Bowls, claiming two of their five under Belichick.

"To be able to maintain the success that they've had year-in and year-out, different players, and injuries, and things like that I think that's a credit to coaching," Zimmer said. "It's hard, honestly, you go 13-3 a year ago and the expectations are so high, and they've been to so many Super Bowls — the expectations are so high that you have to really be good to maintain that."