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Zimmer Combing for Ways to Help Vikings Offensive Output

INDIANAPOLIS —In the days following the conclusion of the 2016 season, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer talked about how he wanted to be more involved in Minnesota's offensive plan going forward.

A noted defensive mind, Zimmer expanded on how he's done that Thursday morning while making the media rounds at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

Zimmer said one of his primary goals this offseason is to get the Vikings offense out of the bottom part of the league in terms of stats and production.

"I've gone through every offensive game twice that we played last year," Zimmer told local beat writers. "In the mornings I sit in with the offense, we go through cutups, we go through playbook installations, and then in the afternoon I do the defense. 

"Basically what I'm trying to do is get a better overall feeling for how we do things offensively, but also try to give them an opinion of ways defenses look at certain things," Zimmer added. "I'm trying to be an extra resource in the room as a guy that kind of knows defenses."

In the three years that Zimmer has been at the helm in Minnesota, the Vikings have ranked no higher than 27th in total offensive yards per game, and have finished 20th, 16th and 23rd in points per game each of the past three seasons.

While Zimmer said some of those down stats might have had to do with bringing along a young quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, in 2014-15 or not having running back Adrian Peterson for most of the 2014 and 2016 seasons, he also said he simply wants to see better results on offense.

Zimmer said he's asked for advice on how to improve Minnesota's offensive production.

"I'm just trying to pick the brains of other coaches and see some of the things they've done," Zimmer said. "A lot of it is that for as much as I'm involved defensively and how I can help the guys better offensively.

"We haven't been very good statistically in three years since I've been here," Zimmer added. "That's an area where if it's not going well, then you need to jump in and try to get it better."

Zimmer mentioned potentially tinkering with Minnesota's blocking scheme to help young players get acclimated to the rigors and nuisances of the pro game. 

"College football, again for the offensive line, is so much different than the NFL," Zimmer said. "Maybe incorporating some of those things may help them, things they've done for three of four years. Some of it is paring down (the scheme) where it's more simplistic."

Zimmer said the Vikings could devote extra practice time to help rookies and young players.

"I'm really taking a hard look at how the Vikings can change some things," Zimmer said. "If we can practice for three hours, well we might practice for two hours. But I don't care anymore, we might practice for two hours and then an hour with some of these young guys to try to get these guys up to speed a little bit faster."

While the Vikings offense has struggled at times over the past three seasons, Zimmer has molded the Vikings defense into one of the league's best units.

Balancing the production and success of both is now a focal point for Zimmer, who said he's not likely to give up defensive play-calling duties anytime soon, and said he doesn't want offensive improvements to come at the sacrifice of the defense.

"What I don't want to do is take away from part of the strength of our football team and make that a weakness," Zimmer said. "That's a fine line."

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