Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has been to many Combines during his coaching career, but the 2014 NFL Combine is his first as a head coach. Zimmer took the Combine podium on Friday and met with reporters for approximately 15 minutes.
Here are four interesting talking points from the Zimmer press conference…
Film StudyIt sounds like one of the first things Zimmer did as head coach of the Vikings was conduct a film study with the Vikings scouting and personnel staff. Both Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman have referenced this occasion, and on Friday Zimmer explained that he put together a tape that illustrated to the scouts what his expectations are for each position on defense.
Coaches and scouts can look at the same players and come up with different conclusions, no question. But now we know that the Vikings coaching staff and scouting staff will surely be on the same page when it comes to the expectations for each position in general.
Scheme DiversityZimmer has coached 3-4 and 4-3 defenses. Zimmer has coaches on his defensive staff that have also coached in both schemes. Zimmer has been asked frequently over the past month about the kind of scheme he will run in Minnesota. But it's clear that Zimmer is far less concerned about what scheme he will run in Minnesota than almost anyone else.
When asked about his defensive scheme on Friday, Zimmer paused and reflected back on watching his father, Bill, coach high school football in Illinois. Zimmer explained that his father, who is in the Illinois High School Hall of Fame, was able to coach successful teams that ran the wish bone offense, the spread offense, the I-formation offense and the run-and-shoot offense. Zimmer's point was that the scheme is not important, and that the coach's job is to get his specific group of players to win games, regardless of their talent level and regardless of the scheme he wants to run.
It should be music to the ears of fans to hear that sort of accountability and logic from a coach. Zimmer makes it clear that he is less interested in implementing his own scheme and more interested in putting his players in a position to win.
Back to CollegeZimmer efficiently and wisely escaped the sticky task of having to dodge or carefully answer questions about specific college prospects by answering the first such question by saying he hasn't looked at any college players yet (aside from being at the Senior Bowl). It makes sense, as Zimmer has been on the job for little over a month and his first task was to get to know his own roster so he could better formulate ways to improve it.
Understanding the BusinessThe most recognizable name on Zimmer's defense in Minnesota, for the moment at least, is defensive end Jared Allen. But Allen is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11. When asked if re-signing Allen was in the plans, Zimmer said he'd like to re-sign every player scheduled to hit free agency, including Allen.
But Zimmer also explained that he understands the business side of it, and that unfortunately it's unlikely that all players can be re-signed.