INDIANAPOLIS — In the four seasons that Mike Zimmer has been in Minnesota, he has established a culture of toughness and accountability that has helped the Vikings rack up 40 wins.
And as the Vikings Head Coach helps navigate the organization through a unique quarterback situation, Zimmer isn't about to change his philosophy.
Zimmer spoke to Twin Cities reporters and national media members on Thursday morning at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine and emphasized his focus on keeping the same mindset as the Vikings decide on their future quarterback.
"I don't want to talk about windows and things like that because I'm hoping it's more than a window – I'm hoping it's wide-open spaces," Zimmer said. "But I do think we have a good nucleus as a team.
"I think it's really, really important that we understand – and I'm not just saying this – we've won 40 games in the last four years," Zimmer added. "We've done that by being pretty good on defense. This year obviously the offense was much better, but part of the reason we've been winning games and staying in games is because we've been playing good on defense, and we've been a smart team and all those things.
"I want to be really careful about taking away from our strength and saying, 'OK we're not going to be able to do this, and we're not going to be able to do that anymore because of financial reasons or something else.' "
Zimmer is 39-25 in the regular season in Minnesota and also has a playoff victory to his name to reach the 40-win mark in four seasons. The Vikings have won a pair of NFC North titles and have won double-digit games twice in Zimmer's four seasons.
Zimmer said, no matter what direction the Vikings go at quarterback, he wants to keep building a strong team and not focus on one particular position.
"I like these guys. I appreciate everything that they've done," Zimmer said of his roster. "We have to get better as a team. I think we have a good nucleus as a team. The offensive line improved, we saw receivers make great catches last year, some really tough contested catches. [Dalvin Cook], I think he's going to be pretty darn good. Defensively, I think we can continue to get better.
"The one thing I told [General Manager] Rick [Spielman] was, I said look, we've had a good team, that's why we've won 40 games. It's not because we've had this one guy or that one guy," Zimmer added. "Let's make sure we keep understanding the team is why we have done good things."
While there is still a decision to be made at quarterback, both Zimmer and Spielman noted at the combine that the organization is avoiding the philosophy of being all-in based on who is leading the offensive huddle for Minnesota.
"I don't think you're ever one piece away," Spielman said Wednesday. "I think as soon as you think you're one piece away, then you go to the all-in theory and put everything in that one year ,and you're blown out the rest of the years.
"I think with the way that we've built this roster, we're always going to build it through the draft. We will supplement it in free agency when we think there's an opportunity to get a significant player, but you never say you're one player away. We've got a lot of holes that we have to fill this year," Spielman added. "We've got some guys that are going to be out of contract that we can't sign them back and have to replace, and you're constantly turning the roster over to improve it."
The three Vikings quarterbacks who played in 2017 — Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater — all have their contracts set to expire when the new league year begins on March 14.
"The most difficult part is not picking the right one," Zimmer said. "If you pick the right one, if you go with the right one and he does like you anticipate, then everything is good, if you pick the wrong one, it's hard to win in this league without a quarterback.
"If you pick the wrong one, this whole thing can go downhill," Zimmer said.
Hence why Zimmer wants the focus to be on improving the entire team instead of just a singular position.