Mike Zimmer does not seem like a pleasant man. He seems downright nasty, and he seems like the sort of guy who will find the exact thing that brings you to the proper level of rage, and use it effectively and repeatedly as a motivational tool. Sort of like this…
So he seems like exactly what the Minnesota Vikings need.
Zimmer was officially hired by the Vikings yesterday to be the ninth head coach in franchise history, replacing Leslie Frazier. If you can find two more contrasting styles, you are a scavenger hunt hero.
None of us are privy to how Frazier conducted himself in the locker room. Maybe he was a menacing figure who toned it down on the sideline during games and for post-game interviews. But we can definitively say this about Zimmer: there’s no toning down going on. Ever.
In recent offseasons Zimmer, the now former Bengals defensive coordinator, had been connected to other openings that didn’t translate into an advancement upwards, possibly because the zing and zest which came from his menacing demeanor was just a little too much. But for the Vikings and a team with widespread holes and needs after a five-win season, his rear-kicking style was surely appealing as they try to overcompensate for weaknesses elsewhere.
No one is doubting Zimmer’s defensive mind, especially after his Bengals had the third best unit in the league while giving up only 305.5 yards per game this past season, which Zimmer orchestrated despite being without Geno Atkins up the middle for much of the year, in addition to top cornerback Leon Hall. Cincinnati was imposing against both the run (96.5 yards allowed per game, with only six rushing touchdowns), and pass (209.0 yards per game, with only 5.9 yards per pass attempt).
The personnel defensively in Minnesota isn’t remotely comparable to what Zimmer worked with in Cincy, though the absence of Harrison Smith for much of the year didn’t help matters as the Vikings descended to having the second worst defense in the league, allowing 397.6 yards per game. It’s also a unit that’s likely about to lose Jared Allen and his 11.5 sacks during a “down” year. From a defensive perspective then this hiring makes sense, because although steps to improve will be made through both the draft and free agency, the Vikings needed a head coach who can summon every ounce of talent from the depth of his defensive players’ souls. Zimmer is that guy, that elite defensive guy.
The problem for Zimmer now is one he can’t control, or at least one he doesn’t have the expertise to control. Even if we pretend to live in a hypothetical world where the Vikings have turned around their defense quickly, many a fine D-unit has been undone by incompetent quarterback play (see: the 2013 Cleveland Browns). Zimmer doesn’t whisper to anyone, and he especially doesn’t do it to quarterbacks in the same way that, say, Marc Trestman did with Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.
A new, young arm will surely be pursued to replace the failed young arm of Christian Ponder. And when that happens, Zimmer isn’t the right coach to groom him. After three stops as a defensive coordinator since 2000 (Dallas, Atlanta, and Cincinnati), Zimmer isn’t the man for anything offensively, which is a difficult situation for a team that did little while attempting to move the ball via the forward pass (23rd ranked passing offense).
This was always going to be the reality with many needs that warrant many new directions. And the solution was always going to be hiring the best mind and motivator on one side of the ball, and then giving him the strongest possible coordinator support on the other. Which explains this…
Vikings and Norv Turner are close to a deal and league sources believe he will be Mike Zimmer’s offensive coordinator in Minnesota.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 16, 2014
More notes, reading, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
A groovier Belichick
This little slice of sparkling early 90′s zubaz-laced retrospective made the rounds this morning, and we’re all better for it. Bill Belichick in 1992 looked and sounded a lot like Bill Belichick in 2014, just with more Van Halen.
So, how loud is CenturyLink Field exactly?
Loud enough that to be a Schiano Man on Seahawks game week, in practice you had to overcome the noise from secret and hidden audio which blared actual people screaming through loudspeakers. The noise was boomed so loud that Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon started to lose his voice by the end of the week before even departing for Seattle.
Glennon wrote about the experience of playing at CenturyLink Field for MMQB, and he of course brings a unique and important perspective because he’s not only a quarterback, but this year he was also a rookie quarterback dealing with easily the most hostile enemy territory. Oddly, despite both that rookie status and the Bucs’ overall horrible season that ended in Schiano getting voted off the island, Tampa gave Seattle one of its toughest home challenges, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Then they only scored three more points while allowing 27 in an overtime loss.
That’s how coaches become unemployed, but the outcome isn’t important here. What’s important is that everything — including usually routine communication — takes much longer in Seattle, and requires far more effort.
We had to get the play in quickly, and get in and out of the huddle quickly. That way, if we did have to audible, we’d have enough time left on the play clock. We left audibles on for calls that had them—the noise didn’t change the adjustments we could make—but I had to allow for extra time to execute them. If I wanted to audible in this environment, I had to walk along the line of scrimmage from tackle to tackle, telling my teammates the change. Normally we can communicate a change within two or three seconds, but I gave myself about five or six seconds in Seattle to be on the safe side.
That scrambling and running creates the opportunity for miscommunication and confusion, and although this apparently wasn’t a problem for Glennon, the extra time required to audible can restrict the amount of adjustments made by an offense.
Hey Lauren, you forgot something
I don’t have the need to rent a car often, but if I did there would be constant fear about forgetting something in its various compartments. For I am a member of the male species, and forgetting stuff is what we do.
Lauren Tannehill, wife of Ryan who achieved Internet fame on draft day two years ago by being blonde, is a member of the human species, and as such she forgets things in places from time to time as well. But this time when she left something behind in her rental car, it wasn’t her purse, or her cell phone.
No, it was a massive killing machine, an AR-15 rifle valued at $2,000. Whoopsie.
Brady is back, show ponies, etc.
I’m not sure if there was anyone who legitimately thought Tom Brady was in any danger whatsoever of missing the AFC title game when he went home early yesterday with an illness. But yeah, you can stop that now.
Patriots QB Tom Brady has returned to the facility today and the expectation is he will practice this morning.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 16, 2014
Antonio Cromartie expects to be a cap casualty
And he’s probably right. Cromartie’s play drastically declined this past season while he struggled through injuries, and he’s due $4.3 million next year along with a $5 million bonus in March. However, he’s publicly said he wants to stay with the Jets, which is an indication that even after he’s cut the cornerback will likely re-sign at a reduced rate.
If he does depart, we’ll always have the memories…