Shortly after the Vikings finalized a deal to make Mike Zimmer their ninth head coach on Jan. 15, 2014, they placed a call to the agents for Todd Bowles, informing them that the then-Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator wouldn’t be their pick.
Bowles was the only other finalist for the job whose name became known, and he was waiting to see if he would get a second interview when the Vikings hired Zimmer. Instead, Bowles remained in Arizona for another year before becoming the Jets coach almost a year to the day after the Vikings hired Zimmer.
On Sunday, Bowles will coach against his old boss for the first time.
He was the Dallas secondary coach in Zimmer’s final year as Cowboys defensive coordinator, and worked on former Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano’s staff in Miami when Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards was the linebackers coach.
“We text quite a bit. It’s Zimmer, it was George Edwards,” Bowles said. “I’ve been with [defensive line coach] Andre Patterson [in Cleveland in 2003 and 2004]. I’ve been with quite a few guys over there. Zim’s one of the smartest defensive coaches I’ve been around, in terms of details, and I learned a lot from him in Dallas. We continue to keep in touch when we need things, or anything like that, as well as George, as well as Andre. We have a very good relationship.”
Zimmer said this week that Bowles was “really a good coach — smart guy, very dedicated with his work” in Dallas. Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers was also Zimmer’s defensive line coach with the Cowboys, and though Bowles’ scheme has deviated from what has now become familiar to Vikings fans during Zimmer’s time in Minnesota, the two defenses share some common traits.
“There are similarities moreso in technique than in scheme,” Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “Coach Bowles is a good coach and what good coaches do is they formulate their schemes after what their players do well. Obviously, there are similarities in the way they play certain coverages, certain techniques of their corners, certain leverages of their corners, that type of thing. I mean. it’s a whole different team than obviously what he had in Arizona in certain spots. Obviously, he’s fit his scheme with his personnel.”
Lost but not found
After Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott lost the tip of his left pinkie finger in the second quarter of the team’s game against the Rams on Sept. 27, the Vikings’ specialists emerged from the visitors’ locker room at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the third quarter on a mission:
Find McDermott’s fingertip.
“They looked for it at halftime, unbeknownst to me,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “At halftime I’m holding my breath hoping we can get Kevin back, even though [tight end] David [Morgan] did a great job for us. The fellas, the specialists went out and looked for it at halftime. They couldn’t find it. It’s gone forever now; it’s at the L.A. Coliseum.”
Priefer said his wife, Debbie, lost part of her pinkie finger as a child when it got slammed in a car door, and got it sewed back on at the hospital. When she joined the team for Mass on Saturday night before the Vikings’ game against the Cardinals on Sunday, she traded stories with McDermott about their detached digits.
“I just sat there shaking my head, said, ‘Good Lord, we got a game tomorrow, let’s go. We got to get focused here,’ ” Priefer said.
Missing at practice
Running back Dalvin Cook, who has missed three of the past four games because of a hamstring injury, left the practice field during individual drills Thursday and was listed as a nonparticipant, after practicing in full Wednesday.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter also missed practice because of a groin injury, though Zimmer said Hunter’s absence was “just part of the plan.”
Nose tackle Linval Joseph (ankle/knee/shoulder), safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) and tackle Riley Reiff (foot) also did not practice, while defensive end Everson Griffen remains away from the team dealing with mental health issues.
Zimmer said he was not concerned with the Vikings’ depth at defensive line for Sunday’s game.