Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings players react to hiring of Zimmer

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings, Vikings coaches, Leslie Frazier, Vikings players, Brian Robison, John Sullivan, Leslie Frazier Updated: January 15, 2014 - 1:14 PM

The hiring of Mike Zimmer, the Bengals defensive coordinator, as Vikings coach has met the approval of some Vikings defensive players.

“It’s a good hire,” said defensive end Brian Robison. “I think he’s one of those guys that’s very passionate. Obviously he’s going to expect the best out of his players week-in, week-out, and I think it’s a great job.  [General manager] Rick [Spielman] and them did their homework as far as interviewing a bunch of guys and came up with what best suits our organization.”

The intense Zimmer will be a change from Leslie Frazier, who was usually calm and collected.

“We’ve got the guys in the locker room to handle any type of coach they throw at us.  I think we got a lot of mentally tough guys that, if you look at our season last year, things weren’t going the way they needed to be. Guys stayed in and fought hard, so I think we have guys that can pretty much handle anything in that locker room.”

There is a thought that Zimmer will switch to a 3-4 based defense.  Here's what Robison had to say about that:

"We’re not sure what type of defense he’s going to run because of the different backgrounds he’s had over the years, but it’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of things we do under a new scheme, or even the same scheme. I’m not sure what’s going to happen but one thing we do know is that we’ve got a new head coach and we’ve got to rally behind him and get some Ws back here.

"I would love to do a hybrid type of defense. Maybe throw in some 3-4 plays, some 4-3 plays. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me. Bottom line is if he decides we’re going to do a 3-4, I’m open to being a 3-4 outside linebacker. We stay with the 4-3, I’m totally fine with that too. I’m confident in my athletic ability to do anything at this point."

Robison talked to defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who played under Zimmer when Zimmer was a Cowboys assistant.

"Bottom line was that he said he’s a guy that’s obviously going to kind of be a hard guy on you," Robison said. "He’s going to yell at you and trying to get the best out of you but at the same time if you deserve praise, he’s going to praise you up. It’s just a different change of pace I guess from Coach Frazier."

Other Vikings reaction:

Safety Jamarca Sanford: “I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. I heard he’s a passionate coach, a player coach, a man of respect. That’s what you want out of a head coach.

“I like the way he communicates with the players on the sidelines, he’ll get in your face and he’s aggressive. I love that as a defensive player. That’s what every defensive player wants.

“You see the things he did in Cincinnati. They were playing great defense out there. That’s one aspect we’re looking to correct. That’s the last thing you want to be, almost dead last in the league in defense.”

Center John Sullivan tweeted: “Very excited to play for coach Zimmer and to see the staff that he puts together. #skolvikings”

Defensive end Everson Griffen, who will be a free agent, said: “Seems like the Bengals went far this year in the playoffs, and he called good plays on defense. Haven’t heard too much about him, but I can tell you that the way the Bengals play defense, the way they attack the ball and some of the things I’ve heard from guys around the league on his mentality, his style and aggression, it seems like a good fit for the Minnesota Vikings.”

Kicker Blair Walsh tweeted: "Congrats Coach Zimmer. Welcome to the Vikings!"

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