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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Making the change from Frazier to Zimmer

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: January 15, 2014 - 2:50 PM

Vikings players are about to experience the personality U-turn that typically happens any time an NFL team makes a change at head coach.

Teams that lost with intense, high-strung coaches search for calm, laid-back coaches -- and vice versa -- whenever ownership goes back to the plate and takes another swing at hiring a head coach. In other words, teams like the 5-10-1 Vikings will go from the laid-back head coach like a Leslie Frazier and transition into the intense, high-strung coach like a Mike Zimmer, the former Bengals defensive coordinator who was hired as the ninth head coach in team history this morning. Eventually, the Vikings will get around to introducing the guy.

Zimmer, 57, has never been a head coach at any level. He's been an NFL assistant for 20 seasons, including the past 14 as a defensive coordinator. He's known as a gruff, no-nonsense coach, but his players have always praised him because he's a straight-shooter, which is something Vikings fullback Jerome Felton says is the key to differentiating a tough coach from a jerk that players will resist.

"Coach Frazier and Coach Zimmer have different styles, no question about it," Felton said. "But I feel if a person is a straight-shooter, that’s all that matters. Whether you come at that as being a little rough around the edges, like Coach Zimmer is, or real laid back, like Coach Frazier is, I think players respect that and gravitate toward that. At the end of the day, the league doesn’t owe you much, but if you at least get a coach that can give it to you straight, you can respect that.  And from what I hear, that's what we're getting in Coach Zimmer."

Yes, Felton has seen HBO's "Hard Knocks," which chronicles a team's training camp. Zimmer has been on the show three times, once in Dallas and twice in Cincinnati.

"I've seen him on there a couple of times and he definitely looks like he’s pretty intense," Felton said. "He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy, so I’m assuming it’s going to be an interesting training camp.

"I’m not worried about that, just the things I’ve heard from other people about what type of a guy he is. From what I’ve seen, I feel if I prepare myself right and I come in there ready to go, it will take care of itself. I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited. It definitely will be a transition, but that’s part of the game."

Felton said he's also excited to see what Zimmer does with the team's defense. Felton and the Vikings' offense faced Zimmer's Bengals defense in the 42-14 loss at Cincinnati in Week 16.

"They were just tough and solid in everything they did," Felton said. "I wouldn’t say anything they did was unique, as far as they fooled us on anything. Everybody was just where they needed to be and were physical.

"If you look at their linebackers, they got some big linebackers in Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict, so I’m assuming that’s the style he likes. They were just a big, physical team. Looks like that’s been his MO his whole career. They also had guys who could come off the edge. They lost their D-tackle [Geno Atkins] last year, so that hurt them. Of course, it didn’t hurt them when we played them."

Zimmer not only is intense, he also has a much saltier vocabulary than Frazier.

"I never heard Leslie curse or even raise his voice," Felton said. "I heard more curse words and yelling from one episode of Hard Knocks than I heard in my whole time here with Leslie. So it’s going to be different. And it’s going to be an adjustment for some guys. But I think if you have yourself ready to go, I think you’ll be OK. He seems like he’s authentic, consistent and he’s going to tell you what it is. If you do your job, I think you’re going to be on his good side.

"I talked to [Vikings receiver Jerome] Simpson and [Bengals safety] Taylor Mays. They said the guys really like him. He’s rough around the edges. But he’s always going to keep it real with you. That's something I can respect. I think everybody can."


Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
UNLV 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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