Reusse: Coaching staff will speak volumes about Zimmer's path with Vikings

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 18, 2014 - 12:48 AM

A new sheriff has arrived. Again.

Mike Zimmer made his first public appearance as coach of the Vikings with an introductory news conference Friday morning at Winter Park. Vikings fans who have been reading the accounts of his approach to coaching, or who watched him in action as a Cincinnati assistant on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” understand that Zimmer might as well be wearing a badge.

And those fans also can be hopeful that Zimmer can succeed as quickly as did Dennis Green, the original New Sheriff, back in 1992.

The Vikings were 6-10 and then 8-8 in Jerry Burns’ final two seasons of 1990 and ’91. Burnsie retired and CEO Roger Headrick chose Green’s head coaching experience at Northwestern and Stanford over Pete Carroll, then an assistant with the New York Jets.

This weekend, Carroll will be leading Seattle onto its home field in the NFC title game vs. San Francisco, while Green will be coaching the American team in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif.

Yet, if you go back to 1992 and look at what Green brought to the task, it would be folly to suggest Headrick made the wrong choice.

The Vikings improved by three victories, to 11-5, in ’92 and won the five-team NFC Central. They did this with an unsettled quarterback situation, in which Rich Gannon started 12 games and Sean Salisbury four.

Green made the unfortunate decision to go with Salisbury in the playoff game. He went 6-for-20 for 113 yards in a 24-7 loss to Washington at the Metrodome.

Bad decision there, but Green had given the Vikings a first-year turnaround. Eventually, he took the Vikings to eight playoff appearances before resigning in order to avoid being fired near the end of the 2001 season.

If you’re looking for a reason for the Sheriff’s fast start in Minnesota, consider the coaching staff he assembled:

Defense: coordinator, Tony Dungy; line, John Teerlinck; inside linebackers, Monte Kiffin; outside linebackers, Richard Solomon; secondary, Willie Shaw.

Offense: coordinator/quarterbacks, Jack Burns; running backs, Tyrone Willingham; wide receivers, Tom Moore; tight ends, Brian Billick; line, John Michels.

Special teams: Tom Batta.

Dungy. Kiffin. Moore. Michels. Willingham. Billick. Shaw. On the same 11-person coaching staff.

“How did Green pull off hiring a crew of assistants such as that?”

Billick was asked that question in a phone interview Friday.

“Denny had an excellent vision of what he wanted to do with his staff,” Billick said. “He wanted diversity on his staff — diversity in the sense of veteran coaches such as Moore, Michels and Shaw, and younger coaches such as Willingham and myself, a quiet, effective guy such as Dungy, and a fiery guy such as Teerlinck.

“The only guy in the group that Denny didn’t have some type of previous relationship with was Burns.”

That was the hire that didn’t work out. Green and Burns clashed early in the 1993 season, Denny fired him as offensive coordinator, and promoted Billick, an assistant with a modest résumé.

That worked well for all parties. Billick was in charge of a record-setting offense in 1998 and landed as coach of the Baltimore Ravens. He won a Super Bowl with a spectacular defense in his second season.

“The assistants that you hire as a first-year coach establish what you want to do with your program,” Billick said. “You saw that with Denny in Minnesota, and with me in Baltimore.

“I had Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Jack Del Rio and Mike Smith on my first staff. They all became NFL head coaches. I also would have Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and David Shaw [Stanford], other head coaches.

“It is well-established that Mike Zimmer is a tremendous defensive coach. Yet, as a head coach, you can’t say, ‘I’m going to concentrate on my area and let someone I hire take complete charge of the offense.’ ”

Even if Zimmer is successful in hiring Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator?

“Norv is one of the great coaches, and if you’re trying to develop a quarterback — as they will be in Minnesota — there’s none better,” Billick said. “But Mike’s also been around long enough to know that a head coach has to be involved in every aspect.

“Offense, defense, special teams … the coaches you hire are working on your program.”

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 3 Top 3rd Inning
Kansas City 0
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 43 2nd Qtr 3:58
Miami 31
Indiana 37 2nd Qtr 0:29
Minnesota 50
Utah 50 2nd Qtr 2:01
Oklahoma City 40
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 3 3rd Prd 18:24
Boston 2
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd 15:59
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 3rd Prd 17:21
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 2nd Prd :35
Montreal 0
Arizona 1 2nd Prd
Nashville 1
Carolina 1 2nd Prd
Winnipeg 2
Philadelphia 0 1st Prd 8:31
Chicago 0
Vancouver 0 1st Prd 5:28
Dallas 1
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 9 2nd Qtr 13:35
Louisiana 20
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close