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.


Zimmer steps into post as Vikings coach

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings coaches Updated: January 17, 2014 - 12:09 PM

Mike Zimmer's goal is to win a Super Bowl.

The new Vikings coach met the media this morning, getting a head coaching job for the first time in his 35-year career.

“I feel like I was destined to do this,” Zimmer said.

The former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator was introduced as the team’s new coach. The tough-talking Zimmer replaces Leslie Frazier, who was fired after a 5-10-1 season where the team played brutally on defense and was hampered by a lack of quarterback consistency.

“I want Vikings football to be tough, smart … and works relentlessly for one goal,” Zimmer said. “I want our fans to be proud of the way we play — tough, resilient football.

“We don’t win alone, we win as a team. I’m determined to bring a championship to Minnesota. And I can’t wait to get to work.”

Said Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf: “He will lead us to our ultimate goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota.”

General Manager Rick Spielman said when Zimmer came in for a second interview on Tuesday that, “What stood out for us was not only the passion, but the football intelligence and the leadership. He has a great history of developing young talent, and taking veterans and helping them play above their ability.

“There was not one negative thing that was said about Mike Zimmer.”

Said Zimmer: “There’s a great tradition here. As I walked down the hallways [at Winter Park] and see all the great players, Hall of Fame players and I can walk down the end of the hallway and talk to … a Hall of Fame coach in Bud Grant.

“I want to win a Super Bowl. I want to be standing at the podium with [owners] Mark and Zygi Wilf when that confetti is falling down and Commissioner Goodell is handing us that Super Bowl trophy.”

Zimmer, 57, said he’d seek advice from Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, for whom he was an assistant.

“Bill has always been a great mentor of mine,” said Zimmer. “In Dallas his office was right next to mine, and he’d come in and say, ‘For when you’re a head coach, write this down,’ and he did that daily. In fact, I’m going to go down and see him. We’re going to visit and talk about being a new head coach in a new program.”

Zimmer said he had talked to some players, but said he didn’t want to speak about any individual players yet.

“I’m trying to get coaches hired, No. 1,” he said. “I’ve been looking at some of the defensive players first, and once we get the offensive coordinator hired, we’re going to sit down and evaluate some of those [offensive] guys. It would be unfair of me to come up and say so-and-so is a great football player. “

Zimmer said he wouldn’t say who his coaches would be until the staff is formed, although it is believed Norv Turner will come aboard as offensive coordinator. Turner has been offensive coordinator for four teams, and head coach for three.

As for the pressing issue of finding a franchise quarterback, Zimmer said, “We’ll try to do our best to have the best quarterback in the division. But my job is to win football games, it’s not to worry about if the QB is fourth best or first best in the division.”

The Vikings are expected to move away from the Cover 2 defense that was 31st in the league last season, but Zimmer didn’t define his defense.

“I’ve run the 4-3, I’ve run the 3-4, and as long as everyone is on the same page and do it to the best of their abilities, you can win games,” Zimmer said. “If you don’t make mistakes, you can win football games.”
Zimmer said he’s work hard over the next few days to get a staff together and watch film, but “It’s been kind of a whirlwind here. I had to find the bathroom the first day, so it’s not exactly business as usual for me.”

As for his relationship with Spielman, Zimmer said, “Are we going to disagree? Yes. We all have decisions. But the most important thing is honesty. It’s a Minnesota Vikings decision, not a Rick Spielman decision, not a Mike Zimmer decision. We have to walk out of that room arm in arm and on the same page.”

A few other highlights from the Zimmer presser:

On what kind of coaches he is looking for: "I want teachers, leaders. ...They don't all have to be me like me. That's hard to do anyway."

On overseeing the team: "I think I'm a fixer, and I do think I'm an observer. If guys are doing things correctly, there's no issues."

On what opponents must prepare for: "When you go play the Minnesota Vikings, you're going to have a full day's work ahead of you."

On dealing with players: "Honesty is always the best policy. That's what players want...I'm doing a disservice to players if I'm not honest to them."

On his stern style: "I'm going to be passionate on the field. That's who I am. That's why they hired me."

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