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.
The Vikings haven't announced their new coaching staff, but Scott Turner, son of new Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, will be the quarterbacks coach.
Scott Turner has been meeting with quarterbacks here at the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., as the Vikings explore options for the May draft.
Former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is headed to Philadelphia to be the Eagles quarterbacks coach under Chip Kelly, it was reported by Fox Sports' Alex Marvez. The Eagles lost their quarterbacks coach, Bill Lazor, who is the new OC for the Dolphins.
The Vikings quarterbacks coach last season was Craig Johnson. The only change the Vikings have acknowledged on their web site in the coaching roster was Zimmer replacing Leslie Frazier as head coach.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd both met with Scott Turner, they said. Both Thomas and Boyd said the interviews went well. Thomas said his session lasted about 15-20 minutes, but new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t present. Thomas impressed scouts at the weigh-in on Monday checking in at 6’5, 250 pounds.
Thomas, Boyd and Miami quarterback Stephen Morris all struggled during the North’s practice on Tuesday dealing with high winds.
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."
Some 11 hours after the word broke that the Vikings hired Mike Zimmer as their head coach, the team made it official on Wednesday night.
There will be a news conference at 11 a.m. Friday at Winter Park for Zimmer to address the media. No word on why there's a one-day delay in that briefing.
The Vikings also had an in-house interview with Zimmer on their website.
Here is the Vikings' release:
The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with Mike Zimmer, making him the 9th head coach in team history. In his 20 NFL seasons, Zimmer has made 11 playoff appearances, earned 7 division titles and won a Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXX-1995).
“We are excited to welcome Mike as the new leader of the Minnesota Vikings,” said Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf. “He has a proven track record of success at every stop in the NFL and we look forward to him maintaining that consistency here in Minnesota.”
Zimmer joins the Vikings after spending the past 6 seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, where he helped lead teams to the playoffs the past 3 consecutive seasons and 4 of the last 5 years (2009, 2011-13). Under Zimmer’s tutelage, the Bengals defense consistently ranked near the top of the NFL, including 4 top-10 rankings in both offensive points allowed and total yards allowed. Since 2011, the Bengals have notched the 2nd-most sacks (139) in the NFL, setting a team record with 51 sacks in 2012.
“I’m grateful to the Wilf family, Rick Spielman and the entire Vikings organization for giving me an opportunity to join a franchise with such a strong tradition and an extremely passionate fan base,” said Zimmer. “I believe in a disciplined and physical brand of football and I look forward to getting to work on leading a team capable of long-term success.”
“Fans will appreciate Mike’s intensity on the field and his down-to-earth attitude off the field,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. “We strongly believe he will help us compete for division championships each year and lead us to our ultimate goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota.”
Prior to joining Cincinnati, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 after spending the previous 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, including 7 as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. Zimmer led top-10 defenses for Dallas in both the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, including a 2003 defense that led the NFL in fewest yards allowed (253.5 yards per game). Six times during Zimmer’s tenure as secondary coach and later defensive coordinator, the Cowboys finished 5th or better in the NFL in scoring defense.
“Mike epitomizes the type of football coach with the vision and the values we were looking for to lead us into the future,” said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. “His history of maximizing players’ potential, along with his football knowledge and passion for the game, will be tremendous assets as we enter a new era of Vikings football.”
Including his 20 seasons in the NFL, Zimmer has 35 total years of previous coaching experience. In 2009 he won NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America and the PFWA Halas Award, presented to the individual in the NFL that overcame the most adversity to succeed.
The Vikings have received permission from Cleveland to interview offensive coordinator Norv Turner, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
Turner, 61, is a lame duck coordinator in Cleveland, where coach Rob Chudzinski was fired. Turner is a former head coach of the Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
Turner was offensive coordinator when Dallas won a pair of Super Bowls, and also was the OC for San Diego, Miami and San Francisco.
Since new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive guru, the hiring of an offensive coordinator is likely to be his key early move. It’s likely Zimmer will take a more active role with the defense than the offense.
Mike Zimmer’s son, Adam, is an assistant defensive backs coach for the Bengals, and worked under his father last season.
Mike, the Cincinnati defensive coordinator, was hired as the Vikings head coach today.
Zimmer's wife, Vicki, died in 2009, and the emotional postgame after a victory in the week following her death was captured on this video.
Here is what Adam Zimmer had to say.
On his father waiting this long to become a head coach:
“I think it means a lot because it’s something he’s worked for a long time and just hasn’t been able to get someone to get him that chance. I think he’s really excited about having the opportunity to prove everybody that didn’t give him the job wrong."
On why Mike Zimmer, 57, didn’t get a head coaching job earlier:
“I don’t know. To me, he’s just had to get one team to like him. For whatever reason, they haven’t picked him. I think his record speaks for itself in everything but for whatever reason, he just wasn’t the right fit for those teams and finally it was meant to be that he ended up somewhere that really wanted him.”
What is Mike Zimmer like?
You only see little snippets of when he’s getting angry on Hard Knocks and stuff like that. Most of the time, he’s really even-keeled; tremendously hard-worker. He gets in the office earlier than anybody. He’s passionate about what he does and wants to do the best at what he does. Sometimes the emotions come out but that’s not all the time by far.”
What have you learned as assistant defensive backs coach under him this year?
“I've learned a lot from him just the way he goes through meetings and the way he studies game film. He can coach any position on the defense and demands the attention of the room. The players love him and respect him. It’s been a really good experience getting to learn that.”
Will you be an assistant coach under your father in Minnesota?
“I’m not going to comment on that right now. We’ll see what plays out.”
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