Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had a wide-ranging discussion with Mike Florio on “Pro Football Talk” radio on NBC Radio recently, and Zimmer once again made it clear that while there might be obstacles, he would like to have Adrian Peterson on his team next year.
Zimmer was asked what he would do if Peterson met with him and said he felt like he should go elsewhere.
“I would respect Adrian’s decision,” Zimmer told Florio. “I’ll always be honest with him and up front, but I’m going to try to explain to him the reasons why I would like for him to be here. But it has to be a two-way street, and he has to get his life taken care of. But we’ll sit down and talk, and I’m a pretty good recruiter, too.”
Peterson remains suspended by the NFL after his no-contest plea to misdemeanor reckless assault for injuring his 4-year-old son. He can apply for reinstatement on April 15, but there is also the matter of the $13 million salary the 2012 NFL MVP is due this season.
On other matters, one thing Zimmer was clearly proud of from his first season was the play of Teddy Bridgewater, who Zimmer said flourished under difficult circumstances for a rookie quarterback. Zimmer was asked what it would take for Bridgewater to become a franchise QB.
“We just have to win more games,” he said. “We have to get to the point where we win the division. We finished third in the division this year. We have to catch up with Green Bay and Detroit. Those are the guys we’re aiming to overtake. We have to put some more players around him. We put a lot on this young kid throughout the rest of the season. We lost Adrian and Kyle Rudolph and some of the offensive linemen. We put a lot on this kid’s shoulder, and I think he came through with flying colors.
“He improved so much throughout the course of the year. He ended up being a 6-6 starter. … But you know the thing that really impressed me as the season went on was his ability to move in the pocket to avoid the rush. I wouldn’t call Teddy a scrambler, but when he decides to run, he’s quick with his decisions, he’s quick with his decisions about getting rid of the football. He improved from calling plays, to getting other people lined up, to getting protections the right way, to audibling into other situations, and you know, he really did a remarkable job. I am so glad we have him.”
In right direction
Zimmer said that while he wasn’t pleased with the end result of a 7-9 season, he believed there was no question that the team is heading in the right direction.
“I think defensively we improved. I think offensively we found a quarterback that has a chance to be a franchise quarterback here for a long time,” he said. “We improved towards the end of the season. We went through a lot of ups and downs with the off-field things and all the other issues we had, and our team kept battling and fighting. I’m not happy with the results, but I’m happy with a lot of the things we were able to overcome for moving to the future. If we played better in about three or four of the ballgames we could still be playing this week, but that’s just the way it is.”
Zimmer said he is in the process of doing postseason evaluations and that a big key in the offseason will be to continue to teach players how to perform late in close games.
“We’re going through the personnel and trying to figure out what players we want to bring back, start talking about the draft and free agency as we get going there,” he said. “There were some situations that came up throughout the course of a few of the ballgames that we have to be more prepared for when we get into those situations during the course of the season.”
Zimmer said that while General Manager Rick Spielman is the ultimate trigger man on personnel calls, they have a great working relationship.
“I was extremely lucky to walk into a place that has the type of people that are in place here,” he said. “Not only with Rick Spielman and those guys in the front office, but also the ownership, those guys have been great, they want to give us everything they possibly can to be successful here. So I was really lucky to get into a place where Rick is a great football man, and Scott Studwell played forever and he’s very honest and opinionated about every player that we talk about. I think it’s critical that we’re all on the same page, and not only with the GM and the other people there but all the way down to the equipment managers and the trainers. Everybody has to be on the same page. I think that’s how you build a winning foundation.”
Zimmer gave some interesting insight about spending his first year as an NFL head coach at TCF Bank Stadium.
“The people at the University of Minnesota made us feel welcome,” he said. “It is really the only place I know [as a head coach]. I think our record was 5-3 at home, but our guys here did a great job of trying to make it as much of a Minnesota Vikings stadium as possible. The fans were great. We had a couple really cold games and they came out. We have great fans here. We did a study and we switched the sidelines. We did a study on the temperature and the sun and the wind and all that. We had a 20-degree difference on our sideline for most of the games, as opposed to the opponents.”
• Teddy Bridgewater was asked if he had any idea he would start 12 games and throw for nearly 3,000 yards when the season began. “I would have told you you were crazy,” he said. “I thought this was going to be a year where I was just going to be able to come in and compete, but things happen. We were faced with adversity this year and whenever my number was called I had to always be ready.”
• Vikings Vice President Kevin Warren on his decision to donate $1 million to families with cancer patients at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital: “It was in honor of my sister Carolyn,” he said. “So we started a fund called Carolyn’s Comforts in conjunction with the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. She passed of brain cancer. My wife [Greta] and I wanted to do something that was special to honor her life and we chose that to do it. And I think it will make a big difference for a lot of kids.”
• Adam Thielen, the former Minnesota State Mankato receiver who had eight catches for 137 yards and one touchdown and also scored another TD on special teams for the Vikings in 2014, is signed for 2015.
• The Gophers have 18 commitments for the 2015 football season, which means coach Jerry Kill still has about seven recruits to sign if his estimate of 25 total recruits is accurate.
• How important is captain Kyle Rau to the Gophers men’s hockey team? When the senior records at least one point the Gophers are 75-12-7 in his career. They are 37-3 when he gets two or more points.
• WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson reported that the league had three ranked teams and two teams in the top 10 of the first USCHO.com poll of 2015 with MSU Mankato at No. 4, Michigan Tech at No. 8 and Bowling Green at No. 11.