Mike Zimmer remains on a short list of NFL head coaches who call his team’s plays, and is on an even shorter list of coaches who makes the defensive calls for his team. In the past year, Zimmer has mused several times about eventually turning over play-calling duties to defensive coordinator George Edwards, but it sounded this week as though he’s not ready to make that switch quite yet.
Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando, Zimmer said a post-season meeting in New York with Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf reinforced the idea that the coach should continue to call plays.
“I think it’s something I do good,” Zimmer said. “I don’t want to be a second-guess coach; when George calls something, I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, I hate that call.’ I’ve had that in the past. It’s not good for that. I was in New York a couple weeks ago and talked to the owners about it. It was like, ‘Not so fast.’ We’ll see how it goes.”
Zimmer said in December he was considering having Edwards call plays in 2018, in part because of his confidence in the defensive coordinator and the demands play-calling places on his own time.
“It’s a lot of work when you sit down and do it,” Zimmer on a conference call with Chicago media before the Vikings’ Dec. 31 game against the Bears. “I’ve done it for a long time, and I have confidence in George as well. I think maybe just the fact that — I don’t know, I guess I’m just getting older.”
The coach turns 62 in June, and said again on Tuesday that “I would like to get away from it at some point. Maybe because of the last five quarters, I should, I guess. I don’t know.”
That seemed to be a reference to the criticism the Vikings’ top-ranked defense has taken after allowing 48 offensive points in its final five quarters of the playoffs. Zimmer said Tuesday he thought the Vikings didn’t rush the quarterback as well at the end of the season, in part because of Everson Griffen’s plantar fasciitis and in part due to a thin defensive tackle rotation that put too many snaps on Tom Johnson.
Adding Sheldon Richardson to the group should give the Vikings another dynamic pass rusher, and the team could look to add more depth along its defensive front later this spring. When fall rolls around, it seems as though Zimmer will continue to make the calls for the group.