Vikings coach Mike Zimmer spoke to Blair Walsh in a team meeting to express his support for the kicker who missed the 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds of Sunday’s wild-card loss to Seattle.
“I know people are giving me a hard time about saying he needed to make that kick,” Zimmer said. “But if it had been Kyle Rudolph in the end zone, I would have said, ‘He needed to make that catch.’ Or if it would have been Xavier Rhodes, it would have been, ‘He needed to knock that ball down.’ That’s my expectations going back to that. I expect our guys to perform all of the time.”
Zimmer also said Walsh’s teammates handled the situation “remarkably well” after the game.
Zimmer’s two oldest defensive starters were linebacker Chad Greenway, who turned 33 Tuesday, and 37-year-old cornerback Terence Newman. Both are free agents. Greenway wants to keep playing, while Newman is deciding.
Zimmer said he sat and talked with Greenway on Monday. Zimmer isn’t prepared to comment on next year’s roster because he and General Manager Rick Spielman just began their detailed roster examination on Tuesday. But …
“I love Chad,” Zimmer said. “I hope that things work out for him. He’s a great Viking. I think his leadership is immense in the locker room, especially with a young football team. I think he took active ownership in the role that he had this year. He’s always going to be one of my kind of guys.”
Zimmer didn’t talk to Newman before he left but said he expects them to talk soon.
“I think Terence has value, a lot of it,” Zimmer said. “It depends on what Terence wants to do.”
Wanted back for less
Receiver Mike Wallace certainly won’t be brought back under a current contract that includes an $11.5 million salary cap hit. But Zimmer said he hopes Wallace returns.
“I say this from my heart: I love this kid, I love the way he works, I love the way he competes. I texted him last night basically and told him the same thing,” Zimmer said. “I love him as a person, a competitor, a football player and I’m disappointed that it didn’t pan out the way I envisioned it.”
Wallace’s 39 catches tied his 2009 rookie season as a career low. His 473 yards receiving and two touchdowns also were career lows.
Zimmer praised Wallace for never complaining and for working hard every day to get better and help others do the same. Asked if he thought Wallace would return, Zimmer said: “I don’t know. Those are all things we have to determine here in the next week. I would like him back.” Zimmer also said he told Wallace to make sure he does what’s best for him, a sign Wallace has been told his contract will be voided.
Teddy is team’s QB
The Vikings aren’t in the market for a quarterback, but Zimmer said the team will “always want to look to bring quarterbacks in.” Just don’t misread that as there suddenly being a competition for starter Teddy Bridgewater.
“Teddy is our quarterback, he’s going to be our quarterback and there’s no doubt about that,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer said one thing the coaches want Bridgewater to work on in the offseason is a consistent over-the-top throwing motion that should help his accuracy on throws over the middle.
Hang on, Adrian
Zimmer said he sat down with running back Adrian Peterson and had a “nice, long talk with him about things I think he needs to do.” One of those was eliminating fumbles.
“I happened to be in the NFC East when [former Giants running back] Tiki Barber was a veteran guy and had a lot of fumbles,” Zimmer said. “He worked extremely hard on holding the ball correctly and fixing that issue. Adrian can do that as well. Those are the kind of things that, trust me, I’m going to stay on his rear-end about.”
Zimmer also took some of the blame for Peterson not being used more on third downs. He said he should have pushed to figure out a bigger third-down role for Peterson before the regular season started, even if it meant playing him in the preseason.
Peterson has vowed to be a more versatile player so he can play more on third downs.
“I think Adrian Peterson can do anything that he sets his mind to do,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer said nose tackle Linval Joseph (toe), receiver Adam Thielen (shoulder) and defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder) will need offseason surgeries.