Like a lot of coaches, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has expressed admiration for teams that have the ability to parlay mental toughness into rare NFL consistency over the course of years. Naturally, he has mentioned the Patriots by name on more than one occasion.
Earlier today, I asked him what it is about those teams that he says he admires so much.
“You kind of see them, based on who they are and the teams that are winning,” Zimmer said. “You see how they bounce back from losses. You see how they focus on the job at hand and preparation and things like that. [Hall of Fame head coach Bill] Parcells always said he didn’t want to have a ‘Yo-Yo’ football team, up one week and down the next. He wanted the same guys all the time.
“We’re basically when we come out to practice, we’re pretty much the same guys. You want to know what you’re getting each and every day when you come out. We had a couple of setbacks, obviously. But it’s time to get back on track.”
I also asked him if there’s a way he and the team can decipher beforehand whether a player they’re interested in acquiring has the mental toughness to bounce back the way he’s talking about.
“I think a lot of it is it’s a combination of things,” Zimmer said. “You talk to a lot of their coaches. What kind of competitor is a guy? How does he handle adversity? How smart is he? Is he moody on the practice field? Does he pay attention in meetings? There’s a big combination of things that helps figure it out. How does he react when you get after him? How is the best way to coach this guy? Does he put the team first? Is he all about stats?”
Another highlight from Zimmer’s press conference earlier today:
On Charles Johnson, the former starting receiver who played only two special teams snaps in the Arizona game last Thursday. Johnson hasn’t had a catch in five games and has had only one catch since making that leaping 35-yarder to help the Vikings kick the game-winning field goal as time expired in Chicago back on Nov. 1: “He continues to work hard. I’m sure he’s probably frustrated that he’s not [playing]. But sometimes that’s just the way it goes. You’d have to talk to him about. But he continues to work hard. He continues to do a good job in practice. He’s like everybody. When his opportunity comes, I’m sure he’ll do good.”