Coaching staff still being assembled
While Zimmer appears to homing in on Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator and possibly George Edwards as his defensive coordinator, he is still going through the process.
The assistant coaches under former head coach Leslie Frazier are under contract with the Vikings until 2014, but Zimmer said he hasn't been encouraged to keep them on his staff.
"What they want to do here is get the best football staff they can have here. We've talked about different situations and coaches, but we're just trying to work through all that," Zimmer said Friday. "It's been kind of a whirlwind. I had to find the bathroom the first day. It's not business as usual for me."
One of the key decisions will be whether or not to retain special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, a well-respected coach whom former punter Chris Kluwe has accused of being a bigot and homophobe. Priefer has "vehemently" denied saying what Kluwe accused him of and the Vikings continue their investigation into those claims.
"What I'm going to do is evaluate all the coaches that are here. We're going to continue to evaluate all the coaches on the outside and then we're going to make a decision on all those things collectively," Zimmer said when asked about Priefer specifically. "I haven't made any decisions on coaches so far, and we're going to announce all those at that time.
"I want teachers, I want leaders, I want guys that will convey the message that I'm trying to convey. They don't all have to be like me. That's hard to do anyway, but I want guys to be themselves. Most importantly, I want guys to be great teachers, great leaders, great motivators and obviously great technicians as football coaches."
Since Zimmer has never been a head coach, it would seem natural to have a strong offensive coordinator that has head coaching experience, like Turner.
"I think (Zimmer) has been in the league for a very long time and been very successful and worked for some successful head coaches that it's not going to be as big of a (concern for) someone to lean on as maybe a younger head coach that hasn't been in the league as long," Spielman said. "I know he talked about having Bill Parcells to lean on on the coaching end of it. So I don't think that's going to be as big a step as people think because of his experience and where he's been and who he's worked for."
Zimmer coached under Parcells for four years with the Dallas Cowboys and had an office right next to Parcells. He said Parcells would tell him often to write down notes for when Zimmer got his first head coaching job. Nearly 20 years later, that time has come.
Still, despite his background as a defensive coordinator for 14 years, Zimmer said he will be involved with all sides of his coaching staff.
"I want to be the head coach. I want to hire an offensive coordinator, yes, and I want him to have his ideas, but I want to be the head coach. I want to be in charge of this football team," Zimmer said. "I want to be in charge of everything we do here. There will be times I go into the offensive room and talk about certain plays, and doing different things and what I've seen on tape being a defensive coach and knowing a lot of things that hurts certain defenses. I know a lot of coaches in the league from playing against them for so long. But my goal is to be the head coach, not the defensive coach and then have an offensive coach to be the offensive coach."
One candidate that seems likely to join the staff is Adam Zimmer, Mike's son who has been an assistant coach in the NFL for eight years.
Mike Zimmer said "it's not safe to assume" that Adam will join the staff, but Adam said his dad has already told him there could be an opening for him, likely on the defensive side of the ball.
"He said, ‘I might have something for you. It be might linebacker, it might DBs,'" Adam said. "I said I'm open to whatever because I've had experience with both and I'm comfortable with both."
The two coached together last year in Cincinnati, and before that Adam was with the Kansas City Chiefs (2010-12) and New Orleans Saints (2006-09).
As for the rest of the coaching staff, Mike Zimmer said there is no timeline on getting that in place and announced.
"Obviously you'd like to get it done as fast as you can. But it's more important to get the right people," Zimmer said. "It's not like the draft is coming up and we have to have it done on a certain day. We have to find the right people and the right mixture and nucleus for this football team and for this football staff. That's the most important thing. And if it takes two months – I don't think it will – but if it takes two months then that's the best thing.
"All I know is that we'll get it done as fast as we can, the best that we can."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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