Purple Pain Vol. 1.05
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 14:01
As predicted in this very column two months ago, the consistent losing and lack of motivation has pushed the Minnesota Vikings in a direction opposite of Leslie Frazier.
The Vikings signed former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in hopes of bringing a new attitude to a franchise in dire need of a transformation.
From one purple bleeder to another, I’m excited and you should be too.
Numerous individuals, like Bill Parcells and others in the hierarchy of the NFL, have said Zimmer is ready to be a head coach in the NFL. Testimonials are nice, but Zimmer’s proof is in the pudding.
Zimmer took over a defense in Cincinnati that ranked 24th in the NFL in 2007 and injected life into a team that only made the playoffs once in 17 years prior to his hiring. Zimmer transformed the Bengals defense into a juggernaut; one that ranked in the top 10 four times out of his six years.
Taking a step back, the NFL is an easy league to understand on the surface for two reasons. The most important element is having an above average quarterback that can win in the playoffs. The next is having a competent coach that every player wants to play for, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The importance of landing a defensive coordinator of any kind is more vital than you probably inferred, unless that coach’s name is Frazier. Just look back at the last head coaches that have led their team to conference championship games. Since the 2011 playoffs, 11 teams have been represented in the AFC and NFC conference championship games. Nine of those 11 teams were led by head coaches that came from a defensive background. More recently, both John Fox and Pete Carroll were defensive coordinators at one point in their careers and now lead their teams to the Super Bowl with better than tenacious defenses.
Along with his defensive genius, The Enquirer’s Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy knows Zimmer can be a disciplinarian.
Relationships between players and coaches can make or break teams, but a coach earning the trust from his players is a must. Zimmer accomplished just that in Cincinnati and earned a reputation of being a tough guy, more or less thanks to Hard Knocks, but however he manipulates his players, it’s been working.
Several players on the Bengals roster last year had a reputation of being a headache and immature. Adam “Pacman” Jones, for example, would undoubtedly rather spend his time inside a strip club during his time in Tennessee, but when he came to Cincinnati, that behavior took a 180 degree turn. It’s an attest to the Bengals organization and also Zimmer for straightening a once-crooked arrow.
Vontaze Burfict wasn’t a model citizen either. The second team All-Pro middle linebacker was labeled with “off-the-field issues” coming out of Arizona State, which eventually led to him being undrafted. Again, Cincinnati took a chance and Zimmer transformed Burfict into a perennial middle linebacker.
Zimmer has his work cut out for him with the Vikings both on and off the field.
New head coaches bring in new cultures that not only affect the actions of players on the field, but off the field of play too.
The Vikings need help, not only at the quarterback position, but at the leadership position. And this is a role where I expect Zimmer to flourish.