Friday, January 17, 2014
How will Vikings' D look with Zimmer?
By Ben Goessling
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn't offer many details at his introductory press conference Friday about how the team will be structured, partially because he doesn't yet have a staff in place to help him make those decisions. But Zimmer did provide context about his plan for the Vikings' defense.
He expects the Vikings' defense to be similar to what he did in Cincinnati, where the Bengals ran a 4-3 base scheme that emphasized pressure from the front four and used man coverage more liberally than the Vikings did under Leslie Frazier. In six seasons with Zimmer, the Bengals blitzed on 1,027 snaps, which was the 11th-fewest in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Frazier was either the Vikings' defensive coordinator or head coach that entire time, so we can draw a fairly reliable comparison between the two. The Vikings blitzed on 1,049 snaps from 2008-13, 13th-fewest in the league.
Zimmer did coach in a 3-4 scheme in Dallas, when Bill Parcells wanted to switch from the 4-3 defense the Cowboys had run during Zimmer's first years there, and Zimmer's adaptability is one of the things for which players praise him the most. George Edwards, the Miami Dolphins linebackers coach whom Zimmer has reportedly talked to about the Vikings' defensive coordinator job, has also coached in 3-4 schemes, so it's not impossible the Vikings would entertain the idea of a switch. But the safer bet would seem to be the team sticking with a 4-3 under Zimmer.
The coach also said he plans on being "very" involved in structuring the defense, partially because it's what he's always done, and said he could wind up calling defenses on game day. He acknowledged, though, that he'll have to adjust to being a head coach and not just a coordinator.
"I do think that's one of my expertise areas," Zimmer said of calling defenses during games. "That'll be a little bit of a transition, and I'll have to work through that. I think part of that, for me, will be the preseason games -- how I feel about the things we're doing defensively and how I feel about the game management, communicating with offense. I think all those things will be a little bit of a 'Let's wait-and-see.’”