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Thursday, August 14, 2014
Zimmer reflects on first-game strategy test

By Ben Goessling

MANKATO, Minn. -- Before his first preseason game as a head coach, Mike Zimmer spent an hour each day with Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, going over in-game scenarios and practicing how he'd approach them as a strategist. Now that Zimmer's had his first quiz, of sorts, on game strategy as a head coach -- the Vikings' first preseason game last Friday against Oakland -- he's got a sense of what he needs to correct.

As Zimmer saw it, there were two game situations where he could have done something different -- or at least handled the moment differently in a preseason game. "When we kicked the field goal on fourth-and-1 (that Blair Walsh missed from 53 yards), we’ve been practicing a situation out here that I should have done in the ball game," Zimmer said. "Even if it wasn’t the time, we could have practiced that. And then the one time the official on our sideline called a fumble and an official in the back called an incomplete pass and I had three timeouts left and we were winning 10 to nothing. There was three minutes left. I probably should have challenged."

The coach said the Vikings will practice the fourth-and-1 situation again on Thursday afternoon, saying he "just didn't think quick enough" to give the Vikings a chance to run it last week.

Zimmer said during his introductory news conference as the Vikings' coach he would use the preseason as a gauge of whether he could call defensive plays during a game -- like he did as a defensive coordinator -- and still be engaged in his new responsibilities as a head coach. He said he called some of the defensive plays on Friday night, but not all of them, and hasn't decided how he's going to handle the job in the regular season.

"When I was calling the plays in Cincinnati on defense, I was able to go over and talk to the defense and look at the pictures and do all that stuff," Zimmer said. "I didn’t do that this time."