After Sunday’s game between the Rams and Vikings, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer made clear his disagreement with the hits on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. With a calm, matter-of-face tone of voice, Zimmer made it clear that he wasn’t happy.
“If we were on the street, we probably would have had a fight,” Zimmer said, while also pointing to the history of Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended for a year due to his role in the Saints bounty scandal — a program premised on knocking opposing players out of the game.
On Sunday, it wasn’t just the elbow from cornerback Lamarcus Joyner to Bridgewater’s head, which caused Bridgewater’s head to bang off the turf, knocking him unconscious for several seconds. Previously, a low (but unflagged) hit caused Bridgewater to grab at his knee, but ultimately not to miss any time.
On Monday, Fisher responded to the criticism from Zimmer, starting with some free advice from the coach who has 329 regular-season games under his belt to the coach who has 24.
“I think a good a lesson to be learned from this is control your emotions immediately after the game and go back and look at the tape before you jump to conclusions,” Fisher told reporters on Monday.
“Mike’s and my handshake was very short,” Fisher added. “He didn’t say a word. I went out to congratulate him. I was going to ask him how his quarterback was and congratulate him on the win, and he was gone. I understand that, but you also need to control your emotions after a game and go look at the tape and then adjust accordingly. Again, I don’t know who they play this week. I don’t care, but we’ve moved on. We’re on to Chicago.”
Fisher’s position continues to be that Joyner didn’t deliberately target Bridgewater for injury.
“Lamarcus made a decision to go hit the quarterback prior to Teddy initiating the slide,” Fisher said. “That’s what happens. Had Lamarcus not made helmet contact with him, there would have not been a foul. It was penalized on the field. What more can you ask for?”
The tape still shows the elbow hitting the head. Intentional or not, Joyner was unable to avoid Bridgewater’s helmet; the NFL demands that professional athletes have greater control of their bodies in those circumstances. While it’s not the kind of thing that triggers a suspension for a first offense, it’s the kind of thing that surely will draw a fine.
Otherwise, the league’s six-year campaign to promote player health and safety (especially as it relates to concussions) will have been meaningless.