Mike Zimmer disagrees with the perception of his team entering 2017

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A year ago, the Vikings seemed ready to contend for a Super Bowl appearance. Now? Not.

The team’s head coach understandably disagrees with external perceptions.

“Contrary to what everybody else believes, I still believe we’re the 11-5 team that went into the ’16 season,” Zimmer told Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press in an extended (and excellent) interview. “We’ve added more things offensively than we had. I think we’re going to be a lot better offensively.”

As Murphy interjected at that point, the Vikings almost have to be better on offense; they can’t be much worse.

“In the three years I’ve been here, we’ve been 27th in the league offensively,” Zimmer said. “If we can improve to 15th and score when we have the opportunities. . . . One of the things I always preach is don’t beat yourself. Last year, we had so many pre-snap penalties that actually killed us. Trying to get that part fixed, I think we’ll be better. I think the running game will improve with [left tackle Riley] Reiff and [right tackle Mike] Remmers and [center Pat] Eflein and our backs, now. This [rookie running back Dalvin] Cook looks like he’s going to be pretty special.”

The term “pretty special” hasn’t been applied much to the Vikings since their last Super Bowl appearance in 1976. The 1987 team shocked superior franchises from New Orleans and San Francisco in the postseason, and the 1998 team was one of the best of all time to not make it to the title game. Then there was the 2009 team, that outplayed — but didn’t outscore — the Saints in the NFC championship game.

The best news for Zimmer is that the bar is low. But it’s low for a reason, and it’s up to Zimmer to ensure that the performance surpasses the justifiably low expectations for the team.

64 responses to “Mike Zimmer disagrees with the perception of his team entering 2017

  1. Full Transparency, I am a Vikes fan, but I’m confused as to why you think the bar is THAT low…? We are a team that started 5-0 last year then finished 3-8 after injuries across the board. One can argue we have more talent than the team entering last year and, although Sam Bradford has to prove he can win through the season, I’m confused why you act like we’re going to be a below average team. I guess we will all see soon enough…

  2. Ah, who cares what people think? Particularly, the inevitable geniuses that will comment below.

  3. I’m a Giants fan, so I have no personal interest in how the Vikings season goes. But the 2 teams in the NFC that I think are much better than last years record are the Vikings and Panthers.

  4. I’m with DJacobsen. Last year had some crappy stuff happen…all around. Stared 5-0 and everyone was picking us to win the north. Then additional injuries, coach eye problems, offense coordinator quitting….they are better than 8-8.

    As they say in GoT. The north remembers.

  5. Consistency will be their best asset for 2017. Bradford was probably the only consistent player through the 2016 season, love him or hate him.

    Everyone else played well or poorly sporadically. Thielen looked all-pro near the end of the season. Eric Kendricks looked lost for half the season. Injuries galore.

    If everyone can play consistently up to their ability, Cook explodes onto the scene and the Danielle Hunter blossoms, this team can easily go 11-5.

  6. Florio and Packer fans make up most the minority that think the bar is low. If you’ve followed the Vikings since Zim took over, you know the bar is 11-5…but, in any case, i love flying under the radar, see you in February….

  7. Also, you make it sound like the vikings have had only 3 good years since 1976…they won the division 11 times since then…Maybe they werent special every year…but crap you make it sound like they are the browns or something

  8. It’s amazing how people overreact to recent history. The Vikings were a trendy Super Bowl pick before last season and were at the top of everybody’s power rankings. Then they finished 3-8 with a team that was ravaged by injuries on the offensive line and was trying to install a new offense on the fly. They would have still made the playoffs if not for a missed extra point by a kicker who is no longer here. So now all the equity that was built up in the 16-5 record over 2015 and first part of 2016 is gone and the real team is assumed to be the 3-8 disaster.

    Do you remember the last team to start a season 5-0 and then finish 8-8? The 2015 Atlanta Falcons. Just sayin’.

  9. I truly feel people get lazy when they evaluate the vikes. “They have thrown seasons in the past they might as well now” seems to be their only considered commentary. The amount and significance of injuries we endured was INSANE, and spewing some thoughtless platitude like everyone has injuries is just ignorant in this case given the magnitude. We are indeed better than last year and even better than that 5-0 team was, and that argument is relatively easy to make.

  10. It is the preseason! The only fans that think preseason power ranking are pretty special and are celebrated are Packer fans. Just watch here to see how much they love preseason power ranking.

  11. purpleguy says:
    Jul 21, 2017 11:19 AM
    Ah, who cares what people think? Particularly, the inevitable geniuses that will comment below
    —————————————

    Evidently Mike Zimmer does

  12. “Contrary to what everybody else believes, I still believe we’re the 11-5 team”

    …says the guy who believes what Michael Floyd tells him.

  13. We are better than everyone thinks, darn it! Why won’t anyone believe us?!

    We were the only team in the division to have any injuries that mattered last year. Who care that the Packers had to start street free agents at CB against top receivers, only our O-Line injuries made a difference!

  14. Vikings were arguably the best team in pro football last year until injuries caught up with them. It would be foolish to believe that they won’t be contenders this year if they can remain relatively healthy.

  15. The fact that the coach is wasting one second of his time addressing this “perception” before a single snap has been taken should be the real concern.

  16. I’m with Zimmer on this. The offensive line is the most important part of whether this team improves over the last 11 games of last season.

    The line was decimated by injuries down the stretch, and the offense’s inability to put points on the board cost them games. After their 5-0 start, the Vikings scored 20 points or less in seven of their next nine games, losing all of them. The pressure this put on the defense eventually caught up to them. Yeah, they laid an egg against Indianapolis, which was their most troubling loss of the season, but this team has too much talent on defense to be an also-ran this year.

    If the offense can put up 20+ points in 12-13 games rather than just nine games, they’ll be back in the division title hunt. I expect that to happen provided the upgraded OL is even adequate.

  17. Indybear says:
    Jul 21, 2017 12:17 PM

    The fact that the coach is wasting one second of his time addressing this “perception” before a single snap has been taken should be the real concern.
    ______

    The reporter was visiting his ranch and the interview was being conducted over a steak and a beer. Is he supposed to excuse himself and go watch film after the question is asked because he doesn’t have time to answer it?

  18. Just ignore every prognosticator out there…that goes for every team. No sport is like FB where each year stands on it’s own merit and can be destroyed with one single injury. What every talking head should say is “if healthy……..”

    Injuries and suspensions are unpredictable and inevitable. Who’s team with high hopes will be crushed by them this year?

    I’m a Viking fan that will simply cross my fingers that it’s a healthy year and if so, they will be in the playoffs.

  19. Aw the only team that can’t make the Super Bowl is the Browns! Every year the “Experts” have a power ranking, and every year some team shocks everybody and makes it to the big show.
    The Vikings will be fine.

  20. Aside from one of the Viking faithful predicting “see you in February”, most of the fans are predicting nothing beyond a playoff appearance for their team. Sounds reasonable.

    In January, the Vikings will be searching for their first playoff win in 8 years. Realistically, even if they get one, the odds of winning 2-3 more against teams like Atl, Dallas, Sea, and GB are astronomical. No team has ever had a playoff drought as long as the Vikings and then won a Super Bowl at the end of the drought. Glad to see most Viking fans are accepting of this reality.

  21. This is a team that is very under the radar, and could do very well this year. They have the essentials – a punishing defense, a running attack and a game manager QB. The only questions will be special teams (last year was not great) and the O line. Reiff and Remmers are league average guys, they are NOT great. One missed assignment and your QB or RB are out for the year.

    Would not be shocked to see the Vikes win 10.

  22. Most knowledgeable predictions on the Vikings season are actually pretty high. It’s all about who actually knows football.

  23. That’s his job — if he felt or said anything different, I’d say it would be time to find another coach. This from a lifelong Packers fan and stockholder.

  24. coachkilla6 says:
    Jul 21, 2017 1:18 PM

    In January, the Vikings will be searching for their first playoff win in 8 years. Realistically, even if they get one, the odds of winning 2-3 more against teams like Atl, Dallas, Sea, and GB are astronomical. No team has ever had a playoff drought as long as the Vikings and then won a Super Bowl at the end of the drought. Glad to see most Viking fans are accepting of this reality.

    ========================================

    Um….in the nine seasons from 1990-1998, the Rams (LA/St. Louis) finished below .500 every single year, and then won the Super Bowl following the 1999 season. No, I don’t think the Vikings have the ’99 Rams offensive firepower, but suggesting that a playoff drought is a legit basis for determining the playoff success of that team in the coming NFL season is silly.

  25. coachkilla6 says:
    Jul 21, 2017 1:18 PM

    In January, the Vikings will be searching for their first playoff win in 8 years. Realistically, even if they get one, the odds of winning 2-3 more against teams like Atl, Dallas, Sea, and GB are astronomical. No team has ever had a playoff drought as long as the Vikings and then won a Super Bowl at the end of the drought. Glad to see most Viking fans are accepting of this reality.
    ________

    Just for the sake of accuracy, I thought I’d take five seconds to look this up because it sounded so wrong. The first example I saw disproving this statement was the 1999 St. Louis Rams. Not only had they not won a playoff game in 10 years (10 > 8 #math), they hadn’t even had a winning record in any of the nine seasons prior to their Super Bowl victory.

  26. The Dolphins, not even as good of a team as the Vikings on paper, suffered through major injuries on defense and lost their starting QB for their final 3 games, went 9-1 over their last 10 games and made the playoffs. The Vikings, with all of their talent and supposed great coaching, did nothing of the sort, and their fans used injuries as an excuse, when other teams go through the very same things.

    “Most knowledgeable predictions on the Vikings season are actually pretty high. It’s all about who actually knows football.”

    No. It’s really about what actually happens on the field.

  27. Other examples:

    1982 Washington Redskins
    1981 San Francisco 49ers
    1968 New York Jets

  28. It’s all about your roll.

    If the Vikes (or any other team with some talent) get rollin’ and feelin’ confident, your roll can lead you far down the road.

    BTO said it best “Let it roll.”

  29. A year ago, the Vikings seemed ready to contend for a Super Bowl appearance. Now? Not.
    _______________________

    I’m a Giants fan, and I’m not sure I understand why the Vikings have dropped so far down everyone’s lists.

    They were brutalized with injuries, mid-season coordinator changes, and their head coach missing games due to a detached retina.

    The defense is still dominant, and the offense should get better with Bradford getting a full offseason to develop chemistry. Last year’s first rounder Treadwell may or may not contribute, but Thielen, Diggs, and Rudolph are solid targets for Bradford either way.

    The only major change to the roster is swapping AP for Dalvin Cook. As a FSU fan, I’m telling you to believe the hype – this kid is special. Hopefully he can keep his head straight in the pros. I’m beyond happy the Vikes grabbed him before Philly or Washington could.

    Put it all together and this looks like the same team going into last season that started 5-0. I guess last year’s hype was all based on Teddy Bridgewater playing at a Pro Bowl level, because that’s the only thing that has changed.

  30. If I were a Viking fan (I would have to get a lobotomy first to fit in), my biggest concern is that Zimmer is so attuned to the what the press is saying about the Viking’s chances (or more accurately, lack thereof)

    There is no way a NFL head coach should spend one second of their valuable time reacting to what a bunch of sport opinionists say about your team. It’s a total waste of time and worst, it creeps into the locker room environment and not in a good way.

    Every NFL team enters the season with renewed hopes and an expectation to exceed the previous year’s record. In the Vikings case, that is where the low bar comes in, their 3-8 finish comes with a host of excuses but one common denominator, their head coach is still in place.

  31. coachkilla6 says:
    Jul 21, 2017 2:17 PM

    I stand corrected. 1 team has done it in the past 51 years. So you’re saying there IS a chance…
    ________

    No, it’s four teams. And it was a meaningless, made-up statistic anyway. Are you saying that the Vikings would have a much better chance of winning the Super Bowl if Walsh had made that field goal two years ago? Meaningless.

  32. Hey, I get it.
    I fully understand that the Barneys were the only team in the NFL to suffer injuries last season.
    I mean, every team likes going into the NFC playoffs matching up Ladarius Gunter against ODB, Dez Bryant and Julio Jones.

  33. I’m sure if the Packers lost their starting quarterback and seven offensive linemen, they would be just fine.

  34. The season revolves around the O line period. If they tank so will the Vikes, if somehow they can hold up the Vikes have a chance to be decent with the D, Cook and Bradford.

    This is mighty big IF is the problem. O Line will be the issue once again this year. Sorry Purple Fans but I’m not seeing the o line hold up no matter how much Rick wants to believe in them.

  35. The Phantom Stranger says:
    Jul 21, 2017 4:15 PM
    I’m sure if the Packers lost their starting quarterback and seven offensive linemen, they would be just fine.
    ————————
    Yeah, because the loss of Teddy Bridgewater is even comparable to that of Aaron Rodgers.
    You guys watch football, right?

    And besides, the acquisition of Bradford was an immediate upgrade over TB at the quarterback position.
    The problem was, Spieldope left the position exposed prior to the injury and had to overpay for that mistake.

    And for the record, the Vikings O-line gave up more 7 more sacks in 2015 than they did last season.
    But Hey, whatever helps you sleep better at night.

    Excuses………….Next!

  36. The Phantom Stranger says:

    I’m sure if the Packers lost their starting quarterback and seven offensive linemen, they would be just fine.
    ==============================
    Just for the record, the last time the Packers did win a Superbowl, they have a total of 15 players end up on IR that season including two starting LB’s, their best RB, Finley, a TE that was a major receiver in their offense, 2 starting OL and a total of 9 defensive players which is impactful because of all the sub packages they use on defense.

    The one thing the Packers never did (and the Viking fans did all last season) was use it for an excuse.

  37. CRY, CRY CRY. Every team has injuries. The Packers lost more quality players/game than anyone else last year (before you read anything else into it, it means starters and second string replacements). As soon as I can find the article that supports this, I’ll reference it. But that is still not the point. EVERYONE has injuries. No excuse. Oh well, next man up. Suck it up Sally. This game is not always about the first string. Its about having depth as well. You will never hear me complain about injuries. Its part of the game. Otherwise all you would see are 22 man rosters. God forbid (sorry Russell Wilson) that Rodgers goes down, GB most likely wont make the playoffs. We’re not gonna cry about it, we’ll take it in stride and if we don’t make the playoffs, then we’ll back next year.

  38. These packer fans can’t even breath without being hooked on the Viking drip. Go outside and get some fresh air.

    Just for a fun experiment it would be fun to see Rogers blow everything out of his knee and see how the season plays out for them. If the knee is overly aggressive maybe just a broken back.

  39. Saints both outplayed and outscored the Vikings in ’09. The refs tried to give it to Favre that’s the only reason it was close. Reggie Bush said this after the game too.

  40. I love how Packer fans automatically discount the importance of the quarterback position because nobody has a quarterback as good as Rodgers. It’s still the most important position in sports. If you think bringing in a new starter the week before the season starts, putting him behind an offensive line that’s held together with baling wire, and having no running game to speak of is a recipe for success, then I guess I can’t help you understand football.

    If you’re going to charge me with making excuses, so be it. You just go on thinking that there’s no reason for the Vikings offense to be better than last year and we’ll see what happens.

  41. Vikings O Line is 2 years away from competency. They have weaknesses at Safety, LB and on the DL. Their special teams are suspect. They are average at QB, even if Bridgewater returns. And they no longer have AD.

    8-8.

  42. The Phantom Stranger says:
    Jul 21, 2017 6:20 PM
    I love how Packer fans automatically discount the importance of the quarterback position because nobody has a quarterback as good as Rodgers. It’s still the most important position in sports. If you think bringing in a new starter the week before the season starts, putting him behind an offensive line that’s held together with baling wire, and having no running game to speak of is a recipe for success, then I guess I can’t help you understand football.
    —————————
    Do you honestly think your team wasn’t better served having Bradford over Bridgewater as a signal caller?
    C’mon, seriously?

    Look, Packer fans have had to listen all offseason about how horrible our secondary was last year.
    You know what, you’re all right.
    It was horrible, no excuses.

    But the reality was, we lost Pro Bowl corner Sam Shields for the season in week 1.
    Damarion’s Randall had a groin injury that required surgery missing 5 games in six weeks, but he was never the same.
    Quinten Rollins and several others missed major chunks of the season causing Thompson to sign practice squad and street free agents to fill the void.
    Does Herb Waters and Makinton Dorleant ring any bells?
    A position of strength the previous season (Pass Defense ranked #6) rapidly became a major liability.

    In the end, you can lick your wounds and whine, or you can play the hand you’re dealt with.
    It’s football, people get hurt.
    Teams have to be prepared for this fact.
    Obviously, Green Bay was more prepared than most.

  43. vegasinsiders has Vikings Super Bowl win odds at 36/1, 15th among the 32 teams. So that’s about an 8-8 team, maybe 9-7 if they stay healthy. Considering Bradford was healthy all last season, had his best year by far, and was still 7-8 as the starter, I’d hold off on buying any champagne.

    They are surprisingly ahead of Detroit at 50/1, maybe it’s all the Vikings fans betting on their team?

  44. bhuettl says:
    Jul 21, 2017 2:47 PM
    Its not how you start, its how you finish.
    —————–

    Exactly. 5-0. 3-8.

    But seriously, between football experts and Mike Zimmer, I’d say Zimmer is the one eye believe in.

  45. 11-5 isn’t a huge stretch. They were an extra point away from 9-7 last year. With a top 5 defense they should be in most every game.

  46. What Zimmer thinks doesn’t matter. He’s about to join Tice, Childress, and Frazier on the Vikings’ “best coach in the NFL” scrap pile. He’s done.

    The “Hardnose Zimmer” train left the station when he started with the goofy T-shirts and mutilated stuffed animals. It picked up steam with each position group that systematically quit on him and it went completely off the rails when the “Vaunted Zimmer Backfield” told him to go poop in his hat and did what they wanted.

    The only real question is, will Spielman fire Zimmer in hopes of saving his own job, or will it be Spielman’s replacement that fires him. Either way, Zimmer is done.

    The fun part will be watching the purples rip the flesh from Zimmer’s bones, using them to construct an altar to their new “best coach in the NFL.” Some things never change.

  47. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears have been THE team most affected by injuries more so than any other in the NFL – their Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) formula shows the Bears had:
    – League leading AGL with 155.1
    – Over 27 more AGL than the next most injured team
    – Highest AGL for any team since the year 2000
    – More players with at least six AGL (12) than any other team
    – Four more players with at least six AGL than the next closest team

    The 2016 Chicago Bears didn’t stand a chance (and yet, they STILL beat the Vikes)…

    In 2015, the Bears were #5 in the league in terms of most impact via injury.

    Even with the turnover and new additions, this is a team on the rise, ready to contend – from what I can see, it’s a team headed in the opposite direction of both the Vikes and the Packers.

    I can’t say for sure exactly which team(s) the Bears will leapfrog in the NFC North this season, but mark my words – if the injury gods are kind this year, there’s a major shake-up coming.

  48. Florio can’t seem to get over the fact that the Vikings lost fair and square in the 09 season NFCChamp game. 5 fumbles, 12 men in the huddle and an untimely Brett Favre INT. Who Dat Baby!!

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