The Vikings lost a key member of their coaching staff last July when offensive line coach Tony Sparano died of heart disease and head coach Mike Zimmer discussed the impact of that loss on the team during his end of season press conference on Thursday.
Zimmer said Sparano credited assistants Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko with doing an “unbelievable job” of taking on Sparano’s responsibilities, but said Sparano was an “extremely influential” member of the coaching staff and that the team lost some of its identity because he wasn’t on hand for the season.
“Quite honestly, the death of Tony Sparano really kind of threw things into a little bit of a downward spiral, only because the fact that this guy was type-A personality,” Zimmer said. “He was very innovative in the running game, had a strong voice in that room and had a strong voice with me. Yes, I do feel like we lost a little bit of our identity. We are going to get that back.”
Zimmer focused a lot on the team’s mentality when discussing where things went off track for the Vikings in 2018 and said he wants to get the team back to feeling “we’re going to win regardless or no matter what the situation is” when they return to work this year.