After “fear-based” approach under Mike Zimmer, Eric Kendricks is happy with new Vikings’ direction

NFL: OCT 03 Browns at Vikings
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Former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had an old-school, Parcells-style, tell-it-like-he-sees-it approach. After Zimmer was fired, linebacker Eric Kendricks characterized the team as being “fear-based” under Zimmer.

Kendricks is feeling a different emotion with the new Minnesota coaching staff. Typically, teams that fire one coach look for someone who is in many respects the exact opposite of the last one.

I’m real excited about the staff,” Kendricks said Wednesday, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Everybody’s been on board, everybody’s been communicating very well. . . We have this amazing opportunity ahead of us again. . . . Whatever happened last year is in the past and we have to move forward. We can learn from a lot of things, but we also have to adapt and change with the new year.”

Kendricks said that he had a chance to communicate directly with ownership during the process that resulted in the hiring of Kevin O’Connell.

“Just having that bridge of communication with them and the management as well, I feel like it’s not really common,” Kendricks said. “I’ve talked to players around the league and they don’t really have that communication with their ownership.”

There’s a balance to strike, however. The players can’t have too much influence over ownership. If they do, the coaching staff becomes undermined. Still, it sounds as if the last coaching staff did a pretty good job of undermining itself.

O’Connell, like Kendricks, is enjoying the honeymoon phase that comes from the plausible hope of 0-0.

“From day one, I’ve been so impressed by Eric and just his impact on our team, his impact as a leader, part of our leadership group that we have here, which I’m very, very fortunate in my first job as a head coach to have such a good group,” O’Connell said, via Tomasson.

More importantly, Kendricks is shifting from middle linebacker in a 4-3 to one of two inside linebackers in a 3-4. He said the new defense is “a little more ambiguous at times,” and that it “allows you to make decisions on the run, make plays, run around really.”

Whatever the alignment, the Vikings need better performance from all phases of the team. The past two years weren’t nearly good enough. Although plenty of excuses could be rattled off to explain the failure to make the postseason in either of the first two years with seven playoff spots per conference, the bottom line is that the product on the field wasn’t good enough. When it’s not, the person in charge of it becomes the first one to go.

44 responses to “After “fear-based” approach under Mike Zimmer, Eric Kendricks is happy with new Vikings’ direction

  1. A team should be comfortable and relaxed after a sparkling 8-9 season.

  2. Looks like another off-season championship for our favorite laughingstock.

  3. A cycle that’s as old as sports itself “The last guy was too hard on us” and then after the new guy is fired “We need a tougher guy.”

  4. is Kirk Cousins still the QB? If so, that’s the biggest fear Viking fans should have. Cousis is another .500 season waiting to happen. But yet teams pay him as if he’s a championship QB. Only in the anti-free market NFL.

  5. The nfl is a fear based league always has been and parcells told it like it was.

  6. It gets old, especially when you’re carrying the team and making up for all the coaches’ shortcomings

  7. Couple of “Kurt” Cousins INTs and a slow start and we will be hearing a different story out of that locker room.

  8. Zim lost half the lockerroom after the stuffed animal thing, and his Napolean symtoms were apparent early on.

  9. Talking trash about people after they’ve been fired is weak. Sure, Zim was an old school coach, but Kendricks was the only one who chirped. Many players throughout the years loved the guy. He did have his flaws as a coach though. I’m hoping this new regime is wildly successful, SB win and all. BUT, what matters is RESULTS not corporate buzzwords. Consensus building is the enemy of timely decision making…. Kwesi!

  10. The defense just allows him to run around on the field really. The Vikings are clearly on the cutting edge of contenders.

  11. I get that the grumpy old coach thing works for Belichick, because he’s Belichick.
    But it must have been tough for players to take Zimmer seriously when he’s had such a mediocre track record as a coach.

  12. I like Kendricks, but don’t really see the need to talk about the last regime. Zimmer had his moments, and I don’t blame him for 2016 and the Bradford debacle, but these last 2 seasons were mostly on him and his defense.
    Hopefully those around Eric will stay mostly healthy and we get a good pass rush. Also need these couple of rookie DB’s to be good. Is that asking too much?

  13. It’s possible the switch will make Kendrick’s shine even brighter. It would be good to see him get his due. Great player and I hope he ends his career in MN.

  14. Moral of the story: You don’t hire a coach of the Bengals and expect great things.

  15. The talent is there… it’s apparent that Zimmer lost the team and a new HC will get more out of them.

  16. This is the type of approach that usually seems to feel nice to the players until they start losing.

  17. Right now, Mike Zimmer is somewhere… yelling at the clouds.

  18. Poor viking players,give them all a participation trophy and some lollipops

  19. Zim was beloved in Cincinnati so I find it hard to believe he’s such a hard-ass at the Players hate them maybe the Vikings just weren’t used to discipline

  20. Everybody in MN knows that the old iron fist routine had grown old, and it wasn’t producing winning teams. Zim’s time had come. The fan base knew it. The players certainly knew it. But as stated above this is a honeymoon phase. If the new regime doesn’t produce wins, no matter the locker room culture, the honeymoon will be over quickly for players and fans alike.

  21. Weird how quickly we all went from “In Zimmer we trust!” to “Well, this guy spent a season or two standing next to Sean McVay on the sidelines, maybe he’s the answer?” 🤣

  22. I worked for a company that transferred me around a lot. Once you manage a place and leave, you are either a hero or an idiot. I’m not gonna buy into the Zimmer noise. I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of things. People choose to pick on and remember whatever they want. Looking forward the Vikes clearly are doing things differently but whether it’s better will show up in the win loss column. That’s where most fans will be looking.

  23. Two things. First is Hendricks didn’t go looking for attention. He was asked about new coaches vs old coaches and he answered the obvious. Second is the tough guy coach only works if your Parcells or Belichick or Coughlin and you win championships. If you’re Marone or Mangini or Martz, you’re just a jerk. And guys who come in as a breath of fresh air are fired later because the team is undisciplined and soft.

  24. Sounds like this is getting blown out of proportion. Zim had his style that worked for a while. Tough to be an NFL Head Coach for 8 years without being good. Just watching Kwasi and O’Connell work together in the draft room lets you know that things are going to be different. I am sure players are ready for a new and fresh approach. Best of luck to Zim. #Skol.

  25. Viking Fan Blames Officials…..Everybody Drink says:
    May 19, 2022 at 10:04 am
    Weird how quickly we all went from “In Zimmer we trust!” to “Well, this guy spent a season or two standing next to Sean McVay on the sidelines, maybe he’s the answer?” 🤣


    Check your cheddar at the door. LaFleur was no more proven when taking over for McCarthy.

  26. zim is a good guy. he got too tight when the pressure mounted and he lost the locker room. it happens. best wishes going forward.

  27. Minnesota is awash in warm fuzzies right now. If things go very well, we might reel off a few 9-8 seasons.

  28. The true test will be if the Vikings suddenly perform better than in the last two years under Zimmer.

  29. Sure, blame the last guy for the failure to tackle, cover, and block players. Funny, many players stayed with Zimmer for years. Seems Erik is the problem

  30. The Vikes will be 3-14 if theyre lucky. Zimm was not the reason for any of their failures. The players were and are still to blame.

  31. Coaches run their course. Some burn out, some get fired, and some get to hang on due to past performance when they have clearly lost a step. Zim was in the category of he had run his course. He and Rick built a very good team. They peaked and just couldn’t finish in 2017, reloaded but by that time the prime players were past their prime. It happens all the time.

  32. The hardcore thing works when you win and can coach effectively — worked for Parcels and works now for Belichick. While Zim could coach the D, he struggled on the offensive side, and when either injuries or Spielman didn’t provide him with the necessary defensive personnel, and they started losing, the fear-based crap eroded the respect he had built up. The only other way he could have succeeded is how its done to the east — have a couple HOF QBs that hide the warts of the GM and coaching staff. Well, that is until the playoffs. . . .

  33. Zimmer screamed until his eyes bled. That couldn’t have been fun.

  34. The approach that actually works is being a good person and good coach. Belichick is rough but is a good person, Tomlin and Reid are more relaxed and are good people. All three of them actually know how to coach.

  35. cruzcowboy says:
    May 19, 2022 at 12:06 am
    Bill Parcell Super Bowl winning approach you mean?
    Comparing the NFL in 2022 to 1986 or even 1996 is folly. The NFL is a financial behemoth and the money paid to coaches and players isn’t even comparable to 35+ years ago. Star players have more influence than ever and teams can’t win Super Bowls without Hall of Fame bound QB’s.

    The way Parcells apparently treated Phil Simms and Drew Bledsoe wouldn’t fly in today’s NFL. His ways are as ancient as Vince Lombardi’s.

  36. The Vikings were 5-0 and Zimmer cut the heads off of a bunch of stuffed animal cats and put them all over the locker room with a sign saying fat cats get slaughtered. The season went downhill. Then after the Vikings beat the Saints in the MN Miracle he told them they were lucky to win. Instead of saying you’re a team of destiny you can’t be beat. He brow beats them every day until the NFCCG. Result, beat into the dirt. Who in their right mind does that. There was no key to pleasing that jerk. He lost his entire team twice. Didn’t learn from his mistakes. Listened to Parcells who also burnt out players on every team he coached and only won SB’s because of having a defense littered with HOF’s and playing the one demential Broncos that only had Elway & Scott Norwood missing a FG costing Buffalo. Zimmer sealed it last year when he destroyed a rookie QB and then stabbed him in the back and ran the bus over him then backed up and did it again in a press conference. He also never played the RG Davis which now turns out he treated both of them that way out of spite for Spielman. Good riddance to that awful human being.

  37. It was simply time for Zim to go. The Vikings waited 1 season too late.

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