Powers: Vikings' Zimmer about to drop the hammer

By Tom Powers St. Paul Pioneer Press That thumping sound you hear this morning is Mike Zimmer bringing down the hammer at Winter Park. He's had enough. "I'm just saying some of the things we're doing lead to undisciplined play," Zimmer said. "We'...

By Tom Powers

St. Paul Pioneer Press

That thumping sound you hear this morning is Mike Zimmer bringing down the hammer at Winter Park.

He’s had enough.
“I’m just saying some of the things we’re doing lead to undisciplined play,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got to change a lot of these things. I had to fine a lot more guys this week, for whatever reason - missing meetings, late to meetings, whatever. I’m not going to let it slide. I’m going to keep pounding my head and, like I told them, the fines are going to start going to the max now.”
Zimmer pretty much opened up a vein and bled all over the place after the Vikings’ lackluster, 17-3 home-field loss to the Detroit Lions. It’s very un-NFL-like for a coach to speak so candidly as to imply that certain guys might not be taking their jobs seriously enough. It tarnishes the corporate image. But unlike his predecessors, it’s clear that Zimmer is not going to cover for his players.
How in the world can anyone show up late for work after suffering such a humiliating 42-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers the previous week?
“We’ve got guys on the sidelines talking to officials,” Zimmer said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t talk to the officials; let me do it.’ We’re undisciplined. Trust me, we’re going to get disciplined.”
He’d better hurry. The season is slipping away. Sunday’s performance was flat-out awful. I suspected they’d lose to the Lions, but not in this manner. Conventional wisdom had it that their porous defense would be their undoing. Instead, the offense collapsed. Surprise!
Minnesota’s defense gave up just 17 points, although it should be noted that Lions kicker Matt Prater couldn’t kick the ball into the ocean if he were teeing it up in a row boat two miles off shore. If he could, Detroit would have had a larger margin of victory.
Teddy Bridgewater was sacked a whopping eight times as Vikings offensive linemen resembled turnstiles. The Lions didn’t even blitz very much, either. There was no running game, no passing game, no nothin’. Oh, and Norv Turner’s playbook appears to be stuck in 1992.
“It was just one of those days where we needed to show up and we didn’t,” Bridgewater’s earthly remains said afterward.
Now Zimmer, clearly disgusted, says there will be no more Mr. Nice Guy. I don’t know if fines will do the trick. All these fellows are loaded with cash. Perhaps he’ll need to arm himself with a crowbar. Or better yet, declare a seven-days-a-week 1 a.m. curfew. That will shake up a significant chunk of the team.
“I’m the boss,” Zimmer said. “It’s their job to please me, not the other way around.”
All the Vikings should get serious here. This undisciplined behavior does not appear to dovetail smoothly into the culture of accountability that originally was promised by the racketeering owners. People need to do the right thing.
“I fine guys every time, any time, they’re late to a meeting,” Zimmer declared. “This week, there were a couple more than normal. Some weeks we haven’t had any. So when you have to get back and get treatment, be on time for treatment. It’s not about coming in at 8:10 when you’re supposed to be there at 8 o’clock.”
Still, I’m not sure this is completely about a lack of discipline. There is evidence to suggest that these Vikings just aren’t very good. Zimmer said he’s having a hard time getting a read on them. He is particularly baffled by the fact that his guys practice well and then play poorly.
“We had a good week in practice. We practice good,” he said. “Sundays, we don’t play as good as we need to. That’s the thing I can’t figure out: Why don’t we play like we practice? You don’t see any of this stuff going on in practice.”
That’s easily fixable, however. Charge people to come in and watch practice and let them in for free on game days.
“We’ve been prepared for every single team we’ve played this entire season,” center John Sullivan said. “We just need to go out and play better football.”
Yeah, and we just need to go out and end world hunger, stop all wars and develop cures for dreaded diseases. Some things are easier said than done.
One more thing. This may seem petty but it’s really bothering me. The Vikings have Cordarrelle Patterson, their best offensive weapon, returning kicks. They have struggled on defense. So when they win the coin flip, why do they defer? Why don’t they elect to receive? They deferred Sunday and very quickly found themselves down 7-0. It doesn’t make sense.
Next week they play in Buffalo. We’ll see if they are more disciplined and win. Or if they are more disciplined and lose. Or if they simply remain a lost cause.
The Pioneer Press is in a media partnership with Forum News Service.

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