Vikings' Zimmer has big dreams
By Chris TomassonSt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Zimmer already has won a Super Bowl as an assistant coach. Now, he's got one as a head coach. At least in his dreams. "I had a heck of a dream last night," the Vikings' first-year coach ...
By Chris Tomasson
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Mike Zimmer already has won a Super Bowl as an assistant coach. Now, he’s got one as a head coach.
At least in his dreams.
“I had a heck of a dream last night,” the Vikings’ first-year coach said Friday. “I dreamt we won the Super Bowl. It was amazing. It was real, too. I was getting ready to get up on that podium, but then I woke up.”
Reality will hit Zimmer on Sunday. That’s when he makes his regular-season debut as an NFL head coach at St. Louis.
Zimmer spent the previous 20 years as an assistant, winning a Super Bowl with Dallas as defensive backs coach after the 1995 season. Now, he’s playing for keeps after directing the Vikings to a 4-0 preseason mark.
“It hasn’t hit yet, but it will,” Zimmer said. “I’ll be nervous. I’m excited, though. I’m excited to watch this team play. If we play it like we practice, and do it like we did, I really shouldn’t be nervous because we’re doing the right things. But it’s just my nature that I’m a high-strung type.”
Zimmer spent some time at practice Friday with former Vikings coach Jerry Burns and team consultant Paul Wiggin, a former NFL coach. The two told Zimmer they were nervous before every game, let alone a first game as a head coach.
“It’s a big game for Zimmer, I’m sure of that,” said Burns, who coached the Vikings from 1986-91. “I think any coach would be nervous before his first game. Everything rides on your shoulders, and it took (20) years for him to get his first opportunity as a head coach. ... But I’m sure he’ll have the team very ready. Everything I’ve seen with them looks good so far. I’m just wishing him the best of luck.’ ”
Burns wasn’t able to offer Zimmer advice about winning his debut since the Vikings lost to Detroit, 13-10, in Burns’ first game as head coach in 1986. But if one counts Bud Grant’s second stint as coach in 1985, first-year Minnesota coaches at least have a winning record (5-4) in their debuts.
The Vikings haven’t won a road game since Dec. 23, 2012, at Houston, going 0-8-1 in playoff and regular-season away games since then. But Vikings players are considering this a new era under Zimmer, who replaced the fired Leslie Frazier.
“It would be great just to get that (first win) out of the way,” wide receiver Greg Jennings said. “But our mind-set, regardless of it being Coach Zimmer’s first time out there as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, is just to be successful as a team. If we do the things that he’s preached all offseason, out-execute and out-hit our opponent, then we can get that done.”
Jennings enjoyed hearing about Zimmer’s Super Bowl dream, saying, “I love it.” Fullback Jerome Felton said the Vikings “want to make that dream a reality.”
For those who wonder if Zimmer’s dream could come true, the Vikings are facing a team Sunday that knows about such things. The Rams in 1998 went 4-12, even worse than Minnesota’s 5-10-1 last season, and won the Super Bowl the next season.
“What you want is your head coach to feel like that because that’s how we feel in this locker room,” wide receiver Jarius Wright said. “Sometimes that’s a start, dreaming it and picturing it and imagining it.”
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