Zimmer reflects on months as head coach

Mike Zimmer talked about getting to know his players and coaching staff in his nearly five months as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, an opportunity he wasn't sure would happen.

Mike Zimmer sat down recently to reflect on a whirlwind of activity since taking the job as Minnesota Vikings head coach and realized how quickly time passes with so much on his plate.

His tally revealed it's been nearly five months since taking the job, despite it seeming like only a few weeks. There has been the hiring of a coaching staff, a relatively aggressive free-agent period, a surprisingly busy draft weekend, veteran and rookie minicamps, and he is now halfway through the league maximum of 10 organized team activities.

On Wednesday afternoon, he had some time away from the office to spend in the community helping build – or at least supervise the building of – a playground at the Lucy Craft Laney School in Minneapolis. It was the ninth year the Vikings have participated in the event in conjunction with Toro and KaBOOM! playground equipment.

"I've really, really been impressed with the way this team works. This team works. They're hungry, they want it, they study," Zimmer said. "Those things have been really positive for me. So as far as the surprising things, not much really. The coaching staff that we hired, we got very, very lucky. The guys are all experts in their fields and they're doing a great job of coaching and demanding what we want from the players."

Zimmer told FOX Sports over the weekend that he considered not going to his second interview for the Vikings job after being turned down for similar positions more than a handful of times in recent years. He admitted that was true, although he said he wasn't really that close to cancelling his visit.

"Really when I got up here and I spent more time with Rick (Spielman) and the people with the organization, got a chance to be around some of the players, I felt like it was a perfect fit," Zimmer said. "Since the day I've walked in, I don't think it could have been a better situation for me. Thank God that I did do that. I think what it does show you, though, is you've got to keep persevering all the time, no matter how despondent you get at certain times. When I was thinking about not going on the visit, it had nothing to do with the Vikings. It was just kind of the feeling of a loss until you get over it and then you go about your business."

Since late April he has had the chance to start working the veterans, and since the weekend after the draft most of the rookies have been involved, too. Zimmer is still getting to know his players, but he isn't sure if he will assemble a leadership committee like his predecessor, Leslie Frazier, implemented.

"I've thought about it. Sometimes if you've got a leadership committee and they come up with all these ideas and I don't want to do it, then they get mad at me," he said. "I've always felt like, when I was coaching defense, they'd say, ‘Well, you don't have any leaders and I'd say, ‘Well, yeah, I'm the leader.' It's nice to have them on the field and guys that take charge in the locker room, but it's important that I try to be the leader, too."

Zimmer has admittedly spent the majority of his time with the defense, leaving the design of the offense and the implementation of it largely up to Norv Turner, who has three decades of experience in the NFL.

But just like Zimmer is getting to know his players, he has learned a lot about his offensive coordinator, too. While Zimmer came to Minnesota with the reputation for fiery leadership, he wasn't aware how often Turner can turn boisterous in his coaching.

"I love it. He's coaching them hard; he's demanding. He's very similar to me in a lot of ways and it's been great," Zimmer said. "We sit down almost every single day and talk about things. I was watching a lot of the offensive tape this morning and he came in and I asked him a lot of questions. We've bounced different ideas off each other. He's been fantastic as far as not only on the field coaching but as a sounding board for me and some of the things that have come across his desk before.

"Like there's a reputation on me, I guess there's a reputation on him as well. But it's nothing like I anticipated. It's been good."

The Vikings have two more weeks of practices – one more week of OTAs and then the mandatory minicamp from June 17-19 – before players are given some time away prior to checking into training camp in Mankato on July 24.

Three rookies that were drafted from the Pac-12 haven't been allowed to participate the last two weeks because their schools are still in session, but linebackers coach Adam Zimmer (Mike's son) will continue to visit first-round pick Anthony Barr in California on occasion, going again later this week, and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson is doing the same with guard David Yankey.

Zimmer will work on his 58th birthday on Thursday, but he is also scheduled for some time away in Kentucky before training camp.

Then it's back to work in preparation for his first season as an NFL coach, something that might not have been possible if he let fleeting thoughts of declining a second interview persist.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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