That was the assessment from, well, Zimmer himself. Head coach Mike Zimmer tried to clarify his about his comments after Sunday’s loss when he said fines were going to increase for players showing up late to meetings and that it’s the players’ job to please him.
Still, even if the Minnesota Vikings’ first-year head coach was a bit emotional after a 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions, he still had a message for his team a day later.
“I want them to understand that it’s not OK to lose, that we have to change the mentality and the mindset of this,” Zimmer said on Monday. “I can remember telling the defense the same thing in Cincinnati a long, long time ago. That we have to develop this mindset that it’s not OK to lose. It’s not business as usual. I’m not very accepting of these kind of these things.”
Zimmer pointed to the special teams and pass protections as some of the main things that went wrong in the loss. In the team meeting, he apparently suggested the undisciplined performances of some could cost them playing time.
“We showed it the last two weeks. Too many penalties. We watched special teams today and we were so good in so many areas, but penalties are just killing us. That’s something that has to be solved,” fullback Jerome Felton said. “His biggest thing is like I’m going to take playing time because that’s what matters to players. That’ll get it solved real quick.”
“… You don’t perform, you won’t play. That’s what people understand, that’s what players understand. That’s what the case will be moving forward.” Zimmer confirmed in his Monday press conference that he has to consider making changes, but he said that doesn’t mean changes will be made.
By Monday, he said players showing up late isn’t a continuous issue, but he also added further context, saying two players on the practice squad missed a weight-lifting session on Saturday.
“Trust me, this is not just a Minnesota Viking issue. Guys are late across the board a lot of other places,” said former Green Bay Packers player Greg Jennings. “But again, when you’re losing, everyone is scrutinized, everyone is under the microscope. You just try to weed out everything that is not right to correct so you can have things going in the direction that you see and how he sees it and how he envisions it.”
The Vikings are 2-4 and have won just one of their last five games. Since that season-opening win, they have been outscored 137-57. That has led to a 2-4 record overall and last place in the NFC North Division with losses to the Packers and the Lions, who are tied atop the division at 4-2.
Felton said he was a “little nervous” heading into the team meeting on Monday knowing Zimmer’s propensity to tell it like it is.
“One thing about Coach Zimmer, he always keeps it 100 percent real with you,” Felton said. “You know where you stand and you can respect that as a player.”
In fact, that’s also Zimmer being Zimmer. And he prides himself on that.
“I’m always going to be pretty honest, I think. That’s my creed,” he said. “As best I can be, I’ll continue always to try to be honest with you. Maybe do a better job of trying not to let some things bother me as much. I am learning, trying to be a good head coach; I am trying to learn. I’m trying to do a better job every day, every game. I’m not perfect, just like the players aren’t. So I’ll just keep trying to do better and trying to get my team to be better.”