Being a perfectionist has its disadvantages. Sharrif Floyd can relate, and the coaches see that in him, too.
The Minnesota Vikings’ defensive tackle came into the league as a first-round draft pick with high expectations, but it took time for him to develop. Floyd started only one game as a rookie, but after Kevin Williams left for Seattle via free agency, it was Floyd’s time to step into the starting lineup. The timing coincided with the first season of Mike Zimmer’s defense in Minnesota.
Last year, Floyd started 11 games, had 55 tackles and 4½ sacks, but it was still a steep learning curve.
“He kind of caught on to exactly what we’re expecting out of him. He wasn’t thinking as much. He was able to use more of his athleticism,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said of Floyd’s emergence in the second half of the 2014 season. “The more as we worked through the course of the season, I think you saw him get better. He had a real good offseason and we’re off to a good start right now. So again, I’ll wait until we get into pads and you can see the consistencies and all those things as we go through training camp, but we’re excited where he’s at right now and look for him to keep continuing to grow.”
Floyd admits there was plenty of thinking involved in the first year of Zimmer’s defense and that slowed him down initially.
“Any play that he called, you can easily overthink it and that’s just what I’ve got to not focus on. Not overthink it and just play ball because when I’m playing ball and I’m locked in and when I’m going, I think I can be a handful,” he said.
“I like being perfect in what I do and coming out, even that one mess-up or two mess-ups, I feel like that’s not (good) enough. I feel like I’ve got to finish at 100 percent and that’s what I fight for, perfection.”
Nose tackle Linval Joseph said that’s a natural tendency and is commonplace among NFL players. The key is letting the mistake go and moving forward to the next play.
“I feel like everybody does that. I could make a big mistake and if I think about it too long, if I don’t let it go, it might bother me for the next play,” Joseph said. “At the end of the day, one play can cost you the game sometimes, but when it’s at the beginning of the game and you make a mistake, you have to forget about it and you’ve got to make up for it and that’s what we’re teaching here now.”
This will mark the first time in Floyd’s burgeoning career that he is in the same system. As a rookie, it was Leslie Frazier’s Tampa-2 system and Williams was in front of him. In Year 2, it was trying to digest Zimmer’s attacking style of play. This year, he’s excited to feel like he has a grasp on what is expected and simply go out and execute.
Zimmer is starting to see signs of that happening.
“There was one play (Sunday) and I was like, wow, that was pretty special. He’s got to continue to get better with his pass rush, playing the run,” Zimmer said. “The biggest thing honestly with Sharrif, what he has to do is he can’t let little things affect his play. He’s got to be able to every day, every way, it’s tough in there so these guys have got to be able to fight through some things. That’s what he’s going to have to do.”
Mental quickness comes with experience in the system, but physical quickness is something Floyd will have to continue to improve, Joseph said, and every little step matters.
“Just work on his craft – his hands, his quickness, his steps,” Joseph said. “Every little thing matters in the NFL. One half-step will just cost you a touchdown, cost you an extra 10 yards. That’s what he’s working on, the little things.”
‘Perfectionist’ attribute can have drawbacks
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