Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings coach likes the mindset, not the penalties

Mike Zimmer sees a fine line between the Minnesota Vikings’ aggression and drawing penalties. Two of the penalized players explain, too.

The Minnesota Vikings were able to bounce back in Week 2 of the regular season and play a physical style of football that allowed them to dominate both sides of the ball for a majority of the game. This was a vast turn around from the team people saw on national television in Week 1 when the San Francisco 49ers basically had their way with the Vikings offensively and defensively.

When a team is playing aggressively and physically, though, it can lead to some penalties. One example was left tackle Matt Kalil, who was blocking on a run play and ended up going past the whistle.

“I didn’t go into that thinking it was going to be a penalty, but it was kind of the tone of the game,” Kalil said. “We wanted to get after them and finish guys. It is what it is. It’s something extremely dumb, but I don’t think coach (Mike) Zimmer would ever tell us to be less aggressive. That’s the type of coach he is. He likes that stuff. If I can go back, would I probably do it again? Yeah. I’m just trying to finish guys and I don’t think it was anything cheap after the play. It was just right after the whistle blew so it is what it is.”

Zimmer is known for being an aggressive guy and he tries to bring that type of attitude to his players as well. When asked about Kalil’s penalty, it was hard for him to be upset about it, but at the same time he wishes his tackle wouldn’t have drawn a penalty.


“I don’t want penalties obviously, but we are trying to build a physical, tough presence,” he said. “I want our guys to finish blocks, we have to stop on the whistle, but I like the mentality of that part. Now, we’ve got to be smarter and stop on the whistle. He was trying to finish on that particular play. He was late and there was no question it was a penalty, but I like the mindset. I don’t like the penalty; I like the mindset.”

But there were also plenty of penalties that the head coach was not too happy with. The Vikings committed 10 penalties on Sunday, which amounted to 97 yards. And most of those penalties came during the second half when the Detroit Lions were trying to come back and tie the game.

It’s the stupid penalties that Zimmer has a problem with and there were plenty of them in Sunday’s game. The coach was asked about two specifically. One was a delay of game call on wide receiver Mike Wallace when he tried to spin the ball after a third-down conversation. The other was a personal foul on linebacker Anthony Barr when he pushed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford when he had already run out of bounds.

“Those were dumb penalties,” Zimmer said. “Anthony, for some reason, he got upset about something during the game and the guy, he slowed down when he stepped out of bounds, but he was out of bounds. There’s no need to do that. We want to play tough, clean, smart football and that was not tough, clean and smart. Mike, I addressed it pretty quick when I talked with him and he said, ‘Coach, that won’t happen again.’ Sometimes we all make mistakes, too, but sometimes I have to get my point across to them as well.”

This is Wallace’s first year with the Vikings. When he was asked about the penalty, he took ownership of it and said that simply wasn’t him. He just got a little too excited.

“Yeah, I was a little excited,” He said. “I’m not going to do that again; you don’t have to worry about that. I’ll just set it down next time and celebrate after.

“No choice words (from the coaches). They all know I’m not really that guy. I just got a little excited. I’m not really going to cost the team too often, I try not to anyway. That’s not really my thing. Like I said, just excited, not going to do it again.”

There is often a fine line teams have to walk between being aggressive and being disciplined. Zimmer is trying to get his team there, but after Sunday’s performance it is clear they are not quite there yet. They had the aggressive/physical play down, but now they just need to settle down and not take things too far and draw penalties that end up hurting the team. 

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