As the Vikings began their offseason meetings looking at the offense and defense and how those areas could improve, the former defensive coordinator spent a few hours each morning in the offensive meetings. It was a big departure from his role the past three years when Norv Turner was coordinating the offense and going through film cut-ups.
This offseason, Zimmer has reviewed every game on offense twice.
“We’d go through cut-ups, playbook installation, those things. And then in the afternoon I do it with the defense,” Zimmer said. “Basically, what I’m trying to do is get a better overall feeling of how we do things offensively, but also try to give them an opinion of the way defenses look at certain things and things like that. I’m just trying to be an extra resource in the room of a guy that kind of knows defenses.”
Although Zimmer understands offenses from his defensive coordinator experiences, there is something that stuck out that he didn’t like.
“Going through the tape, I’m watching tape, we run a complementary play off of another play but we don’t run the other play,” Zimmer said. “When I’m watching the play, I’m saying, OK, every time they do this, I know this is happening. It’s just stuff like that. But, again, it’s more about trying to get the players in the right position to be successful.”
The move at offensive coordinator from Turner to Pat Shurmur didn’t produce the winning results Zimmer or the Vikings were looking for, but it does provide a natural opportunity for Zimmer to become more involved and him and Shurmur to share ideas and see things from the perspective of a coordinator used to the other side of the ball.
How different the offense looks to the untrained eye remains to be seen, and part of the changes will be dependent on the different personnel they have.
“There’s so many variations, and quite honestly there are some things I want to do and maybe different from some of the things we’ve done in the past because I think these things are hard for defenses,” Zimmer said. “… It’s not just about scheme, it’s about players at the end of the day. But I would like to incorporate some things that I think are tough defensively.”
Another change could come by spending more time with the younger players on the offensive side of the ball.
However, no matter how involved Zimmer becomes on the offensive side of the ball, he wants to be sure he isn’t neglecting the defense. In his mind, he doesn’t want to sacrifice any effectiveness there by spending too much time on offense and has no plans to give more responsibilities, especially the play-calling duties, to defensive coordinator George Edwards. That’s always been the domain of Zimmer with the Vikings and it doesn’t sound like he will be giving that up any time soon.
“Probably not,” he said. “Because that’s a dilemma, too. What I don’t want to do is take away from part of the strength of our football team and make that a weakness. That’s the fine line you have to figure out.”