From head coach Mike Zimmer to General Manager Rick Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings have stated several times since the end of the 2016 season that improving their offensive line was the top priority.
Zimmer praised their toughness in an interview on Sirius XM earlier this week.
“The best thing about these two guys is that they’re great competitors, number one. I think both of them are smart guys. I think they’re tough guys,” Zimmer told SiriusXM. “I think along with Alex Boone and [Nick] Easton and [Joe] Berger and those guys that we have they’re going to try to bring that mentality that we’ve been trying to achieve since I’ve been there.”
With a team that finished last in rushing offense last year, averaging 3.2 yards per carry and had producing only 1,205 rushing yards for the season, improving the toughness of the offensive line was one part of improving that aspect of the offense and they hope Reiff and Remmers are part of the solution.
“With both those two guys I think we’ve improved at both the tackle spots, number one. They’re both guys that are really tough guys, really smart guys and they play like veterans,” Zimmer told reporters at Wednesday’s NFC coaches breakfast at the owners meetings. “They’ll change up their sets, they’ll change up their hands so they’re not getting the same thing every time and the defensive linemen don’t get in a rhythm with them.
“I think they’re probably better run blockers than they are pass protectors, but in our pass protection last year we had a lot of quick misses, guys that get beat quick and then get the quarterback hit. These guys are going to fight and make it tough for the [pass rushers] to get around. I’m not saying the other guys weren’t fighters, I’m just saying they’re going to change up their techniques.”
The Vikings also hope signing running back Latavius Murray to a three-year, $15 million contract improves the run game.
Fixing the offensive line was the top priority, and assembling a winning group of players overall has been the focusing for Zimmer and Spielman in the last few months, both in free agency and in the upcoming draft.
“We’re getting back to work tirelessly to try to figure this out, trying to get back to where we were the year before and trying to move forward,” Zimmer said on SiriusXM earlier this week.
- In his interview with SiriusXM, Zimmer said he is looking at Datone Jones as a three-technique defensive tackle after he was moved to outside linebacker last year with the Green Bay Packers. “We have to teach him how to play in there, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in our coaches,” Zimmer said.
- Zimmer has said several times that the Vikings will need some of their younger defenders to step up into bigger roles and better production this year. Asked which ones he sees taking strides forward this year, Zimmer mentioned CBs Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, DE Danielle Hunter, LB Eric Kendricks, whom Zimmer said had a “phenomenal year” in 2016. Zimmer also believes Anthony Barr will have a better year in 2017. “Anthony Barr is going to have a good year this year. I believe in my heart he’s going to play really well,” Zimmer said. “I know that he’s very motivated in what he wants to do.”
- The Mike Zimmer Foundation will hold a football camp for 300 kids in late May as part of its effort to help underprivileged youth.