32 to 1: Zimmer's new approach may fix Vikes' old problems (VIDEO)
JUL 03, 2014 12:00a ET
Mike Zimmer once told an owner in a head-coaching interview that 31 teams would regret passing over him. The Vikings certainly hope that's the case.
Zimmer, a longtime defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, finally nabbed the big job he's craved for a long time when Minnesota hired him in January. Zimmer brings a proven defensive scheme that worked in Cincinnati to a team with a lot of young talent both in the front seven (end Everson Griffen, tackle Sharrif Floyd, rookie linebacker Anthony Barr and newcomers on the defensive line in Linval Joseph and Corey Wooton) and in the secondary (cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith).
Wooton told FOX Sports recently he believes Joseph and Floyd can be the kind of impact players up the middle Geno Atkins was for Zimmer's Bengals. Zimmer asks his linemen to put a heavy focus on stopping the run, and Wooton says the guys up front for Minnesota all buy into that philosophy. The Vikings, who were 31st in total defense last season, will need stellar play from that front this year.
Offensively, as it always seems to be for Minnesota, the unit will go as Adrian Peterson goes. The Vikings are paying Peterson $11.75 million this year, in an age when running backs make a fraction of that figure. The reason, of course, is because they know they need his big-play ability to help out an offense that would be in deep trouble without it. Quarterback Matt Cassel has only two 300-yard games in the last three seasons, and there's no reason to expect he'll be adding a whole lot to that stat this season, especially since the Vikings will be playing outside while their new stadium is being built.
Zimmer might make those other teams regret passing him over, though it may not be right away.