Coaches' Corner: Mike Zimmer, Vikings must refocus minus Peterson
With running back Adrian Peterson seemingly done for the season, this provides closure for the Minnesota Vikings.
The players that will "benefit" the most are those that used to back up the Pro Bowler and will now carry the load for the rest of the season, Matt Asiata and Jerrick McKinnon, along with Ben Tate, who was picked up on waivers from Cleveland this week. There was a next-man-up mentality for these players when it seemed like it was a week-to-week role.
You have arguably one of the best offensive weapons in the league sitting idle waiting to come back. That has to wear on your psyche, thinking that you are going to be replaced and it could happen at any juncture.
The Vikings have had some significant injuries, including LB Chad Greenway and TE Kyle Rudolph. After watching some Vikings practices and meeting with the team a couple times earlier this year, I had the notion that almost everyone felt Peterson would return at some point this season. After sitting down with Mike Zimmer and several players, there was an immense sense of hope and they felt they would hold it down until the former MVP could play again.
Now that they absolutely know Peterson is not coming back, there will be -- and has to be a mindset shift -- in that locker room. The Vikings are a long shot for a playoff spot and they know that, but what is at stake and what is on the line is their jobs. They all have their backs against the proverbial wall. They are playing the game in its truest form -- that is for pride!
Yes, people argue that there is no such thing as a moral victory in football. However, this is one of those rare occasions where there can be a moral victory in football.
At 4-6, Zimmer needs to rally his team and get as close to .500 as it can. If the Vikings finish with a 7-9 record, that is a win for them.
They still have Green Bay and Detroit on their schedule, interdivision rivalries where anything can happen. They finish on the road, facing a tough Miami Dolphins team. That trio are the only teams on the Vikings' remaining schedule with winning records. If they can pull one upset and hand the three remaining sub-.500 teams on the schedule that is how you get the .500.
Zimmer will be a happy guy going into the 2015 season at a .500 record and that is a moral victory.