Sunday, August 2, 2015

Monthly Archives: January 2014

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The Leslie Frazier era in Vikings history will be described in history books as, well… so forgettable that it probably won’t be mentioned in history books.  That’s just the truth of it.

There were some shrouds of mystery during Frazier’s tenure as head coach, however, and one of those was the decision to hire his former teammate and close friend Mike Singletary.  Singletary was a linebackers coach and special assistant to Frazier, but his contract expires at the end of January, and he said he plans to leave the team.  He may not have had a choice with a new regime settling in, but Singletary told the Pioneer Press this was going to be his decision whether or not Frazier was fired.

Singletary’s role with the Vikings often perplexed fans and the local beat writers.particularly prior to Fred Pagac’s promotion to defensive coordinator, and his unit has certainly not performed well since Pagac’s departure.

Singletary did say that he met with newly hired head coach Mike Zimmer and noted that he’s “been a good coach for a long time.”

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Every ounce of respect shown to Leslie Frazier in the moments following his dismissal from the Minnesota Vikings has been matched by the respect shown to Mike Zimmer upon his arrival.

Zimmer is a favorite among Bengal fans and observers and they let their displeasure be known when news broke he would be leaving to fill the head coaching vacancy in Minnesota.  His players, current and former, showered him with complimentary quotes and soundbites across all of the various media outlets.  Even his former employers have come out of the woodwork to vouch for this guy.

Widely described as man who should have been a head coach long ago, Zimmer brings Vikings fans exactly what they wanted, which is a defensive-minded coach that has a winning pedigree on his resume and a shotgun blast of a personality.  While he may be just as revered as as Frazier around the NFL, Zimmer is the polar opposite when it comes to motivational tactics and sideline composure.

Zimmer has experience with a variety of defensive schemes and it will be interesting to see what he chooses to do with this roster, but it seems highly likely that the Tampa-2 scheme we have grown so used to is now a thing of the past.  We will likely see a more aggressive attack from up front and, finally, an emphasis on quality play in the secondary.

His son, Adam, is an assistant defensive backs coach with the Bengals and seems like a possibility to get a promotion if he follows his father to the Land of Lakes.  Some have even speculated that the younger Zimmer could be a candidate for the Defensive Coordinator position under his father’s close watch.

The more pressing matter will be the offensive coordinator position.  Adam Schefter has has reported that the Vikings received permission from the Cleveland Browns to interview Norv Turner for the position.  Turner, of course, is currently in limbo after Cleveland has failed to hire their new head coach after firing their previous one for no apparent reason… but I digress.

If hiring Zimmer means getting Turner as their offensive coordinator then I consider this offseason to already be on a successful course.  While his head coaching years turned him into a punchline, I firmly believe there are few offensive minds in the NFL that can compare.  Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and [insert some quarterback here] would instantly become more likely to see major successes in the future if Turner replaces Bill Musgrave.

The Vikings have yet to announce the hire.  I expect they are currently sorting through all of the assistants that are still employed, and letting them know their status with the team prior to making anything official through the media.  In a lot of ways this is the right thing to do, as I’d rather learn about my demise from my boss than from a reporter with a Twitter account.

So, tomorrow’s news is likely to be a little more dour and consist of firings, but right now the future is looking bright for the Minnesota Vikings.  At the very least, the fans seem to be happy for the first time in a long time.

[UPDATE:  The Vikings have announced the hiring via an awkward video on their official team website.  CLICK HERE to check it out.]

I can hear the clock ticking in the background as I contemplate whether this might just be the last coaching candidate I get a chance to write about before the Vikings hire a head coach. Multipule reports are surfacing that the interview portion of the Vikings’ coaching search is mostly complete, so I’m beginning to believe that the Vikings might hire someone this week.

 Mike Zimmer impressed GM Rick Spielman so much on his first interview that it’s been reported that the Vikings want to talk to him again, soon.

It is no secret Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf is a long time fan of the New York Giants. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune goes as far as to say that Zygi loves the Giants. When former Giants’ two time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells recommended Mike Zimmer as a head coach, Zygi was obviously listening.

Who is a better fit as the next Minnesota Vikings head coach? Is this a classic case of offense versus defense… and which of those represents the bigger need for the Vikings?

 Both coaching candidates carry the dreaded “retread” label as each previously served stints as head coaches in the NFL. Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona from 2007-2012, and Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-2011, both experienced some success as head coaches and both were fired after a couple disappointing seasons.       

Ken Whisenhunt started his coaching career at Vanderbilt coaching special teams, tight ends and running backs during his first two seasons as an assistant. After spending time in Baltimore, Cleveland and with the New York Jets, Whisenhunt was hired by the Steelers to coach tight ends in 2001. He moved up the ranks in Pittsburgh and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2004. After 11 seasons as an assistant coach, Whisenhunt was named head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2007.

 Jack Del Rio got his start in 1997 as a strength coach for the Saints and then spent three seasons as a linebackers coach for the Ravens before John Fox hired him as a defensive coordinator in 2002 with the Carolina Panther. One season later, Jack Del Rio was walking the sidelines as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It only took Del Rio six seasons as an assistant coach before he landed his first head coaching job.

Chris Kluwe has always done notable things away from the football field.  Video game guru, radio personality, Shakespearian whiteboard user, rock n’ roller, and family man.  These are all things that Kluwe has received press for over the years, but he is now destined to forever be tied to the gay rights movement, but not just because of his outspoken activism.

Kluwe’s recent Deadspin article that called special teams coach Mike Priefer a bigot ensures that his legacy will be as an NFL activist instead of as a damned good punter with a nice, long career in Minnesota.

I recently noted on Twitter that I was surprised Kluwe was still being allowed to talk about his allegations publicly.  After all, he has now retained a lawyer, and it seems like normal protocol is for a lawyer to immediately and bluntly tell their clients to cease all discussions about the case.

Kluwe responded to me on Twitter, though, and pointed out that there is actually no official case to be concerned about here.  The Vikings are performing their own investigation of his allegations, which included calling out Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier as “cowards,” but Kluwe says he simply hired a lawyer to speak with other lawyers that are now involved.

I was surprised to get a response from Kluwe and asked him if he was willing to answer some more questions.  I fully disclosed that, while I respected his punting career and willingness to fight for basic human rights, I also thought his public torching of Priefer made him a hypocrite.  I also told him I thought his assessment of why the Vikings cut ties with him last offseason was off base.

Again, much to my surprise, he obliged.  In fact, his willingness to talk to someone with an opposing viewpoint saw me gain back some of the respect for him that I had lost over the last week.

The first thing I asked Kluwe was why he chose Deadspin as the home for his claims of bigotry and cowardice within the Vikings organization.  Surely he could have done more for his cause, gained even more attention, had he decided to jump on a major news network or have it distributed via a more traditional outlet.

“I could have definitely sold it to a major outlet or gotten a book deal by promising to reveal it, but that’s not what this is about,” Kluwe told me.  “It’s about showing that this type of stuff still happens, and unless we’re willing to confront it, it will keep happening.”

Kluwe also told me that he wanted his various writings to come full circle, back to where his original letter on the issue of gay rights was published, and that he received no money from Deadspin for choosing them.  He never asked for money, he says, and they never offered any.

That original article he references coined the phrase “lustful cockmonster,” among many others, which lies at the root of my issue with Kluwe.  He has never shied away from colorful rhetoric that would surely offend a certain percentage of any population sample in our society. In fact, he’s damn good at it.  So, how is it possible that Kluwe was the one that ended up being offended by over-the-top comments made by Priefer, other than that it was an opinion that differed from his own?

“Um, you literally can’t say stuff like that in the workplace environment, it’s against the law,” he said.  “[Especially] if you’re in a supervisory capacity. Also of note is his tone – at that point I had been around Mike Priefer for almost two years, had had multiple conversations with him, and this was something completely different.”

I asked him if he thought Mike Priefer would actually commit genocide if he had the power and opportunity.

“He was dead serious when he said it,” responded Kluwe.

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