One of the things I was looking for in our new head coach is how well he gets along with GM Rick Spielman. I would argue that the two most important relationships in an NFL organization is the one between the head coach and the GM, and the head coach and the quarterback.
So naturally, I felt strongly that one of the things Mike Zimmer would have to be good at is Rickspeak, which is a form of language. And it's not just an introductory Language 101 you take Tuesday and Thursday morning for an easy B and a bump in the GPA.
Rickspeak is a complicated, evolutionary form of communication that takes years, if not decades to master. And yes, we'll completely ignore that fact that Spielman has been here less than a decade. Shut up.
So, how is Mike Zimmer in the ways of Rickspeak? Let's break down some of what he said during the introductory presser, shall we? Now, we won't break down the whole press conference (you can read the entire transcript here if you like), because it was over half an hour long. And, as always, what Rick or Mike actually said will be quoted first, and then what they probably meant*** will be interpreted below. There's some NSFW language in here, because Mike F@#$% Zimmer, yo.
***Once again, I couldn't tell you if that's what they actually meant or not. I mean, it could be. But I could also be King of the Internet.
Vikings owner Mark Wilf had an opening statement, then turned it over to Rickspeak Zen Master Rick Spielman, who also had an opening statement. He talked about several things, but most notably was the hiring process:
What Rick Said: Thanks everybody for coming. I want to first and foremost thank the Wilf family. They were an extremely important part of this process. They were at every interview that we had went to, we did seven coaches in an eight day span and I appreciate everything giving us all the resources we needed to do to get that done.
What Rick Meant: I want to thank the Wilfs for not firing me, and watching me go through the interview process more closely than a Predator drone. They fully realize that the three biggest decisions I've had as GM/guy that helps make personnel decisions in this organization I've gone out and picked Tarvaris Jackson, Christian Ponder, and Leslie Frazier. So my track record is about as impressive as the city of Detroit's ability to balance a budget, and they pretty much ran the show. Did I mention that I'm still pretty happy to be employed? Because the economy kinda sucks right now.
Next up was Mike Zimmer:
What Mike Said: My family and I are thrilled and excited to come to Minnesota, a place with such tremendous passion and proud tradition. I walk down these hallways in the building here and I see all the jerseys up on the wall of all the great players who have played here - Hall of Fame players. I can walk down to the end of the hallway and talk to Hall of Fame coaches like Bud Grant.
What Mike Meant: This is so AWESOME WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! BUD GRANT HAS AN OFFICE NEXT TO ME, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? HOW COOL IS THAT MAN? WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Sure wish guys like Eller, Page, and Marshall were still on the team, though.
What Mike Said: I want our fans to be proud of the way we play - tough, resilient, physical football and a team that makes big plays and represents them on the field and in the community. We don’t win alone. We win as a team and I am determined to bring a championship to Minnesota and I can’t wait to get to work. Thank you.
What Mike Meant: I want our fans to be proud of the way we play - tough, resilient, physical football and a team that makes big plays and represents them on the field and in the community. We don’t win alone. We win as a team and I am determined to bring a championship to Minnesota and I can’t wait to get to work. Thank you.
From there, we moved on to the Q and A portion of the presser.
Q: Have you decided on your coordinators yet?
What Mike Said: No. We are still working on the staff situations on everything right now. We are going to announce the entire staff at a later time when we get them all finished.
What Mike Meant: I know exactly who I want, chucklehead. I'm not going to tell you, though.
Q: When you look at the roster you inherited, how do evaluate the situation and the players you now have?
What Mike Said: I am a big believer in when we get out here in the field show me what you can do. I don’t ever want to pre-judge a player from what I see on film because I do not know what the previous coaches have told them and I have my own ideas on the way I want to do things.
What Mike Meant: I don't know what the hell was going on here before, but on film it looked like a combination Clown Show and Kabuki Dick Dance Theater. When I get these guys out on the field, I'm going to be watching them, because I'm pretty sure the previous coordinators didn't know what the hell they were doing. I'll fix it, too.
Q: How involved do you plan on being with designing the defense?
What Mike Said: Very. I plan on it being very similar to what I have done in Cincinnati. It’s always going to be part of my little baby because that is who I am and what has got me here. So that will always be a big part of me.
What Mike Meant: How involved are you in writing your story, dweebish little journalist person? Do you have any more stupid questions, or can I get back to work?
Q: What did you want to hear from the Vikings to be sold on this job?
What Mike Said: Actually there were quite a few things. I wanted to find out how Rick and I could work together because I think that’s maybe the most important thing is the General Manager and the head football coach are on the same page. I talk a lot with the players about being on the same page; everybody understanding their roles, knowing what to do, and how to do it, and how we expect to do it. Him and I being on the same page is probably more important than anything and then with the Wilfs. They want to win a Super Bowl as badly as anybody in the world, and I honestly can’t wait to stand on the podium with Zygi, Mark and Jonathan and we are standing on the podium, and we look up and the confetti is falling down on top of us, and we are all hand in hand, and Commissioner Goodell comes over and he hands the Super Bowl trophy to Mr. Wilf, and tells him he is World Champions. So that is my goal and that is my drive.
What Mike Meant: Is Rick Spielman a dickhead? If he is, can I work with him? If he is a dickhead, could I be an even bigger dickhead if I had to to get my way on something? Mr. Wilf is so desperate to win a Super Bowl we could be the next Kim Jong-Un and Pol Pot, but if we don't fuck this up and win a Super Bowl, they're going to build statues of us. And seriously, if I didn't give you goosebumps describing the confetti falling down when Roger Goodell hands us the Lombardi trophy, you're not a Vikings fan. You're probably a fascist that hates America, or a Packers fan. Pretty much one in the same, though, amirite?
Q: What were your impressions of the Vikings team you played against this year?
What Mike Said: Honestly I studied their offense and I was nervous as all get out that week. They were 13th in the league in offense when we played them. They’ve got a lot of talent, they have some physicality to them, and obviously they have some great players on the offensive side of the ball so I thought it was going to be a heck of a game. Sometimes those kind of games just turn out the way they did.
What Mike Meant: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I went fishing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and we still kicked their ass.
Q: Do you think your bluntness hurt you in previous interviews and did you change anything in this interview with the Vikings?
What Mike Said: I was never blunt in any interview. I was never direct in any interview. I told them what I think; I would wish that you could ask these guys over here how I was in that interview. I was not any different in any one. So that was a perception by whoever put that out there. That was not the case.
What Mike Meant: I got the job, bitches, and the Vikings are going to start kicking ass. How's that for blunt?
Q: Every team but the Vikings has a franchise quarterback in place in the NFC North. How big of a challenge will it be for you to address that issue and get a quarterback to lead your team?
What Mike Said: We are going to do our very best to have the best quarterback in the division. I understand that there are some very good quarterbacks in this division. But my job is to win football games, but is not to worry about if our quarterback is fourth best in the division or first best in the division. What we want to try to do is win football games however we have to. It doesn’t matter what type of offense, I have ran the four-three, and I have run the three-four, and quite honestly as long as everyone is on the same page, everybody knows what they are supposed to do, everyone does it to the best of their ability, you can win football games. A lot of times if you don’t make mistakes you beat half of the teams in this league.
What Mike Meant: It's like trying to climb Mount Everest naked, with no oxygen tank or Sherpas. You better be happy winning games 3-0, 6-2, or 10-7. 17 points will be a goddamn offensive tsunami, and on defense, I'll play 16 guys on the field if I can get away with it. Because maybe, just maybe, if the defense didn't collapse like a lung that's been shot by a .50 cal, I wouldn't be standing here right now.
Q: Do any of the quarterbacks on the roster work for what you are trying to accomplish?
What Mike Said: I have honestly been here 48 hours. I am trying to get coaches hired number one. I am looking at some of the defensive players first and once we get the offensive coordinator hired I think we are going to sit down and start to evaluate those guys, but I think that it would be unfair for me to come up here and say so and so is not ready to play, or so and so is going to be a great quarterback. We all have to prove our worth. That is no different than myself or the quarterback or anybody else.
What Mike Meant: Nope.
Q: Do you prefer the four-three defense and what is your defensive philosophy?
What Mike Said: Honestly, I want to fit our scheme to the players to the best of their abilities. Like I said before, it really does not matter if it is a three-four or a four-three, and as far as my philosophy I want to stop the run and I want to hit the quarterback. However that is, if we got to blitz I think we have a great blitz package, but I want to be fundamentally sound in what we do. There are teams that can go out there who can go out and make a lot of big plays, but they are not fundamentally sound. Then when the game gets on the line, they do not perform in the crucial situations of the game.
What Mike Meant: I don't care what I run as long as I kick your ass. But before I can kick your ass with this group, I need to figure out if they can find their ass with both hands, because I'm not sure if they can. When they can do that, we're coming for you, and we won't stop until you're a twitching mass of death.
Q: Have you been encouraged to keep any coaches from Leslie Frazier’s staff and do you anticipate keeping any?
What Mike Said: No I haven’t been encouraged. What they want to do here is get the best football staff that they can have here. We have talked about different situations and coaches but we are just trying to work through all of those things. It has been kind of a whirlwind here. I had to find the bathroom the first day so it is not like it is business as usual for me.
What Mike Meant. No. I have to pee. One more stupid question, and I will pee in your beverage, stupid reporter person.
Mike Zimmer. Football coach, Renaissance Man, and pretty straightforward, all things considered. At least he didn't say 'we'll look at the tape, make some corrections, and get ready for minicamp'. That makes him an A+ hire, at least initially.