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Zim Tzu is put in to hibernation

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The Vikings warrior poet coach dispenses his words of wisdom

Eric Thompson

ED NOTE: This has bad words. Most of the other things we write on here usually don’t, but this one does. It seems to be a popular bit, so until the law catches up with me, I’m going to keep doing it. Thanks for understanding, and thanks for not reading and not letting your kids read it if bad language isn’t your thing. Hope you enjoy the rest of our articles—Ted

When you’re a warrior poet, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control and try as you might, you can’t get back on track. Things seem to be set up for success, but for whatever reason, you end up walking in cement for most of the season, and can never really get on a roll.

And then, when you face your final stinging defeat, it means the sudden and shocking end of the campaign. When that happens, you can do one of two things: you can pack it in and negotiate terms, or you can go into winter quarters with your broken and ragged troops, re-focus, and hopefully you’ll be re-born come Spring.

Warrior poets don’t pack it in, though. They find their Valley Forge, hunker down, and fix shit.

Because you are Zim Tzu, the Once And Future King Of The North, Commodore of the Underwater Mammals, Father Of The Cheese Lands, Emperor of the Motor City Feline Tribe, Grounder of Airplanes, Defrocker of Cardinals, Subduer of Equestrian Excrement Consumers, Nightmare of Clan Fromage, Breaker Of Gold Fever, High Septon Of Eagan, Lord Commander Of The Iron Range And Twin Cities, Master Of Fortress TCO, Honorary Elder Of Mankato and Protector Of The Realm.

Your end of campaign speech is probably the most important one, s it sets the tone for the next year. So your words must broken down to simple terms, terms that can be understood by all. And that’s what our charge* is here at The Daily Norseman. We take these words, translate them,** and them present them in a manner which can be understood by all.***

*I emphasize ‘charge’, not ‘conviction’.

**There is no translation. I can barely speak English.

***The Law Firm of Franklin, Bash, and Bateman remind you that Ted is an idiot, he has no psychic abilities, and takes parts of Mike Zimmer press conferences and makes up 100% fake answers.

As is usually the case, Zim Tzu had an opening statement.

What Zim Tzu said: We started our evaluations from this past season trying to look back at everything that went on and where we need to go from here. There were a lot of good things that happened. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach the goals that we wanted to. It was disappointing we ended up finishing that way. But there are a lot of good, positive things. We finished top five in defense again. We finished number one in red zone defense. Finished number one in third down defense again. There are a lot of good things. There are a lot of things we have to get cleaned up. Like I told the team the other day, we are going to evaluate everything very thoroughly, including myself, and everywhere that we are going to go from there.

What Zim Tzu meant: In looking at the totality of the season, we sucked. There was nothing good and positive about being a pre-season Super Bowl favorite and then missing the playoffs. Finishing number one in third down defense but giving up six straight third down conversions to the Bears in the penultimate drive of the penultimate game of the year is like saying ’man, that Titanic, it’s pretty good fuckin’ ship. Very seaworthy.’

Q: What does that mean to you when the way players are supporting you and ownership?

What Zim Tzu said: Honestly it doesn’t mean that much. I never had any doubt that anybody was not supporting me or anything like that. I think if you look over the five-year track record, you might, but unfortunately, this is a, “What did you do for me now?”

What Zim Tzu meant: Nothing matters and I am dead inside. That’s what it fuckin’ means.

Q: How are you looking at the offensive coordinator position?

What Zim Tzu said: I’m looking at all kind of options there. We are sitting down, and again, we are evaluating everything. I think Kevin is a really good football coach. Very smart guy. I thought he did a good job for the three weeks that we were in a tough situation that we had to do. It’s fair to the organization to myself, to the fans, that we look at everybody.

What Zim Tzu meant: Offense? Never heard of her. Didn’t you just hear me go on and on about the defense?

Q: How does it complicate Kevin Stefanski not being under contract and being able to talk to teams?

What Zim Tzu said: Well he is technically under contract until Tuesday. So we have exclusive rights to that. Obviously, I’ll decide before then.

What Zim Tzu meant: Kevin Stefanski has already packed his shit.

Q: Did your team’s identity change this year?

What Zim Tzu said: I believe it did, yes. Quite honestly, the death of Tony Sparano really kind of threw things into a little bit of a downward spiral, only because the fact that this guy was type-A personality. He was very innovative in the running game, had a strong voice in that room and had a strong voice with me. Yes, I do feel like we lost a little bit of our identity. We are going to get that back.

What Zim Tzu meant: I believe it did, yes. Quite honestly, the death of Tony Sparano really kind of threw things into a little bit of a downward spiral, only because the fact that this guy was type-A personality. He was very innovative in the running game, had a strong voice in that room and had a strong voice with me. Yes, I do feel like we lost a little bit of our identity. We are going to get that back. (Look, I’m just not going to joke about Tony Sparano’s death.)

Q: What is important for the next offensive coordinator and what kind of things do you want to see that person bring to the table?

What Zim Tzu said: I think the biggest thing we’ve got to score points. We didn’t score enough when we were in the red zone. Obviously, I want to be able to run the football and play action pass because I think that is the most effective way to affect a defense. We didn’t score enough points in the red zone. We weren’t good enough on third downs. There were a lot of things that we need to improve on there. That is going to be big. Part of it is making sure that we are able to without getting too complicated in the X’s and O’s. But a lot of the things I’ve been thinking about is, ‘We’ve got this great player. How are we going to block him?” Let’s get innovative with this so we can protect and be able to throw the ball or protect and be able to run the ball to a different spot.

What Zim Tzu meant: I’m looking for a guy that isn’t allergic to the end zone, and doesn’t run an offense more imbalanced than the group sessions in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Q: What have you learned from the experience this year of hiring John DeFilippo new and then having to make that change in the middle of the season?

What Zim Tzu said: It wasn’t. Again, I think DeFilippo was a good football coach. I just didn’t like the direction that it was going at the time and I was trying to make something to get us going again and get us going back in the right direction. I was trying to get us out of the little tailspin that we were in. I learned that, and I’ve thought about this a lot, I’ve learned a lot about the questions, the interview process, about things that I should probably do a lot better than what I did. Hopefully I’ll do better this next time.

What Zim Tzu meant: I learned that if I fuck up another OC hire, he better be able to be an interim coach because it’ll be my ass getting fired next time.

Q: Are you talking about the interviews for prospective offensive coordinator candidates?

What Zim Tzu said: Yes, a lot of that. We do a lot of research on guys and guys names pop up and pop up and pop up. You kind of assume that’s the right way but it may not be the right way for your particular football team. I need to do a better job there, yes.

What Zim Tzu meant: You will accept Hue Jackson as your new offensive overlord, and you will fucking like it.

Q: Do you feel like you missed something in that process?

What Zim Tzu said: Not necessarily that. I just don’t think I asked enough questions as far as what we were trying to get done, maybe. I don’t think, not with him, personally. Probably with everybody that we talked to.

What Zim Tzu meant: Yes.

Q: Are you concerned about Kirk Cousins’ performances in big games and clutch situations?

What Zim Tzu said: I see that statistic and obviously it’s not a good statistic. Quite honestly, it’s about the football team. One guy doesn’t win games around here, one guy doesn’t lose games. I don’t take it that way. I have a lot of confidence in Kirk. I’ve talked to him, I’ve talked to some other people about how I can help him better and things that I can do moving forward and so he’s going to come out and play really good next year.

What Zim Tzu meant: LOL God yes and I will shit my pants all off-season over this.

Q: In what ways did Kirk Cousins live up to your expectations and what you would like to see him improve on?

What Zim Tzu said: Certainly there’s a lot of things in both areas. I really don’t want to get into specifics, sit here in front of all of you and tell you what he can get better at. I’d rather talk to him about those things. As far as the things he did good, number one he came in here and was a great teammate. He studied real hard, he worked extremely hard at everything he was trying to get done. I do think there’s some areas he could get better at and I’m sure he’d tell you the same thing.

What Zim Tzu meant: If he could get rid of the deer in the stadium light look in big games, that would be pretty cool, not even gonna lie. Maybe block out 10 minutes in his day where that doesn’t happen.

Q: Was his play this season what you expected from him?

What Zim Tzu said: I think it’s more about the combination of the team, not one particular player.

What Zim Tzu meant: When it mattered? No, not from anyone.

Q: Is it as simple as great offensive line play and is that the most difficult thing to do is draft and build the offensive line?

What Zim Tzu said: Drafting and building any position is really hard. Obviously offensive line is a tough spot, but there’s plenty of them. I would not say that it’s as simple as that. I think there’s a lot of things that go on and we have to do a better job there. If you look at the five years that I’ve been here, defensively we kind of were going up and maintained where we were and offensively we’ve been down here. I have to do a better job of creating the defensive mindset and attitude, for the most part, on offense. It’s probably as simple as that.

What Zim Tzu meant: I was a big fan of ‘let’s not draft an offensive lineman until the sixth round’ strategy until 2016, because that freed up spots for linebackers and cornerbacks. I’m still gonna draft defense early though, so gird your fucking loins and get your hot takes ready.

Q: How much of a premium needs to be placed on improving the offensive line?

What Zim Tzu said: I think a premium needs to be put on everywhere. We’re just starting to go through the evaluation process now with most of the positions, but there’s a lot of guys that we can help to play better, and there’s a lot of positions that we need to get better at.

What Zim Tzu meant: You guys are gonna be SO PISSED OFF when I let Barr walk and take another linebacker or cornerback in round one.

Q: In terms of support from ownership, would you be comfortable in a scenario where you coached into the final year of your contract without an extension?

What Zim Tzu said: Sure, I got no problem with that. Free agent after that, right?

What Zim Tzu meant: If Kirk Cousins can get $84 million, ! can get $150 million.

Q: Was there any part of you that considered retiring?

What Zim Tzu said: No, I can’t believe that somebody even threw that out there. No, it was totally, 100 percent, what do they call it, “hashtag fake news”? No, none. I’m not a quitter.

What Zim Tzu meant: Internet blogs are hashtag the worst.

Q: What do you think is one of the main things you lacked compared to playoff teams this year?

What Zim Tzu said: You can look at a lot of the statistics, but I think quite honestly this football team for the four years that I’ve had been here had that nasty, “we’re going to win regardless or no matter what the situation is” mentality. I don’t know that we had it this year. I talked to a couple of people during the season around the building and I actually said to them, “It’s just kind of a different vibe with this football team.” And I can’t figure out why, because we have a lot of the same guys back. We have good football players. I wasn’t really different than I normally am. But for some reason, we didn’t finish the games like we’d finished before. I don’t know why. We had the lead in a bunch of games last year that we finished, and this year we were playing catch up more so, so I don’t know if that’s it or not. But we’re going to get that mentality back, I can promise you that.

What Zim Tzu meant: Less wins and a less pissed off attitude. We’re getting a lot more of both next year.

Q: When you say you’re going to get it back, how do you get it back?

What Zim Tzu said: I’ve got a plan.

What Zim Tzu meant: They think I’m an asshole now? Just wait.

Q: Care to share?

What Zim Tzu said: No.

What Zim Tzu meant: Fuck right off into Lake Harriet.

Q: Given the way the team was able to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season to perform well in 2017, what can you take from that example to prepare for 2019?

What Zim Tzu said: I think it’s a good example. We’ve got good football players on this team, and we’ve got good coaches. We’ve got a great home field stadium. There’s a lot of things that we can build on. I told the team this one day, a year ago I felt like we had a big chip on our shoulder. This year, I don’t know that that chip was there. We’re going to get it back.

What Zim Tzu meant: We are going to fucking curbstomp some people next year.

Q: Do you put any more weight on coaching candidates who you’ve worked with in the past?

What Zim Tzu said: No, not really. I know where you’re going with that question, but it’s not a good question. I mean, it’s a good question, but probably you’re fishing in the wrong pond.

What Zim Tzu meant: Maybe I’m just fuckin’ with you on Hue Jackson. Maybe I’m not. Nice try.

Q: Is it a priority for you to bring someone in that has that mentality and approach like Tony Sparano?

What Zim Tzu said: Well, that’s part of it, yeah. I really felt like a year ago with the players we had there we had that mentality with the players. I’m not saying things about the offensive line this year, but they were tough guys too. But I think you need that kind of a leader in that room that can help with those things and Tony was very innovative in the running game. Like I said before, he was extremely influential in that room. I used to talk with him every morning. When I’m talking to the defense during the game he would be influential throughout the series offensively and getting them going about what they’re going to do the next series. That was a little bit of a factor. I do think that Clancy [Barone] and Andrew [Janocko] for the situation that they were put in did an unbelievable job. It’s tough. I got that phone call we’re coming back and going to have a kickoff party on Monday. I got that call Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. from Kim [Klawiter] that he [Tony Sparano] passed away, so we’re getting ready to go to training camp in two days. The whole thing was another one of those sections for my book, I guess.

What Zim Tzu meant: Well, that’s part of it, yeah. I really felt like a year ago with the players we had there we had that mentality with the players. I’m not saying things about the offensive line this year, but they were tough guys too. But I think you need that kind of a leader in that room that can help with those things and Tony was very innovative in the running game. Like I said before, he was extremely influential in that room. I used to talk with him every morning. When I’m talking to the defense during the game he would be influential throughout the series offensively and getting them going about what they’re going to do the next series. That was a little bit of a factor. I do think that Clancy [Barone] and Andrew [Janocko] for the situation that they were put in did an unbelievable job. It’s tough. I got that phone call we’re coming back and going to have a kickoff party on Monday. I got that call Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. from Kim [Klawiter] that he [Tony Sparano] passed away, so we’re getting ready to go to training camp in two days. The whole thing was another one of those sections for my book, I guess.

Q: How did you navigate the season without him personally without having that voice and ear of Tony Sparano?

What Zim Tzu said: The other part that people don’t realize in this job is you get close to people’s families and lives. His wife, I would text her once in a while and see if she’s okay, making sure their family is okay. That’s part of it too, it’s not just about the football even though that’s what everybody wants it to be. Every time you put that pin on that said “TS” you’re thinking about him and things that you miss about him as well. I know the offensive line room was devastated when that happened because they really loved the guy, as did everybody that worked with him. He was a grumpy little Italian guy that was very, very good at his job and a good friend of mine. I think there’s no book on it, on how to do it, but you just got to figure out how to do it the best way and if it works, it works and if it don’t, it don’t.

What Zim Tzu meant: The other part that people don’t realize in this job is you get close to people’s families and lives. His wife, I would text her once in a while and see if she’s okay, making sure their family is okay. That’s part of it too, it’s not just about the football even though that’s what everybody wants it to be. Every time you put that pin on that said “TS” you’re thinking about him and things that you miss about him as well. I know the offensive line room was devastated when that happened because they really loved the guy, as did everybody that worked with him. He was a grumpy little Italian guy that was very, very good at his job and a good friend of mine. I think there’s no book on it, on how to do it, but you just got to figure out how to do it the best way and if it works, it works and if it don’t, it don’t.

Q: Was there ever a time that you missed the voices of veterans like Brian Robison, Joe Berger and Terence Newman switching roles in adversity?

What Zim Tzu said: It’s really hard for me to say that because every year you’re going to have guys leave, you’re going to have new coaches, you’re going to have new situations that happen. I think some of the guys that took over some of the leadership roles did a good job. But it’s hard for me to say that that was a factor or not. A lot of the guys you mentioned were really good leaders. But we still have a lot of leaders on this football team. And a lot of them lead differently. Harrison Smith leads differently than Anthony Barr does or Riley Reiff leads differently than Kirk Cousins does. It’s hard to say.

What Zim Tzu meant: Immensely. See you around free agency.