Vikings' Mike Zimmer frustrated

ByBen Goessling ESPN logo
Sunday, October 12, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings' 2-4 start has featured all manner of stressors for first-year coach Mike Zimmer -- injuries to key players, three starting quarterbacks in the team's first five games, several arrests and the ongoing legal troubles of Adrian Peterson -- but few have led the coach to react as viscerally as he did after a 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Zimmer chastised his team for a lack of focus leading up to the game, saying he had to fine several players during the week for being late to meetings, adding those fines will get more expensive this week.

The Vikings committed nine penalties in their loss to the Lions, allowed eight sacks and converted just three of their 14 third-down opportunities.

"I expected better today," Zimmer said. "I thought we practiced well all week. Disappointing we didn't protect the quarterback, we didn't block guys, and until we figure out that this game is about blocking and tackling and catching the ball, doing your job, then we're going to have more results like this. But we're going to keep grinding them, pounding. Anyways, it's disappointing."

Zimmer said he fines players any time they're late -- to a meeting, practice or treatment -- and added he hadn't had to levy many fines before this week.

"I'm not going to let them slide," he said. "I'm going to keep fighting -- I'm going to keep pounding my head and like I told them, the fines are going to start going to the max now. I'm tired of it."

Zimmer's persona as a head coach has been more nuanced than the fire-breathing character he played on HBO's "Hard Knocks" while he was the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive coordinator, but he has not been shy about voicing his displeasure when players haven't met his standards.

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the Vikings have been going through the process of learning the coach's expectations; punctuality, he said, should be an obvious one.

"We need to get on each other," Munnerlyn said. "We shouldn't need coaches to say, 'You've got to be here, you've got to be there.' Man, it's your job. It's how we feed our families. We've got to get better."

The Vikings' loss came 10 days after a 42-10 defeat against the Green Bay Packers that still had Zimmer irked this week. He seemed ready to get the bad taste out of his mouth in his first division home game on Sunday, but instead, the Vikings were booed several times in a game where the Lions "kicked our butt," Zimmer said.

"We practiced good," he said. "Sundays we don't play as good as we need to. That's the thing I can't figure out. Why don't we play like we practice?

"This team -- like I said, they're hard to figure out -- but they care. They study. I haven't changed my opinion about how they go about their business. Maybe I'm missing something but I've been around an awful lot of teams. It bothers me a little bit when some things happen bad and we don't fight our way out of the hole. That's what the good teams do. We haven't done that yet. Things are going good, we're pretty good. Things are going bad, then we don't continue to push out and fight out. Defensively I thought we hung in there today. Special teams I thought was poor. We've got guys on the sidelines talking to officials. I said, 'Don't talk to officials; let me do it.' We're undisciplined. Trust me, we're going to get disciplined."

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