Archived Story

Editorial: Give Zimmer years and decision power

Published 10:14am Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let’s hope the Minnesota Vikings let new head coach Mike Zimmer be in charge of his team, and let’s hope the Vikings give him the years he needs to succeed.

Zimmer, who spent six years as defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, becomes the ninth head coach of the Vikings in their 54-year history. However, he is the fourth coach since Zygi and Mark Wilf bought the team in 2005. Mike Tice was coach when the brothers bought the team from Red McCombs. After the end of the season, they let him go and hired Brad Childress. He was fired in 2010 and Leslie Frazier took over. Now, Zimmer gets a turn on what appears to be a merry-go-round.

However, he deserves a good seven-to-10-year window to succeed.

To be sure, Tice, Childress and Frazier found ways to fall out of favor. Generalizing, Tice and Frazier wanted to be liked by players too much and Childress was an authoritarian disliked by players. Tice and Frazier struggled with soft management issues, while Childress, who had a temper, argued with players. A good coach should have the support of the locker room out of respect for knowledge and behavior more than out of a desire to be friends. Bud Grant provides the best example.

It’s a balance — that balance is called leadership — and we hope Zimmer has that. Forget whether they coach offense, defense or special teams. As head coach, it’s about leading men, coaching coaches, believing in people and keeping an open mind more than about X’s and O’s.

On Wednesday, media reports cited peers saying Zimmer was a no-nonsense, passionate guy who will push his players and get the most out of them. Sounds like the right mixture. His past players are praising the choice, saying they always knew he would be a great head coach. That’s a good sign.

It seemed at times Frazier didn’t quite have the final say on who started at quarterback. Indeed, they would say he did, but if a coach has to consult with a general manager and an owner to determine who plays at what position, that’s not having trust in the coach. Give Zimmer the trust he or any head coach deserves. He can yank the starting quarterback at any time he sees fit. He has a wide latitude for making football decisions.

As a new stadium is built, this next five to 10 years could be a time to shine for the Vikings. It could be the time for the Wilfs to show they can be the steady owners teams need and, with the assistance of general manager Rick Spielman, build the organization back into a perennial winner.