When Mike Zimmer told his players that he was going to give them an extra day off, the locker room exploded with cheers, and rightly so. The Minnesota Vikings deserved all the love and appreciation Zimmer was showering them at that time. Looking at the Super Bowl 51 lines, there was a reason everyone was excited about the Vikings.
They went into the bye week with a 5-0 record. And even if you could ignore that, their victory over the Texans was pretty impressive; and Zimmer was so impressed he boasted to the team about how special he thought they all were. Of course, things did not stay on that rosy path. The Vikings came out of the bye week and began to lose. Their loss to the Detroit Lions was actually a little embarrassing. Zimmer wasn’t totally without blame for the loss.
Sure, his players fumbled in a number of places, but Zimmer also admitted that he made some clock management mistakes that he regretted. Zimmer spoke on Monday like a man determined to rebuild his team’s confidence. He went so far as to commend the Vikings for fighting as hard as they did during the Sunday game.
Sure, they lost the game, but there were serious mistakes. The Vikings accrued a number of penalties, missed an extra point and had a few of their field goals blocked. Simply put, they messed up. Yet, Zimmer chose to take a lighter tone when scrutinizing the game. He suggested that his team had played better than they looked. Even with all the mistakes, they were definitely moving in the right direction and that gave Zimmer hope for the future.
Not too long ago, the Vikings were on top of the world. The fact that Zimmer has to fight so hard now to bring the Vikings back to that place is disturbing. They shouldn’t have fallen so far down, and yet they did. The NFL can indeed be that fickle. Any Vikings members who were looking for an extra day off will be disappointed; Zimmer has a lot of work to do with his team. He cannot afford to give them time off.
The Vikings were supposed to be the best team in the league a couple of weeks ago. It is within Zimmer’s power to return them to that position, but that will take time; time they probably do not have. The Vikings already have Washington waiting for them on Sunday, and that is before they face Arizona. Zimmer admitted that he probably got a little too confident after the Vikings performed so well, and he let that confidence infect his team. That confidence has fallen away; however, that is hardly a good thing.
Success in football is as much about the mind as it is the body. The Vikings need a strong will and a powerful mindset in order to regain their former glory. The last few days have allowed the Vikings to get some of their confidence back, primarily because of Zimmer’s encouragement. If he keeps bolstering their egos, the Vikings just might find the strength to push through the next few games.