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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mike Zimmer: ‘If you want to criticize people, criticize me’

By Judd Zulgad

PHILADELPHIA – When the Vikings lost their first game of the 2016 season, coach Mike Zimmer did not hesitate to criticize his players.

“We were soft,” Zimmer said after Minnesota’s 21-10 loss at Philadelphia dropped them to 5-1 on the season. “We got overpowered. The safety beat the tackle one time, the safety beat the back a couple times. It was a little bit of man-on-man, and we got whipped.”

Zimmer’s criticism that day was a bit surprising given the success the Vikings had experienced up to that point. But Zimmer wasn’t going to hold back, even if it meant using a word (soft) that is about as harsh a term as a coach can drop on his players.

So how did Zimmer take it when his team returned to Lincoln Financial Field for the NFC championship game on Sunday and got completely overpowered in an embarrassing 38-7 loss to the Eagles? Quarterback Case Keenum and the offense did not score any points after Minnesota’s first drive — Keenum also threw two picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown — and Zimmer’s pride-and-joy, the Vikings’ defense, spent much of the game looking completely inept.

“Credit to Philadelphia,” Zimmer said without a touch of anger in his voice. “They got after us pretty good tonight. We didn’t do enough good things. I’m still proud of my football team. The way they worked all year, the way they went about their business, the way they competed all year. Tonight we didn’t get it done.”

This was the latest sign that Zimmer learned his lesson last season when it came to voicing his frustrations with individuals or his team after losses. This was a complete meltdown by the Vikings, a team that went into Philadelphia as the favorite to advance to the Super Bowl, and yet Zimmer wasn’t about to go after anyone but himself.

“I’m not going to grade the players tonight,” Zimmer said. “This is not a time for criticizing one player. If you want to criticize people, criticize me. I don’t care. … I could have called a lot better game. I’m going to point my finger at me before we point it at the players.”

The loss cost the Vikings the opportunity to become the first team ever to play host to a Super Bowl and it came a week after Keenum’s last-second touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs lifted the Vikings over New Orleans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“We would have loved to play a Super Bowl if it was in China,” Zimmer said when asked about missing out on a chance to play in the Feb. 4 game at U.S. Bank Stadium. “But we didn’t play good enough to win. I know that’s a cliche but it’s true. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They played great, they played good on defense, they played good on offense.”

Nick Foles, the Eagles backup quarterback who took over for the injured Carson Wentz late in the season, was outstanding. He completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles also converted on 10 of 14 third-down chances against a Minnesota defense that was the best on third down in the NFL this season. Philadelphia finished with 456 total yards in a total domination.

It was the type of embarrassing effort that Zimmer would have been sure to vent about a year ago. On Sunday, he did no such thing.

“I love this football team, I love it,” he said. “They are great kids, great competitors. I love how they go about their business, I love everything about this football team, I love their organization. We just didn’t get it done tonight.”

The post Mike Zimmer: ‘If you want to criticize people, criticize me’ appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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