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Bleacher Report – Vikings

With QB question looming, Zimmer doesn’t want to sacrifice team strength

By Matthew Coller

Four years ago, Mike Zimmer inherited a team with the worst defense in the NFL and an offense with Adrian Peterson as it’s only significant weapon. Now the Minnesota Vikings have one of the NFL’s strongest top-to-bottom rosters.

With questions about the future at quarterback, one of his top priorities is making sure the Vikings do not have to lose key players pay a quarterback.

“The one thing I told Rick was, I said look, we’ve had a good team, that’s why we’ve won 40 games,” Zimmer said Thursday at the NFL Combine. “It’s not because we’ve had this one guy or that one guy. Let’s make sure we keep understanding the team is why we have done good things.”

The Vikings are reportedly interested in top free agent QB Kirk Cousins, who could demand upwards of $30 million per season. Within the next year, there are four key players – Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr – who will need new contracts of the Vikings want to keep their No. 1 defense together.

“You just have to pick out the right one that’s going to help your football team the best,” Zimmer said. “And where you can still do things at other positions. You don’t want to go crazy here.”

Zimmer was asked about the team’s window to win and how that might impact the decision at QB.

“I don’t want to talk about windows and things like that because I’m hoping it’s more than a window, I’m hoping it’s wide open spaces,” Zimmer said. “I think it’s really, really important that we understand that we’ve won 40 games in the last four years and we’ve done this by being pretty good on defense for the most part. This year the offense was much better. Part of the reason we’ve been winning games is because we’ve been staying in games on defense, we’ve been a smart team, all those things.”

“I want to be really careful about taking away from our strength and saying ‘OK we’re not going to be able to do this or we’re not going to be able to do this’ because of financial reasons.”

The Vikings’ head coach was effusive in his praise for Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum, who combined to go 32-16 as starters from 2015-2017. Zimmer added that it was “definitely” possible that one of them could be back under center in Minnesota in 2018.

“Bradford had an unbelievable game his first game, plays 15 games, can throw the heck out of the ball, everywhere you want to go,” Zimmer said. “Teddy is an outstanding person, he goes out and wins the division in his second year and we think he’s ascending and then you got Case who comes in and plays outstanding, his completion percentage, everything about him, everything that he did was outstanding. His leadership ability, making plays, a lot of those things make it difficult.”

NFL Network reported that the Vikings will not franchise tag Keenum, but an official decision does not have to be made until March 6. Likewise, reports have stated that Teddy Bridgewater’s contract will Not toll to 2018, but no official ruling has been made by the NFL. GM Rick Spielman said he does not expect the contract to toll.

With a new offensive coordinator in the mix, Zimmer said the team will mold its offensive strategy after making the QB decision.

“We are going to try to figure out the quarterback first,” Zimmer said. “We will adjust the offense. All the offense will have some similarities. After that then we will say, ‘OK this guy doesn’t do this good, let’s throw this out or let’s add this.’”

Zimmer also noted that Bradford has been skiing this offseason, but the health of his knee will be difficult to predict. He referred to Bradford’s knee situation as “degenerative.”

“That’s the million-dollar question: Is he going to be able to maintain for 15 weeks, 16 weeks, or is he going to get, really, almost a non-contact injury and be out for the year. All three of those guys have different things.”

Similarly, Zimmer pointed out that Bridgewater’s practice tape can be difficult to evaluate because of the vast difference between running the scout team and playing in real games.

Zimmer said:

“I would like to see him more in game-like situations. I’d love to see him more. In practice, he did some really good things. Sometimes scout team quarterbacks and the scout team corner are kind of the same way – there’s no fear if they throw an interception or get beat on a pass. It’s not big deal because the crowds not going to jeer them, they’re not going to get written up by you guys saying they suck. You can make mistakes in practice by just doing whatever you want to do and not having that affect you. So it’s really hard to evaluate just in practice. We have to go back a lot with Teddy on what he’s done in the past, him as a person, his work ethic, all those things. Him not playing for two years and not being able to see him play in live situations, that’s concerning a little bit. But I love the guy. He’s a great kid, great competitor, a winner.”

The post With QB question looming, Zimmer doesn’t want to sacrifice team strength appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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