Mike Zimmer needed some advice on Tuesday.
His team, which had so much momentum and promise at the start of training camp, just lost its starting quarterback to a gruesome knee injury. It was a situation that Zimmer hadn’t faced yet as an NFL head coach.
So he turned to a couple of his mentors before trying to come up with the words he would use during a gut-wrenching press conference.
Zimmer mentioned that he spoke to Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells and his late father, Bill Zimmer (in spirit), a longtime football and wrestling coach in Illinois.
Parcells revealed some of that conversation to Peter King of The Monday Morning Quarterback.
“I told him, ‘The first thing you need to know is this: Everyone in the organization, and that includes some of the players and the coaches, are going to think they have an excuse now.’ Once the shock is over, probably 48 hours from now, they’re all gonna come to you and look at you and say, ‘What are you gonna do?’ Because you’re charged with winning games now, no matter what you have on your team. You need to figure out what works – what recipe works. And tomorrow morning, once the shock wears off, nobody’s gonna give (an expletive). It’s his problem. He’s gotta figure out how to win now.”
It’s a situation that Parcells knows something about. In 1990, while Parcells was the coach of the Giants, he lost his starting quarterback – Phil Simms to a broken foot.
That didn’t matter for the Giants as unproven backup Jeff Hostetler took over and led New York to a Super Bowl victory over Buffalo.
Zimmer repeated a lot of Parcells’ advice during that Tuesday afternoon press conference and then he added to it.
The Vikings returned to the facility Wednesday focused and ready to keep working.