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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer waited 35 years to get an NFL head-coaching job. The benefit of those preceding decades? When the Minnesota Vikings hired him in 2014, Zimmer knew the specific athletic profile he needed at each position to build a group that would cement his legacy as a defensive savant.
Four seasons later, the Vikings have the NFL’s top defense — whether you measure by scoring (15.8 points allowed per game), yards (275.9 per game) or third-down percentage (25.2). No Minnesota defense has accomplished that feat since 1970, and it can be attributed in large part to a roster that includes two All-Pros and two players who made the Pro Bowl.
“Without giving away all my secrets,” Zimmer said, “I like a certain body type with guys. You can kind of look at most of them and tell what we’re trying to get: Athleticism, guys who can think quickly on their feet, safeties that have versatility, corners who can cover.”
Zimmer also likes guys with attitudes who aren’t disruptive to the team as a whole and who really eat, sleep and shoot football. You can’t pass on super talent out of fear of disruption, but it certainly informs his decisions, IMO.
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