Mike Zimmer says he may turn over defensive play-calling duties in 2018

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer said he may delegate his defensive play-calling responsibilities to defensive coordinator George Edwards next season.

On a conference call with Chicago media before the Minnesota Vikings' Week 17 finale against the Chicago Bears, the Vikings head coach mulled over the possibility, which is something he considered doing last offseason.

In Zimmer’s 18th season calling plays, the Vikings enter the final week of the regular season as the No. 1 defense in the NFL, ranked first in both yards allowed (280.9) and points per game (16.1).

Zimmer praised Edwards, who has been the Vikings defensive coordinator since 2014, for his contributions and the results they’ve yielded.

“He really does everything for me other than I call the plays on Sunday,” Zimmer said. “I may change that next year. But anyway, George does everything. He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game, so he’ll come in and talk to me about second down and whatever, they’re doing this or they’re doing that. Really, I mean, he does everything other than call the game on Sunday.”

Last week, the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel released its annual list of recommended candidates for head-coaching vacancies. Edwards was one of 12 current assistant coaches named to the list, which also includes Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

Edwards last called plays as the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills from 2010-11. On Dec. 1, 2016, Edwards called defensive plays in the Vikings' loss to the Dallas Cowboys when Zimmer underwent emergency surgery on his right eye and was forced to miss the game. The Vikings became the first team to hold the Cowboys’ offense under 300 yards last season.

Asked why he might give up play calling, Zimmer cited his confidence in Edwards’ ability to do the job.

“You know, I don’t know,” said Zimmer, who was a longtime NFL defensive coordinator before becoming a head coach. “You know, it’s a lot of work when you sit down and do it. I’ve done it for a long time, and because I have confidence in George as well, but just maybe the fact that... I don’t know, I guess I’m just getting older.”