Vikes coach threatens playing time

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- When Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer aired his frustrations about the team's sloppiness after a loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, mentioning how more players than usual had been late for meetings in the week leading up to the game and adding he would take fines "to the max" for tardiness going forward, players knew they were likely to hear a similar version of those comments on Monday.

They got what they expected in Zimmer's Monday address, but as fullback Jerome Felton put it, Zimmer added another layer to his message, telling players he'd pull them off the field if they didn't perform.

"His biggest thing is like, 'I'm going to take playing time,' because that's what matters to players," Felton said. "That'll get it solved real quick."

Zimmer clarified some of his comments a day after a 17-3 loss to the Lions, calling them "Zimmer being Zimmer," saying his emotions fueled many of his remarks and adding that the Vikings haven't had a consistent problem with tardiness. The issue was on his mind, Zimmer said, after two practice squad players were late to a weightlifting session on Saturday.

But the coach said the Vikings would look at personnel changes, and he didn't mince words about what he wants from the team.

"I want them to understand that it's not OK to lose," Zimmer said. "We have to change the mentality, the mindset of this. I can remember telling defenses in Cincinnati, a long, long time ago, that we have to develop this mindset that it's not OK to lose. It's not business as usual. I'm not very accepting of these kinds of things."

The Vikings' performance Sunday, which came after the Vikings had 10 days to recover from a 42-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, had Zimmer riled up afterward. There were plenty of reasons for that -- the Vikings turned the ball over three times, committed nine penalties for the second consecutive game, allowed eight sacks and dropped three passes.

"His biggest thing is like, 'I'm going to take playing time,' because that's what matters to players. That'll get it solved real quick."
Jerome Felton, Vikings fullback

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Vikings' 13 drops are the second-most in the league, behind only the New York Giants, and their 50 penalties are tied for the 13th most in the NFL.

"We have to do a better job of doing that police work with one another, and making sure everything is important," wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "It doesn't matter what it is, whether it's weights, special teams meetings, training, treatment, everything is important."

Asked if he feels the Vikings are undisciplined, Jennings said: "If Coach feels like we have an undisciplined team, it's not for me to even express my opinion."

Jennings, who played seven seasons in Green Bay before signing with the Vikings, said the problem of players being late to meetings is not specific to the Vikings.

"Guys are late across the board, a lot of other places," he said. "But again, when you're losing, everyone is scrutinized. Everyone is kind of under the microscope. You just try to weed out everything that's not right, to correct it, so you can have things going how he sees it and how he envisions it."

The Vikings (2-4) play at Buffalo on Sunday, before games against Tampa Bay and Washington heading into their bye week. It should be one of the more forgiving stretches of their schedule after a difficult opening slate, but Zimmer isn't taking much for granted right now.

"That's the thing about Coach Zimmer: He's going to be straightforward with you," Felton said. "You know what to expect. This is our profession; this is our job. There's no room for that, and he'll weed those people out if that's an issue."