Written by: Alex McKinnon– Staff Writing Intern (@)
PHILADELPHIA – A couple of bloody plush toys still littered the locker room Friday as a reminder of the danger in the Vikings feeling too fat and happy.
Before dismissing his 5-0 team for the bye week, coach Mike Zimmer scattered stuffed animals of the feline variety throughout Winter Park. At some point, someone in the locker room cut their throats and splattered them with red paint.
Hanging on the larger cat in the locker room was a sign that read “Fat Cats Get Slaughtered.”
Mike Zimmer’s ‘creative’ motivational tactics were implied to be symbolic of not getting complacent with the Vikings success. The Vikings entered Week seven 5-0, coming off a bye week to face off against the on-and-off Philadelphia Eagles in a matchup of two of the top teams in the NFC. Zimmer, in his third season with Minnesota, saw his own cats get slaughtered by a superior Eagles defense in a 21-10 defeat on Sunday for the Vikings first loss of the season. Placing the Vikings at 5-1, Minnesota still sits atop the NFC in a tie with the surprise Cowboys and joins Dallas and New England as the remaining 1-loss teams. Despite it’s quirky intentions, the ‘Fat Cats Get Slaughtered’ trick seems to be garnering a lot of attention for being a little wild. Now to clarify, later reports suggest Zimmer merely purchased the cats before someone else with the Vikings actually slashed the stuffed cats throats and spread blood on the fake felines bodies, he still remains the leader of a team that is in a pivotal part of their season and is certainly credited with the entirety of this move.
For a coach often regarded as an old-school style leader, his motivational tactics this season have included continuously downplaying the Vikings success and leading the team to believe they remain an underdog despite their success in recent years. This includes a tidbit from training camp where Zimmer claimed people were saying the Vikings are not even expected to finish in the top half of the league. Wrong. The Vikings, despite having a quarterback quaff early in the season, have built a stout defense and pieced together an offense with studs such as Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Kyle Rudolph and the running back corps that began with AP and is currently being filled nicely by Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. Despite the last minute nature of his acquisition, Sam Bradford is finally in a situation where he can succeed and prove he is not a fragile bust after replacing the injured Teddy Bridgewater. From the elite coaching tree of Bill Parcells, Mike Zimmer is well documented as the master of motivation. He has often been considered too harsh in post-game recaps and is regularly hard on his underperforming players. During 2015, Mike Zimmer reportedly placed “Beat Green Bay” t-shirts in his players lockers prior to a 31-13 shellacking from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers during a 2015 matchup. It may be time to retire the locker room motivations.
My suggestion to coach Zimmer, a man who I share an interest with (intense dipping tobacco consumption), is to K.I.S.S. ‘Keep It Simple Stupid.’ The Vikings are absolutely the strongest team in the NFC as long as they don’t let this loss to the Eagles send them in a downward spiral. It should be obvious to the guys in the locker room that the NFL is a league built on unpredictability and complacency is murderous in its own right. The Vikings defense has been outstanding and Sam Bradford is a quarterback who can win this team a playoff game or two. Their remaining schedule includes the Bears, Lions, Redskins, Cardinals, Cowboys, Jaguars, Colts, Packers and Bears again. This is certainly a light gauntlet which should guarantee a 10-win plus season for Zimmer and team #Skol. Maybe chill out when it comes to the mass slaughtering of innocent stuffed animals and add new wrinkles to the offense to combat strong defensive performances like the one he saw this weekend.