Mike Zimmer might have a little Brad Childress to him.
When asked Monday to name his starters at Mike linebacker and strong safety, Zimmer played it coy. The head coach also refused to say who would be joining Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes at cornerback in the team’s nickel package.
When asked about the strong safety situation Zimmer suggested the matter was still not entirely decided (via 1500ESPN):
“We’ll see how it goes in practice this week,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer was even more shady when talking about the starting Mike and nickel corner situations, saying he has already decided who will fill those roles, but isn’t saying.
The coach said the starters at all positions would be revealed before kickoff on Sunday.
Whether such shenanigans truly give a team a competitive advantage is an open question. But I lean towards “No, it doesn’t help at all and actually looks kind of silly.”
Honestly, does it really matter if the Rams are kept in the dark about who will be starting at Mike for the Vikings? Would the Rams prepare differently for Audie Cole if they knew for sure he was starting over Jasper Brinkley? I kind of doubt it.
Would the Rams install different packages if they knew Andrew Sendejo was starting at strong safety instead of Robert Blanton? Mmmm…probably not.
So why bother with the cloak and dagger if you’re Mike Zimmer? It’s just how guys like Zimmer are wired. Ditto Brad Childress and to some extent Leslie Frazier.
Childress loved these games so much, he even earned the nickname Secret Squirrel from Dan Barreiro. Will Zimmer also get tagged with the Secret Squirrel moniker?
Right now, Zimmer’s shenanigans look like the same old tired stuff we got bored with under Chilly. Whether we end up praising him for his genius or ripping him for his pretentiousness all comes down to won-loss record.
Childress didn’t win enough games in Minnesota to rise above the perception that he was a fraud and a nitwit. The honeymoon is still on for Zimmer, so people are willing to believe he’s a master operator.
If the Vikings go 5-11, we’ll see if that sentiment still prevails, or if Zimmer is being blasted for his Childress-like tendencies.
As for the great Mike linebacker battle of 2014, the suspense is definitely not killing me.