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Zimmer Gets Idea Guy in Dom Capers

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February 11, 2020

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A Tuesday notes column starting with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer who spoke to reporters on a conference call this morning.

Zimmer hired Dom Capers, with 32 years of NFL coaching experience, as his senior defensive advisor this week. It had been on Zimmer’s mind since late last season to add someone like Capers whose experiences include being an NFL head coach and defensive coordinator.

“We’ve been running this defense for a long, long time and I just thought it would be good to get some new, fresh ideas,” said Zimmer who has been leading the Vikings for six seasons.

Zimmer has long been known as a high IQ defensive mind, and even as head coach been involved with the details of the Viking defense. The defense, though, had more issues last season than anyone liked including a sometimes leaky pass defense.

Capers will be counted on for help. “He’s always been a guy that has been very innovative in the pressure package of his defenses,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer doesn’t see himself being any more or less involved with the defense than in the past. He has new co-defensive coordinators in son Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson. Zimmer said he may call defensive plays but the decision will be made as the Vikings work through the spring and months that follow.

Gary Kubiak, a senior offensive advisor and assistant head coach last season, is now the new offensive coordinator. He has won a Super Bowl as a head coach and has 24 years of coaching experience.

Zimmer was “relieved” after the playoffs when Kubiak agreed to succeed Kevin Stefanski as offensive coordinator. “I thought he (Kubiak) did an outstanding job last year and I anticipate it will be even better (in 2020),” Zimmer said.

Mike Zimmer

Zimmer expects some changes with the offense next season but said “the majority” of it will remain the same.

Faced with a salary cap problem this offseason, it seems plausible Vikings management will consider cutting loose some or all of the following: cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen, and offensive lineman Riley Reiff.

Perhaps also in the mix of juggling numbers could be asking quarterback Kirk Cousins to restructure the final year of his $84 million contract over a longer period.

With the recent trades of center Gorgui Dieng and forward Andrew Wiggins, only center Karl-Anthony Towns remains with the Timberwolves from the promising 2015-2016 roster the late Flip Saunders put in place. The Wolves former president had several young players in the group beyond Dieng, Towns and Wiggins—including Nemanja Bjelica, Tyus Jones, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad.

Eye-opener: The low-key Wiggins playing with the Warriors now and max-voltage competitor Draymond Green.

That was former Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman who convinced legendary Indiana Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight to return last weekend to Assembly Hall in Bloomington after a 20-year absence, per the Indystar.com.

Forbes.com writer John Perrotto yesterday described best-case and worst-case scenarios for the 2020 Twins season.

Best: “(Josh) Donaldson, (Nelson) Cruz and the rest of the Bomba Squad hit home runs in bunches again in 2020, and the Twins ride those power bats to another division title, overcoming a suspect rotation.”

Worst: “The rotation becomes a mess as (Homer) Bailey breaks down before spring training ends, (Rich) Hill is slow to recover from surgery, and (Kenta) Maeda doesn’t adjust well to switching leagues.”

Maeda, acquired this week from the Dodgers, was 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA last year. The 31-year-old likely emerges as Minnesota’s No. 3 starter and his presence could put the Twins second only to the Yankees among American League teams in preseason power rankings of MLB clubs.

Twins president Dave St. Peter told Sports Headliners he would like to see the club draw around 2.5 million fans to Target Field this year. The franchise attracted 2,294,152 last season, ranking No. 15 among 30 MLB clubs, per Espn.com

Look for big changes coming in major league baseball in the next several years including a pitch clock to speed up the game. The average MLB game took over three hours and overall attendance declined in 2019.

The first Twins spring training game on Fox Sports North will be a 12:05 p.m. start February 23 from Fort Myers against the Blue Jays.

Did anyone else notice the Timberwolves and basketball Gophers announced home game attendances of over 10,000 and 11,000 respectively when they played head-to-head last week? The Wolves rank last in NBA attendance while the Gophers haven’t sold out a game all season and didn’t even come close to filling 14,625 seat Williams Arena on February 5 despite playing border rival Wisconsin.

If former Hopkins star Zeke Nnaji, now a 6-foot-11 freshman force for Arizona, had joined the Gophers to play with 6-foot-10 sophomore Daniel Oturu, Minnesota would have its best “Twin Towers” since Kevin McHale and Mychal Thompson played together in the late 1970s.

In its 2020 NBA mock draft yesterday, Nbadraft.net projected Oturu going No. 8 to the Wizards in the first round, and Nnaji being taken at No. 16 by the Nets.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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