INDIANAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, fresh off his first playoff appearance, has been around the NFL long enough not to assume anything, joking that he doesn't take it for granted that he will be back at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2017 as Minnesota's head coach.
With 18 wins in two seasons, a great young defensive core, and a franchise quarterback, Zimmer's future looks safe. Zimmer just wants his young quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, to take charge of his team even more.
"I think he's improved a lot," Zimmer told Around The NFL on Thursday. "But I think there's sometimes where he needs to believe that this is my time, my team."
Speaking about Bridgewater's development, Zimmer was not overly concerned about Bridgewater's skill set or whether the team wins games 13-10 or 24-10. Zimmer was clear what he really wants is Bridgewater to be more assertive.
"At the end of the day, when I come back here next year, if I'm still here, I want to be able to say, 'Teddy really took over this offense. He was really in charge of everything he did here. He took charge of the league. Whatever that means, whether it's putting us in the right place, throwing the ball more, throwing the ball less. Just taking charge of this thing. Because it's going to be his baby," Zimmer said.
Implicit in Zimmer's words: This is not Bridgewater's team completely, yet. The focus on Bridgewater's relatively slow growth in year two has tended to focus on his decision-making, accuracy and deep passes. But Zimmer sounds more focused on his quarterback's ability to take control of the team. It's Teddy's time.