The biggest reason for his move? Coach Mike Zimmer.
“Looking at a couple teams [this offseason], I thought Coach Zim himself stood out to me,” Peterson said in his introductory press conference in March. “The coaching around here, the atmosphere around here, it was everything for me. It checked all the boxes. This team has nothing but a winning pedigree. And this is the organization I want to be around… I’m happy to be a part of it.”
But so far, winning has been much easier said than done.
The Vikings are a game under .500 approaching the bye week and have squandered several potential wins this season. Zimmer had the third-highest odds of being the first NFL coach fired this year, per SportsLine, and had owned the “hottest seat” in the league over the past year.
Peterson addressed what it’s like to play for a coach and an organization that appears to be on the brink of change.
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Peterson Speaks Out on Zimmer
On the latest All Things Covered podcast with Peterson and his cousin Bryant McFadden, Peterson addressed how the team is approaching climbing back from a slow start to the season.
The Vikings are coming off a narrow 19-17 escape over the Detriot Lions that may have been Zimmer’s last game had Greg Joseph not converted a 54-yard walk-off field goal.
Despite the Vikings facing scrutiny surrounding game decisions and conservative playcalling, Peterson did not vehemently come to his coach’s defense.
Instead, he spoke from a player’s perspective and how focusing solely on the present was the best measure moving forward along with Zimmer’s game planning.
“You heard bits and pieces of it when the season first kicked off on NFL Network, but once the season starts, we don’t pay attention to the outside noise,” Peterson said of Zimmer’s seat being hot in 2021. “We focus on the opponent we have to face on Sunday because that’s all that matters.
“Preparing for that moment because the only you can control is that moment. Coach Zimmer is our coach, and he’s doing a great job of preparing us, making sure we’re ready — giving us that confidence knowing we can go out and execute that game plan.”
The objective in the locker room is not to save Zimmer’s job but to win games, Peterson asserted.
“Collectively as a group, we’re all on the same page when it comes down to the ultimate goal of winning ball games, getting into playoffs, and having a chance at getting the Lombardi Trophy,” he said. “If you look at that for extra motivation, you go fishing for plays. Doing things out of the ordinary and trying to force a play to happen might put you in a worse situation than it could be. If everybody is on the same page being prepared doing what you do, the wins will add up.”
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Peterson Addresses Lions Comeback, Cousins & Zimmer
There’s been speculation that Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer’s postgame celebration last Sunday was not all fanfare.
Peterson was nonchalant on the matter, however, his podcast titled the interaction as awkward.
“I had no idea. I was right there when it was all going down. I couldn’t tell ya, man,” Peterson said.
McFadden replied, “Zim was fired up initially, but when Kirk gave him that last shove, he was like, ‘hold on, you’ve pushed me too many times. Coach Zimmer looked like he was going to do something. I like it. I like seeing the emotions. One thing about the game of football fans don’t see the hard work and preparation… that’s why you guys are celebrating, and you have the other coach (Dan Cambell) crying because it’s tough.”
The Lions win may have been one of the most frustrating, mixed emotion wins in Zimmer’s tenure with the Vikings. However, Peterson took it as a positive and hopes it carries momentum the rest of the season, especially after a pair of last-second losses earlier in the year.
“Division foes are always gonna be a battle. It’s always gonna come down to that one possession. It’s definitely a learning experience for us moving forward. Definitely, happy to be on the winning side of those close games now. You never want to be in that position being up 10, but it’s an experience we can learn from.
“Hopefully, it can prepare us for something special throughout the rest of the year. A win is a win, however you take them.”