The Vikings have reduced the three-game suspension of special teams coach Mike Priefer because he completed diversity training.
The team released this statement tonight:
The Minnesota Vikings will reinstate Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer effective Monday, September 15. The decision by Vikings ownership follows extensive conversations with the independent professional consultants retained to conduct individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual orientation training with Coach Priefer. Those consultants have conveyed to the team that Coach Priefer was fully and thoughtfully engaged throughout the process and successfully completed the program. Details within the settlement agreement pertaining to the actions by the team remain confidential.
Joe Marciano coached the Vikings special teams during Priefer’s absence.
In between being pelted with questions about running back Adrian Peterson, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was asked to evaluate the Vikings special teams performance. His answers were just as short as those regarding Peterson.
“It wasn’t too good,” Zimmer said of the special teams unit. “It wasn’t too good.”
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones blocked kicker Blair Walsh’s 48-yard field goal attempt and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown with nine seconds left in the first half. It was part of a stretch where New England ripped off 30 unanswered points in the 30-7 victory over the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.
“We needed that kick,” Walsh said. “We have to do better as a unit there, and we can’t have that. We have to have enough room to do our kicks and do our job.”
Zimmer said Jones swam inside to block the kick that would’ve trimmed the deficit down to 17-10 right before the half. Instead, the 10-point swing was part of many mistakes made on special teams.
The Patriots froze the Vikings defense on 4th and short situations, stalling their decision to punt with the offense still out on the field. They’d have their punt team ready on the sideline and wait late in the play clock to send out punter Ryan Allen.
During the first instance, the Vikings left their defense on the field with punt returner Marcus Sherels back to return the punt. The Patriots decided to punt the ball, and Sherels waived for a fair catch.
There was another moment in the second half when the Vikings defense was confused whether to remain on the field again, though the coaching staff was waving them over to the sideline with the Patriots lining up to punt. The Vikings only had nine players on the field.
The Vikings have been without their special teams coordinator, Mike Priefer, during the first two games as he serves a suspension for anti-gay comments made during the 2012 season. The three-game ban can be reduced to two games at the team’s discretion, making Priefer available to return to the team on Monday. Zimmer did not say whether Priefer would return to coach against the Saints in Week 3.
“As far as I know, it’s three weeks,” Zimmer said.
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel tied his career high with four interceptions in the 30-7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. It’s his 19th career regular season game with multiple interceptions and third in eight starts with the Vikings.
But Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer won’t make a change heading into Week 3 against the Saints, naming Cassel as the starter after the game.
“As I’ve said before, I’m going to hold the quarterback position just like every position here to the same standard,” Zimmer said. “And I also said I wasn’t going to have a quick hook. Matt needs to play better. It’s pretty obvious he needs to play better. We all need to play better. I need to coach better.”
Cassel’s performance hindered an offense playing without running back Adrian Peterson, who was deactivated after being indicted and charged on one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County (Texas). Cassel looked sharp on the opening drive, which lasted seven plays and 80 yards, finding running back Matt Asiata for a 25-yard touchdown pass. It was the only time Cassel looked sharp. His play regressed as the game progressed, missing open receivers and failing to sustain drives.
The Patriots scored 17 points on Cassel’s turnovers. He was also sacked six times after having a clean pocket against the Rams last week. Cassel said he appreciated Zimmer immediately naming him the starting quarterback next week after his performance.
“There’s no doubt it, today was a rough day for me,” Cassel said. “You want to put your team in a great position to win and like I said, I take full responsibility for not taking care of the football today. I’ve got to do a better job, and I will.”
The fans began chanting “Teddy” as the offense struggled after the opening drive, hoping to see rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater replace Cassel at some point in the game. It never happened and doesn’t appear it will over the next week.
“Of course the crowd’s going to do that when the quarterback starts doing bad, but Matt – he’s a heck of a quarterback,” wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said. “I love him to death. If Teddy gets his shine, Teddy gets his shine. But Matt is our starting quarterback, and Matt’s going to play. Our hats off to Matt for taking that pressure from the fans.
“I stand behind Matt with just me and him; it’s just me and Matt out there. I’ll stand behind him each day, because I respect him, the things he do and what he brings to this game every day.”