Sportress of Blogitude

Mike Zimmer partly blames QBs for dangerous head shots on receivers

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer had been coaching in the NFL for 20-plus seasons. And he’s seen a lot of changes to the game during his career. With the focus in recent years on player safety — especially as it relates to the devastating consequences of blows to the head — Zimmer believes one factor isn’t discussed often enough:

Quarterbacks putting receivers in dangerously vulnerable positions with risky passes over the middle.

“The whole league has changed in the 20 years I’ve been in the league you know,” Zimmer said Wednesday, via the Star Tribune. “I guess I’m a defensive coach, a lot of times these quarterbacks throw the ball in the middle of the field and these safeties are coming to make a play on the ball. Quite honestly the ball shouldn’t have been thrown. Back in the day the ball wouldn’t have been thrown.”

“We have to adapt to the rules. And the hard part especially for the safeties is when they’re catching the ball and the guy is going down, you’ve lowered your target but he continues to go lower. Now you have to try to, in about the time it takes a golf ball to come off a club face, to move your target to another spot, which is almost totally impossible. I think they could take a bunch of these plays out if the quarterbacks wouldn’t throw the ball into places they shouldn’t throw the ball.”

There were of course plenty of instances of receivers getting destroyed catching balls over the middle during the more barbaric days of the NFL. That doesn’t seem to be Zimmer’s point. Instead, he’s saying quarterbacks ought to adjust to the rules as well in some respects, just as defensive players have had to do.

That said, Zimmer nevertheless believes it’s a good thing for head shots to be legislated out of football.

“I think it’s important we try to take the hits to the head out of the game best we can,” Zimmer said. “You don’t want to see people get hurt or get injured.”