GM Rick Spielman puts first-time head coach Mike Zimmer to the test
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MANKATO, Minn. - Mike Zimmer didn't start to game plan for the Oakland Raiders until Sunday, five days before the team's first preseason game.
Zimmer's assistants have done the game-day legwork so far while the first-time head coach began a crash course in game management from general manager Rick Spielman.
"Actually [Saturday], what I started doing was game management situations," Zimmer said. "Rick put together a table. We sit down and we talk about game-like situations, challenges, when to use timeouts, go for field goals and things like that."
Zimmer has coached in the NFL as an assistant or coordinator since 1994, but he's never had to call all the shots on game day. Spielman watched as his team started 1-7 last season, including a few late-game collapses partially affected by coaching decisions.
While on 1500ESPN on Sunday morning, Spielman pulled back the curtain a little bit about the scenarios he's put Zimmer in before he coaches his first game on Aug. 8.
"We take an hour here or there and I'll go through those," Spielman said on 1500ESPN. "I have it set up for coach's copy, TV copy and show three or four plays and put [Zimmer] in a scenario - what would you do? You can't anticipate everything. I think I have 40 or 50 different scenarios right now to get you thinking."
Zimmer hasn't decided whether or not he'll be calling defensive plays as he plans to work that out with his staff during the preseason. In the meantime, he and the general manager are working to be on the same page regarding in-game decisions during hour-long meetings each day.
"We've got like four more days to go," Zimmer said. "Rick's never wrong."