Mike Zimmer should be in the Coach of the Year conversation

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer /

The Minnesota Vikings head coach is in the middle of one of his most impressive performances.

If Mike Zimmer is able to lead the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs this year, it will be the fourth time he’s helped the franchise clinch a spot in the postseason since he arrived in 2014. That is the same amount of combined playoff appearances the Vikings were able to earn under their previous three head coaches.

After a 1-5 start this season, it’s hard to believe that Zimmer actually has Minnesota back in the hunt for a playoff spot with four games left on their schedule. Less than two months ago, a number of Vikings fans were calling for his job.

And not only has Zimmer helped Minnesota work their way back into the postseason shuffle, but he’s done it with a depleted roster on the defensive side of the ball.

The Minnesota Vikings would not be 6-6 without Mike Zimmer leading the way

Over in the AFC, former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is experiencing a ton of success during his first season as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. With Stefanski in charge, the Browns just clinched their first winning campaign since 2007 when they got a big victory over the Tennessee Titans last week.

Due to Cleveland reaching heights they haven’t experienced in over a decade, the former Minnesota assistant is among the favorites to be named this season’s Coach of the Year, and rightfully so.

But Stefanski’s old boss in the Twin Cities, Zimmer, is also someone who deserves praise for the job he’s been able to do with the Vikings this season.

This past week, Minnesota took the field with just three of the 11 defensive starters they had in 2019. Still, Zimmer was able to work with the guys who were actually playing and the Vikings ended up forcing the Jacksonville Jaguars to turn the ball over four times.

During the early part of the season when Minnesota was struggling, it seemed like Zimmer was just trying to run his normal defense. But due to all of the new faces and inexperience that the Vikings had to throw out on the field, the defense struggled and it resulted in the team losing five of their first six matchups of the year.

Zimmer clearly went back to the drawing board during Minnesota’s bye in Week 7 and his adjustments have worked well for the most part.

During the Vikings’ first six games, they were allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 287 yards per contest. In the six matchups since their bye week, Minnesota’s defense saw this average decrease to 237 yards per game.

Zimmer has been able to get the most out of guys like Eric Wilson, D.J. Wonnum, and Cameron Dantzler during the last few weeks. He’s doing what he can with the players who are available and during the team’s turnaround, the Vikings head coach has been proving why he was given a multi-year contract extension before the start of the season.

Zimmer won’t get the same notoriety this year as someone like Stefanski because he didn’t turn a terrible team into one that can actually be successful. But sometimes the best coaching jobs happen when a team can maintain their success despite a high amount of roster turnover and this is what Minnesota’s 64-year-old head coach has been able to do for his team so far this season.