Mike Zimmer not currently viewed as an elite NFL head coach

(Photo by USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer /

Heading into his eighth season with the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Mike Zimmer is running out of time to deliver the team a championship.

Few current head coaches around the NFL have likely been forced to overcome as many obstacles as Mike Zimmer has during his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings.

Zimmer had dealt with everything from Adrian Peterson missing most of a season due to suspension, being forced to play in a temporary home stadium, losing Teddy Bridgewater to a freak knee injury, almost losing one of his eyes, and dealing with the sudden passing of an assistant coach.

These are just some of the most notable events to take place during Zimmer‘s time with the Vikings, as the complete list is very long. Despite everything the head coach has had to deal with since Minnesota hired him in 2014, he’s still managed to have his team in the playoffs or at least in contention for a postseason spot each and every year.

What would it take for Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer to become elite?

Sports Illustrated’s Connor Orr recently ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. For Zimmer, Orr has the Vikings head coach right in the middle of his list in the No. 15 spot.

Here’s how Orr justified his current ranking for Zimmer.

"“The Vikings are always going to be good. They’re always going to be competitive on the defensive side of the ball. They’re going to have a sound running game and plan not to turn the ball over much. However, much like the Seahawks or the Steelers, there seems to be a best-case scenario each year for the Vikings of late that doesn’t involve the Super Bowl, but leaves room for the possibility of coming somewhat close.At some point, Zimmer, who has enjoyed one of the league’s best receiving tandems for half a decade now, needs a little more to show for the résumé than one conference title game berth in order to be considered among the tight circle of elite coaches, and not just a consistently good football coach.”"

In the top five spots on the list is Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (1), Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs (2), Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers (3), John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens (4), and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints (5).

Orr is completely right when he says that Zimmer needs his team to accomplish more. Minnesota has only won two playoff games under their current head coach, and each of the five guys at the top of these rankings has led their team to at least one Super Bowl victory.

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Leading the Vikings to a win in the Super Bowl is likely what it’s going to take in order for Zimmer to be given elite status before his coaching career comes to an end. Without that accomplishment, it’s going to be difficult for him to ever crack the top five.