His decision-making often comes into question, but Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has been making the right calls on fourth down this season.
Leading the Los Angeles Chargers by seven points with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer had a big decision to make.
Zimmer needed to figure out whether the Vikings should Attempt to convert a 4th-and-2 from the Chargers’ 36-yard line or risk missing a field-goal try and letting Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert get a chance to tie the score with a touchdown drive.
Minnesota’s head coach went with the first option, and it turned out to be the right decision. The Vikings got the first down thanks to a four-yard run by Dalvin Cook, and they got the win thanks to the late-game decision-making by Zimmer.
Minnesota Vikings are the best in 2021 at deciding when to go for it on fourth down
Zimmer gets criticized for some of his choices at the end of games, and rightfully so. But when it comes to going for it on fourth down this season, no team has made the right call more than Minnesota and their head coach according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
"“[Mike] Zimmer and the Vikings have quietly been among the sharpest NFL teams on fourth down this season. Across 51 fourth-down situations when the optimal choice helped the team’s chances of winning at a greater rate than one percentage point, Zimmer has made the correct decision 86.3 percent of the time (44 times), the best mark in the league this season and a figure up significantly from Zimmer’s effort last season (69.1 percent, 25th-best in 2020).”"
Obviously, the Vikings haven’t been able to convert all 51 of these fourth-down situations into first downs. But Zimmer has been at least putting Minnesota in the best position to win this season when it comes to figuring out what to do on fourth down.
The Vikings seemed to turn the corner in several areas during their win over the Chargers on Sunday. Will Minnesota continue to do some of the things that worked in Los Angeles? Time will tell, but if they do, the rest of the NFC should worry about what sort of damage the Vikings might be capable of if they find a way to get into the playoffs.