Mike Zimmer has made a lot of questionable decisions during what is seeming more and more to be his final season with the Minnesota Vikings.
Last January, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was informed that the team’s offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, was going to retire from coaching in the NFL.
Since this decision was made in January, Zimmer had plenty of time to search for someone new to run the Vikings offense. Instead, Minnesota’s head coach made a decision less than a month after Kubiak‘s retirement announcement to make his son, Klint, the team’s new offensive coordinator.
Despite the younger Kubiak having absolutely zero experience as an offensive play-caller in the NFL, Zimmer still felt like this was the best decision for the team. Midway through the 2021 season, this decision, and several others, has backfired on the Vikings head coach.
Mike Zimmer nearing the end of his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings
The choice to make the younger, inexperienced Kubiak Minnesota’s new offensive coordinator for this season and a number of other decisions made by Zimmer during the last few years have resulted in the 65-year-old head coach hanging onto his job by a thread after the Vikings suffered an embarrassing loss to the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Losing to the Lions didn’t knock Minnesota out of the current NFC playoff race, but it was a game that closely resembled the 26 other matchups the team has taken the field for since their last postseason appearance in 2019.
The contest in Detroit began with a truckload of disappointment. At the half, the Vikings found themselves down by 14 points to a Lions team that had not earned a victory since Week 13 of the 2020 season.
Minnesota then came out and responded with 21 points in the final two quarters of the matchup. However, it was Zimmer’s defense that ultimately let the Vikings down and gave up the game-winning touchdown to the Lions as time expired.
Unlike the first few years of Zimmer’s tenure in Minnesota, the defense has been a big problem for the team since the start of the 2020 season.
Only six teams have given up more total yards to their opponents since Week 1 of the 2020 campaign than the Vikings and only five teams have allowed more points than Minnesota in this same time span.
There’s not much of a point in a team keeping around a defensive guy as their head coach if the defense has been the weakest part of the team more often than not during the last two years.
Could some of Minnesota’s defensive struggles have to do with the team having not one, but two defensive coordinators? After George Edwards left in 2020, Zimmer gave a nice big slap in the face to his longtime friend and colleague, Andre Patterson, by making him the co-defensive coordinator with Zimmer’s son, Adam.
When has there ever been a successful defense in the history of the NFL that was coordinated by two coaches? If you’re struggling to come up with an answer it’s because there isn’t one.
At the same time, who knows how much responsibility Minnesota’s co-defensive coordinators even have since the older Zimmer is the one who still calls the plays for the defense during each of their games.
When it’s come to a bunch of his hiring decisions during the last few years, it’s really just felt like Zimmer has mailed it in. Unsurprisingly, the lack of effort it seems like he put into finding new offensive and defensive coordinators during the last two years hasn’t resulted in the Vikings winning the NFC North or making it back to the NFC Championship.
Instead, Minnesota is now heading into a position that they haven’t been in since 2013 when they were experiencing the final weeks of Leslie Frazier as their team’s head coach.
Even with some of Zimmer’s recent on-the-field decisions (especially the final drive in Detroit), it just feels like he’s been putting in the minimal amount of effort with the hopes that his players will just find a way to squeeze out a win.
Has Zimmer lost the fire he had when he first became the head coach of the Vikings? Does he even want to be Minnesota’s head coach anymore? Or is he just burnt out like the majority of his defensive players in the fourth quarter this season?