Where do I even begin? Earlier this season I wrote a whole article about my support for continuity at the coaching and GM levels as a recipe for success in the NFL. However I wasn’t counting on Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman pushing the self destruct button after 6 games of the 2020 season.
The QB stats dilemma
After a disastrous performance against the Atlanta Falcons, Kirk Cousins reminded me of all the reason why his signing was and wasn’t a good decision. It was because he brought stability and continuity at the position. His durability and overall statistics show that his arrival in Minnesota was a good investment. However there are other intricate parts of being a successful QB in the NFL such as leadership and mental strength. The ability to connect with your teammates beyond the football field. Make your team fight for you and stand behind you. Those are pretty important attributes of a successful QB. And there it is where his arrival was not a good investment.
Locker room chemistry
Stefon Diggs wanted out and now continues to experience success in Buffalo. Xavier Rhodes exited and now he somehow remembered how to play elite CB level for the Indianapolis Colts. Mackensie Alexander left along with Trae Waynes, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph. Veterans with a leadership voice in the locker room. That void was never filled by Cousins or anyone for that matter. Mike Zimmer should have seen this coming when he decided to give the car keys to Cousins as one of the leaders of the locker room. Good coaches can have a bad year but they cannot absolutely lose the locker room, because if they do it’s game over.
Leaving it up to others to take care of the offense is coming back to hunt Zimmer, in a situation where his lack of involvement has created a problematic scenario that gets out of hand as the games progress. Having recently received a contract extension Zimmer holds some leverage but he is basically faced with two choices: tackling the gigantic task of regaining control of his locker room or taking a buyout and retire at his Kentucky ranch. If things don’t improve soon the Vikings will be forced to make that decision for him.
Does it splash all the way to Spielman?
Rick Spielman bears little responsibility for what goes on inside the locker room. But he does bare a lot of responsibility for bringing some of the actors into the locker room without properly vetting other qualifications besides statistics. He also bears all responsibility for not providing proper pass protection for his very expensive pocket QB converting him into a melting candle under pressure. And ultimately for extending the contracts of Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins if he knew of any internal turmoil.
Is this a fire sale?
Yannick Ngakoue and a 2021 second round draft selection are gone. Other names could be on the trading block as well. If the Vikings are going all in the Trevor Lawrence or Trey Lance sweepstakes, they might want to look at an offensive minded Head Coach as the new NFL moves in that direction. Mike Zimmer might not be the most ideal coach to take on a young QB’s development and help him succeed in the NFL. And such said QB wouldn’t have success anyway if Rick Spielman continues to not provide the appropriate pass protection.
1-5 vs 4-1 Packers
In this nightmare 2020 season it would only be appropriate that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers would dictate the future of Zimmer, Spielman and Cousins who are all basically attached to the hip. Lambeau Field could be the venue where all these personalities find their Waterloo. So maybe continuity under these circumstances was a bad idea after all.