After the Minnesota Vikings started the Kirk Cousins era with a defense that seemed completely checked out on head coach Mike Zimmer’s off-season tweaks, Charlie Walters of the Pioneer Press wrote an article stating that head coach Mike Zimmer was on the hot seat (or would be if things continued the way they had started). I concurred and got slammed by our readers and others in Vikings media by being reactionary and stupid (or more reactionary and more stupid than usual).
That’s not something that surprises me, as while I love and appreciate all of the support we get, I also realize that most people aren’t going to agree with our takes 100% of the time (or even 1% of the time). Part of that, though, comes from the phenomenon that I’ve dubbed “headline skimming”, which is exactly what it sounds like. People comment or come to a conclusion based on the headline for a story, even if that headline doesn’t fully encompass what the article ends up conveying.
Because of that, I try to be as descriptive and non-click bait-y as possible when I come up with headlines for my stuff or for some of the other articles that I proof and post for our senior team of writers. This is all just a long way of me saying that I know this article is going to get a lot of reactions on social media, and while I do feel like I did in 2018 around week 5 (that Zimmer WILL be on the hot seat if things progress in 2020 as they were Week 1 against the Packers). However, I am more talking about the objective fact of where oddsmakers place Zimmer’s job security after week 1 as it’s pretty surprising to me that people outside of… My head, are placing his odds where they are considering he just signed a contract extension WEEKS ago.
What am I talking about?
If you’re unfamiliar with the brave new world of sports betting, you can bet on the standard stuff like over/under, odds, etc. on a plethora of sports betting sites, some of which are outside of the US (as sports betting was frowned upon until the Supreme Court kicked it back to the states about two years ago). There are also sports betting sites that are hosted in the increasing amount of states that have legalized sports betting like Iowa or Indiana, which I tend to use when I’m looking for sports betting news as they reflect each state more than the off-site sites. For example, I feel a lot more comfortable getting my info from hoosierstatebets.com than USSRbets.stalin.
Part of the fun is checking for prop bets on those sites, which are bets on things like who will win the coin toss, how long the national anthem will be, and in this case the odds that each NFL head coach will be not only fired this season but the FIRST NFL head coach to get fired this season. This is something that another writer in Vikings media covered as well, so you can read about that by clicking here.
After the Week 1 disaster that was the Green Bay Packers game, Zimmer’s odds are the FOURTH highest in the NFL at 7/1 to be the first coach fired this year. That ties him with Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone. Who is above him/them? NY Jets head coach Adam Gase has 3/1 odds, Dan Quinn of the Falcons is at 4/1 and Matt Patricia in Detroit has 5/1 (keeping the Bill Belichick coordinator curse alive and well).
Now, if you’ve read my stuff lo these past couple seasons you’ll know that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Zimmer, but even I have to call BS on this. If the Vikings were going to fire Zimmer it would’ve been at the same time they fired his sidekick and “defensive coordinator” George Edwards, which came within hours of the 49ers debacle.
Zimmer was just extended and also oversaw the biggest draft in the history of the 7-round NFL draft in April. Because of that, extension or otherwise, he bought at least some time to develop the players that he drafted. That’s not to say that if the Vikings end the season 4-12 that the Wilf’s, who have invested everything possible to bring a Super Bowl to Minnesota, won’t start to think about bringing in a new head coach. After all, former Vikings head coach Brad Childress was fired about a year after he was extended in 2009.
The only reason the result of the Packers game seems so shocking and thus on the level of placing the recently extended Zimmer on the hot seat is that people had unrealistic expectations for 2020. The team wasn’t going to say anything negative about their 2020 goals, and because of that (and the general unrealistic expectations from fans/others in Vikings media) people thought that this rebuild/reboot was just a small tweak that’d result in an improvement from the 10-6 squad in 2019.
The reality is that with all the youth and inexperience in the secondary, combined with how pivotal/difficult to acclimate to that position is in Zimmer’s system, this was always going to take some time. A time filled with growing pains, even if the recently drafted corners like Mike Hughes, Jeff Gladney, and Cameron Dantzler all end up being All-Pro level players like Xavier Rhodes was, or even $14 mil/year corners like Trae Waynes. It took both Rhodes and Waynes significant time to get up to speed, and without the safety net of veteran players like Terrance Newman, the Vikings are essentially going to live or die by the development of that group and so far it looks like they’re doing the latter.
That’s another significant point these oddsmakers overlooked. That there is no one better to develop these corners than Zimmer, the man who handpicked them for his system. It’d be foolish to fire him now or anytime soon because while you can argue that he’s drafted corner after corner while neglecting the offensive line, he does have a good track record of developing defensive players that he’s drafted (especially players he’s picked early in the draft).
So, this is just a strange bet, which I’d say we should all bet on if there was somehow the opposite bet out there (betting that he won’t be fired or something). Considering I’m the one saying this, it has to be pretty bad.