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The Case for Firing Zimmer pt. 1: The Offensive Coordinator

Strap in!

Don’t get me wrong.

At this point? There are a lot of reasons why the Minnesota Vikings should move on from Mike Zimmer. Some are more drastic than others, as you’ll see in this series. Others are just more benign, like the fact that only a handful of NFL head coaches have won a Super Bowl with a team after the five-year mark (and the coaches that have? All Hall of Fame guys with Hall of Fame quarterbacks). I thought that now was as good a time as any to break this down for two main reasons.

First? I, surprisingly enough, speak with a lot of current and former Vikings players that are either still in the league, recently retired, or have been retired for a long time. What I’ve been learning about Zimmer from more than one is something that I will hopefully finish this series with soon, after I cross every T and dot every I. But, it’s the type of thing that shouldn’t not be public knowledge and also the type of thing that crosses over from just normal football/management stuff to being morally wrong.

Secondly? The recent news that Gary Kubiak “retired” brings up the question as to who will even want to come to the franchise in the first place and why this team goes through offensive coordinators like I go through toilet seats.

Thirdly, do you think I should see a doctor?

The topic of today’s piece is that second question. Now, with Kubiak leaving the Vikings will be on the market again for an offensive coordinator. The new coordinator will be the fourth for quarterback Kirk Cousins, which is in and of itself a problem.

It’d be different if John DeFilippo and Kubiak left because of all of the success they had here (like the third OC Kevin Stefanski, or other “left for the good reason” Pat Shurmur), but DeFilippo left because he and Zimmer loathed one another and apparently Zimmer couldn’t tell his own offense to run the ball?

Norv Turner unceremoniously resigned mid-way through the 2016 season. An article from the time states:

“Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer disagreed on the best way to run the offense, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB. It wasn’t a huge rift, but they couldn’t come to terms on the margins of it, the details of the offensive system that needed to be changed in order to better protect the quarterback, get the running game going again, and score more than 20 points a game.”

Again, an offensive coordinator leaves during the season because he and Zimmer don’t agree on something. Shouldn’t that be decided BEFORE you hire the guy(s)?

Beyond that, if it was about protecting the quarterback? We’d have done it by now. The line has been an issue, almost by design, since 2016 so that angle had to be peppered in by someone in the Vikings media department as just another reason why Turner up-and-quit in November when he’d never done that before (or since) despite coaching in the NFL since the Woodrow Wilson administration.

If you read my ‘Things are BAD in Zimmerland’ article you’ll remember that Zimmer had the propensity to sabotage his own offense in practice either to prove a point about philosophy (apparently he hates RPO plays like he hates four way stops).

[Report] Things are BAD in Zimmerland

From that article:

““There’s a reason Minnesota never injected RPOs into its scheme like every other smart team seemed to after Nick Foles (miraculously) upset Tom Brady in the Super Bowl — Zimmer purposely mucked those plays up and then chastised the offense for being too gimmicky.

It became a running joke with offensive players.

Cheat code in hand, Zimmer called plays to screw them over.”

This was around the time when “head coach of the future” John DeFilippo and Zimmer were locking horns over running the ball more.
“When the offense followed orders and stuck to a steady diet of runs and play-action and screens in practice, Zimmer asked them to run more dropback passes the next practice. They did. They felt Zimmer’s wrath. “What!?” one source remembers him shouting. “We’re a dropback f—— team now?””

But yeah, Turner totally retired so the team could focus on the offensive line? Speaking of the line, as I humble bragged in the intro, I speak with a lot of current/former players and in doing so have talked to some offensive lineman.

One player recently told me that whenever the center would call out what he saw from the defense in practice, you know his job, Zimmer would get irate because it’d “screw up [Zimmer’s blitz packages]”.

Is he trying to win games or just practice?

It’s stuff like that that makes it clear that clearly something isn’t right in Minnesota and also highlights the question as to what young, up-and-coming new-age offensive coordinator prospect would want to come here? Especially considering that the last time we had one, Zimmer fired him before the end of his first season and then replaced him with Kevin Stefanski.

The same Kevin Stefanski that has won NFL Coach of the Year honors everywhere but looked like a huge reach and mistake for Cleveland because Zimmer turns everything into mediocrity like King Midas’ brother, Prince Crap.

Kubiak is perhaps the best example of that, as he was forced to moderate to the point that within a week of talking about his loyalty and friendship to Zimmer and how he loves his job? He retired.

Nowhere in Kubiak’s illustrious career has he been as risk averse as he was in 2020. Some of that made sense, as the defense was such a liability at points that the offense needed long methodical drives to keep their own defense off the field.

The other part though was just Zimmer forcing Kubiak to stifle one of the most talented and dangerous offenses in the entire NFL. Which brings us back to the above unfinished point. What young offensive minded up and comer WOULDN’T want to coach this unit?

Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Irv Smith, Tyler Conklin, the second most accurate QB ever in Kirk Cousins? All locked in for a year or more? But, no one wants to come here and that by itself shows that Zimmer is essentially squandering (and has squandered) the potential of this Vikings team.

Even at its peak, Zimmer’s defense has never been elite. Perhaps elite at a certain stat, like third down stops in 2017, but never all encompassing and stifling like the great Bears defenses we’ve seen over the years, or the Ravens in 2000.

I’ve LONG said that this Vikings team needs an elite offense to compensate for the good defense (that never comes through in big spots). In fact, it’s the first argument I made as the first person in Vikings media to call for the Vikings to go all-in on Cousins in 2018.

But, it’s impossible for this team under Zimmer to create that elite offense because he won’t allow it by design, nor will he bring in the new age offensive coordinator who could do it.

Instead? We’ll most likely hire from within to keep the zone blocking scheme together as we add unnecessary miles to Dalvin Cook who could be as or more effective if they aired the ball out and gave Dalvin the ball 20 times a game (instead of waiting 40 minutes for a 20 yard pass and having games where Cook neared 40 touches).

It’s all bad, despite the fact that this offense was the only bright spot in 2020. Which may seem contradictory but actually shows the potential of the offense as well as the frustration I’m talking about. If this offense did what it did in 2020, considering, could you imagine if they weren’t still running the style of offense we had when Teddy Bridgewater was a rookie handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson in 2014?

I can’t either. Because it won’t happen. At least, as long as Zimmer is here. That’s not to say that I think he WILL be fired right now. He won’t. He’ll get a pass because of the injuries on defense, and we’ll just watch this team spend $200 million guaranteed when all is said and done for a quarterback they didn’t need (considering Zimmer’s reluctance to move into this century offensively), Cook’s body breaks down, and guys like Thielen and Harrison Smith age out.

So it’s bad news?

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Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started purplePTSD.com back in 2015 & purpleTERRITORYradio.com in 2019, and purchased VikingsTerritory.com before the 2017-18 season , used to write for VikingsJournal.com and is the host of the ’Morning Joes’ & ‘About the Labor’ Podcasts, as well. Follow on Twitter: @vtPTSD

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James
James
14 days ago

Great Article cant wait for PII and III. For those Die hard Zimmer lovers Kubiak abruptly leaving should be the last Red Flag needed to look hard at the way Zimmer runs things!

Last edited 14 days ago by James
Drew
Drew
Reply to  James
14 days ago

This guy is a bit of a moron writing this extremely biased article no sense of journalism at all. As if Zimmer wants to stifle his own offense as a head coach. There are so many assertions in here made without facts or evidence. Zero objectivity. Please find a new profession, because this is far from journalism.

Miles
Miles
Reply to  James
14 days ago

How can Kubiak who has health problems, be a sign of Mike Zimmer ? Do you think that maybe he took this job to get his kid in the door with a good, old school head coach and now wants to leave ? Ever think of that ? That sounds like something a lot of dads might do for their children considering the serious health problems Gary Kubiak has had. Personally, I’ve felt blessed the old bronco CAME OUT OF Retirement to coach this offense and it’s staff up these passed few years…

Drew
Drew
14 days ago

Reply to
James
right now
This guy is a bit of a moron writing this extremely biased article no sense of journalism at all. As if Zimmer wants to stifle his own offense as a head coach. There are so many assertions in here made without facts or evidence. Zero objectivity. Please find a new profession, because this is far from journalism.

Pete paul
Pete paul
Reply to  Drew
14 days ago

Hey Pal! Zimmer and Spielman should go da bears were circling the drain and the Vikes given them plus the dysfunctional cowboys! That should’ve been enough for The Wilfs to clean house. How much more mediocrity will fans tolerate? Every other year make the playoffs and win NFC North once! This team even healthy cannot beat packers or bears twice a season. If Zimmer was winning “The Black and Blue division ” every year yes stay. However, cutting Case Keenum for overpaid, cinderblock feet Kurt “shovel your own snow” Cousins is stupid! Spielman you can’t cover your blunder with metrics claiming having saved money losing Diggs, Rhodes. If you can’t win the NFC North consistently you, Zimmer and cousins must go! Prehistoric management, offense and inept defense belong in the Smithsonian.

Troy Antrim
Troy Antrim
Reply to  Drew
13 days ago

Couldn’t agree more!

Miles
Miles
14 days ago

The difference between Zimmer and other coaches, is that hes a defensive genius head coach . 2020 was a waste, but aside from that one season, you can always count on the defense being one of the top units in the league. Norv Turner showed his a** in a few places, his offense wasn’t scoring many points here. Kubiak isn’t going to retire because Zimmer is riding him. Mike Zimmer is not at TCO performance center riding a super bowl winning head coach, I can garauntee that. I’d like to see Klint Kubiak get his hands on this thing. He and Adam Zimmer look like a pair of replacements at head coach and defensive coordinator to take this team into the mid 2020s

Shawn
14 days ago

The purple goggle wearing no nothings that commented so far are the reason why we are screwed because they make up 2/3’s of the fan base. They can’t see what is so obvious to so many of us. Zimmer has not adapted or fixed even 1 thing that he does wrong and never will. This was proof of that. It was obvious before the first game that the defense would be terrible & the offense would be at least average or a little better then average and if Jefferson was ready to contribute it could actually be a great offense. So what’s Zimmer do?He did the complete opposite of what a smart coach would’ve done. He refused to accept that his defense would suck & strong armed Spielmen into wasting a very valuable 2nd rd pick on a pass rusher & it didn’t change anything. He should have realized how good Jefferson is & then changed up his strategy by allowing Kubs to open up the offense instead of holding the offense down like always. The league has made ridiculous rule changes to give offenses an advantage and to create high scoring games. Because of the changes Zimmers strategy is absurd and they will continue to mostly only beat the bad teams & lose pretty much every game against good teams. So our future with Zimmer is obvious.. During a easy schedule year thats combined with good injury luck they’ll claw into the playoffs & get embarrassed in their 1st or second game. If the schedule is tough and or injuries hit they will win 5-7 games and zimmer will blame the offense & say he just needs a cornerback & more running plays.. He’s a dinosaur and if Diggs becoming the best WR in football & dam near an mvp candidate doesn’t make you see how flawed Zimmer is nothing will because you simply can’t understand football.

David Vukelich
David Vukelich
Reply to  Shawn
10 days ago

Preach it. How can us armchair QBs see this so clearly? Because it’s obvious!
I’ll just enjoy the playoffs with Mahomes’ greatness again with envy.

VikingHomey
VikingHomey
14 days ago

So Stefanski isn’t an example of a head coach growing, cultivating an employee onto a greater position? Where I come from that’s the sign of a great leader.

David Vukelich
David Vukelich
Reply to  VikingHomey
10 days ago

Stefanski started at literally the bottom of this franchise as a young man long before Zim got here. He learned from many mentors along the way. Taking what he wants and leaving what he doesn’t. Crediting Zim with Kevin’s assention is misplaced. Kevin took advantage of a great opportunity and will prosper because he’s a good student and teacher.

Last edited 10 days ago by David Vukelich
Tony
Tony
14 days ago

Stefon Diggs forcing his way out of town proved to be a great move!! He had 1500 of the easiest yards I’ve ever seen…just like the Vikings held Justin Jefferson to 1400 yards by basically ignoring him the first two games and also in the red zone…now one of these guys mentioned Xavier Rhodes who was awful when he wasn’t limping off the field every other play??? Now the writer was dead on when he said that Zimmer’s defense has been good over the years but constantly fails in big spots….these are facts!! And I don’t know how anybody who claims to be a Viking fan would want to have Zimmer back anywhere near the state of Minnesota??? And one guy even wanted to promote Zimmer and Kubiak’s sons to keep this mediocrity going??? I want everyone on this staff far FAR AWAY from this team…..PLEASE???!!!!!!!

Siorc
Siorc
13 days ago

… and who is your pick to replace him?

Its just me
Reply to  Siorc
13 days ago

It dont matter who coaches, if you cant see that the refs got the winner, watch a little closer. Its so 9bvious.. its as bad as the wwf all rigged.. if you find this hard to believe,
One example, watch any game no matter whos playing, and if its close, wwatch the seconds tick aeay or stop for no reason… Its pretty suck, but thats why vegas is still vegas, and the refs are making a lot of under the table $$..
Sorry to break the facts out, i cant even watch the pros anymore.

Tony
Tony
13 days ago

I would replace him with someone outside of the organization….I wouldn’t want anyone who has spent even five minutes around Mike Zimmer??? Aren’t y’all tired of knowing you have no shot of winning the Super Bowl before week 1??? This organization needs new leadership and yes, a young offensive minded coach in a league where “offense wins championships “…..we have a GM who wants to win draft day by loading up on picks that amount to nothing and our fan base seems to applaud him….and know that when and if we do well against the third place schedule as we do every other year, Zimmer is gonna get out coached and out schemed again in another season ending playoff loss?????

James Poitra
James Poitra
13 days ago

I do believe that Zimmer needs to go. With the calls that he made this past season for the offense was bad. I am sure that a one point in his career he was a very fine coach. There is a time in everyone’s career to hang it up and it seems to be his time. I am and will always be a Vikings fans. I wish that the upper management would hire from outside of the organization for OC but not likely young Kubiak will more in likely get the nod. Life is life and we as fans can say what we would like to happen but ultimately it’s up to the owners to make the decisions. Kurt Cousins is a very fine QB no need to let him slip through the cracks. Need to get experience line men to help out him and the running back trio which in turn will out the best set of wideouts and tight ends this team has seen in years. This is one man’s opinion that’s it.

David Vukelich
David Vukelich
10 days ago

Zim is stubborn and wasting talent. Unable to succumb to a modern era of football. Evaluate the 5 best teams in the league and emulate them. Do what maximizes your talent. He’s so primitively rigid. He should be a db coach, that’s all.

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