I know, the fifth entry in this series is a rehash of a topic I covered in the second part of this series. In the second entry in this series I pointed out head coach Mike Zimmer’s approach to team building, and primarily focused on the offensive line.
Now, I wanted to add to this because the following made the rounds on Vikings media this week:
Vikings team pass block grade and rank since 2014:
2014: 72.4 (23rd)
2015: 67.9 (28th)
2016: 64.7 (30th)
2017: 71.9 (17th)
2018: 63.6 (27th)
2019: 63.0 (27th)
2020: 55.5 (29th)
— PFF MIN Vikings (@PFF_Vikings) January 14, 2021
Sounds like a coach that learns from his mistakes!!
Now, I actually ended up making some news this week when I posted another part of this series, which… Sigh… Was also about the offensive line.
Here’s the news from our friends over at Heavy.com:
That interview, which was actually with a couple former and current NFL linemen (and coaches, to boot), surprised some people because there was a fair amount of optimism among Vikings fans this season thanks to the play of Ezra Cleveland at right guard.
Sure, a lot of the linemen graded individually okay, but as the sources of my original article pointed out, they’re not playing as a cohesive unit. All that optimism ended up being all bluster, as the Vikings graded out worse in 2020 than they did in 2019 and 2018.
That’s huge, as the Vikings had two of the worst guards in league history in 2018, and had a line so atrocious that Kirk Cousins had to rollout or run bootlegs to a simply complete a pass.
How can a head coach who consistently does the same things get away with this? Why? Because he got blown out in the NFC Championship in 2017? Because he put together a great on paper defense that had splashy stats that never manifested into anything in big games? Because far too many people put down money on the Vikings when they’re on vacation and Super Bowl Betting?
People have been defending Zimmer tooth and nail in the comments for this series and all say “Derp derp Stefanski couldn’t do better with all the injuries on defense!”.
The line was mostly healthy this season. Sure, the defense will be better next year, but do we have any faith the line will be? With all the holes on defense, do you think Zimmer will use the 14th pick on someone like Wyatt Davis when he drafted Mike Hughes in the first round when we already had two first rounders at the position?
And what did those first round picks do?
Xavier Rhodes had a bounce back year in Indianapolis because their defensive coordinator didn’t stubbornly commit to a system that had a major flaw within it.
That flaw was Rhodes, but instead of giving him some safety help (like Zimmer did do this season) he just left Rhodes on an island that, like a chain with one rusted link, collapsed the entire unit.
He’s a concrete thinker in a league that rewards those that adapt. That’s why Zimmer’s Vikings have never been able to adapt to half-time adjustments from any opposing teams. That’s why he gets embarrassed by offensive minded head coaches in the playoffs.
That’s also why the Vikings offensive line is STILL a problem. I am so sick of writing about and talking about this topic. It’s the same thing over and over and over, but somehow people expect different results?
Tell me, in the comments, exactly what you think Zimmer will do next season that is any different than what we’ve seen? He’s yet again sans an offensive coordinator, and despite the fact that outside of the line this offense is STACKED, do you really think Eric Bieniemy would want to come here?
If you’re content with mediocrity that’s fine, but don’t attempt to paint it as anything but that. Winning double digit games three seasons out of seven is somehow making Zimmer untouchable to far too many Vikings fans.
Fans who seem to think that we can’t do any better when all we get from Zimmer is the same okay team after okay team when the Vikings ownership has invested more than any other team in the NFL.
People seem to think that because of the roster, solely, the Vikings had this amazingly long championship window that Zimmer kept open with double A gap blitzes and elbow grease.
That was based on the roster, not on the actual output of said rosters, and the main reason why (beyond Zimmer’s inability to out coach anyone who wasn’t born in the 1950’s) is the offensive line.