As temperatures continue to scorch, it appears seats around the Vikings roster and organization will too. Cold seats start to become lukewarm. Warm seats become hot. Hot seats become sizzling hot to the point of replacement.
Whether it’s due to players pushing others for playing time or there simply being a no better option, training camp and pre-season is the time jobs are won and lost.
The same goes for coaches as well. As they attempt to field the best 53 man roster they possibly can, one underperforming season can push them over the edge. Just as Zimmer and Co found out last year, one injury bug, or in the Vikings’ case numerous bugs, can derail a whole season.
But then again, now is the time for Zimmer to cool his seat down. With personnel decisions and financial decisions, Zimmer’s seat could go from scorching to brisk in a span of one season.
As for the hottest of hot seats, Brent Sobleski over at Bleacher Report took a stab at this. For the Minnesota Vikings, he listed fan-favorite Dakota Dozier as the individual with the hottest hot seat.
Sobleski had this to say:
The Minnesota Vikings continue to shuffle their offensive line, and it’s not likely to stop in the near future.
First, the organization released veteran left tackle Riley Reiff. Next, general manager Rick Speilman drafted Reiff’s replacement, Christian Darrisaw, with this year’s 23rd overall pick. Second-year guard Ezra Cleveland will move from the right to left side. With four of the five spots set, right guard remains unsettled.
Dakota Dozier started 16 games at left guard last season. The 30-year-old veteran is a passable run blocker, but his pass blocking leaves a lot to be desired.
As such, Mason Cole, whom the team signed as a free agent, and third-round rookie Wyatt Davis will enter an open competition to fill the spot vacated by Cleveland.
Dozier may have been a starter, but his overall performance portends a change with Cole or Davis flanking center Garrett Bradbury.
Unfortunately for Sobleski, fans themselves have taken a personal heater to his seat—awaiting his eventual departure from the lineup.
For those who need a refresher on Dozier’s abysmal 2020 performance, here it is:
- 44.6 overall PFF Grade
- 36.7 Pass Blocking PFF Grade
- 52.3 Run Blocking PFF Grade
- 9 Penalties Committed (T-2nd)
- 6 Sacks Allowed (T-2nd)
- 2 Sacks Earned (Sacked Kirk Cousins in Week 9 and Week 14)
Keep in mind; Dozier continues to earn (playing fast and loose with the term earn here) first-team reps in OTAs. While this might be a product of there simply being a no better option: Dru Samia and his 33.1 PFF grade further attest to this.
However, just as Sobleski mentions, the Vikings already have a guy ready to flank Bradbury. While the concept of earning your stripes holds, the case could be made for either Wyatt Davis or Mason Cole to be missing out on valuable first-team reps. It is what it is with Dozier. If he is in the starting lineup come time week one, the chain reaction will be inevitable.
As for actual hottest hot seats, let’s take a look at a few options:
The former first-rounder and first opening-round OL selection since Kalil in 2021 is undoubtedly entering the season on the hot seat. In his rookie campaign, Bradbury recorded a 58.1 grade, followed by a 61.4 grade. Year three will need to see significant improval to warrant consideration for his 5th-year option to be picked up.
Keep in mind, Bradbury has been sandwiched between below-average (a compliment) guards throughout his career. But with the potential Cleveland and Davis possess, that excuse may no longer hold true.
Mike Zimmer / Rick Speilman
It appears these two are tied to the cord. Therefore, their seats are equally tied. It is entirely plausible if one goes; the other is bound to go as well. The boss men are set to enter a critical 2021 season—one where a lack of playoff appearance or even a playoff win may result in termination.
If Zimmer can that next step with Cousins, perhaps to an NFC Championship game appearance, Zimmer and Co will more than likely be in the fold come time 2022.
Last but not least, the $84 million man himself. After utilizing a third-round pick on QB Kellen Mond, the Vikings front office is undoubtedly preparing for life post Cousins.
Again, failure to reach the playoffs or perhaps a lackluster season in 2021 could lead to Cousins being shipped off to another team in 2022.
All though it seems unlikely Cousins has a lackluster season in 2021, given the sizable upgrades at the OL positions coupled with a revamped defense. As long as Cousins is not the reason the Vikings fail to miss the playoffs, you’ll most likely see Kirk playing out his contract in Minnesota, whether you like it or not.
Verdict: Cool as a Cucumber