Mike Zimmer’s future in Minnesota has been decided.
The Minnesota Vikings coach officially signed his new deal on Friday, agreeing to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2023 season.
“We are excited to have Coach Zimmer continue to lead the Minnesota Vikings this season and beyond,” Vikings owner Mark Wilf said in a statement. “We strongly believe in his leadership and the team culture he’s fostered. We look forward to him furthering the team’s success of the previous six seasons and leading us to our ultimate goal of bringing a Super Bowl Championship to Minnesota.”
Let's get it, Zim! pic.twitter.com/CTxrGVTjov
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) July 24, 2020
Zimmer has a 57-38-1 record since taking over as head coach in 2014. His 57 wins are the seventh-most among NFL teams. He is the third-winningest coach in Vikings history behind Dennis Green (97 wins) and Bud Grant (158 wins).
The 64-year-old coach has led the Vikings to three playoff appearances and two NFC North titles in six seasons with the team.
His success has come despite beginning the season with four different starting quarterbacks since he took over. His contract will expire a year after Kirk Cousins‘, as the Vikings have committed to the duo.
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Team Defense’s Impact
Zimmer has undeniably raised the floor of the Vikings franchise with his defense he overhauled in his first season.
He turned what was the league’s worst defense in 2013 into the 11th ranked defense in points allowed in his first year and has since kept the Vikings defense among the NFL’s best amid the offense’s turbulence. Zimmer’s defense has ranked in the top six in points allowed in four of his six seasons.
Since 2014, the Vikings have the best defensive third-down percentage (35.2), the second-best points allowed per game (19.3) and are third in yards allowed per game (321.8). This is the results of accumulating the third-most sacks (260) and ranking fifth in the turnover differential (+31).
Four More Years
The critique surrounding Zimmer is that while he has been good, ranking tenth in the league in winning percentage (59.9), the 42-year coaching veteran has yet to do great with the Vikings and make it to a Super Bowl and has a 2-3 playoff record.
This year represents a new era as Zimmer will rehaul the defense he helped build. His contract extension ensures the Vikings have every intention in aiding his rebuild of the defense after releasing five starters this offseason and bringing in a 15-man draft class to training camp.
His focus on defense has led to shortcomings on offense, but is largely due to a lack of continuity at quarterback and offensive coordinator. The Vikings have had three different offensive coordinators the past three seasons, but Gary Kubiak is virtually entering his second year after serving as an offensive advisor last season.
Kubiak should give Zimmer the stability and decision-making he needs on offense in a season that he’ll be focused on getting younger players up to speed in the starting lineup.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.