Throughout the turbulence of the past two seasons, there has been evidence to the belief that Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was in the hot seat.
The Wilf family offered Zimmer a three-year contract extension at the start of the 2020 season, which seemingly tied the two parties in wedlock through the 2023 season.
However, that extension came with some expectations that have come to light.
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Vikings ‘Seriously Considered’ Firing Zimmer, Expect Playoffs
CBS Sports Insider Jason La Canfora reported Monday that the Vikings have pondered significant changes in the past and “seriously considered parting ways” with Zimmer even after the team’s 2019 playoff appearance.
“The Wilfs, who own the team, have pondered significant changes in the past, and seriously considered parting ways with head coach Mike Zimmer even after a playoff appearance two years ago, sources said. It is not lost on those within the organization how significant this season is to maintaining job security there,” La Canfora said. “Zimmer’s coaching style can be grating for coaches and players, they have churned through coaches and coordinators over the years, and the pressure is on for them to have a much improved 2021.”
La Canfora added that ownership has “conveyed to some associates their expectation that the club be a playoff factor this season to fend off major changes.”
Zimmer has come under scrutiny after an 0-2 start to the season on two games that have been settled by game-ending kicks. Those razor-thin margins of error have called several of the team’s play calls and blunders into question.
The team was expected to be fundamentally sound after signing veterans to the defense and maintain continuity on offense. However, 12 penalties against the Cincinnati Bengals and giving up a 77-yard touchdown to Arizona Cardinals rookie Rondale Moore have become just two concerns of the fan base.
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Zimmer’s Defense, Playcalling Comes Into Question
The Vikings poured a massive $46.1 million of guaranteed money into the defense by signing several high-profile veteran free agents this offseason.
So far, the unit has barely improved upon its 2020 performance, allowing 61 points and 913 gross yards of offense in two games.
Like last season, the offense, other than the first half of the Bengals game, has kept the team competitive.
Zimmer’s playcalling has also been a point of concern. As NFL analytics continue to indicate it’s often better to go for it on fourth down, Zimmer has remained conservative.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported that Zimmer “registered seven fourth-down errors that cost the Vikings over one-quarter of a win based on game-winning chance/win probability percentage (28.7%)” against the Cardinals.
No coach in the NFL would have gone for it on all seven of Zimmer’s “errors,” but passing on going for it this many times not only gave the Cardinals possession more often but also left the game hinging on a field goal when the game didn’t need to be as close, Cronin said.