The brass of the Minnesota Vikings made their expectations abundantly clear this season — playoffs or bust.
The same expectations were placed on the team in the 2019 season after missing the playoffs in Kirk Cousins‘ first year in Minnesota.
A miraculous walk-off victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card round saved Mike Zimmer his job. Later reports indicated that the Wilf family was “seriously considering” a replacement at head coach if the team couldn’t come away with a playoff win after two seasons removed from the NFC Championship game.
Well, the Vikings are back in the same spot a year and a half later.
Teetering on the fringe of the playoffs, SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad and KSTP’s Darren Wolfson shared corroborating reports that Vikings ownership is once again putting in recon for potential replacements for Zimmer.
The latest Vikings news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Vikings newsletter here!
On a Thursday, December 2, episode of the SKOR North podcast, Zulgad revealed a scoop from his sources that he’s heard “low-level rumblings” that Vikings ownership has its eyes peeled for new blood at both head coach and general manager.
“There’s starting to be what I would describe as low-level rumblings about due diligence from New Jersey being done on potential replacements at both GM and coach,” Zulgad said.
Wolfson shared similar inklings. They both agreed that they’ve heard more of a potential change on the coaching front. However, Spielman, who’s endured three different coaching regimes so far, appears fallible as well.
“I can tell you right now that there have been some inquiries made internally about what about this… what about that if Rick was to be fired or step away,” Zulgad added.
Die-hard Vikings fan? Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content from Skol Nation!
While Zimmer and Spielman can’t be blamed for the slew of injuries facing the Vikings this season, the ability to find and develop talent falls on the duo.
The Vikings’ defense, plagued by injury and COVID-19 absences, has struggled to return to its past glory this season despite an offseason overhaul that included signing eight veteran free agents that have started this season.
Surrendering the ninth-most points per game (25.1) and the third-most yards (382.9) per game, the Vikings have found themselves in shootout after shootout. The offense has kept pace as the ninth-ranked unit in the league.
However, the problem remains finishing games. The Vikings are the only team to have held a seven-point lead in every game this season, to which they have a 5-6 record to show for it.
Mediocrity continues to be the defining trait of the team that has the talent to beat any contender but often plays down to its competition, setting up another chase for a wild card spot.
Wolfson, speaking from insight with Vikings ownership, affirmed that a wild card spot in the playoffs would be a disappointment for the entirety of the organization that anticipated a higher level of success since 2017.
“I don’t think they’re happy with one playoff victory over the last three-plus years,” Wolfson said. “As long as the Wilfs are in charge and Mike and Rick are in place, the expectations all the way up to ownership entering this year were certainly higher than the seven seed.”
Wolfson did not count out that another playoff win could be enough to thwart a premature departure for Zimmer and Spielman.
“Could they shock us? Could they win that first playoff game? I guess they could,” Wolfson said. “Maybe that changes things. I think it did change things in 2019.”