After reporting that Vikings ownership would meet before Sunday’s final regular-season game, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora leaked that the Vikings “are expected to move on from head coach Mike Zimmer this week, league sources said, though longtime general manager Rick Spielman is likely to remain with the organization.”
La Canfora reported internal conflicts between Zimmer and his staff, while Spielman’s role as general manager may also be over.
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Zimmer ‘Repeatedly’ Clashed With Offensive Staff
The speculation surrounding Zimmer’s job security began after Minnesota dropped its season opener. La Canfora reported that ownership has expressed that “major changes” could be on the horizon if the team does not make the playoffs.
“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. “[Ownership] conveyed to some associates their expectation that the club be a playoff factor this season to fend off major changes.”
But after the Green Bay Packers dashed the Vikings’ playoff hopes last week, the Vikings moved forward in their plans of replacing Zimmer.
And now a groundswell of information is coming to the surface on Zimmer’s regime
“Zimmer was nearly let go a few years back, and sources said there was a clear mandate from ownership to be a true contender in 2021; Minnesota got off to a slow start, has erratic results from week to week and never sustained any momentum on either side of the ball,” La Canfora wrote. “Zimmer was under fire for the construction of his staff and has repeatedly clashed with offensive staff over the years.”
La Canfora added that Zimmer’s grating coaching style has worn the team down, prompting a change that should this offseason.
“The Vikings brass has been averse to change over the years and has been very loyal to Spielman, but Zimmer’s abrasive style has been an issue within that team for years, and the need to go in a different direction has seemed clear to many decision makers there in recent weeks, sources said,” La Canfora wrote. “Zimmer was long one of the most successful defensive coordinators in the NFL, and at age 65 would have numerous other opportunities to explore should he want to continue coaching in whatever capacity.”
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Spielman Could Remain With Vikings, Out as GM
While Zimmer is out, Spielman could remain in the building but would no longer serve as general manager, La Canfora reported.
He would likely be promoted to a new position, similar to the Denver Broncos’ promotion of John Elway to vice president of football operations.
“Spielman is very close with ownership and is trusted immensely; the team has spent big and has yet to win big, but several league sources said they would be very surprised if Spielman was not a part of the organization in some capacity moving forward,” La Canfora wrote. “Spielman could remain in Minnesota in a role that oversees the coach and potential new general manager, or ownership could end up with a different balance of power depending on how the coaching search unfolds.”