Rick Spielman Grills Mike Zimmer in Fallout of Vikings Firings

Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer (left) and general manager Rick Spielman (right). (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The former Minnesota Vikings brain trust of general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer have been quiet since they were fired on January 10.

Zimmer has not been linked to any coaching vacancies and neither has Spielman for general manager openings. While Zimmer and Spielman were foundational figures of the Vikings’ reemergence of the past decade, the relationship grew sour in the Kirk Cousins era and was severed at some point this season.

Deion Sanders said recently that Spielman and Zimmer hadn’t spoken in months during the 2021 season.

Spielman recently appeared on the  Move the Sticks podcast, calling out the difficulties of adapting during the Zimmer era.

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Spielman Calls Out Zimmer’s Stubbornness

While Spielman worked with many coaches in his 16 years as a Vikings executive, his tenure as general manager was almost exclusively with Zimmer aside from two seasons with Leslie Frazier.

Spielman admitted it was hard to adapt with no stability within the coaching staff when asked about roster building.

“You try to do your best to adapt and the guys that we do have, can you do some things from your scheme to maybe adjust a little bit to their skill set? But when you have the coaching turnover that it is and you’re always trying to marry up the personnel to the scheme, are there ways that some of these coaches and you see some of them doing some things that say, ‘Hey, I have to adjust my scheme to what the players can do as well,'” Spielman said.

Numerous reports have revealed that Zimmer clashed with offensive staff throughout his eight years as head coach. Zimmer had six different offensive coordinators in his final six years as head coach.

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Spielman Upset About Stubbornness, Wasted Talent

While player development hinges on both pre-scouting talent and development once their in the building, Spielman hinted that there was a lack of willingness to change the scheme to fit talented weapons into the team’s plans.

“Some coaches are just, ‘This is what we run, and this is what we have to have, and if they don’t fit this, then I don’t want them,'” Spielman said. “Some coaches — and just listening to a lot of coaching interviews and stuff like that — [say], ‘I can do this with this player, and I know we can potentially adjust our scheme to fit what he does best.’ ”

A prime example was Cordarrelle Patterson, who Spielman uncharacteristically traded up to get in the 2013 draft. The Vikings traded the New England Patriots second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round picks to climb back into the first round and select Patterson at No. 29 overall.

Patterson’s potential was capped as the Vikings staff saw him as a wide receiver and not a versatile weapon. His explosiveness was evident from his abilities as a kick returner — a role that he’s earned four All-Pro mentions.

The Falcons finally unlocked Patterson’s potential by using him as a running back and receiver, posting a career-high 1,154 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns on 200 touches this season despite being well past his prime at the age of 30.

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Tim McDonald
Tim McDonald
10 months ago

I don’t think Patterson is the evidence to use in criticizing Zim or Spielman. Patterson completely changed his physique after leaving the Vikes and no longer was the same player. From lanky return man he became a bulked up behemoth with a power running back body. I love his play and amazed at what he did for himself presumably without steroids. But very few players can transform their bodies the way he did and consequently change their game. Neither Zim nor Spielman could reasonably be expected to see that coming. After his Vikings beginning, he did not have overwhelming success with the Raiders, Bears, or Patriots but was steadily building his body and improving his versatility. He finally hit his stride with the Falcons. He really is exceptional in his career path.

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