Ex-Vikings QB on Blaming Mike Zimmer: ‘That’s What’s Wrong With the World’

Mike Zimmer

Getty Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer revealed his feeling of the potential for his defense in 2021.

Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey’s meltdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday was the most recent episode of kicking woes that have plagued the team in coach Mike Zimmer’s six-year tenure.

Former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer, who played for the team through the ’80s, saw the backlash the organization has faced on social media in the aftermath of Sunday’s 12-point loss and took to Twitter to defend both Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman.


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 The Case Against Kramer’s Take

While Kramer’s take that every individual should take responsibility for their job is valid, Zimmer does have a reputation of playing head games and instilling an unhealthy fear in kickers that hasn’t panned out in Minnesota’s favor over the years.

After the Vikings released Blair Walsh in 2016 due to inconsistency following his missed field goal in the 2015 NFC Wild Card round, Kai Forbath took on the kicking duties midway through the 2016 season. Forbath was 15 for 15 on field goals and hit a crucial 53-yard field goal to set up the Minneapolis Miracle in 2017. Minnesota opted to draft Forbath’s replacement, 2017 fifth-rounder Daniel Carlson.

Carlson missed several kicks in the 2018 preseason and did not shy from playing head games with the rookie kicker by continuing to go for two-point conversions instead of extra points that preseason.

Zimmer said the call was to “let him (Carlson) know that if he’s going to miss them (field goals), I’m going to go for two,” ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported in 2018. On the Purple Insider Podcast, Cronin recalled visiting Carlson’s locker after Zimmer’s comment and the kicker was blindsided by Zimmer’s comment.

“(Carlson) had no clue what Mike Zimmer had just said and Daniel Carlson was red in the face, mortified, at this moment,” Cronin said. “I remember talking with a source that night who works with the team being like ‘Yep. This kid is done and what happened. Not much longer he had an absolute meltdown… and then he gets cut.”

That meltdown came in a 29-29 tie with the Green Bay Packers just two weeks into the regular season. Carlson missed all three of his field-goal attempts and was cut the following week.

Here’s Zimmer’s response to cutting Carlson:

Cronin argues that had there been head games, Carlson may have come around in the infancy of his professional career. Instead, the Vikings threw away the fifth-round pick they spent on Carlson who is now with the Las Vegas Raiders and kicking at a Pro Bowl level, making 28 of his 30 field-goal attempts and 41 of 42 extra points.

Zimmer Has Learned From the Carlson Fallout

While kickers have continued to be a bane to Zimmer, the 64-year-old coach known for his blunt and no-nonsense style of coaching has softened his reaction to Bailey’s struggles, for now.

Bailey has missed seven kicks in his past two games, nearly matching the eight kicks Walsh missed in nine games in 2016. Yet, Zimmer has continuously backed the veteran kicker in his press conferences this week, relying on Bailey’s past consistency — making 25 field goals in a row from Week 8 of 2019 to Week 3 this year — as something he believes Bailey can return to.

“Honestly, I love the kid. If we end up making the change it’s just what we feel at this particular point in time,” Zimmer said on Monday. “Like I said [Sunday], ‘If I cut everybody who made mistakes yesterday, we’d all be out of here, including me. We’ll go with our gut and do what we believe and believe that whichever decision we make it the right one. It’s all you can do.”

Bailey looks to have another shot at retaining his job this Sunday against the Chicago Bears as Minnesota cut its only other rostered placekicker on Wednesday and has yet to sign a replacement.


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