Bigger Problem: Mike Zimmer or Klint Kubiak?
We’re now nine weeks into the 17-game 2021-22 NFL schedule and the Minnesota Vikings train is dangerously close to falling completely off the tracks. Starting 3-5 wasn’t in the purple’s preseason plans and now this team, that started the year with talent all over the roster and playoff aspirations, must decide who should take the fall for such a poor start.
The giant mess this team has become doesn’t trail back to one person or one part of the team. Bad play calling on offense, defensive injuries, a cautious quarterback and a very inconsistent offensive line shows that there’s plenty of blame to go around.
But in professional sports, failure leads to change and it’s fair to say change is probably overdue for this iteration of the purple and gold. What exactly can the Minnesota Vikings change right now and who should, if anybody, take the fall for the slow start?
Fire Klint Kubiak?
The Vikings first 15 scripted plays each week are excellent and consistently lead to points. Week in and week out those first few possessions seem to inject the fanbase with hope that Klint Kubiak has figured things out. The offense feels so effortless and well-managed. But then we’re consistently left disappointed after the first quarter.
Vikings points per quarter (NFL ranks):— Phil Mackey ???? (@PhilMackey) November 1, 2021
1st qtr – 7th
2nd qtr – 14th
3rd qtr – 12th
4th qtr – 30th
So, basically, once the Vikings move beyond scripted, planned plays — once the game becomes more improvisational — the offense sputters.
The shine early and suck later trend continued in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The first few offensive drives were excellent and the Vikings quickly jumped out to a commanding 14-3 lead. But from that point on, the offense was stagnant until the final drive in regulation. That’s when Cousins had to lead a last-minute TD drive just to force overtime. And once overtime hit, the offense ground to a halt again.
If you strip away Klint’s last name, would he still be offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings? No. Our OC, who had never called plays in his coaching career until this season, coordinates this offense because his dad was the guy who sat in his chair last season. We had hope that it might work out but it hasn’t.
Fire Mike Zimmer?
One damning note to me: On third down in OT, Kirk Cousins said the Vikings had all longer developing routes and pressure got to him before the routes opened. But against a team famous for blitzing, how do you not give Cousins at least one route that could be open quickly.— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) November 7, 2021
But Klint Kubiak is still very young and might turn into a great OC someday. For all we know, he might be a great OC right now. Even with all of Klint’s downfalls, he’s not the real problem and can’t be blamed for the restrictions his offense is forced to operate under. Zimmer is a defensive head coach who hates Kubiak’s side of the football.
Besides, it was Zimmer who wanted to hire Kubiak. Why? A first time offensive coordinator is more likely to be subordinate to however Mike wants to run the offense.
Adapt or die.
Mike Zimmer is a defensive guru (so we’re told) who’s coaching a team with incredibly explosive weapons on offense. That should be a recipe for success. But instead, Zimmer can’t adapt to the strengths of his team like we’ve seen Mike Tomlin do in Pittsburgh or Bill Belichick do in New England.
Instead, we get an old-school offensive game script that’s built to rely on defense in an offensive world. Every week, the Vikings build an early lead, play too conservatively to hold that lead, then blow the lead, in hopes the offense can bail them out in the final moments.
Sometimes, they’ve pulled out victories. Other times, like in their last two games vs the Cowboys and Ravens, they haven’t. If the Minnesota Vikings cannot win the way that Mike Zimmer wants them to then I guess they just won’t win at all.
Win the turnover battle and score a special teams touchdown but still lose.— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) November 7, 2021
Thank you, Mike Zimmer.
Before today, teams with a +2 Turnover differential, a Kickoff Return TD, and a 7-point lead at the start of the 4th Quarter were 110-4-1 (.961). Those teams won 96% of the time.— Dustin Baker (@DustBaker) November 8, 2021
The Vikings loss to the Ravens makes those teams 110-5-1.
Especially this weekend vs Baltimore, the Minnesota Vikings did just about everything necessary to win a football game. Yet, a plethora of late-game coaching decisions instead meant their second-consecutive loss. That’s why John Harbaugh’s Ravens are (always) a playoff team and the Zimmer’s Vikings are not.
When the Minnesota Vikings decide to fire Zimmer should depend upon how the players are feeling about him. It’s unlikely ownership wants to make such a drastic change midseason but if players like Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson become visibly frustrated then it’s time to rip the band aid off.
We’re currently at the stage where the agents of star players are speaking out.
I represent a lot of Vikings and I cannot watch this. It’s painful— Blake Baratz (@blakebaratz) November 1, 2021
Playoffs or no playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings should part with Mike Zimmer. If he continues losing it will happen sooner rather than later. And let’s be honest, if he goes, Klint Kubiak probably does too.
Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan