How Thin is Ice Mike Zimmer Stands On?

PHOTO: ANTHONY SOUFFLE – STAR TRIBUNE

The (5-7) Minnesota Vikings will not wait until Sunday to play their week 14 game vs the (6-5-1) Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, both of these historic (and currently struggling) franchises will look to right their 2021 ships with the football nation watching on Thursday Night Football (FOX).

But while both teams have struggled this year, the job status of each head coach looks much different. Mike Tomlin, who has won multiple Super Bowls, isn’t concerned about who will occupy his office come 2022 Training Camp. Mike Zimmer, on the other hand, can’t be sure he’ll keep his hot seat into week 15.

National Media Turns on Zimmer

Zim had already lost much of the Vikings fanbase and media before taking an L against the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions last Sunday. But now the hostile consternation is palpable and coming in from very loud corners of the national media market.

At the end of the day, it’s the Wilf family who will have to fire Mike Zimmer but when national talking heads get on the “fire this coach” bandwagon, it’s difficult to keep that moving ball of flames from rolling off the cliff. Bill Simmons, for example, has a huge national podcast audience and 5+ million twitter followers to go with it. Ben Maller is on every iHeartMedia owned radio station for at least 7 hours per day. These things matter.

You cannot lose to a hapless Lions team and think your employment is still on solid footing. That rings especially true if you gained your coaching notoriety based on defensive prowess yet somehow make bottom-tiered quarterback like Jared Goff into an NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Oddsmakers Say What?

It’s not just the shock-jock radio hosts or click-bait bloggers who are calling for Zim’s head. Oddsmakers see his firing as mostly inevitable, at this point. Only Chicago’s Matt Nagy has better odds (BetOnline.ag) to lose his job before Mike Zimmer.

Head Coach (TEAM)Odds to be Fired Next
Matt Nagy (CHI)-175
Mike Zimmer (MIN)+350
Joe Judge (NYG)+400
Urban Meyer (JAC)+600
Vic Fangio (DEN)+900
Odds – BetOnline.ag

Those odds are fluid, however. Because the Minnesota Vikings play three days earlier than the Bears do this week. If the purple can’t find victory lane vs the Steelers on Thursday night, then there’s no guarantee Zimmer still has a job when Nagy is on the sidelines Sunday night when Chicago plays Green Bay.

Winning Cures Everything?

Because the Vikings are still in the NFC playoff race, it’s most likely Mike Zimmer’s job is literally week-to-week. A loss on Thursday vs the Steelers would all but eliminate Minnesota from qualifying for said postseason tournament. That type of hopelessness could be enough for the Wilfs to finally pull the trigger on Mike’s firing.

Owners made a change to the coaching carousel in October that’s also worth mentioning here. Starting in week 17 (per Pro Football Focus), teams who have fired their head coach OR announced their leaving at season’s end, are allowed to start interviewing candidates for their newly created vacancies. Such a change could start that carousel a little sooner than what we’ve seen in past years.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan