Losing Faith in Mike Zimmer? Check the Numbers and R-E-L-A-X.

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If you think Mike Zimmer should be fired after what transpired during 2018-19, stop reading this article. That includes you, Randy.

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I’m serious. This kind of thing has to stop. Does Zimmer have his flaws? Absolutely, and here are a few:

  • 1-2 record in the playoffs (including 38-7 in the NFC Championship game last year. I’m mentioning this so that Eagles fans won’t come swarming in to flood the comments)
  • A few late game coaching decisions that have been questionable.
  • Tough demeanor makes him tough to get along with (as in several different offensive coordinators)
  • Tendency to call out players/assistant coaches to the media.
  • The Vikings were expected to compete for a Super Bowl and fell short of making the playoffs

But to take this side of the argument and turn it into a call for his job, is just nonsense.

Let’s consider these variables as well:

  • Zimmer has had 8 different starting quarterbacks since he took over in 2014, including losing Teddy Bridgewater a week before the start of the 2015 season.
  • Zimmer almost lost his vision in one eye after detaching his retina in Chicago in 2016.
  • Zimmer has had 4 different offensive coordinators. Norv Turner resigned midseason, Pat Shurmur left to take the Giants head coaching job and John DeFilippo was fired.
  • Zimmer lost Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook in 2017 and still managed to lead the team to 13-3.
  • Blair Walsh missed the equivalent of a 2 foot putt in the playoffs in 2015.

Mike Zimmer is not the problem. If anything, Mike Zimmer has been part of the solution. Does anyone remember the wasteland this franchise was after 2009? I mean look at these defensive numbers and rankings. The 2013 defense was one of the worst in franchise history, if not the worst. But, like a hero in the night, enter Mike Zimmer.

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Year YDS/GM PASS YDS/GM RUSH YDS/GM PTS/GM SZN RECORD
2009 305.5 (6th) 218.4 (19th) 87.1 (2nd!) 19.5 (10th) 12-4 record
2010 312.6 (8th) 210.4 (10th) 102.2 (9th) 21.8 (18th) 6-10 record
2011 358.2 (21st) 251.2 (26th) 107.0 (11th) 28.1 (31st) 3-13 record
2012 350.0 (16th) 244.3 (24th) 105.8 (11th) 21.8 (tied-14th) 10-6 record
2013 397.6 (31st)  287.2 (31st)  110.4 (16th) 30.0 (32nd) somehow 5-10-1 record

 

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YEAR YDS/GM PASS YDS/GM RUSH YDS/GM PTS/GM RECORD
2014 344.7 (14th-52.9 yard improvement) 223.3 (7th-63.9 yard improvement) 121.4 (25th-11 yards worse) 21.4 (11th-8.6 point improvement) 7-9
2015 344.2 (13th-0.5 yard improvement) 234.9 (12th-11.6 yards worse) 109.3 (17th-12.1 yard improvement) 18.9 (5th-2.5 point improvement) 11-5
2016 314.9 (3rd-29.3 yard improvement) 207.9 (3rd-27 yard improvement) 106.9 (20th-2.4 yard improvement)  19.2 (6th-0.3 points worse) 8-8
2017 275.9 (1st-39 yard improvement) 192.4 (2nd-15.5 yard improvement) 83.6 (2nd-23.3 yard improvement) 15.8 (1st-3.4 point improvement) 13-3
2018 309.7 (4th-33.8 yards worse) 196.3 (3rd-3.9 yards worse) 113.4 (15th-29.8 yards worse) 21.3 (9th-5.6 points worse)  8-7-1
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Folks! Mike Zimmer has had one season in which his defense didn’t improve in at least three statistical categories. These defensive numbers are even more impressive when you compare them to the average game splits for NFC North quarterbacks before Zimmer came to town.

All three tables below show the numbers for each NFC North QB both BEFORE and AFTER Mike Zimmer took over:

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Aaron Rodgers Date Comp Att Yds TD INT
Pre-Zimmer 9/8/2008 18 22 178 1 0
11/9/2008 15 26 142 0 0
10/5/2009 26 37 384 2 1
11/1/2009 26 41 287 3 0
10/24/2010 21 34 295 2 2
11/21/2010 22 31 301 4 0
10/23/2011 24 30 335 3 0
11/14/2011 23 30 250 4 0
12/2/2012 27 35 286 1 1
12/30/2012 28 40 365 4 0
10/27/2013 24 29 285 2 0
Totals 11 Games 254 355 3108 26 4
Averages 23.1 32.3 282.5 2.4 0.4
71.5%
Zimmer Era 10/2/2014 12 17 156 3 0
11/23/2014 19 29 209 2 0
11/22/2015 16 34 212 2 0
1/3/2016 28 44 291 1 1
9/18/2016 20 36 213 1 1
12/24/2016 28 38 347 4 0
10/15/2017 2 4 18 0 0
9/16/2018 30 42 281 1 0
11/25/2018 17 28 198 1 0
Totals 9 Games 172 272 1925 15 2
Averages 19.1 30.2 213.9 1.7 0.2
63.2%
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Matthew Stafford Date Comp Att Yds TD INT
Pre-Zimmer 9/20/2009 18 30 152 1 2
11/15/2009 29 51 224 1 0
9/25/2011 32 46 378 2 0
12/11/2011 20 29 227 2 0
9/30/2012 30 51 319 0 0
11/11/2012 28 42 329 3 1
9/8/2013 28 43 357 2 1
12/29/2013 22 33 217 1 0
Totals 8 Games 207 325 2203 12 4
Averages 25.9 40.6 275.4 1.5 0.5
63.7%
Zimmer Era 10/12/2014 19 33 185 1 0
12/14/2014 17 28 153 1 0
9/20/2015 32 53 286 2 1
10/25/2015 18 26 256 2 0
11/6/2016 23 36 219 2 1
11/24/2016 23 40 232 1 0
10/1/2017 19 31 209 0 0
11/23/2017 20 35 250 2 1
11/4/2018 25 36 199 0 0
12/23/2018 18 32 116 0 0
Totals 10 Games 214 350 2105 11 3
Averages 21.4 35.0 210.5 1.1 0.3
61.1%
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Jay Cutler/Mitch Trubisky Date Comp Att Yds TD INT
Pre-Zimmer 11/29/2009 18 23 147 1 2
12/28/2009 20 35 273 4 1
11/14/2010 22 35 237 3 2
12/20/2010 14 24 194 3 1
10/16/2011 21 31 267 2 0
11/25/2012 23 31 188 1 1
12/9/2012 22 44 260 1 2
9/15/2013 27 38 292 3 2
Totals 8 Games 167 261 1858 18 11
Averages 20.9 32.6 232.3 2.3 1.4
64.0%
Zimmer Era 11/16/2014 31 43 330 3 2
12/28/2014 23 36 172 0 0
11/1/2015 22 33 211 1 0
12/20/2015 23 37 231 2 1
10/31/2016 20 31 252 1 0
10/9/2017 12 25 128 1 1
12/31/2017 20 36 178 0 0
11/18/2018 20 31 165 1 2
12/30/2018 18 26 163 0 0
Totals 9 Games 189 298 1830 9 6
Averages 21.0 33.1 203.3 1.0 0.7
63.4%
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Aaron Rodgers

He has humiliated the Vikings defense more times than I’d care to remember, with 26 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions in 11 games before Zimmer took over. But look at some of the numbers since Zimmer implemented his defense (and yes I know he has still thrown for 15 TDs and  just 2 INTs).

Numbers that Pop:

Rodgers throws for 0.7 fewer touchdowns per game against Mike Zimmer defenses than he did before Zimmer took over as head coach. His average yards per game have plummeted from 282.5 (ON AVERAGE) to just under 214 and he also has only one 300 yard game during the Zimmer era and just three games over 250 yards. Also the numbers are skewed a little bit due to the “Collar Bone Game” when Rodgers left early in the first quarter after only attempting four passes. All things considered the Zimmer Effect has had the game’s best quarterback frustrated much more often than before Zim came to town.

Matthew Stafford

Stafford’s had an interesting career with the Lions but he’s still been one of the upper echelon quarterbacks from a numbers perspective. That especially applied to games against the Vikings before Mike came to town. Even in losses, he’d routinely carve us up. Then came Mike Zimmer. Look at the difference!

Numbers that Pop:

Stafford is averaging 65 yards less per game against Zimmer defenses! His TD/INT ratios are pretty much identical pre-zim to now, but Stafford has failed to throw a touchdown pass against the Vikings in 3 of their last 4 matchups. And after topping 3oo yards four times against the Vikings before Zimmer took over, he has yet to do so since.

Stafford’s topped 25o yards 3 times in 10 career matchups. In fact, Zimmer’s defense has more 10-sack games against Stafford than he has 300 yard passing games against them, and that 10 sack game came against a Lions offensive line that was one of the best in the league. So Zimmer has frustrated Aaron Rodgers while making  life miserable for Matthew Stafford… who’s next?

Jay Cutler/Mitch Trubisky:

Jay Cutler was another noted Vikings killer during his time in Chicago, including an overtime win against Brett Favre in 2009 that screwed the Vikings out of homefield advantage. Ever the gunslinger, Cutler had quite a few more turnovers than the previous two divisional opponents but still threw for plenty of yards and touchdowns. That was until Zimmer took over.

There are a lot of factors as to why Chicago has struggled so much vs Zimmer. First, they’ve been mostly garbage. But, just at the TD/INT ratio pre-Zimmer vs post-Zimmer. It’s pretty staggering.

Numbers that Pop:

The Bears touchdown production has been cut in half even though they’ve played one additional game during Zimmer’s tenure. Jay Cutler managed ONE 300 yard game vs Mike and the combination of him and Mitchell Trubisky have just ONE OTHER game over 250 yards. Also, the Bears have only two multiple-touchdown games vs Zim’s D.

One thing is clear. Mike Zimmer has made life a lot more difficult for the rest of the division since he became head coach. Let’s also give Zim credit for the defensive players he’s developed since he got here:

  • Harrison Smith
  • Xavier Rhodes
  • Anthony Barr
  • Danielle Hunter
  • Trae Waynes (better than most Vikings fans want to admit)
  • Eric Kendricks
  • Mackenzie Alexander (fantastic last 10 weeks of the season in 2018-19)
  • Holton Hill (played extremely well when given snaps

And as for those playoff losses? Consider the circumstances:

1/10/2016 (Wildcard round vs Seattle)

The Vikings lost Zimmer’s first playoff game 10-9 in frigid temperatures at TCF Bank Stadium. Blair Walsh missed a 27 yard field goal with 20 seconds left on the clock (after his defense held Seattle scoreless for 3 quarters).

Adrian Peterson had a debilitating fumble that allowed Seattle the chance to hit the go ahead field goal. Yet, Teddy Bridgewater led the Vikings down field well within normal (27 yds) field goal range.

What part of that is Zimmer’s fault? SCORE MORE POINTS!

Ok, sure the best way to prevent that situation is to keep scoring, but Seattle wasn’t getting anything done either and Walsh had nailed every kick he attempted the rest of the game. So call me crazy but Zimmer was well within his right to expect his kicker to make one more kick and win the damn game.

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1/21/2018 (NFC Championship Game vs Philadelphia)

Ok, this one you can have. The Vikings took a 7-0 lead and fell flat from there. Did they exhaust too much energy in hanging on to beat New Orleans in the divisional round? Maybe. Was Philadelphia better in key areas (Eagles DL vs Vikings OL and Eagles OL vs Vikings DL)? Most definitely. But we saw what happened and this is one performance that I can’t defend Zimmer on. Philly was better from start to finish and the team really fell apart as the game wore on. To his credit though, Zimmer took the fall for not having his team ready to play.

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Enter Kirk Cousins, and the Vikings didn’t live up to expectations, but Zimmer vowed, after the season ended, to get the Vikings back to the level they have been at for the past few years. And I believe he will do just that.

So please stop with the insanity. Mike Zimmer has been a very successful coach since he started with the Vikings. Just ask the rest of the quarterbacks in the division if they’d like Mike out of Minnesota. Their answers would tell you all you need to know.

Zimmer isn’t going anywhere, and lets keep it that way.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.3″]Seth Toupal | Minnesota Sports Fan[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]