Loss to Lions Should Signal End of Vikings Era

PHOTO: JERRY HOLT – STAR TRIBUNE

The Detroit Lions accomplished a seemingly impossible task on Sunday. They won an NFL football game. Before taking on the Minnesota Vikings in week 13, the Lions were 0-10-1 with no reason for optimism.

The purple were favored by more than a touchdown, despite being on the road, and lost outright, 29-27. There was no way the Vikings would lose to the Lions, right? If you have to ask, you haven’t been a member of this fanbase long enough.

Playing down to competition has been a common theme throughout the Mike Zimmer era, especially the last few years. The Vikings rarely get blown out and that’s a positive. But conversely, they refuse to dominate teams or put away games they take control of. It’s been perhaps the most common theme of a disappointing 5-7 season, in which all but one game was decided by 8 points or less.

The numbers show an average team. Minnesota ranks 16th in point differential (+3) and 16th in average score margin (+0.5) this season. Fans are getting sick of mediocre. Changes have been talked about for a while, but losing to the Lions has to be the nail on the coffin for this Zimmer/Spielman/Cousins era.

This game will be looked back on for a long time

When Mike Zimmer is fired we’re all going to remember the embarrassing loss to the Lions. When Kirk Cousins is no longer a Viking we’re all going to remember the embarrassing loss to the Lions. And when Rick Spielman is fired, well you get it.

Basically, Sunday’s loss vs a winless Detroit team was the epitome of this era of Minnesota Vikings football. They hang in games they don’t belong and might even win a few, but when a Cooper Rush led Cowboys team shows up or it’s time to go to Detroit, Mike Zimmer will find a way to make it close, possibly even lose.

And that’s exactly why I expect the Vikings to bounce back yet again this season like they always do. Some good football will be played between during the last handful of games and this team will find a way to finish near or above .500. It’s just science. But the Wilfs cannot be fooled by phony positive developments to end the year.

If Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman are at the helm, this team will never find the promise land.

Mike Zimmer is the main culprit.

Blame for Sunday’s loss (and for another disappointing season) can be spread around. Aside from Justin Jefferson, there isn’t much that went right. Kirk Cousins was awful in the first half and the Minnesota’s defense made Goff look like Tom Brady at times, specifically during the final drive.

At the center of Minnesota’s problems, however, is Mike Zimmer’s late game management and porous defense. Just in case you’ve forgotten, Zimmer was once a defensive guru. Or so we’re told. If true, it’s been awhile.

The Lions tried desperately give the Vikings Sunday’s game. Dan Campbell was going for 4th downs on his own 30-yard-line and using timeouts at the worst times. Jared Goff was throwing terribly timed interceptions and looked uncomfortable for much of the day.

What Defense?

But then the final drive happened. Suddenly, Goff turned into a good QB and led Detroit down the field for a touchdown as if he suddenly remembered what he was doing.

Mike Zimmer had his defense playing scared on that last drive. Wide receivers ran wide open as Minnesota Vikings’ defensive backs sat 10 yards back and a weak four man rush gave Goff all the time he needed. Even on the final play, with Detroit threatening and Zim’s job on the line, there was no sense of urgency. Can someone tell me what Cam Dantzler and Xavier Woods were thinking here?

Zim has lost his touch, plain and simple. If you ask me, it’s time to move on from him, Cousins and Spielman. But at the least, it’s time for the head coach to go. If he’s still in charge next season then the Wilfs have no desire to build a championship level team. Plain and simple.

Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan