Mike Zimmer Era is One Year From Expiration

Photo: Abbie Parr - Getty Images

A mediocre record of 7-9 or 8-8 seems inevitable for Mike Zimmer’s 2020 Minnesota Vikings. With their playoff hopes on life support, they might as well get their golf clubs out of storage because this season’s over, Johnny.

After starting 1-5, there were three different ways the final ten games could finish for the 2020 purple and gold. And in classic Minnesota fashion, the Vikings will more than likely take the worst of those three paths.

They aren’t good enough to make the playoffs but they aren’t bad enough to get a solid draft pick. Instead, it’s more mediocrity. Next year, while we might see fans in US Bank Stadium again, we’ll see more-or-less the same Vikings team take the field.

Super Bowl (Mike Zimmer’s) argument

Mike Zimmer would undoubtedly argue that the Super Bowl window is wide open for next season. Arguing his side is easy. After all, he is going to finish ~.500 with a team that was missing a handful of its best players for most of the season..

Hell, a bounce here vs Seattle, one more touchdown drive vs Dallas or maybe a kicker who didn’t implode vs Tampa… and this might be a 10-6 or 9-7 team.

To boost Zimmer’s argument even further, he will add Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr back to his defense in 2021, not to mention the experience compiled by his 14 young cornerbacks this season.

If all goes well, this defense could quickly climb back to elite status once again. Add help to the offensive line during the offseason… and we could be looking at a completely different team. But would that be enough to win a Super Bowl? Probably not.

The offensive scheme needs to change

If Zimmer and the Vikings truly want to win a Super Bowl, one big thing NEEDS to change. You have Kirk Cousins (9th in PFF), Justin Jefferson (2nd in PFF), Adam Thielen (6th in PFF) and Irv Smith Jr (16th in PFF) on your offense.

Hello? Pass the ball! We don’t have to live in 1980 anymore and there’s no reason, with all of those weapons, to be running Dalvin Cook into the ground with 30+ touches every game.

We’re talking about a team that has the potential to be great in 2021. The talent is already there. Zimmer will have his defense back and life for everyone will be returning to normalcy. Let’s open up this offense just like we’re about to open up this country!

Prove it time for Mike Zimmer

The best leaders are able to delegate tasks to the right people. It’s time for Mike Zimmer to take his fingerprint off of this Minnesota Vikings offense. Build your defense back up and, if you trust Super Bowl winning coach Gary Kubiak enough, then let him take control.

After the DeFillippo disaster in 2018, Zim has been too stubborn with his demand for a ground and pound offense that compliments his defense. Not to repeat myself, but this isn’t 1980. You need a great offense and defense to win a Super Bowl in 2020. If he is unable to adjust with the times, he shouldn’t be a head coach. Period.

The Wilfs are expected to keep things status quo at TCO Performance Center for another season and I like the idea of giving this regime one more Super Bowl shot before turning a new page. The key to that rambling sentence, however, is “one more.”

But if not…

If the Vikings can’t make significant improvements and, at the least, compete near the top of the NFC, then the winds of change will be blowing.

The change would have to include two or more of Zimmer, Spielman and/or Cousins. The likely first to go, however, would be Zim. If this team doesn’t reach it’s full potential, it’ll be because of a defense that couldn’t reclaim its place at the top of the NFL and/or an offense that’s stuck in the 80’s.

All of those things fall on Mike because this team takes his form on the field. He’s made sure of that. But he’s getting dangerously close to wearing out his welcome. It’s almost time for a major change in game philosophy for the Minnesota Vikings. Maybe a young, offensive-minded head coach…. like Cleveland did with Kevin Stefanski.

Win big or go home

2021 success is black and white, too. Deep playoff run or bust. If the Vikings go 10-6 and get eliminated in the wildcard round, then I’ll be calling for heads. Kirk’s contract will be moveable by then too so a complete overhaul becomes much more realistic.

Not yet, though. Let’s get a legitimate guard next to Bradbury first and let Zim decide if he is smart enough to move our offense into the 21st century. You know, since we have all of these really skilled players at all of our skill positions?

Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan