Mike Zimmer Prophesied His Own Demise
Mike Zimmer will reportedly coach his last game for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. But come Monday, when his firing becomes official, Zim will head back to his Kentucky ranch as the least surprised person involved.
That’s because the Vikings’ head coach prophesied this exact situation nearly 4 years ago, just two weeks before Rick Spielman signed Kirk Cousins. It was during this interview at the NFL Combine on March 1, 2018 that Zim was peppered with questions about Minnesota’s QB situation.
As you can see in his answers, Zimmer preferred one of Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Bradford to return on a new contract. He feared that spending too much money on the wrong QB would cost him his job. In hindsight, he may have been right.
March 1, 2018: Mike Zimmer talks with media at the NFL Combine about the team's future at QB. He clearly wanted to bring back one of Bridgewater, Bradford or Keenum and build around his defense. #Vikings pic.twitter.com/Y1wNROO5xe— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) January 8, 2022
The Prophet, Mike Zimmer
Coming off of the 2017 postseason, one that included the incredible high of the Minneapolis Miracle and the gut-wrenching low of a blowout loss in the NFC Championship vs Philly, Mike was confident he could win with Teddy, Case or Sam in 2018. He also knew they’d be short-term solutions who wouldn’t break the salary cap then or in the future.
Zimmer’s biggest fears were disrupting the chemistry in the Vikings locker room and spending future salary cap dollars on an expensive quarterback. Dollars that could have been used elsewhere on the roster, specifically defense. Going into the future without a high-caliber QB didn’t keep Zim awake at night. Choosing the wrong high price-tag QB did.
Zim made it very clear that he loved the construction of his team at the time. He also loved all three in-house QB options and the last thing he wanted to do was upset the apple cart with a QB from the outside. pic.twitter.com/74ZWwXCpWE— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) January 8, 2022
After making his desires clear, Zim stressed in this media session that their next QB was a decision everyone needed to be on board with. Two weeks later, the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins. pic.twitter.com/DaDa5CAw8w— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) January 8, 2022
Now here we are. It’s January 9, 2022 and Mike Zimmer is getting fired, in part, because his quarterback Kirk Cousins demands 17% of the team’s salary cap. Nobody else on the team takes up more than 5%. Just as Zimmer feared, his 2021-22 Minnesota Vikings offense is loaded with talent but lacks depth. Meanwhile, his beloved defense has fallen to the basement of the NFL (31st in yards allowed, 25th in points allowed).
The Beginning of the End
Sure, Zimmer prophesied his own demise but it was his own unwillingness to adapt after Kirk Cousins was on roster that made his prophecy self-fulfilling. When Rick Spielman committed to Kirk Cousins and a high-powered offense, instead of Zim’s defense-first dream, everyone needed to be on board. Mike said as much in the clips you watched above.
But Zimmer was too stubborn to follow his own advice. He never fully committed to Kirk Cousins and his unwillingness to embrace his high-priced QB helped lead to his firing. Remember, Kirk had to approach Mike to watch film once per week during the 2021 season. In four seasons together, we’ve NEVER heard Mike Zimmer talk about Kirk the way he talked about all three of Bridgewater, Bradford and Keenum during his 2018 combine interview.
Whether he felt slighted by the move to sign Cousins or he was underwhelmed after the fact, Kirk’s signing was clearly the beginning of the end for Mike Zimmer. And he knew it.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan