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The future of the Vikings, part 8: The head coach

Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

“The Future of the Vikings” is a series of articles looking at everything from strengths and weaknesses to draft and free agent options to schemes and trends heading into 2017 and beyond. Read Part 1 on quarterbacks herePart 2 on the running backsPart 3, the wide receiversPart 4, the offensive line, Part 5, the defensive line, Part 6, the linebackers, Part 7, the defensive backs. And for Part 8, the head coach…

The decision

The Minnesota Vikings went into the bye week feeling like the playoffs were a foregone conclusion. They were 5-0 and had just bludgeoned the Houston Texans 31-13 at home. Minnesota had the best defense in the league and long-time NFL writer Peter King dubbed Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford the MVP of the first quarter of the season. At that time, head coach Mike Zimmer was the runaway leader for the Coach of the Year award.

Norv Turner
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned after an ugly loss in Chicago

We didn’t realize at the time that problems were lurking.

During the offseason, Zimmer sought out advice about his offense, presumably looking to find whether offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheme was a good fit for his roster. The Vikings’ head coach elected to hire Pat Shurmur as “tight ends coach,” but it was clear that the former Rams and Eagles offensive coordinator was there to bring new ideas. Shurmur came with him an extensive background in the West Coast offense that dated back to the Andy Reid days in Philadelphia – and a scheme that is a far cry from Turner’s philosophy.

“I think it’s just good to get more guys in that have input,” Zimmer told last January.

When the Vikings traded for Bradford, Turner deferred to many of Shurmur’s concepts because he had coached Bradford the previous season in Philadelphia and for several years in St. Louis. Against the Texans, the Vikings had the quickest passing game in the NFL – a staple of the West Coast offense – getting the ball out in just over two seconds.

That all changed coming out of the bye. The Vikings went back to a familiar look with seven-step drops, deep-developing routes and a reliance on good blocking from the offensive line.

The results were disastrous.

In losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, Bradford was sacked 11 times and the offense produced just 20 points. Turner resigned the day after the Vikings were embarrassed by the Bears 20-10 on Monday Night Football. Shurmur was named interim offensive coordinator.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles - Sun, 23 Oct 2016 16:51:56 EDT
Bradford was sacked six times against the Eagles

If Zimmer could do it all again, he would have fired Turner in the offseason or taken charge of the situation during the bye week and stuck with the West Coast offense. But he who hesitates is lost.

The drama with Turner did not cause the Vikings’ season to fall apart. It It just removed the parachute if things went wrong.

Three of the first five wins came with a lot of help from unsustainable events, like Eric Kendricks’ pick-six when the Tennessee Titans were on the doorstep of victory or Marcus Sherels’ punt return for touchdown against Carolina. The Vikings were bound to have some of those bounces go the other way. And when they finally did, in the form of a Blair Walsh missed extra point against Detroit or an Adam Thielen fumble at the goal line against Dallas, the Eagles and Bears losses loomed large.

Zimmer played his cards wrong with the handling of the Turner situation, which could be viewed as a one-off error, but his ability to manage personalities was brought into question on more than one occasion in 2016 (more on that later). But the bigger concern should be that the Vikings have ranked toward the bottom of the league in offense each year that Zimmer has been in charge.

Vikings Offense under Zimmer
Offense Rank Passing Yards Rushing Yards
27 28 14
29 31 4
28 18 32

His team’s passing offense ranked 21st in Yards Per Attempt adjusted for sacks and interceptions. Zimmer praised Shurmur for Bradford’s improved numbers after Turner’s resignation, but he averaged fewer Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (7.67 vs. 7.10) under Shurmur and the QB ratings were nearly identical.

While injuries on the offensive line were at the root of the Vikings’ problems, there was culpability on the part of the head coach. The statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus ranked TJ Clemmings 78th out of 80 tackles this season, yet the Vikings continued to start him at left tackle despite having other options like playing Alex Boone at tackle or giving backup Rashod Hill, who was signed off Jacksonville’s practice squad, an opportunity.

Boone suggested that he move to left tackle after a season-ending injury to Jake Long. He ranked as the 30th best guard in pass protection via PFF and played tackle in college and early in his career with the San Francisco 49ers. When Hill played in Week 17, he managed a solid 77.0 rating from PFF (Clemmings scored a 28.3).

Problems at tackle prove Vikings should have listened to Alex Boone

The Vikings will go into the offseason with their No. 1 goal to improve up front, but when they do rebuild the O-line, excuses for a lack of production will be gone. Bradford will have another year with his coach and receivers and Shurmur will have all offseason to make adjustments.

Without significant improvements will be incredibly tough to make a deep playoff run, especially when you consider that NFL’s No. 1, 2, 4 and 7 ranked offenses in Pro Football References Expected Points stat are the final four in the playoffs (the Vikings ranked 22nd).

So the Vikings’ head coach must press his offense to find more ways to get playmakers like Jerick McKinnon or Cordarrelle Patterson (if he returns) the ball. McKinnon’s fall in yards per carry and lack of effectiveness in the passing game cannot entirely be blamed on the offensive line. And Patterson has averaged nearly 11 yards per rush in his career, but ran just seven times in 2016.

Also Bradford was the third worst quarterback in terms of Yards Per Attempt on third down. It should be one of the Vikings’ top priorities to solve that problem.

Whether Zimmer is directly in charge of the offense or not does not matter toward his accountability for it in 2017. He decided to keep Shurmur as offensive coordinator, so the Vikngs’ offensive performance ultimately falls on his shoulders.

How OC Pat Shurmur can improve the Vikings’ offense in 2017

The “miscommunication”

Until Week 16, the perception surrounding Zimmer was that he was dealt a very bad hand in 2016 and gave it the old college try. He did everything he could, including risking his own health to coach on the sidelines in a key game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But Cornerback Gate changed the way Zimmer’s 2016 was viewed.

With playoff hopes on life support, the Vikings’ cornerbacks decided to go against Zimmer’s game plan against the Green Bay Packers. Instead of having Xavier Rhodes shadow Jordy Nelson, the defensive backs elected to play their own sides. Rhodes admitted the plan following the game after Zimmer revealed that his corners had gone against him to open the game.

Dec 24, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs six yard for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman /Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
The Vikings corners dialed up their own game plan to start the Green Bay game. Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman /Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Some in the locker room had been unhappy with Zimmer’s comments about players in the media throughout the season. The Vikings’ head coach accused linebacker Anthony Barr of “coasting” and had taken several hard jabs at injured defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Zimmer’s defense was also coming off a game in which the Indianapolis Colts badly out-schemed the Vikings.

To add insult to injury, when Zimmer addressed the media to explain what happened with the cornerbacks against Green Bay, he chose to dodge questions rather than being straight forward. He said that Rhodes, “gets nervous,” when speaking with the media and made a mistake. He also said it was simply a miscommunication. It went over like a lead balloon.

When a team loses eight of its final 11 games, nobody is happy and there is always friction. The echo of Rogue One Cornerback, however, will last until next season if Zimmer does not reconsider some of the ways he handled players through the media – which also included calling them “soft” after the loss against the Eagles.

At his end-of-year press conference, Zimmer said he did not have plans to assess how he handles the locker room. Maybe he only said that so as not to admit there was ever a problem. There have been rumblings that the Vikings will ask their head coach to take advice on handling the media next season. It seems like a necessary step.

Clock management and challenges

One thing Zimmer said he will look to improve is clock management. In the Vikings’ first loss to the Lions, Zimmer could have wound the clock to a point where there was no chance of a Detroit comeback when the Vikings scored to take a three point lead. Instead, he called timeout with 27 seconds remaining, just enough for Matthew Stafford to put Matt Prater in field goal position.

The Vikings may want to follow the footsteps of the Tampa Bay Bucs , who added another coach to handle clock management.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, 06 Nov 2016 14:21:50 EST
Mike Zimmer acknowledged he can improve with clock management

“Because I’m going to stay as the play-caller, and there are plenty of guys in the NFL who stay as play-callers as head coaches,” Koetter said in a Q&A with Bleacher Report. “There are just so many situations that come up in an NFL game, whether it’s clock management or just game-ending situations, to have someone that they’re fully dedicated to that preparation in leading up to the game and on game day made sense.”

The process of challenges also needs to be analyzed as Zimmer has only won six of 15 challenges since taking over as head coach in 2014.

An area where Zimmer showed progressiveness was on fourth and short. While the Vikings didn’t have much success, Zimmer often made the right call, going for in on fourth down and less than three yards on 44.4% of chances. The league average was 29.6%.

The Zimmer defense

Of all the questions about the Vikings’ future, one you will never hear come up is whether Zimmer is a good defensive coach. In 2003, his Dallas defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yards against and No. 2 in points against. In Cincinnati, his defenses ranked in the top 10 in points allowed four out of six Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 11.10.08 AMyears and in Minnesota the Vikings have ranked in the top 10 in points against two of the three years he has been on the job – and the other year they were 11th.

That doesn’t mean Zimmer is perfect, though. The aforementioned error against the Colts was his most glaring mistake. Indianapolis coaxed the Vikings into using their base defense on 53% of plays, then took advantage of a huge mismatch between their three tight ends and the Vikings’ three linebackers.

The Colts also burned backup safety Anthony Harris, who is a much better tackler than cover safety. They might have been better served moving Newman to safety and having Trae Waynes play the No. 2 corner spot.

Even the ’85 Bears had one bad game, but the Colts game was indicative of a change Zimmer may have to make, which is to reduce his time in the base defense even more. The Vikings played three corners on 62% of plays. Patriots head coach, speaking with ESPN, said his team runs nickel or dime about 80% of the time. The Seahawks played nickel corner Jeremy Lane on 71% of total snaps. That isn’t the only option the Vikings can use to further adapt to pass heavy offenses and versatile tight ends. The Arizona Cardinals regularly used three safeties.

Zimmer will also have to deal with changes in personnel. The Vikings might
not bring back nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn, who was a valuable piece of his defense, and Terence Newman could retire or go elsewhere. That could mean adapting to two young corners in Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes or teaching the system to a free agent.

Confidence is high in Minnesota’s 2017 defense, but as you can see from the chart, defenses often bounce up and down with schedule, injuries and changes in personnel. The Vikings’ head coach will have his work cut out to maintain a top tier defense, even if he is bringing back the likes of Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith, all elite players at their position.

The hot seat

In three years, Zimmer has gone 26-22 and appeared in one playoff game. Yes, he should have at least two playoff games if not for Blair Walsh, but that’s how it goes. In his first two seasons, the Vikings either met or exceeded expectations. In 2016 they fell short. General manager Rick Spielman traded for Bradford because he felt (as did everyone else) that the team could be a legitimate Super Bowl contender with solid quarterback play.

When expectations are not met in the NFL, changes are often made. The last time a head coach went 5-0 then finished 8-8, which was Josh McDaniels in 2009 with Denver, he lost his job the following season.

Before the 2016 season, ranked Zimmer as the 13th best coach in the NFL. Fans felt like they had one of the best in charge. The team was on rock solid ground with their man in charge. None of those perceptions have greatly changed, but there are cracks in the foundation that weren’t there before.

So Zimmer won’t be making anybody’s “hot seat” lists at the start of the 2017 season. However, if the Vikings don’t get off to a good start and some of the same problems persist, pressure on Zimmer could mount quickly.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Good read Mr. Matthew Coller

    That being said you left out how much Scott Turner’s involvement had grown in the game planing and play calling reported by one of your ESPN buddies Ben Goessling just after Scott was fired ~

    I believe the team was snake bit from the beginning of the season due to all the injuries ~ But even deeper IMHO was the divide between Norv and Zimmer who Ben Goessling reported just how involved Scott was in scouting and pushing for Teddy to be drafted with his dads backing ~ And while Teddy was a OK to good QB he was not the QB the Vikings should have drafted when Spielman moved up in the bottom of round one ~ That QB should have been Carr ~

    Just a couple of thoughts to add to your list of problems between Zimmer and Norv ~

    • Matthew Rowe

      You keep “blaming” the Turners for drafting Teddy. Spielman is ultimately responsible and accountable, as is the head coach. If they allow offensive staff to dictate that they draft a qb they don’t want just as much, the whole organizational structure is a sham, and all the more reason the Wilfs should be ratcheting up the pressure on this regime to get winning or sit on the hot seat.

      • Gordon Guffey

        Spielman has done the same thing for Norv ((( as he has for Zimmer on defense ))) who had complete say over the offense in his first two seasons ~ But that chanced this year when Pat Shurmur and Tony Sparano were hired this year and Zimmer said when he hired them that they would both have input in the offense as both had been OC’s in the past ~ However Norv was basically the HC of the offense ~ Zimmer trusted him with the offense so Zimmer could install his defense without having to worry about the offense ~ Zimmer trusted a old friend and got stabbed in the back for it ~

        News outlets have talked more than once about how it was Scott who scouted and pushed for the drafting of Teddy with his dads backing and its been sense Scott was fired so you want have to look too hard to fine reports on this subject if you wish to look it up for yourself ~ If Spielman is guilty of anything it was trusting Norv and Scott on drafting Teddy ~ They also talked about how Scott was getting much more involved in the game planing and play calling ~

        I dont know if you have been reading anything from Ben Goessling ((( <<< ESPN ))) or the guys at the Star Tribune as well as the Pioneer Press ~ They have all covered this very subject ~

        Now I'm not insider nor do I think you are either ~ So the local press is all we have to go on ~ And according to Mr. Matthew Coller in this very topic if Zimmer had it to do over again he would have fired Norv after last season ~ Here is what he had to say just above ~

        Mr. Matthew Coller wrote ~
        ((( If Zimmer could do it all again, he would have fired Turner in the offseason or taken charge of the situation during the bye week and stuck with the West Coast offense. But he who hesitates is lost. )))

        So yes Matthew Rowe I blame the lack of offense on Norv ~ I blame Norv's blocking scheme for the poor play of the OL in which only a couple of players have played well in 3 seasons ~ Sure there was a ton of injuries this year to the OL but it was the 3rd year in which they played poorly and only started to give Bradford more time after Norv was forced out ~ Yeah I believe it was Norv and his son Scott who were responsible for the drafting of Bridgewater ~ Because the press has been reporting on it ~

        I believe it because more than one new outlet has reported the same things ~ Its all I have to go on ~ If you have something different then please share ~ Thank you Sr. ~

        • Matthew Rowe

          I get that but again my point was that if a guy was drafted at QB in the first round without complete organizational buy in, the organization isn’t functioning well. Thus, changes are needed.

          • Gordon Guffey

            In this case I do believe that the team got suckered punch by Norv ~ That goes for Spielman who trusted Zimmer who trusted Norv who for what ever the reason stabbed everyone in the back ~ IMHO the game had passed Norv near the end of the HC job with the Chargers ended ~ However Norv had some good runs with QB in the past so why not trust someone with his reputation ~ ??? Many were calling him the QB Whisperer when he joined the Vikings ~ Even right here on ESPN1500 ~

            JMHO I do believe the offense will be much improved in 2017 ~ However we will surely have to wait till the season starts to see for sure ~

    • Matt Coller

      I did wonder if they would keep Scott Turner because the reviews had been positive.

  • Jordan Musser

    Great job Matt. I agree and have pointed out a lot of what you wrote on your other articles. 2016 was a step in the wrong direction for Zimmer. His leadership skills really or lack there of showed themselves this year. And I am still perplexed on why Clemmings continued to start every game.

    • Matt Coller

      Thanks. I’m certainly with you on your last point, Jordan

  • Bill

    Zimmer may not be perfect but the Vikes would regret if they fired him.
    Look at the Andy Reid situation – Eagles get worse and Chiefs get better.
    Look at the Steelers situation – patience with a good coach pays off.
    Usually Offensive Linemen takes time to develop – Donald Penn and Aaron Boone are examples.
    Hopefully with free agency and the draft, the Vikes can address their OL.


    It’s pretty misleading for Coller to write that Zimmer’s ability to manage personalities was questioned during the year, when Coller was the one who did most of the questioning.

    Injuries derailed this season. The Vikings lost more “man-games” than any other team, their quarterback was acquired 8 days before the season started, their offensive line was destroyed by injury, and their star running back missed nearly the whole season. Their offensive coordinator quit midseason and the coach had to deal with multiple eye surgeries. Despite this, Zimmer kept the team competitive for the year, and in all but a few games.

    • Matt Coller

      The locker room was questioning his handling of personalities, too.

      • WIVIK

        That sort of thing happens when a team is struggling. People start to bicker. There were rumblings of unhappiness in Green Bay when the Packers were struggling, but then it became a love-fest once they got healthy and started winning again.

        Regarding Barr, Zimmer was in a no win situation. Reporters repeatedly asked about Barr’s obviously disappointing season. If Zimmer says that Barr is doing fine, he’s ripped for being dishonest. If he responds, his ability to manage personalities is questioned.

  • Rick J

    He will be replaced after another disappointing season next year……He lacks intelligence – the reason he was passed up for so many years..

    • Bill

      I will put more faith into Bill Parcell’s opinion than yours.
      You lose all credibility when you make unproven and outlandish comments.

    • Matt Coller

      I don’t agree in any way shape or form that Zimmer “lacks intelligence.” He is an incredibly smart football mind.

  • Lester Stkl

    The real culprits are Spielman and scouts. Vikes could learn a lot by the bottom up approach used by Pats and their scouts. Spielman should be fired now. The notion Vikes will rebuild OL through draft is laughable. Need 2-3 free agents for OL asap.

    • Gordon Guffey

      Totally agree with needing 2 or 3 FA ~ However I do believe things can be worked many different ways ~ They could hit on a couple of OG or a Center early on in the draft if they grade out as BPA ~ People keep saying Boone can play left OT ~ I never really saw him play before this year so I cant say one way or the other ~ But if he could that would be a big start ~ One of those FA could be someone capable of playing right OT and if so then both of the OT spots would be set ~ Berger should have at the very least 1 good season left in him and he can play well at OG or Center ~

      But talent still needs to be added for sure ~

    • Craig

      You know when the Pats lost Brady for the season, they finished 11-5 and missed the playoffs. If you were Bob Kraft, would you have taken the GM position away from Belichick?

  • Lester Stkl

    Maybe just maybe Minnesota does not deserve a pro team. I can see them moving to San Diego or Portland.

    • Jeeves

      Not the case. There are several fans, however, that don’t deserve a professional team!

  • Wilbur One

    This article was described as “the final part, the head coach and general manager”. Where’s the part dealing with the performance of the GM? Spielman gets a total pass in this article. More space was devoted to Shurmur than Spielman. He was as much to blame as anyone for the disappointing performance of this team. I don’t think that anyone needs to be put on the “hot seat” yet, but if someone has to be there, Spielman should be first on the list. This writer is usually one of the better writers in Minnesota sports media, but he missed an opportunity to give us an analysis of Spielman’s performance, and I can’t help but wonder why.

    • Jeeves

      I agree with you, including the part about Matt being one of the better writers covering MN sports. I too would like an in depth analysis on Rick. I’ve faithfully supported him in the past. I’m staring to have questions, but will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt. I would appreciate more info on this topic to make a more informed decision.
      SKOL Wilbur!

      • Matt Coller

        Thanks for saying that. Part 9 is coming on the GM. It was my mistake to not fix the open of the article.

        • Wilbur One

          Ok, I jumped the gun then. Looking forward to it.

    • Kodiak72

      Exactly the GM is responsible for this mess. He dependened on injury prone guys or a guy was never coming back. The GM also panicked and got fleeced by the eagles. This team is not contending with the current GM.

      • brian199511

        Name one player who could be had in the first round better for the Vikings than Bradford. No? I didn’t think so. My lab retriever knows more about football than you.

    • Matt Coller

      Hey – that’s actually my mistake, thanks for pointing it out. Originally, I was going to make it one article, but it got too long and I wanted to split them up. Sorry about the confusion. Part 9 on Spielman is coming on Tuesday.

      • Wilbur One

        Thanks again.

    • brian199511

      It is called injuries. Difficult to blame coaches or GMs with the incredible string of freak injuries. Flush the players we need to and move on.

  • GordonGekko

    Hopefully Zimmer has 2 eyes instead of one next season

  • linus

    “f Zimmer could do it all again, he would have fired Turner in the offseason or…” Nope. Bradford wasn’t a Viking until just before the season started, and there is NO WAY Turner would have been fired while Bridgewater was QB.

    • Matt Coller

      He brought in Shurmur because he wasn’t happy with Turner’s offense last year. He must have been concerned they weren’t getting the most out of Teddy

      • linus

        Pure conjecture. Even so, equating concern with Bridgewater’s development to firing the guy whose opinions (according to multiple reports) were most responsible for the team drafting him is absurd. And you’re also ignoring the fact that Bridgewater looked outstanding while playing in Norv’s system during the preseason (18-23, 253 YDS, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 141.5 rating).

      • Gordon Guffey

        I couldn’t agree more Matt ~ I have no doubt ((( not that I know much ))) Shurmur offense will fit Teddy just fine if he is able to make a full recovery ~

  • linus

    “General manager Rick Spielman traded for Bradford because he felt (as did everyone else) that the team could be a legitimate Super Bowl contender with solid quarterback play.” Actually, very few people predicted that the Vikings would contend for the Super Bowl, even with a good QB. Division title, maybe, but the Super Bowl talk didn’t start until after they beat Green Bay and Carolina in consecutive weeks.

    • Matt Coller

      After an 11-5 year that was ruined by a Blair Walsh kick, the expectations were that this team could be a top contender in the NFC. I’m sure you could go back and find all the preseason predictions where they had 10 wins or more

      • linus

        A 10-6 team is a legitimate contender for the PLAYOFFS, not the Super Bowl.

  • Big Jim

    You are batshit crazy if you think Zimmer could’ve done a better job holding the team together in this bizarre season. Put any coach besides Belicheck in Zimmer’s position this season and see how things would’ve played out. I have to imagine .500 ball is out of the picture in that case.

    • Matt Coller

      Even Zimmer admitted he made mistakes, including blowing the Lions game.

  • Craig

    I was looking for #8 to be special teams. I guess it didn’t matter about Blair Walsh or asking Patterson to be a gunner.

  • MR

    Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman should look for a better punter than Jeff Locke. The Vikings average yards per punt was the second worst in the NFC.
    In the Vikings home game against Dallas, the Vikings offense gained 54 more yards than the Dallas offense. Dallas committed one more turnover than the Vikings. The only thing Dallas did better than the Vikings was punting. Dallas punts averaged 46 yards; the Vikings punts averaged 32 yards, including one for 16 yards and another for 25 yards. If the Vikings had a better punter they probably would have won this game.

  • William

    It appears that there are to o many homers covering the Vikings. No one wants to speak/write truth-to-power. With a 3rd rate defensive coordinator masquerading as a head coach and a general manager making poor personnel decisions, the way this team is structured it will never win. Come on Ziggy, spend some money and hire a real football man for general manager and a head coach who is not about an ego but knows what it takes to win…..

  • Mike Boss

    Rick Spielman is the main problem. His drafting and free agent signings were terrible particularly in the past year. But Zimmer had a player mutiny and his team rebelled against his very public criticisms of key players. Both of these guys should be fired after next season. With a terrible offensive line, no running game, and a defense that may play bad enough to get their coach fired its bound to be at best a six win team. Goodbye Zim and pitiful Rick.

    • Wilbur One

      That’s really too harsh. Zim deserves better than what you’ve given him. Spielman needs to improve his game like we all know he can. Go Vikes!!!

  • MR

    Mr. Matt Coller,

    Here is an excerpt from your article:

    “Three of the first five wins came with a lot of help from unsustainable events, like Eric Kendricks’ pick-six when the Tennessee Titans were on the doorstep of victory or Marcus Sherels’ punt return for touchdown against Carolina. The Vikings were bound to have some of those bounces go the other way. And they finally did, in the form of a Blair Walsh missed extra point against Detroit or an Adam Thielen fumble at the goal line against Dallas.”

    You seem to feel that interceptions and punt returns and fumbles are simply the result of fortunate bounces of the ball (luck). They are not. Mike Zimmer’s defense practices for interceptions. Marcus Sherels is a very experienced and good punt returner. The chances are good that the Vikings will make these types of plays sometime during a season; the Tennessee and Carolina games just happened to be scheduled early in the season rather than later.

    The Vikings forced eleven more turnovers than their opponents. This the result of good player performance and coaching.

    The Blair Walsh missed extra point against Detroit wasn’t simply a bounce of the ball that went against the Vikings. Neither was the rather short field goal that Blair missed in the same game. Walsh missed these kicks because he was in a slump that began when he missed his 27 yard field goal attempt in the Seattle playoff game. He had lost his confidence.

    Mike Zimmer should have cut Walsh after the Seattle playoff loss. Then Walsh could have had a fresh start with a new team and forgotten about his Viking misadventures, with his confidence restored. Instead, Zimmer waited until after Walsh lost the Vikings home game against Detroit. Even after Walsh’s missed kicks, Zimmer could have won this game with good clock management, as you wrote.

    Looking at the Vikings team statistics, turnovers included, the Vikings should have finished with a record of 9-7 or 10-6. The turnovers resulted in substantial field position yards advantage over their opponents. The Vikings had a yardage advantage over their opponents with punt returns, kickoff returns, and interception returns. The team statistics of Detroit indicate that Detroit was a slightly below average team. The Vikings should have been a wild-card playoff team.

    Mike Zimmer will be a better coach next season, looking out of two good eyes.

  • Mark Reese

    What’s really frustrating to me as a long time Viking as we sit home the Atlanta Falcons are going to the Super Bowl. That should be us but a bunch of bumbleheads in the Viking hierarchy couldn’t see that Loadholt was going to retire which to me got the ball rolling on a very lousy season. Don’t tell me he wasn’t confiding in someone in that organization. The secrecy there has caused them harm and headaches continually. They kept Blair Walsh two seasons to long and yet they expressed confidence in a kicker the last two seasons that let the team and fan base down constantly. Go out and get a real offensive line and a real kicker as soon as possible. Oh and remind Anthony Barr mediocrity gets you a severe cut in pay. Sharif Floyd needs to workout the right way during the off season because clearly whatever he’s doing isn’t keeping him on the field. I’m not even half done with how disappointed in how this team let us all down. Atlanta Falcons!!! That should have been us but you screwed around and kept players because you couldn’t separate business from personalities. Bill Belichick!!! He never ever ever puts a player above the team so grow a pair Vikes front office and think about the team first!!!

  • brian199511

    The Vikings led the NFL in injuries. End of story. Now with a new OC, dumping Peterson, Kalil and the DT who never plays, they will lead the league in salary cap. Win the Super Bowl at home. Wouldn’t that be sweet.

  • Gordon Guffey

    I find it funny how people go looking for anything they can to fuss about after a down season when we all know that the injuries had more to do with this season than any other thing ~ And injuries even effected Zimmer too~ Well that and the divided between Zimmer and Norv over his offensive scheme that has sucked sense day one ~ I bought into the Norv effect also until I saw the first 5 or 6 games ~ Then it was clear to me Norv was just Chilly’s Kick A$$ Offense 2.0 ~

    Me I’m looking forward to 2017 knowing what I know about the injuries and knowing the Vikings have the cap space to do something about it starting in just over a month ~ I know there will be some who will be kicking and screaming when the Vikings don’t sign every FA they wanted or maybe even no FA they wanted ~ I’ll wait for the proof that they failed once they start playing meaningful games in September ~

    My offseason started with the college all star games this past Saturday ~ And I still have the Senior Bowl too look forward to this coming Saturday ~ So my offseason is off to a good start ~ Yeah it would have been much better with a Super Bowl win but thats not the case ~

    Fixing the OL while keeping key FA on both defense and offense ~ One only has to look at the playoff games this past weekend to see just how far a above average to great QB can take a team in the playoffs by themselves ~ The more balanced team won and won big ~


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