Mike Zimmer should give away some of his duties as a head coach to become the CEO of the Vikings.
Areas of Improvement
Zimmer should focus his talents on improving the deficient parts of the defense, as well maximizing the elite players. A recent Harvard Business Review post said multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ - Bergman, P. (2010, May 20). How (and why) to stop multitasking. Considering Zimmer’s current physical situation with his eye, reducing stress is something the team should consider.
Managing the struggles at defensive tackle is something Zimmer could have done better in 2016. Zimmer continued to play Shamar Stephen who struggled, but a different approach could have been explored. Vikings could have explored moving Everson Griffen inside at times and given Danielle Hunter more experience as an edge rusher. Everson Griffen spent an early part of his career as an inside pass rush player with former Vikings Jared Allen right defensive end.
Dividing his time between other areas did not allow Zimmer to become more creative. The double A-gap blitz became exhausted and at times exploited, such as the game against the Eagles. The Eagles threw screens away from pressure, quick hitting passes, as well as used an up-tempo offense to keep Chad Greenway on the field.
Anthony Barr’s regression is something Linebackers coach Adam Zimmer was unable to stop. Often touted as a defensive back Guru, Mike Zimmer spent three years in the early 80’s as a linebacker coach. He could be crucial to getting Barr back on track, and being an important piece of this defense.
George Edwards was given the reins to call the plays on the defensive side of the ball during the Vikings Thursday night game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys were averaging 244.66/YPG and allowed 140 yards rushing, Dallas’ third worst in 2016. Edwards helps create the game plan during the week and can have a bigger hand in executing it by calling the plays. Zimmer will need to trust Edwards to call plays so he can focus elsewhere.
Mike Zimmer has shown in various games that his decision making deserves criticism. Zimmer took an unnecessary time out in a loss against the Detroit Lions in overtime. In 2015 Mike Zimmer chose to kick the ball to the Rams and had confident in his defense to stop the Rams offense. Zimmer was right and celebrated for his decision but he likely would have succeeded with receiving the ball. Per Brian Burke of ESPN, his model projects that teams that choose to receive first in overtime win 53.8% of the time.
Enter Mike Preifer who would maximize the Vikings in crucial decision. Priefer could integrate his various field position tactics to help put the Vikings in best situations during games. His clock management against the Cowboys nearly lead to the Vikings tying the game sans a missed facemask call. Priefer also gets the most time of any other coach with both offensive and defensive players. He gets to see the strengths and weaknesses more than most and he can use that intel to put the Vikings in the best situations.
Zimmer’s coaching ability is where his focus should be during the week. Improving technique, increasing football knowledge, and maximizing potential is a job for Monday- Saturday. Zimmer has said he wants to be more a part of the offense, he can give defensive input to help offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to counteract schematic disadvantages.
Creating the game plan is how Zimmer can explore his creativity, as the Vikings did well against the Packers in week two and Dallas in week 7. He can still override any play call but should do this very sparingly. Adjusting at half time is a way to still be involved, but once the game starts he must manage both sides of the ball and remain the CEO.