The rumors have been swirling for much of the 2021 season that the Minnesota Vikings will be moving on from head coach Mike Zimmer when the season is over. Zimmer, in his eighth season with the Vikings, has seen the team struggle to reach .500 and is in danger of falling out of the playoff picture for this season with a loss to Green Bay on Sunday night.
Whether the Vikings do move on from Zimmer or not remains to be seen. If they do, however, at least one prominent source thinks that his successor will be moving into a pretty nice situation.
Behind the great E$PN paywall, Bill Barnwell has taken a look at seven potential head coaching jobs that could be coming open in the National Football League in the next couple of weeks.
- Carolina Panthers
- Chicago Bears
- Denver Broncos
- Houston Texans
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Minnesota Vikings
Of those seven jobs, he has ranked the Vikings’ job as the most attractive for a potential new head coach.
Barnwell has “pros” and “cons” listed under the job for each team in his piece. For the Vikings, he has the pros as a talented roster, patient ownership, and a veteran quarterback. Under the cons, he lists cap flexibility. . .and a veteran quarterback. While that’s meant as a bit of a rib, Barnwell acknowledges that some potential head coaches could see having Kirk Cousins at quarterback as a positive, while some might not.
If the Vikings were to keep Cousins, Barnwell believes that the path would be to sign Cousins to an extension to reduce his cap hit for next season. If the team were to go that route, there would be a lot for a new coach to like.
From another perspective, a new coach might lean into this veteran core. The 7-8 Vikings are still in the playoff mix and have had 14 of their first 15 games decided by eight points or fewer, tying them for the single-season NFL record. Zimmer’s game management hasn’t exactly been the stuff of legend, and a new coach might think improving on special teams and better decision-making could be enough to push them into the postseason in 2022.
On the other hand, if the Vikings were to attempt to move Cousins after this season, it would be time for them to embrace something that, at least to my recollection, they’ve never done before. . .a full-blown rebuild.
If they are moving on from Cousins and rebuilding, there are other veterans who don’t need to be along for the ride. They could shop Adam Thielen, Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks. Dalvin Cook’s future with the team might be uncertain given the pending lawsuit for alleged assault and battery. If the Vikings are going to blow up the team, they might realistically move forward and head into a serious rebuild.
In either case, if the Vikings should move on from Mike Zimmer after the 2022 season, it doesn’t appear. . .at least on the surface. . .that they should have any problem attracting a high-quality candidate to replace him. We’ve got about two weeks before we know whether or not this team will be engaging in a coaching search for the fourth time in the Wilf family’s tenure as owners of the team.