The writing has been on the wall for some time now, and today it has become official.
The Minnesota Vikings have fired head coach Mike Zimmer after eight seasons, and will soon be starting the search for the tenth head coach in franchise history. They have also fired general manager Rick Spielman, so there will be a new person conducting the coaching search.
Zimmer was hired by the Vikings in January of 2014, following a successful stint as the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. He came to Minnesota with the promise to turn around a defense that had been a disaster during Leslie Frazier’s final season, and after a few seasons he had done precisely that. After a losing season in 2017, he led the Vikings to the NFC North title in 2015, where they lost a playoff game that they should have won against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Vikings made the playoffs again in 2017, and defeated the New Orleans Saints in the game that concluded with the Minneapolis Miracle, a 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs. The Vikings then went out and got annihilated in the NFC Championship Game, missing out on the opportunity to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Minnesota made the playoffs again in 2019, and once again got a dramatic victory over the Saints to advance. Unfortunately, they once again got thumped in the next round, falling to the eventual NFC Champions, the San Francisco 49ers. That was the last time the Vikings had a record of over .500.
In Zimmer’s time as the head coach of the Vikings, the team has compiled a record of 72-56-1 in the regular season and a 2-3 postseason mark. Zimmer coached the Vikings to the third-most wins of any coach in franchise history, trailing just Bud Grant and Denny Green.
Spielman has been with the Vikings throughout the Wilf family’s entire tenure as the team’s owners. He came aboard in 2006 as the Vice President of Player Personnel, a position he held before assuming the full-time general manager position during the 2012 offseason. Spielman’s time with the team has seen the team go through three head coaches (Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Zimmer), while the team has made two trips to the NFC Championship Game and made the playoffs seven times.
While he was in charge of personnel, Spielman made some very solid decisions, particularly with a couple of his draft classes. . .the 2015 draft class is one of the better ones the team has produced in a very long time. However, the decision to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins eventually wound up causing his downfall, and likely wound up causing him to take Zimmer down with him. It was probably the right choice at the time, given the options, but it did not work out the way the team needed a signing of that nature to work out.
We will have more reaction to the Minnesota Vikings firing head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman over the next few days, as well as coverage of the search for the tenth head coach in franchise history and who will be conducting it.