For a few minutes and a few red zone stands, the Vikings gave the appearance of making a game of it at Lambeau Field in zero-degree windchill conditions. But it didn’t take much longer, and offensive incompetence led by Sean Mannion, before the Packers turned it into a blowout.
The game wasn’t without some record-breaking performances for the Vikings. Greg Joseph made the longest field goal ever in January at Lambeau Field. Sean Mannion threw a touchdown pass. And Garrett Bradbury had perhaps the best catch and run by an offensive lineman in Vikings history.
But the ridiculous aside, the Vikings went out with a whimper in a Packers blowout that was never in doubt. And with that, the Mike Zimmer era may well come to an end. The Vikings are out of playoff contention, with nothing to play for in their final game against the Bears. It was a massively disappointing season, pretty much from beginning to end.
At 7-9, the Vikings will have their second losing season in a row, and likely an eventful off-season that will likely see the Vikings clean house with their coaching staff. That will lead to a complete reappraisal of the roster, once a new head coach and staff are named.
If the Vikings do turnover their coaching staff, as seems inevitable, who they hire as their next head coach will provide some insight into what sort of rebuild the Vikings feel is necessary. Hiring a guy like Tampa defensive coordinator Todd Bowles may suggest they’re focused on improving the defense, feeling the offense is okay and that a more minor rebuild is needed. On the other hand, hiring a guy like Matt Campbell, head coach of Iowa State, may suggest a major rebuild and a focus on building a younger core that may take a couple years to compete in the postseason.
There is a chance that Zygi Wilf will move on from Rick Spielman as well, but that seems less likely from previous comments.
But for now, we’ll have to wait and see what plan the Wilfs have for the future of the Minnesota Vikings.