A concept that seemed quite laughable in mid August very quickly became a harsh reality as of 3:00 PM on Sunday. Mike Zimmer, the man the Vikings organization had just re-invested in this past off-season, has been officially catapulted onto the hot seat.
Although the Vikings rough start through five games could’ve been called a bit unexpected, it certainly wasn’t shocking. This was a team that lost a lot of veterans and was relying on rookies to make an impact. So despite the few radical calls for Zimmer‘s job, most of the Vikings world understood what was happening.
The Falcons loss was different: It was a complete embarrassment. The sort of embarrassment that elevated the cries for Mike Zimmer’s head to the top of sports columns and social media. All you had to do was type the letter Z into Twitter and you would immediately be prompted “Zimmer Fire.”
Now to ramp things up, ESPNs Bill Barnwell has officially listed coach Zimmer as No. 2 on his hot seat list. And just so we’re clear, this isn’t just coaches — this is his list of everybody in the NFL who might lose their job.
Kirk Cousins also makes an appearance on the list, non-surprisingly. Zimmer comes in right behind Adam Gase, a man who most people believe should’ve been fired a year and a half ago.
In his column Barnwell writes:
Zimmer’s Vikings have a win, but at 1-5, it came over a fellow 1-5 team in the Texans. Zimmer, 64, has built the Vikings into an excellent defense since he became the coach in 2014, but with the team rebuilding its secondary and starting the season without star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter, they can’t seem to stop anybody on that side of the ball in 2020. They are allowing opposing teams to score 2.85 points per drive, which ties them with the Cowboys for the second-worst defense in football.
It’s hard to argue with the logic that Barnwell lays out and although he provides a possible hope for turnaround even that picture is painted a bit bleak.
Assuming that the Vikings don’t make a move during their bye week, things get a little easier after they play the Packers in Week 8. The next five games are the Lions, Bears, Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars. If Zimmer can turn things around over that stretch, the team should move forward with him.
If he gets embarrassed by the Packers and loses a couple more divisional games, though, a 1-8 start could lead to change. Firing a coach one year removed from a playoff victory seems harsh, but both Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier were fired in the year after playoff appearances, including an NFC title game for Childress.
No one can say for sure how this season or Zimmer’s run as a coach for the Vikings is going to end ,but I think we can all agree none of us expected him to be sitting on top of an ESPN “guys who might get fired” list by Week 6.