Vikings

Bring Ted Lasso To Minnesota

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Disclaimer: Yes, we know you love serious sports takes, but it’s the bye week so sit back and enjoy some good old-fashioned satire.

Last Sunday’s win against the Carolina Panthers was the second week in a row that the Minnesota Vikings nearly blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead. Both contests were marred by wildly conservative play-calling towards the end of the game, and it at least felt like head coach Mike Zimmer has escaped an early-season exit with late wins in both games.

Zimmer’s situation in Minnesota is very similar to a cat and its nine lives. He seems impervious to any sort of firing thanks to late-game heroics. However, he can’t live on the razor’s edge all season.

This isn’t new information, though. Zimmer has been on the hot seat since the beginning of the year. Now that throne has been set ablaze. Fans are clamoring for a new head coach, but who would be best to take over should Zimmer be fired? The answer seems abundantly clear.

Minnesota needs to go out and bring in Ted Lasso as its next head coach (warning: spoilers for Ted Lasso season 1 ahead). After finding some success as the head football coach at Wichita State, Lasso became the manager of the Premier League’s AFC Wimbledon soccer team.

It’d be quite the switch-up, going from Zimmer’s gritty, often snarky personality to Lasso’s never-ending positivity. But that’s just what the Vikings may need to exorcise its demons.

Minnesota’s kicking game has always been a sore spot, and it hasn’t been any better this year. Greg Joseph has already cemented himself in Vikings’ kicker lore by missing two game-winning field goal attempts as time expired in the first six games. Of course, this isn’t a problem that started with Joseph; the Vikings have one of the worst kicking histories in the NFL during the Zimmer regime.

Lasso took care of AFC Wimbledon’s locker-room demons and would be the perfect person to handle the kicking situation. The most interesting thing would be to see what various Vikings players would burn in a ritual to banish the ghost of Gary Anderson from US Bank Stadium. I imagine Kirk Cousins reluctantly tossing a signed copy of Creed’s Human Clay into a burn barrel and Joseph himself throwing in his Super Bowl ring from a year ago.

Lasso is the perfect person to fix the Vikings’ kicking woes regardless of how he gets the job done. It’s become a joke at this point, but Minnesota’s problems converting field goals have long cost the team victories, and this season is no different. Nobody has come as close to beating the undefeated Arizona Cardinals this year, and those are the types of games the Vikings need to win if they’re going to be a playoff team.

But that hasn’t been the only problem with the Vikings. The reason Joseph has been put under so much pressure this year is because of conservative play-calling on both sides of the ball. Minnesota’s defense went from getting to the quarterback and running press coverage to one that allows easy completions in the last two weeks. On the other side of the ball, Cousins hasn’t been able to take deep shots downfield late in games, and the team is content with playing it extremely safe.

During his time in England, Lasso has become widely known for his willingness to let his players flow. Rather than controlling every aspect of what goes on in the game, he takes cues from his players.

While a lot of this is due to the nature of soccer as a sport, it could be integrated into the Vikings’ coaching strategies. Considering all the veterans on Minnesota’s roster, they could all benefit from being able to play their game. Not to mention Lasso emphasizes team play over everything else (even when it turns out to hurt him).

More than anything, though, the Vikings need a leader who can be the head of the squad through wins, but more importantly, through losses. After every loss this season, Zimmer has avoided any sort of culpability for the agony of defeat by reiterating that this squad is one of the better teams he’s coached.

That’s fine occasionally, but the narrative gets stale. Every time he waltzes up to the podium after the game and feeds fans and reporters that line, it gets less and less believable. There’s nothing wrong with supporting the team, but when you keep spewing out these sorts of things, they start to lack genuine sentiment.

Of course, this is Lasso’s specialty. He’s shown the ability to not only have his guys’ back but to do it in a genuine way that demonstrates honesty. This helps gain the trust of fans and the team alike, something that seems to be slipping from Zimmer’s grasp.

It’s the sort of thing that you can get away with if the team is successful, but it doesn’t work at all through adversity. Lasso understands how to be accountable, something that hasn’t been seen much out of a Vikings head coach in the 21st century.

Zimmer is not a bad coach, but his time in Minnesota looks like it may be winding down. He had his window, and he missed it. That’s what separates the good coaches from the great ones, and Zimmer hasn’t shown that he is a great head coach.

Minnesota may have a transition period on its hands. If they end up looking for their 10th head coach in franchise history, but Lasso seems to be the perfect replacement. He’s got optimism, almost to a fault at times, but that might be what gets the winningest NFL franchise of all time with no ring over the top.

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