Mike Zimmer Reportedly Not in 'Immediate Trouble' Despite Vikings' Struggles

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2020

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on before the start of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Falcons defeated the Vikings 40-23. (AP Photo/David Berding)
David Berding/Associated Press

The 1-5 Minnesota Vikings sit last in the NFC North, but head coach Mike Zimmer may not be on the hot seat just yet.

Minnesota announced in July it signed Zimmer to an extension through the 2023 season.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported Tuesday, "There's no indication from anyone reliable that Zimmer is in any immediate trouble." They added that his new deal may not provide much security in the event the Vikings continue to struggle.

A coaching change is a natural reaction to such a poor start for a team that won 10 games and reached the playoffs in 2019, and it's entirely plausible Zimmer's tenure has run its course after six-plus seasons.

Still, blaming him for the state of the franchise wouldn't be entirely fair.

Two-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter has yet to play since going on injured reserve in September. The secondary also had to replace both of its starting cornerbacks, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes.

The Vikings are allowing the fifth-most yards (413.7) but sit 16th in defensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders. That's not bad given the circumstances and shouldn't reflect too poorly on Zimmer.

And more than anything, he wasn't the person most responsible for what might be Minnesota's cardinal sin.

Kirk Cousins was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle when he arrived after the team reached the NFC Championship Game. He signed a fully guaranteed, three-year, $84 million deal, and the Vikings then handed him a two-year, $66 million extension this offseason.

General manager Rick Spielman's big bet on Cousins isn't really paying off, and his extension is already looking like an albatross. The two-time Pro Bowler has thrown for 1,475 yards, 11 touchdowns and a league-high 10 interceptions.

Cousins himself went on to say after Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons he may not finish out the year as the starter if he continues to turn the ball over. That won't happen as long as Sean Mannion is the backup, but the fact he even suggested it illustrates where things are.

Still, ownership will presumably hold somebody accountable if the Vikings' slide doesn't end. Firing the head coach would be easier than dumping the general manager or replacing the starting quarterback who counts for $31 million against the salary cap in 2021.