The writing was on the wall for Minnesota Vikings leadership after their second-straight losing season, and team ownership made it official on Monday. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissaro reports that the team has fired HC Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman.
Zimmer has been the head coach of the Vikings since the 2014 season and has had an overall record of 72-56-1. HIs teams made three appearances in the playoffs in 2015, 2017, and 2018. They earned a spot in the NFC title game following the 2017 season, but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Spielman’s tenure dates back to 2006. He joined the team as Vice President of player personnel before taking on the GM title in 2012. Prior to that, he spent one year as the Miami Dolphins general manager. The Vikings made the playoffs in six seasons during Spielman’s time in the front office. They made two NFC title game appearances.
The 2021 Vikings ranked 16th in overall efficiency and were 17th on offense, 17th on defense, and 13th on special teams. They came up one game short of the final wild card berth, finishing 8-9. That followed a 7-9 season in 2020 and that kind of mediocrity required a change. They have not been an awful football team during Zimmer’s tenure, but they have struggled to get over the hump and had settled into somewhere between mediocre and average. And thus the reset.
Considering the team’s offensive and defensive rankings, they could go in a host of directions for their next head coach. A lot will depend on how they decide to approach the dual openings. A GM usually is going to want to hire his own head coach, but maybe they find a big name that wants all the power. That usually doesn’t end well, but sometimes NFL ownerships can’t resist the big names.