MINNEAPOLIS - Mike Zimmer’s coaching seat is as hot as it’s ever been after the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Green Bay Packers 37-10 at Lambeau Field Sunday night.
The loss eliminated the Vikings from NFC Playoff contention for the second straight season, the first time that’s happened under Zimmer. It also guaranteed a losing season for the Vikings, a franchise that hasn’t been above .500 since 2019.
Green Bay’s win locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs for the Packers. The Vikings are left with a meaningless regular season finale against the Chicago Bears on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. But will it be Zimmer’s last with Minnesota?
He said Monday he has not spoken with anybody in the Vikings’ management or ownership group about his future as head coach. Zimmer was asked if he feels he’s the right man for the job, something Patrick Peterson said after Sunday’s loss.
"That’s not for me to judge," Zimmer said.
He said his focus is on the Bears on Sunday.
"The media is the ones doing all the uncertainty and everything else. We don’t worry about that, we just focus on what our job is," Zimmer said.
The talk in the offseason and training camp was about winning the NFC North, making a run to the playoffs and competing for a Super Bowl. For the fifth time in eight seasons under Zimmer, the Vikings won’t get that opportunity.
"Obviously it’s not the goal, you go into a season and every team’s goal is to hold the Lombardi at the end of the season," receiver KJ Osborn said. "That won’t be the case the year, right now all we can do is look ahead and finish strong this last week at home against Chicago."
Zimmer actually has a winning record with the Vikings, at 71-56-1 with one regular season game left in 2021. But he has just two playoff wins with Minnesota, the Minneapolis Miracle, and the 2019 Wild Card win at New Orleans.
So where did it go wrong this year? The team’s inability to finish and win close games.
The Vikings have had 14 of their 16 games finish within one possession, or come down to the final play. They’re 6-8 in those contests. Zimmer pointed to losses to the Bengals, Cardinals, Ravens, Lions and Cowboys.
- The Vikings were driving to beat the Bengals with a field goal in overtime in Week 1. Dalvin Cook fumbled, Cincinnati recovered and got the game-winning kick.
- Greg Joseph had a field goal miss as time expired that would’ve given the Vikings a Week 2 win at Arizona.
- Out of the bye week facing the Cowboys without Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush hit Amari Cooper for the game-winning touchdown with 51 seconds to play in a 20-16 Vikings’ loss.
- The Vikings lost 34-31 at Baltimore in overtime, unable to do anything with Anthony Barr’s interception in the extra session.
- Jared Goff hit Amon Ra-St. Brown for a touchdown as time expired at Ford Field, giving the Lions a 29-27 win over the Vikings after an 0-10-1 start. Inexplicably, Cam Dantzler was playing off coverage away from the goal line on the score.
The Vikings didn’t execute at some of the most critical points of games all season. It cost them a spot in the playoffs, and maybe Zimmer’s future.
"Those are critical things that happen throughout the course of the year, you hit half of those and you are in the playoffs. Every game comes down to it. It is what it is," Zimmer said.
A team that added Christian Darrisaw in the NFL Draft, has stars at skill positions in Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook struggled to find its identity on offense all season. A defense that added Michael Pierce, Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson and Xavier Woods among others will finish near the bottom of the NFL.
At best, the Vikings will finish 8-9. Not what anybody had in mind.
"I think we all thought we had a chance to make a run for the title. We thought we had a good team, but we just didn’t put it together," Woods said.