Success Is Now a Future-Oriented Word for Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings

Mike Zimmer
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The Minnesota Vikings lost their critical Week 15 matchup with division rival Chicago Bears 33-27. Minnesota has essentially no chance of making the playoffs. FiveThirtyEight has dropped their chances to a mere 2%. As a result, Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings must shift their focus toward finding success in the future.

Future Success for Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings

Fans should keep in mind that the only reason why Minnesota has had a chance of getting into the postseason is because of the expanded playoff format. The NFL worships money; it’s their raison d’être. Expanding the playoffs thus makes sense from the NFL’s perspective. Adding a seventh team allows for extra TV money, attendance at games (at least when there isn’t a pandemic), and fans are increasingly being given the opportunity to bet online. Indeed, NFL fans have more and more chances to bet online on sites like guts.com.

While the NFL’s motives are clear, the expanded playoffs shouldn’t hide the fact that the Minnesota Vikings simply aren’t in a position to succeed short-term. Losing to the Bears certainly highlighted this fact. Everyone knew that Chicago would lean on David Montgomery, and yet the Vikings were unable to slow him. Mitchell Trubisky, moreover, found plenty of success running the ball. Apart from a late interception to Cameron Dantzler, Trubisky also did a great job passing. Minnesota knew what was coming and just couldn’t get it done.

The onus, then, shifts toward succeeding in the future. What do the Minnesota Vikings need to do to find success in 2021 and beyond? Without much salary cap room, Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman will mostly be tasked with reworking their roster by developing young talent and making shrewd decisions in the draft.

The Offense

On offense, Minnesota would be well-served by cutting ties with overpriced veterans and re-investing in the offensive line. The Vikings began a youth movement on defense during the off-season. It’s now time to bring this to fruition on the offense. Minnesota has two young, exciting tight ends, a true WR1 in Justin Jefferson, and some pieces along the offensive line. Kirk Cousins will be Minnesota’s quarterback for the foreseeable future, and the front office needs to ensure he has everything he needs to succeed. Letting the youth take over and investing in the interior o-line ought to be top priorities.

The Defense

It’s a shame that there have been so many injuries on defense. Losing Eric Kendricks over has been massive, especially since Minnesota is already operating without Anthony Barr, Michael Pierce, Danielle Hunter, and several others. The end result has been an underwhelming defense that has been forced to rely on far too many depth players. One source of encouragement, though, has rested in the development of the young players. Jeff Gladney and Dantzler are excellent tacklers who are improving in coverage. D.J. Wonnum looks like he’ll develop into an impact defensive end, and Armon Watts has had his moments.

Special Teams

Dan Bailey’s Week 13 and Week 14 were truly disastrous for Minnesota. Thankfully, Bailey was able to get back on track against Chicago. He was perfect for the day. Otherwise, there wasn’t too much to note from their Chicago game, which is a good thing. In all likelihood, Mike Zimmer will be looking for a new special teams coordinator, one who can get the most out of a talented group.

Looking Ahead for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have plenty to work on if they want to find success in the future. Fans should still be encouraged, though. There is a lot of talent on this roster, and the coaches/management have a plan. With a solid draft and a little more injury luck, Minnesota should find themselves in a good position to bounce back in 2021.

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