Even with the Minnesota Vikings season being a rollercoaster ride throughout the regular season, the Vikings still found themselves with a chance to reach the postseason with a few games remaining in the year. Those dreams of reaching the playoffs came to a halt in Week 17. Minnesota has already been eliminated from contention now entering the regular-season finale on Sunday.
Following a brutal loss on the road to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 17, the Vikings were officially eliminated from the NFC playoff race while allowing Green Bay to clinch the top seed in the conference for the postseason. Going into Week 16, Minnesota controlled its own destiny. It could have reached the postseason if it won out the final three games. But following losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay in back-to-back weeks, the Vikings are now on the outside looking in.
For a second straight season, Minnesota will fail to reach the playoffs. They will finish the year below-.500 yet again since reaching the NFC Divisional Round in 2019. With the year officially over for the Vikings following the Week 18 contest against the Chicago Bears, there are plenty of questions to be answered this off-season before the 2022 season inches closer.
With Minnesota Vikings Season Officially Over, What’s Next?
The off-season will see some players come and go before the new year begins as always happens in preparation for the next. But some larger items will have to be addressed by the people atop the Vikings organization. Those decisions will be centered around the future of the head coach and general manager positions. But they will also cover who will actually take the field for the purple and gold in 2022.
Status of Mike Zimmer
Perhaps the biggest question that will be addressed this off-season will be with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Will he return to lead a team he has led since 2014?
Zimmer has received criticism over his decision-making and coaching style this season, which is an old-school and defense-heavy style of coaching that appears to have run its course with the Vikings. Zimmer has helped Minnesota to feature one of the top defensive units in the NFL since his arrival. But production has yet to follow the talent on the field.
Since arriving in Minnesota in 2014, Zimmer holds a record of 71-59 as Vikings head coach. That includes just three playoff appearances. Yet with a talented roster again this year, the Vikings won’t have a chance to reach the postseason or win a playoff game after missing the postseason yet again.
Deciding if Rick Spielman Returns
Along with Zimmer, you would think that a decision of what will happen Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman. And that his future leading the front office would closely match the decision made on Zimmer.
Spielman has been general manager for the Vikings since 2012 and has been with the organization since 2006. He has done a nice job in fielding a talented roster for the coaching staff to work with. He has also received some criticism for not being aggressive with a championship-caliber roster. Most notably, he made some questionable decisions in free agency and the draft.
It wouldn’t be out of the question to see both Zimmer and Spielman retained for one more season. At least to try and see if they can make one more run at the playoffs. But if a decision is made to clean house to bring in new voices to see if that makes a difference with a talented roster, that could mean Zimmer and Spielman are both out this off-season. And it could even happen as soon as after the Week 18 contest against Chicago.
Talent on the Field
The Vikings have some big decisions to make with the actual roster and the personnel who take the field for the purple and gold week-in and week-out. Most notably, those decisions will likely be centered around a few veteran players on Minnesota’s roster, both offensively and defensively.
The biggest names that the Vikings will have to take a look at to see what their futures look like with the team reside on the offensive side of the ball. Players such as quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Adam Thielen, both of whom will be under contract next season, could be names brought up this off-season that will need addressing.
Cousins and Thielen have been solid during their tenures in Minnesota. But their contracts could persuade the organization to try and shed them this off-season and look elsewhere for replacements. The 33-year-old Cousins is set to make $45 million in 2022. That will account for 21.6 percent of the Vikings total salary. Thielen is 31 years old. He will have the third-highest contract on the team next year at just under $17 million.
Defensively, one player that comes to mind immediately that might need a look at is linebacker Anthony Barr, who is set to make just under $10 million.
Barr hasn’t been able to stay on the field for a full season. He is soon to be 30 years old and his contract would be the eighth-highest on the team. The team is in a tough position with the salary cap. You would think Barr is a prime candidate to be moved or parted ways with this off-season.
The 2021 season was an interesting one for the Vikings. Each week served as a must-watch game and seemingly a must-win contest. And the off-season leading up to the new year will likely be as interesting to see what type of team Minnesota puts on the field in the fresh season ahead.
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