Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has called out ‘bandwagon’ fans more than once in his time in Minnesota. After Minnesota’s embarrassing loss to the Packer in Green Bay on Monday night, does he understand their frustrations?
No doubt this article looks like a muck-racker. The Vikings are licking their wounds after a perplexing loss, Week 17 is a throwaway game, and the Vikings are backing in the NFL playoff tournament.
Yet I believe the title/question of this essay is valid. Does the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, who appears to both love and disdain certain factions of his team’s fan base, owe an apology to those who have criticized him in 2018 and 2019?
——— *Editor’s Note: This article comes from ‘The V61’ (vikings61.com) a new website devoted to news, analysis, and history of the Minnesota Vikings! Bookmark The V61 (friend and partner of Vikings Territory and Purple PTSD) and follow them on Twitter and Facebook here! ———–
Instead, I am making a case of disposition in regard to a guy who certainly works hard and talks tough, but should sometimes remember that great wisdom his coach-mentor Bill Parcells once said about football:
“You’re only as good as your record says you are.”
In the case of the Minnesota Vikings, that may even belie the actual truth of things. In their ten wins, the best team they have beaten is the 8-7 Philadelphia Eagles. The other nine victories have come against teams with losing records in 2019. All five games they have played against teams with winning records (besides the Eagles) they have lost.
In October, the Vikings played the Chicago Bears in Week 4 and were soundly defeated, a crucial NFC North divisional loss that looked a lot like the loss they had just had two weeks prior in Green Bay.
Against Chicago, the Vikings’ offense generated just 222 total yards in their 16-6 loss. Afterward, at his press podium, a defiant Vikings head coach said this about the loss:
“I know everyone jumped off the bandwagon this week, but two years ago we were 2-2 and we won 13. Three years ago we were 5-0 and we won eight. So this isn’t going to define us, where we are right now. What’s going to define us is how we prepare for this game, and the next game, and the next game.”
Fair enough. Both in those two imperative NFC North losses, the Vikings had basically thrown away conference tie-breakers to begin the 2019 season.
For a month the Vikings disposed of the Giants, Eagles, Redskins, and Lions. When their next critical game came, they lost in Kansas City to the Chiefs without QB Patrick Mahomes. They beat Denver with second-half heroics (after falling behind 20-0), then promptly lost to the Seahawks in Seattle.
“Critics” indeed criticized Zimmer and the Vikings. Why? Because they were proving again and again that they couldn’t beat good teams!
The Cruel Backlash Of Social Media
In 2018, when the Vikings offense fell apart after losses in New England and Seattle in weeks and 14, Mike Zimmer fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and withstood a firestorm of exposition, prompting, of all people his daughter to tweet:
” If you don’t appreciate and can’t recognize everything he’s (Zimmer) done for this team then you are no fan. These people get behind their keyboards and write heartless comments and i know for a fact that they have never worked as hard as he has ONE day in their life.”
Certainly, Zimmer’s daughter, Corri, was upset that some “examinations” of his father’s job performance may have been harsh, but her response to them was also over-emotional. If she was listening to the aforementioned idiots who malevolently look for reasons to jab with unreasonable vulgarities, she obviously found them on Twitter, Reddit, etc.
But here’s what everyone knows that makes all that Twitter ink in the world turn to dust. Mike Zimmer is the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. He is ultimately responsible for the way they play. You don’t need the Big Tuna’ to tell you that.
Chef In The Kitchen
Less than a month later in Week 17, the Vikings were faced with a game that meant making or missing the playoffs against divisional rival Chicago Bears. They absolutely embarrassed the massive home crowd at US Bank Stadium in losing, 24-10.
Afterward, Zimmer came to the press podium and said what he always says even to this day:
“We didn’t play well enough to win.”
The truth is, they didn’t play well enough to even compete. Zimmer, his newly chosen offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski, and the Vikings mustered a mere 164 yards of total offense in that game, trounced by a team of back-up athletes as the Bears had already clinched the NFC North.
One year later, with playoff seeding on the line and an outside chance of the NFC North title still being in play, the Vikings played as poorly on offense as they did in that 2018 Week 17 game.
Or in Week 2 of 2019–against the Packers. Or in Week 4 of 2019–against the Bears.
After the game, A usually nonchalant Zimmer echoed himself from all three of those losses.
“Winning the division is great because you get a home playoff game, but we weren’t good enough to do that. We’ll just try to do something better.”
Playoff Train/Bandwagon/Paper Cart
It’s really unfortunate some time how Mike Zimmer feels he needs to play the “Us Against The World“ routine when he’s mainly speaking to those people that just want his team to do better–be better–when it comes to these decisive games.
I mean, perish the thought that generations of Vikings’ fans are disappointed in Zimmer and his team after getting their purple rear ends kicked–by the Green Bay Packers–on the home turf of a stadium that the state of Minnesota kicked in 500 million dollars for.
The same folks that subsidize the colossal salaries of every coach and player on the football team, the facilities they use, and the expenses they accrue.
It’s time for Zimmer to realize that the ‘obstinate head coach with the tight upper lip’ thing is growing thin. Everybody (except maybe some real winners huddled over computers in small bedrooms) want the Vikings to hit it, win the big games, and bring home the Iron.
They also wouldn’t mind a coach who understands that they will ultimately hold the head guy to account when the train pulls up short.
It’s big train, sir, and we’re all still on it. We would like to roll on.