In Fairness to Zim

Nov 14, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on as players warm up before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No Michael Pierce or Anthony Barr. No Patrick Peterson, Harrison Smith, or Danielle Hunter. The Vikings’ defense still put up the season’s best performance on Sunday. Does this mean the team is all the way back? No, probably not. Nevertheless, we should perhaps consider the various things that Zimmer has had to deal with so far this season with the Vikings.

Coming into the season, the Vikings were confronted with the discouraging news that Irv Smith Jr. was done for the year. The third-year TE was supposed to be an absolute terror as he torched opposing defenses up the seam. Can you imagine how deadly this offense would be with Irv on top of what’s already out there? Vikings fans and fantasy managers everywhere were discouraged about this one.

In fairness to Zim, Christian Darrisaw missed significant time at the beginning of the Vikings season. The end result was journeymen OT Rashod Hill needing to start several games at LT. Hill currently is ranking as PFF‘s 79th tackle; they only have 79 tackles ranked.

Danielle Hunter was back and making his presence felt on the field. He then tore his pec immediately after the bye, meaning the Vikings’ defense is again needing to operate without a true DE1. Partner that reality with Michael Pierce’s ongoing elbow injury and things have been a little tricky along the defensive line. Kenny Willekes had to miss time due to Covid, and Patrick Jones II (who looks powerful in run defense) has also missed time.

Harrison Smith missed two games due to Covid. Patrick Peterson had to go on the IR. Dalvin Cook again missed time due to injury and is now dealing with a serious legal situation. Garrett Bradbury has missed two games due to Covid. The team now needs to decide what to do with Mason Cole and Bradbury. I, for one, think the team may benefit from thinking outside the box, but that’s just me.

Leading up to the Chargers game, Minnesota had 29 close contacts for Covid-19. Dakota Dozier had to be hospitalized due to Covid. The team found a way to win the tough road game without the aforementioned starters and all of the concerns surrounding the virus.

Zim is far from being beyond reproach. In fact, it’s looking pretty likely the team will move in a new direction during the offseason. I’ve suggested Nathaniel Hackett while several suggest Kyle Shanahan. This speculation is fair, but we’d be wise to consider all that Zim has had to go through with the Vikings. At this point, there’s really no debating his stubborn resilience. No matter what happens, the man just keeps working. It’s one of his best qualities. It’s the precise characteristic that may allow the Vikings to claw back into contention.

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