The Vikings are expected to move on from head coach Mike Zimmer this week, league sources said, though longtime general manager Rick Spielman is likely to remain with the organization. Zimmer has been in Minnesota since 2014 and quickly helped turn the franchise around, though he is 7-9 for the second straight year. With one game to play this season, their playoff hopes are gone.
Zimmer was nearly let go a few years back, and sources said there was a clear mandate from ownership to be a true contender in 2021; Minnesota got off to a slow start, has erratic results from week to week and never sustained any momentum on either side of the ball. Zimmer was under fire for the construction of his staff and has repeatedly clashed with offensive staff over the years.
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The Vikings brass has been averse to change over the years and has been very loyal to Spielman, but Zimmer’s abrasive style has been an issue within that team for years, and the need to go in a different direction has seemed clear to many decision makers there in recent weeks, sources said. Spielman is very close with ownership and is trusted immensely; the team has spent big and has yet to win big, but several league sources said they would be very surprised if Spielman was not a part of the organization in some capacity moving forward.
Spielman could remain in Minnesota in a role that oversees the coach and potential new general manager, or ownership could end up with a different balance of power depending on how the coaching search unfolds. Zimmer was long one of the most successful defensive coordinators in the NFL, and at age 65 would have numerous other opportunities to explore should he want to continue coaching in whatever capacity.