Vikings fire head coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman
After missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, the Minnesota Vikings decided to hit the reset button and usher in new coaching staff.
The Minnesota Vikings have fired head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman. Zimmer and Spielman have been dismissed from their roles after the Vikings missed the playoffs for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons. The Vikings went 8-9 in 2021, ultimately finishing a game out of the NFC Wild Card places.
Zimmer's eight years in Minnesota
That proved too familiar of a tale for the Vikings' hierarchy to handle. Since Zimmer was hired in January 2014, they have won at least seven games in all but one year but have only won two playoff games in that time. Minnesota reached the NFC Championship game in the 2017 season but missed out on playing a Super Bowl at their home stadium as they were blown out by eventual champions the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Vikings said in a statement on Monday: "This morning we met with Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer to notify them will we be moving in a different direction at the general manager and head coach positions in 2022. We appreciate Rick and Mike's commitment to the team's on-field success, their passion for making a positive impact in our community and their dedication to players, coaches and staff. While these decisions are not easy, we believe it is time for new leadership to elevate our team so we can consistently contend for championships. We wish both Rick and their families only the best. Our comprehensive search for a new general manager and head coach will begin immediately and will be led internally. We are determined to have sustained success and bring Vikings fans the Super Bowl championships they expect and deserve."
It was hoped the decision to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed contract in 2018 would get them over that final hurdle, yet a trip to the NFC Divisional Round in the 2019 campaign is the best the Vikings have managed with him under center. Cousins' decision not to receive a coronavirus vaccine proved critical in the Vikings missing the playoffs, as he returned a positive test ahead of their Week 17 encounter with the Green Bay Packers, forcing him to miss their penultimate game in which they were eliminated from postseason contention.
Entering the final year of his contract with $35million guaranteed, Cousins' future will be the most pressing issue for the new Vikings regime.
Spielman, who had served as vice president of player personnel for the Vikings since 2006 and became general manager in 2012, departs with a 132-123-2 record as an executive with the franchise. Zimmer, meanwhile, leaves with a 72-56-1 record in the regular season and, should he wish to coach in 2022, will likely be a popular candidate for defensive coordinator jobs.