Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer took part of the blame for his team's offensive failures in recent weeks, which led to Zimmer making the tough decision to fire offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
"John is a good football coach. He's a good man, a hard worker. It was a very difficult decision," Zimmer said Tuesday during a conference call. "I felt like we always had very good dialogue, but I felt like there was a sense of urgency here in these last three weeks."
The decision to part with the highly touted, first-year offensive coordinator came down to Zimmer feeling the pressure to make a run to the playoffs over the final three weeks of the regular season.
"I just felt like I don't want the season to be wasted. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But these three games to me are very, very critical and we need to play good."
Entering this coming Sunday's Week 15 home game against the Dolphins, the Vikings are 6-6-1 and in control of the second wild card spot in the NFC playoff race. The Panthers, Eagles and Redskins are right behind them at 6-7 each, while the Packers are just a game back at 5-7-1
"I just felt like in the best interest of the team, in these last three weeks .... we had to shake things up and try to get better as a football team together," Zimmer added.
Zimmer didn't use the words "fall guy," but he said as much when talking about the offense sputtering to 17 points in back-to-back losses to the Patriots and Seahawks.
"This wasn't about one guy," said Zimmer. "This was about a lot of us not holding up our end of the bargain. It was more of a collective thing than anything else. Sometimes it looks like it was one guy when it really isn't."
Taking over the offensive play-calling duties is quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, whom Zimmer interviewed for the offensive coordinator job before hiring DeFilippo in February.