Skip to main content

In the end, it may have been Mike Zimmer's "my way or the highway" style that got him fired after eight seasons coaching the Minnesota Vikings. 

Hours after Zimmer was fired Monday, team owner/president Mark Wilf made it abundantly clear that the new head coach needs to be a "strong leader" with the ability to "communicate and collaborate." 

Wilf didn't throw Zimmer under the bus, but a little reading between the lines suggests that Zimmer's style featured a dearth of communication or collaboration.

Just ask any of Zimmer's six offensive coordinators during his eight-year reign.

During the 2016 season, the Vikings rattled off five straight wins and then lost two in a row, followed by the stunning news of Norv Turner stepping down as offensive coordinator. Coaches don't just quit in the middle of a season, especially on a first place team. 

Turner told Albert Breer of MMQB that it was a "difference of opinions" on how to run the offense. "He was pretty set in his ideas and his reasons and I hope that we’ll always continue to be friends," Turner said of Zimmer, according to Breer. 

That doesn't sound like a coach willing to collaborate, not even with Turner, who is one of the most respected offensive minds in NFL history. 

Two years later Zimmer fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, with Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reporting that Zimmer made the decision to put DeFilippo's head on the chopping block because he didn't run the ball enough. 

Keep in mind that Zimmer fired DeFilippo during the final month of the season despite, just months prior, defending his decision to block Kevin Stefanski from interviewing with the Giants because, as he said, he's loyal to his coaches and doesn't fire them after bad seasons. 

“I get criticized for blocking guys and stuff like that, but loyalty, to me, is a big thing, right? So I come in here four years ago and the offense is 29th, 27th, 26th. But I keep them," Zimmer told the Star Tribune. "So the first time our offense is pretty good, then I’m supposed to let all my coaches leave? I don’t think that’s right. If I’m going to be loyal to them and not fire them after they don’t have good years, then I don’t think they should not be loyal to me.”

Zimmer's way or the highway. Ask Kirk Cousins, who wasn't even comfortable enough to call a timeout without Zimmer's permission. 

"I just let Zim handle the timeouts because I never know quite what the coaches want to do," Cousins said after Minnesota's loss to the Cowboys on Halloween. Zimmer later claimed that was a miscommunication, but how is that even possible after for years together unless the relationship just isn't very good?

Right tackle Brian O'Neill also suggested there was a disconnect with the players and Zimmer, saying Monday that a "culture shift" will be welcome. Like many others, O'Neill echoed Wilf's message about communication and collaboration being of the utmost importance for a new coach. 

"Getting everybody pushing in the same direction and working together in a collaborative environment that's enjoyable to work in. I think some more energy throughout the building could be a good thing," he said, noting that things as simple as someone saying 'Hey, how you doing?' could go a long way. 

If saying hello in the hallway was too much to ask, then it should be no surprise that when Zimmer barks out in a press conference that he doesn't care about Justin Jefferson's pursuit of Rand Moss' franchise record for receiving yards in season. 

And then you have one of the leaders on the team, middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, acknowledging that his relationship with Zimmer wasn't ideal and that running a "fear-based organization" is not the way to go

At the end of the day, Zimmer is gone and it's become more clear than ever that Zimmer did it his way and his way only – and while his way was good enough to outperform some of his predecessors, it wasn't good enough to bring the Vikings to the top of the NFL.

Next Up

Blaine VFW video screengrab crop N West Twitter

Authorities now looking into MN lawmaker's report of assault

Video shows Rep. Nolan West being grabbed and pushed out of a public event.

TajPharmaImages WIkimedia Commons ivermectin

COVID treatments: Essentia Health to help test 3 existing meds

The clinical trial includes the much-discussed drug ivermectin.

Screen Shot 2022-01-24 at 3.48.57 PM

Suspect crashes into Minneapolis snow plow, fires shots at plow driver

The plow driver was pulled to the side of the road when the incident happened.

cold Minneapolis

Coldest day of the winter is possible this week in Minnesota

An air temp of -30F isn't out of the question too far from the metro.

polley freeborn county jail roster jan 2022 resize

District fires school counselor accused of sexually assaulting student

He's been charged with felony criminal sexual conduct.

Moorhead family

Authorities pinpoint source of CO that killed family of 7

The victims, all members of Hernandez-Pinto family, were found dead in a Moorhead home.

polymet mining

Court issues mixed ruling on PolyMet, orders more analysis on water permit

The court, however, overruled several challenges to the permit.

SPPD Kua person of interest 01-24-2022

Police release images of woman driving stolen Audi that had puppy inside

It's not clear whether she was involved in the vehicle theft.

J R Jones - Anoka County Jail 2021.10.16 - Resize crop

Fatal hit-and-run driver can avoid prison time with plea deal

He was charged with striking and killing a 56-year-old who was walking her dog.

Screen Shot 2022-01-24 at 11.21.49 AM

Alex Rodriguez: 'I'm not a Packers fan'

He was at Lambeau screaming "Cheese!" and "Let's go!" during the playoff game against the 49ers.

Related

Screen Shot 2022-01-09 at 3.25.30 PM

Mike Zimmer: 'I haven't heard anything about my job status'

Zimmer didn't want to focus on his job status following Sunday's season finale against the Bears.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman fired by Minnesota Vikings

Zimmer's run ends after eight seasons in Minnesota.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings fans clamor for change after latest bad loss under Mike Zimmer

The "fire Mike Zimmer" tweets are raging on Twitter again.

Report: If Stefanski leaves, Vikes could turn to Hue Jackson

Hue Jackson coached with Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati.

Zimmer has lost 16 pounds due to stress, coach's daughter says

Corri Zimmer called out internet trolls who ridicule Mike Zimmer.

Report: Vikings owners sticking with head coach Mike Zimmer

Zimmer is under contract through the 2019 season.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 9.35.32 AM

Watch: Mike Zimmer surprises students with scholarships

Imagine answering your phone and Mike Zimmer is on the other end.

20210827_Vikings_Chiefs_PRE03_553

Zimmer playing starters in meaningless game is aimless approach

Mike Zimmer said the Vikings plan to play everyone but is that the right move?