After losing to a backup quarterback at home on national TV Sunday night, the Minnesota Vikings are 3-4 and facing a murderer's row of the Ravens, Chargers and Packers the next three weeks. Needless to say, the seat on which Mike Zimmer is sitting appears to be extremely hot.
“There needs to be some time to think about it and figure out what we need to do from here," Zimmer said after the Sunday night debacle. How long will owners Zygi and Mark Wilf think about it? For starters, they have a laundry list from Sunday's game alone to analyze.
– Losing to Cooper Rush, who had thrown 3 passes in his NFL career before making his first career start. Rush threw for 325 yards and led the Cowboys on a 75-yard game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
– The first half timeout debacle where Kirk Cousins was tackled at the Minnesota 34-yard line. The Vikings had one timeout and 24 seconds, but the Vikings let the clock drip all the way down to 5 seconds. Cousins threw an incomplete pass and then the Vikings took a knee, leaving the timeout on the board.
Even NBC announcer Al Michaels was shocked at the ineptitude.
"You're gonna leave a timeout like a pelt up on the board, for whatever reason I have no idea," said Michaels. "You've got a timeout, I mean what are you doing at that point?"
Cousins said calling timeouts is out of his hands, effectively putting all of the blame on Zimmer.
"I just let Zim handle the timeouts, because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with what they're thinking, a play ahead or what that may be," Cousins said. "So I was just gonna let them handle that and call the next play if we're not getting it."
– The unreal third-down stats. Minnesota was a pathetic 1-of-13 on third downs, but more incredible is this stat from The Athletic's Chad Graff: "After the first possession, Kirk Cousins had eight third-down throws. He didn't pass beyond the sticks a single time."
Dallas, meanwhile, was 7-of-14 on third downs with a first-time starting quarterback against a Zimmer defense that was second in the NFL in third-down defense entering the game.
– Zimmer calling two timeouts in a row. Inexplicably, Zimmer called consecutive timeouts, which is illegal. Worse is that he did it when the Cowboys were facing a third-and-16 at the Minnesota 25 with just over a minute left in the game. That set up a more manageable third-and-11, which led to Ezekiel Elliott shedding Vikings tacklers en route to a first down. Rush connected with Amari Cooper for the game-winning score on the next play.
Had Zimmer not cost the Vikings 5 yards with a boneheaded penalty, Elliott might not get the first down and the Cowboys would've been forced to try a game-tying field goal.
“I screwed up,” Zimmer said. “I forgot that I called one. Somebody yelled at me. I knew the play that they were running, it was really the same play that they hit against us for a long touchdown. Somebody said ‘call timeout’ and I did. The official wasn’t supposed to grant it. They’re supposed to not — anyway, it’s not his fault. So we ended up getting a five-yard penalty.”
– Did the Vikings really prepare for Cooper Rush, as Zimmer said? According to ESPN's Courtney Cronin, Zimmer claimed the defense had a lot of film and was prepared to face Cooper Rush. But safety Xavier Woods told Cronin that they were prepared to face Dak Prescott, not Rush.
"We weren’t. We were just preparing for 4 (Prescott)," said Woods. "We kind of thought they were going to still run the same offense. So, we just prepared for 4 all week. We didn’t get the word until pregame (that Rush was going to start), so we just prepared for 4 but we watched a couple clips of Coop. But during the week, we just prepared for 4."
Mike Zimmer said the Vikings had "a lot of film" on Cooper Rush. So how did they prepare for the Cowboys backup QB vs. Dak Prescott?
– All of this after three mind-bending losses earlier this season in which the Vikings fumbled away the opener against the Bengals, missed a field goal that would've beaten the Cardinals and scored just 7 points in a home loss to a Browns team that has been shredded by the Chiefs, Chargers and Cardinals.
The result is an endless string of people calling for Zimmer to be fired. The question is if the Wilfs will let tweets like these influence their decision-making.