mansquatch wrote:Here is the reason to think he can do better: He made a bad offensive coaching hire in the form of Turner and then gave said hire total control.
The mistake for Zimmer was hiring turner and handing him the reigns in the first place. However, it is worth noting that there are extenuating circumstances. You can't just say we've seen three years and that is that. The first year they had no AP, who at that point was the identity of the team. They also started a rooking QB before they intended to, and by and large had some success given the circumstances. There were issues in 2014, but nothing that would make anyone say this isn't the right direction.
In 2015 we say injuries up front that hampered pass protection. We also started seeing some of the stubborness on the passing plays. (perhaps most memorably that blow out at home vs. SEA) You have to give Norv some benefit of the doubt here, Teddy has mobility and thus could overcome SOME of the protection issues. Probably not as much as Turner was play calling for.
In 2016 we hit the boiling point, both Tackles go down and no Teddy Bridgewater. Now you have an immobile QB with a much better arm. You have to accommodate that change and to me, that, more than anything else is where Turner failed. This is a really bad failure IMO. TB was out before the regular season started and Bradford didn't start until week 2. They knew what he could and could not do. When the tackles went down, why the blind faith in the protection? It makes no sense and obviously there were those in the org that felt the same way.
So where is Zimmer in all that? From the get go, he gave the Reigns to Turner. So the major mistake was the hiring decision and the minor mistake was the amount of control given.
I don't think that was a minor mistake because I believe a head coach has to be more involved with his team as a whole than that. However, I don't think hiring Turner was a big mistake in the first place. To me, the BIG mistake was hiring Turner and not providing him with the tools needed to run his system effectively. His basic approach to offense was no secret but the Vikings drafted a QB with downfield passing issues to run a downfield passing offense. They obviously planned to lean on their running game but they did a terrible job of putting together a good o-line that could impose their will in the running game or protect for a downfield passing game. They needed to approach the offense like they approached the defense and build wisely to fit the scheme. While Zimmer and Spielman were busily finding pieces that fit Zimmer's double A-gap scheme, Turner was asked to pound too many square pegs into round holes. I think he could and should have been more adaptable but Zimmer hired an eminently qualified coordinator.
Here's something to consider:
Turner has been either an OC or an HC calling offensive plays in the NFL for 26 straight years. In the 23 years prior to coaching for the Vikings, only once, during his last season in San Diego, did he have an offense ranked as low as the Vikings offense was during his 2.5 years in Minnesota. I think that rather clearly points to issues on the team that go beyond his ability to run an offense. I think it suggests deeper issues.
Now we have to ask, is the next issue for Zimmer to learn how to coach offense or learn how to hire a better OC? IMO, it is the latter. Zimmer doesn't have time to micromanage the offense, and given his pedigree in defense we should not want him to. Also, can you really blame a HC who wants to focus on defense for giving the reigns over to a guy who was a HC for over a decade and has 30 years of coaching experience? I think that is a hard pill to swallow, it stinks of hindsight. To me the choice of Turner was the error and everything else grows form it.
I disagree and I don't want Zimmer to learn how to coach offense or to micromanage the offense. That would be silly. However, I don't want him to focus on defense and simply turn the reigns of the offense over to someone else either. As a head coach, I think he needs to be more involved than that. Far too many people, including Zimmer himself, seem to think it's fine for him to be the defensive expert who focuses on what he knows best and let's someone else handle the details with the other 2 units on the team. However, that's basically a description of a defensive coordinator and if that's what Zimmer wants to do, that's the job he should still possess. A head coach needs to have a vision for the entire team. He needs to rely on his coordinators to handle some of the details and he needs to be involved primarily at the macro level, making sure the 3 main aspects of the team come together effectively as one team.
I'm very curious as to how much involvement the GM has in hiring coordinators. I don't think he's had much with it to this point in his tenure. Musgrave and the various inept DCs under Frasier seemed to all be Frasier's choices. So far the same has been true with Zimmer. If that is in fact the case, then the fault for Spielman is in allowing such a structure to exist, but again we have to ask if the alternative is better? Will a HC do well when his GM picks his coordinators? That seems unlikely to me.
Coaches almost always choose their staff. I think that approach makes sense.
The main point here for me is that they need to find better offensive coaches. There is talent on this roster. Maybe Shurmer is that guy? He has certainly shown more adaptability than Turner did, but that is different than actually being competitive. On the roster I can agree to some extent, but it worth pointing out that few teams can re-invent their roster in three years. Most are far better served by coaches that put the players they have in the best positions to succeed. That didn't happen with Bradford once the OL protection issues mounted after injuries to the tackles.
I think you are underestimating the impact Walsh had Jim. This is a defensive focused, low scoring team that grinds out wins. Points are at a premium and kicking really matters. For a team like the Falcons it would be a smaller issue. For us, it is huge. Not being able to rely on that guy to covert the opportunities that the rest of the team just fought to give him will wear thin fast.
I understand that it would frustrate a team to have their efforts undermined by the kicker but mentally, a team can't let that cost them games. I certainly wouldn't blame any of the losses this season primarily on Walsh.
I think this circles us back to larger coaching issues: if the Vikings want to have a low-scoring team that grinds out wins, they have to make they not only have a more reliable kicker but also a line and running game that can actually
grind out yards. The Vikings failed on all counts this year and that falls on the head coach and GM far more than on the OC. To me, the offensive coaching issues are symptomatic of deeper issues at head coach and GM. I hope ownership recognizes that.