Some interesting discussion here, but let me ask this question - in what game this year did Zimmer's Vikings surprise in a positive way? Name a game where they were not favored and they showed up for 60 minutes and over-performed?
I can't recall a game like that this year.
Last year, they had a few, which made me optimistic about this year's team, especially on defense where I hoped the debacle against the Eagles was the result of a letdown after the stunning victory over the Saints. And while I can't say the defense has performed that poorly, they've had 2 outstandingly poor games this year against good opponents (Rams and Pats) and several more half-games where they stunk it up IMHO (Bills, Bears, 1st game against the Packers) and allowed those teams to grab decent leads. Of course, there is always a "but..." excuse for those performances, but when a defense brings back almost every starter, most of those starters are still young and in their primes, and the guy they did add has been a stud in the recent past, well, I kind of expect better than what they've shown.
Is that Zimmer's fault? Probably not all of it, but can anyone here imagine a Belichek defense doing what the Vikings defense has done this year given the same talent and continuity? Can anyone imagine a Tomlin defense doing it? At this time of the year?
And I'm pretty sure we're going to see another repeat of it on Monday at Seattle. I'll be shocked if we don't watch as Wilson scrambles away from pressure for at least a half, lobbing a couple of daggers downfield in the process. And we don't continue to watch as the Hawks plow into the second level with runs on 1st and 2nd down, putting them in the same kinds of favorable down and distance situations the Pats found themselves in on 3rd downs. Tell me who here believes this defense we've watched lay eggs a lot this year doesn't come out and do it again on Monday?
I'm sure some of you will defend the defense. I get it. The stats say they're good. They have had stretches of solid play. Just those stretches haven't been nearly enough against the better-coached offenses they've faced.
You have to draw the line somewhere with a head coach, and for me, that line is how consistent the team is week-in and week-out, and whether they exceed, meet, or fail to meet expectations (accounting for injuries, crappy refs, bad breaks, etc.). Last year, Zimmer got way more out of the team than I expected. He over-performed right up until he ran into a creative, aggressive Eagles team (although one could argue his team shouldn't have made it past the Saints and the Divisional Round). This year, I can't think of a single time his team has over-performed. Mostly, I'd say they've met expectations, except against good teams, where they have consistently failed to meet expectations. Unfortunately, the good teams are the ones that get to the playoffs.
I think it's reasonable to reassess Zimmer and Spielman at the end of this season. To those who are given much, much is expected, and this Vikings team was stacked everywhere except the offensive line heading into the season. Even with that, all teams have to deal with roster flaws and injuries, and so far, the report card isn't good. I suspect it will be worse by next Tuesday.