Tuesday, December 11, 2018

OC flipped

It appeared a certain coaching move by my favorite NFL squad would happen by the end of this season. However, after a second consecutive dismal offensive performance, that process was expedited.

The Minnesota Vikings have fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo following Monday night's 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the team announced Tuesday.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been promoted to replace DeFilippo on an interim basis and will handle playcalling duties for the remaining three games of the regular season.

The Vikings' offense has sputtered as of late, putting up 17 points combined in back-to-back losses to New England and Seattle. Minnesota has not been able to surpass 300 yards of offense in four of its past five games and sits at 6-6-1, in line for the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs, going into Week 15.

It has been apparent at times this season that DeFilippo and coach Mike Zimmer were not on the same page as it related to the Vikings' offensive strategy. Zimmer has voiced public criticism over the team's perceived offensive imbalance, the volume in the Vikings' playbook and a need to run the ball more.

Even with Monday night's loss, the Vikings would still make the playoffs if the season ended today. As such, they knew this was the only plausible move in an effort to provide a spark with only three games remaining. Will it work? Well, a coaching this late in the year is not unprecedented in this league. 

Now I'm not here to suggest that this means a deep postseason run for the Vikings. But with their final three contests (vs. Miami, at Detroit and vs. Chicago) all being very winnable, the organization just couldn't stand pat with a struggling offense while the team is on the fringe of a playoff berth. 

You have to wonder how much longer head coach Mike Zimmer can avoid his seat becoming warm. In this his fifth season with the Vikes, Zimmer's job status has never been in question. However, if his club misses out on the postseason a year after reaching the NFC title game in addition to a huge contract having been doled out to QB Kirk Cousins, Zim at minimum will end up on double secret probation come 2019.

The offense's struggles can also be attributed to personnel moves (or lack thereof) made by GM Rick Spielman. When the Vikings signed Cousins to that 3-year deal, they knew they were getting a guy who was not very mobile, thus he needed to work from a clean pocket. However, the Vikings did little to address the offensive line issues which plagued the team since 2016. That's downright inexcusable when by every measurable statistic Cousins struggles mightily when pressured. I have no idea how Vikings ownership feels about Spielman, but he also should not be immune from scrutiny if this season ends poorly.

Suddenly a Week 15 fame against an average Dolphins team is the biggest test this season. Who woulda thunk it?


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