- Mike Zimmer was fired as Vikings’ head coach after 8 seasons
- Minnesota was 8-9 this year, losing eight games by one possession
- See the odds, possible candidates and analysis here
While it was essentially a foregone conclusion that Mike Zimmer would be out as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, his replacement certainly is not.
There’s a lot of ways the Wilf family can go here, and they’ll also be in search of a new GM, as they bounced Chris Spielman after a decade at the helm.
That new leadership unit is going to have to decide in short order what to do at quarterback. While Kirk Cousins counts for $45 million against the cap and moving on from him frees up a massive $35 million for next season, the Wilfs don’t want to tear it down.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the potential candidates are, and share our best betting advice.
Minnesota Vikings Next Head Coach Odds
Odds as of January 11th
The top two on the leaderboard suggest the Vikings should go the offensive-minded route, and perhaps that frees the roster of that hard line approach from Zimmer, which got grating at the end.
Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy says he got this play design from watching this old Rose Bowl game. Michigan ran it over & over in a 49-0 win over USC pic.twitter.com/0uGYxxUnST
— Kevin Boilard (@KevinBoilard) February 3, 2020
Eric Bieniemy has been touted as a hot HC candidate for years now, and this might be his opportunity, if he wants it. Kansas City’s offensive coordinator is credited with helping shape Patrick Mahomes into the world-crushing pivot that he is today.
The second-best odds go to Buffalo Bills OC Brian Daboll, who has also done some QB whispering, developing Josh Allen into an MVP-level force, on par with Mahomes.
Both have clearly benefitted from a franchise pivot at their disposal, and barring a major upgrade, they’ll be at about average if they keep Cousins.
Justin Jefferson burnt everyone ✌️
50 YARD TD.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 7, 2021
The skill position players, however, are a dream: Justin Jefferson had the NFL’s best non-Cooper Kupp receiving season, and Adam Thielen is still a supercharged second option. The backfield also boasts Dalvin Cook. Bringing in a mastermind on this chess board could be scary, and perhaps the option they need.
Also lurking further down the board are Doug Pederson, ex-head coach of the Eagles and Kellen Moore, currently the OC of the NFL’s highest-scoring team and total yards leader in the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s rare that young, talented head coaches coming off back-to-back winning seasons are available on the open market. Such is case with ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores who was canned this week, despite bouncing back from a 1-7 start to contend for a playoff position.
This BS narrative that Brian Flores doesn’t connect with people is low blow central. What a mistake by the Dolphins
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) January 11, 2022
A pair of defensive coordinators in Arizona’s Todd Bowles (+1025) and Indianapolis’ Matt Eberflus (+1400) also dot the board. Should any of them assume the position, they’ll be inheriting a defense that has faded in Zimmer’s 8-year tenure.
Minnesota finished the season ranked 24th in points allowed (426), 27th in yards per play (5.7), 26th in rushing yards allowed (130.7), 28th in passing yards allowed (252.9) and 26th in yards allowed after the catch (2,049).
Vikings’ New Head Coach Prediction
An optimist would tell you the Vikes might just need someone who can get the team to execute in the clutch.
This year’s edition finished 8-9, but a whopping 14 games were decided by a single possession. Minnesota lost eight of those games — one off the NFL record for one-possession losses in a season.
If the Vikings flip even two of those, they’re 10-7 and easily into the postseason.
Vikings loss helps Eagles in NFC Wildcard race. 📈 pic.twitter.com/tImondH0U6
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) December 5, 2021
Unlike previous years, where only retread names were available, there are an abundance of good candidates that can step into this situation and potentially turn it around.
As much as I like Flores, and stunned he’s available, it’s smart for Minny to play to their current strengths, which is a legit offense. If the coaching staff can even restore the D to league average, this team will be back in the playoffs after missing three times in the last four seasons.
— Rick Sosa (@sosarick) January 11, 2022
While Bieniemy is a good bet, Pederson can step into this mid-level rebuild, and with Nick Foles as his Super Bowl-winning pivot he has proven he can succeed with average QB play. I like his value in this spot.
Looking for a longshot? Titans OC Todd Downing (+2125) just helped Tennessee clinch top seed in the AFC without Derrick Henry for half the year, without AJ Brown and Julio Jones for long stretches, and with Ryan Tannehill at QB.
- The Pick: Pederson (+775)