Minnesota Vikings: Mike Zimmer should be a unanimous NFL Coach of the Year selection

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 19: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Rams 24-7 on November 19, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 19: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Rams 24-7 on November 19, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

There’s plenty of deserving NFL Coach of the Year candidates this year, but none more deserving than Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

The Minnesota Vikings are coming off their 12th victory of the season over the Green Bay Packers and they did it in shutout fashion. Sure, Aaron Rodgers and a few other big-name players were out for the Packers, but a shutout at Lambeau Field is still never an easy feat, let alone in any NFL game. As matter of fact, the shutout was the first one in 24 seasons for Minnesota.

Of course, the shutout shouldn’t come as a surprise to Vikings faithful considering the kind of season Minnesota is putting together. Specifically, head coach Mike Zimmer has this team playing an elite brand of football, possibly better than any other team in the league. As a result, the Vikings are in prime position for a first-round bye in the playoffs at 12-3 and potentially, a Super Bowl run in their own stadium.

In turn, it’s clear that Zimmer should be the front-runner for NFL Coach of the Year. In fact, I’d go as far as to say he should be a unanimous recipient of the award. When taking into account what this team has accomplished, it’s quite amazing.

Dealing with season-ending injuries to starting quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook, the Vikings still ranks as a top-10 offense with backup-turned-MVP candidate Case Keenum leading the offense. Basically, the offense has believed in the next man up philosophy Zimmer has preached to the team.

Furthermore, Zimmer has reshaped an offensive line that was among the worst in 2016 with the additions of Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, Pat Elflein, and Danny Isidora. Rashod Hill has also filled in admirably at tackle when called upon after being picked up at the end of last season from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another underrated move Zimmer made was cutting Alex Boone, who clearly didn’t fit in well with the offensive line unit, while making Pat Shurmur the offensive coordinator shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Defensively, it’s hard to imagine, but they’ve actually gotten better this season. As matter of fact, they rank out as the top defense in the league. Most impressively, they are as balanced as a defense can be, ranking second in passing and rushing defense. In reality, Vikings fans have Mike Zimmer to thank for building this elite defense over his four seasons as coach. Additionally, the Vikings coach has held on to defensive play-calling duties throughout that time, something many head coaches struggle to do with other head coaching responsibilities.

Now, there are plenty of other candidates for NFL Coach of the Year. Sean McVay is having a spectacular first season with the Los Angeles Rams, leading the team to their first division title since 2003, while the Eagles’ Doug Pederson and Jaguars’ Doug Marrone are equally strong coaching candidates. Yet, all three teams boast first-round talents at quarterback leading their teams to outstanding seasons. Even though Carson Wentz has since gone out with a season-ending injury, he was around long enough to set the Eagles up to be one of the top teams in the NFC.

More from Sporting Sota

On the other hand, if anyone would have told you the Vikings would be 12-3 with Case Keenum starting a majority of games, they would have called you crazy. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened and Zimmer deserves a lot of credit for rallying his guys around the quarterback. His work with the defense can’t be overstated enough either.

Simply put, he deserves to be the unanimous NFL Coach of the Year recipient. Contrary to popular opinion, the Vikings weren’t a favorite in the NFC. In fact, many predicted the Packers and Detroit Lions finishing above them in the NFC North and that was with a healthy Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook. Nevertheless, look where Zimmer has this team now.

In addition, the Vikings defeated McVay’s Rams convincingly, while Minnesota boasts a stronger strength of victory than the Rams, Eagles, and Jaguars. Again, this with the quarterback who would have been ranked worst of the four at the beginning of the year. Not to mention, current Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles would have been looked at as the better backup option too.

Next: Vikings are smart not to offer Keenum an extension yet!

Ultimately, Zimmer may not come away with NFL Coach of the Year in the unanimous fashion he deserves, but he should at least get a majority of the votes to win the award. Hopefully, he doesn’t just receive that award, but tops it off with the ultimate award, a Lombardi Trophy.