If you’re like me, you love yourself a shit salad of an NFL team. Sure, any NFL team can be good. But good teams are BORING, what with their consistency and excellence and all of that other nonsense. What I require is gross clock mismanagement, nascent locker room infighting, and a head coach who knows that his tenure is about to come to an ignominious end.
What I require, then … are the Minnesota Vikings.
You already know about my team’s predilection for lakeside boat orgies and for gagging on their own tongue in vital moments. You know that they’re, statistically speaking, the winningest franchise to never win a Super Bowl. You may also be familiar with Kirk Cousins, king of all Jesus dorks and poster child for white Americans who think that politely declining the COVID-19 vaccine is a gesture worth respecting. But all of that shit is well-trodden ground for you, the casual NFL hater. What I’d like to do here is explain what makes the 2021 Minnesota vintage stand out amid all of that existing wreckage. So allow me to do that right now.
We’ll begin with head coach Mike Zimmer, who was compelled to hire Gary Kubiak’s son as his new offensive coordinator this offseason. This is because no other coaches want to work under Zimmer, and because Zimmer’s offensive preferences make Buddy Ryan look like fucking Einstein. Klint Kubiak, whose real name is Klint Kubiak, now presides over an offense that ranks seventh in yards per game but somehow 18th in points per game. The Vikings score on nearly every opening possession and then NEVER score again after that. They rank ninth in the league with 11 takeaways and have scored a grand total of 23 points off of those turnovers. They also rank 24th overall in third-down conversions. They have scored a grand total of four second-half touchdowns all season, three of which came in a single game.
All of those shortcomings have been evident over the past month, no more so than during Sunday night’s game against Dallas, in which the Vikings turned Cowboys backup QB Cooper Rush into America’s favorite Make-A-Wish kid. The Vikings scored on their opening drive and then never saw the end zone again. They didn’t convert a single third down after that possession, and didn’t even really try.
After a Week 4 loss to Cleveland, Zimmer took control of all timeout duties. Or, at least, that’s what his quarterback assumed, which is why Cousins let the clock run out at the end of the first half of that Dallas game despite still having a timeout left in the holster. Then, during what would prove to be Rush’s game-winning touchdown drive at the end of the game, the old man took a timeout to preserve the clock, forgot he had taken it, and then tried to call timeout AGAIN. The refs docked the Vikings five yards for delay of game for that and took their second timeout away to boot. That mistake turned a third-and-16 for Dallas into a third-and-11. Zeke Elliott went for 15 yards on the next play, shaking off multiple defenders behind the sticks before converting. It was the third straight game in which Zimmer’s defense had surrendered the lead with less than two minutes to go. He had a bye week to prepare for this last collapse.
Zimmer has been the head coach of this team for eight years and, to his credit, they’ve always played hard under him, even when they’ve sucked. But he’s a fucking dinosaur. The perfect head coach if you happen to be living in 1990, but utterly out of his element in the modern NFL. Stefon Diggs knew this, which is why he demanded a trade to Buffalo prior to the 2020 season. And now his former teammates are also beginning to show their frustration with the old man and his methods. Adam Thielen expressed befuddlement at Kubiak’s play-calling, which his agent then translated into proper ire. Running back Dalvin Cook, already well accustomed to catching screen passes out on the flank and then IMMEDIATELY getting his shit ruined by four defenders at once, was also in the category of mad-but-can’t-say-it-outright:
Compound that with All-God defensive end Danielle Hunter being lost for the season with a torn pec and what we’ve got here is a train about to make impact with a bridge abutment. It’s over. Zimmer won’t be here a year from now, and you can already tell that he knows it. They all know it. Maybe the Vikings manage to back into the NFC’s seven-seed with a sterling 6-11 record, but who gives a shit. This is a team that signed Cousins as the fabled Missing Piece three years ago and has spent every offseason blindly adding other Missing Pieces to justify it. All of it has failed, and the torrent of boos pouring down from the stands on Sunday night made it clear that even Minnesotans—goody-goody shitheads that they are—are no longer willing to quietly tolerate it. Everyone is really fucking pissed, which is as it should be.
I don’t believe in tanking. Not when other teams do it, and certainly not when my team does it. I only get so many of these games to watch every year, so I’d prefer my team win them so that I can enjoy myself now, and not get all hard for a draft slot that my dipshit of a GM will trade down out of anyway. But I can’t stand this James Dolan zone my team currently resides in, where they’re shitty, expensive, and out of date. I’d like a new coach, please. And a new offensive coordinator. And a new quarterback. And a new everything. The Vikings have spent the past few years convinced they’re better than they actually are, and the worst thing you can do as a fan is believe your team’s delusions as forcefully as they do. I won’t do that this time around. To save the Vikings, they must first fall into a vast and open sewer, choke on the fecal sludge within, and then dissolve so that something new might grow out of the runoff. You’re about to watch that beautiful, very natural cycle take place. It’s been a long time coming.