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3 Reasons Mike Zimmer Will Win Coach Of The Year

Mike Zimmer will win Keith Allison via Flickr


3 Reasons Mike Zimmer Will Win Coach Of The Year

At the end of every season, the NFL awards Coach of the Year to the league’s best head coach. This season names like Sean McVay, Doug Pederson, and Mike Zimmer headline the list. There are plenty of reasons why Mike Zimmer will win the Coach of the Year award.

The Vikings now sit at 12-3, one year removed from an 8-8 season. Mike Zimmer has the Vikings as a favorite in the NFC to make the Super Bowl — all while fighting off injuries that would ruin other teams. While there are numerous reasons why Mike Zimmer will win the award, there are three major ones that stick out.

Reason 1: Battling Injuries

Injuries are a factor for most NFL teams, but what separates the good teams from the bad teams is their ability to battle through them. Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have taken the challenge head-on, and they are thriving.

The Vikings have taken injuries at crucial positions. Players such as Sam Bradford, Everson GriffenRiley Reiff, Dalvin Cook, and Stefon Diggs headline the list of players that have missed time at some point this season.

In 2016 the Vikings had a problem with injuries. The fundamental difference from last year to this year is that Mike Zimmer has had this team adopt a “next man up” mindset. Anytime a player goes down; there is a replacement ready to fill in at every position.

Most teams losing their second starting quarterback in two years would struggle considerably. The Vikings have rallied behind Case Keenum and have him playing at a Pro Bowl level. The success this season, even with the injuries, is mostly due to coach Zimmer. That is a big reason why Mike Zimmer will win the Coach of the Year award in 2017.

Reason 2: Elite Defense

Minnesota brought Mike Zimmer in because of his brilliant defensive mind. Now, in 2017, we are all witnessing it first hand. Zimmer is directly responsible for the defenses elite level of play so far.

The Vikings rank first in yards given up per game and points given up per game. Minnesota has consistently shut teams down week in and week out. Some of the headlining teams Zimmer has locked up are the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons. All three of those teams have top offenses, and Mike Zimmer and company held them to a combined 35 points.

His defense is yet another reason why Mike Zimmer will win the 2017 Coach of the Year award.

Reason 3: The Elevation Of His Players

Since Mike Zimmer arrived in 2014, there has been a steady rise in the talent of each player individually. Zimmer has developed players on both sides of the ball, and this season it is paying off tremendously.

Defensive Players:

Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, and Terence Newman have all played at a very high level. Going into this season, the defensive backfield was a significant question for fans.

Captain Munnerlyn left the Vikings to go back to Carolina, and that left a glaring hole at the nickel corner spot. Alexander has stepped up this season and has thrived.

Newman has played well for his age; however, he has not been able to play every down this season. Meanwhile, 2015 first round pick Trae Waynes has played at a high level since stepping into the number two corner spot.

The success of these two in the defensive backfield is one of the main reasons why Zimmer has been called the cornerback whisperer. The Vikings currently rank second in pass yards given up per game and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Offensive Players:

The offensive side of the ball is something Zimmer tried to improve this season. The emergence of players like Adam Thielen and Case Keenum cannot be ignored.

Thielen was an undrafted rookie that was barely making the roster year after year. Last season, Adam put up decent numbers, but nothing like the year he is having now. Thielen made his first Pro Bowl this year and is the first Vikings receiver to hit 1,000 yards since Sidney Rice did it in 2009.

You cannot get the ball to the receivers without a quarterback, and Case Keenum has been a great one this season. Keenum was considered a career backup and was never supposed to be a starter.

This season Keenum has played out of his mind. He has thrown for 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns for the first time in his career. In fact, before this season, the closest he got was 2,201 yards and nine touchdowns.

Zimmer has developed both players on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The elevation of his players is why Mike Zimmer will win 2017 Coach of the Year.

Other Coaches

There is no discredit to what coaches Sean McVay and Doug Pederson have done. Both have their teams playing well, and could very well win the Coach of the Year award.

The Rams are the biggest surprise team of the 2017 season, and a lot of that is due to what coach McVay has done. McVay has the combination of Goff and Gurley firing on all cylinders. However, Mike Zimmer shut McVay down earlier this season in their only matchup. Head-to-heads should play a significant role when deciding who the best coach is, especially when two coaches have their teams playing at a close level.

Doug Pederson has the Eagles playing great on both sides of the ball. The coming out party of Carson Wentz was fun to watch for any NFL fan. The only knock on Pederson is that since Wentz’s absence, his team has played reasonably bad. With close wins versus the Raiders and the Giants I do not know if you can give full credit to Pederson for the team’s success.

Photo by Keith Allison