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- Coach of American Football
The Minnesota Vikings' season, for all intents and purposes, came to an end with Sunday night's loss in Green Bay.
One might naturally assume that the Vikings' Week 18 game against another dead team walking, the Chicago Bears, might be used to evaluate some young players with the 2022 season in mind.
Namely third-round QB Kellen Mond, right?
Wrong. At least as far as head coach Mike Zimmer is concerned.
Asked after the Week 17 game whether Mond might get an extended look in the season finale, Zimmer didn't mince words.
“Not particularly,’’ the coach said.
Mond entered the Green Bay game on the Vikings' penultimate possession after replacement starter Sean Mannion was hurt briefly, completing 2 of 3 passes for 5 yards. It was Mond's first regular-season action after the Vikings used the 66th overall pick on him in April.
But on the final drive, Mannion was back out there. They were the only two active quarterbacks, with starter Kirk Cousins in the COVID protocol.
Asked why the Vikings might not want to see more of Mond against the Bears, Zimmer offered a pretty damning response.
“I see him every day (in practice),’’ he said.
This appears to suggest two things:
1. Zimmer either wasn't a fan of the Vikings drafting Mond or he's clearly soured on the rookie since he joined the team.
2. Most coaches wouldn't say something that strong on a rookie unless they were extremely firm in their employment status ... or they know they're getting fired.
The latter feels like the overwhelming favorite at this point. Zimmer's record over his eight years is quite strong at 71-56-1 (.559 win percentage), as well as a 2-3 mark in three postseason appearances. He also signed a three-year extension in June of 2020, through the 2024 season.
That might lead one to believe his status might be secure. However, the team now has missed the playoffs three of the past four seasons, and they never got back on track after a 1-3 start to this campaign. It was at that time that Zimmer indicated he thought this team had a chance to be pretty good. Eight of their nine losses have been by one score; Sunday night was the first blowout loss of the season.
Their inability to win the close ones could cost Zimmer his job a week from Monday. And based on his unvarnished comments on Mond, it's safe to assume that result would not surprise the coach one bit.