The Vikings are halfway through their 2020 schedule at 3-5. Every day leading up to Monday night's game in Chicago, we'll break down how each position has fared so far.
Head coach: Mike Zimmer
Coordinators: Gary Kubiak (offense), Andre Patterson, Adam Zimmer (defense) Marwan Maalouf (special teams)
Position coaches: Klint Kubiak (quarterbacks), Kennedy Polamalu (running backs), Rick Dennison (run game coordinator/offensive line), Phil Rauscher (assistant offensive line), Brian Pariani (tight ends), Andrew Janocko (wide receivers), AC Patterson (offensive quality control), Christian Jones (offensive quality control), Dom Capers (senior defensive assistant), Daronte Jones (defensive backs), Imarjaye Albury (assistant defensive line), Nick Rallis (assistant linebackers), Roy Anderson (assistant defensive backs), Ryan Ficken (assistant special teams)
The Vikings made big bets on stability this offseason, with Mike Zimmer asking Kubiak to step from an advisory role to offensive coordinator duties a day after the Browns made Kevin Stefanski their head coach. With George Edwards leaving for Dallas, the Vikings promoted Patterson and Adam Zimmer to a shared coordinator role, while keeping them in charge of the defensive line and linebackers, respectively. Jones, who came over from Cincinnati, had worked for Mike Zimmer's old boss Marvin Lewis there. And ownership gave new deals to both Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, extending their partnership through 2023. Especially with the coronavirus pandemic wiping out much of the offseason schedule, the Vikings believed they'd have an advantage because of their stability, while working with a group of young players to remake the defense in real time.
Where they are
The Vikings' 1-5 start came with plenty of defensive issues as a young secondary got its first game action against the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan. The defense ranks 30th in the league in passing yards allowed, as injuries have created even more of a challenge for the defensive staff. "I said this to some of the defensive coaches today, 'We might be doing our best job coaching we've done, and we're still giving up 400 yards a game,'" Zimmer said this week. "It's a work in progress, but I think some of these guys are getting better." Kubiak's offense is ranked 12th in the league in points and 10th in yards, but some of the production has come with the Vikings trying to rally late in games, either after opponents have scored on the defense or turnovers have harmed the Vikings' offensive efforts.
Coach to watch
Mike Zimmer. The Vikings' back-to-back wins over the Packers and Lions have muted some criticism about the team's decision to give him a new contract before training camp, rather than letting the season play out in the final year of his deal. But a strong second half would certainly help his case, both in the public eye and (more importantly) in the minds of ownership, as the Vikings try to keep enthusiasm for the team high in a year without fans in the stands.
10: Years since Zimmer's defense has finished 20th or worse in the league in points allowed with him as the head coach or defensive coordinator. The 2010 Bengals finished 24th in scoring defense and 15th in yards allowed; Zimmer has led just six defenses in 20 seasons as a head coach or coordinator that have finished 20th or worse. The 2020 Vikings defense is currently 25th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed.
Photo credit: Liz Flores, Star Tribune