Bill Belichick is widely, if not unanimously, considered the best coach in the NFL today. The New England Patriots coach might be the best in NFL history.
According to Prisco, Zimmer is in the top half of NFL head coaches, but just barely.
Zimmer was ranked 13th, with his inability to keep offensive coordinator Norv Turner on the staff last season creating a blemish on Zimmer’s résumé, according to Prisco.
“His fiery approach is perfect for the modern NFL player,” Prisco wrote. “The offensive coordinator issues last season – with Norv Turner walking away – stain his résumé a little.”
Turner resigned midseason last year, despite the team starting 5-0, and Pat Shurmur took over on an interim basis and was named the full-time offensive coordinator in January after the 2016 season had ended.
Of course, the offense had more than its share of challenges last year. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a 2014 first-round draft pick heavily influenced by Turner, dislocated his knee less than two weeks before the start of the regular season and is still rehabbing the multiple ligaments that tore in his knee.
From there, things only got worse for the Vikings offense from an injury standpoint. Sam Bradford was acquired via trade and played admirably in place of Bridgewater, but his supporting cast was depleted throughout the season. Starting left tackle Matt Kalil was lost of the season in Week 2, the same game in which running back Adrian Peterson was essentially lost for the season – he played one more game but clearly wasn’t 100 percent.
To add to the misery, Zimmer suffered a detached retina in his right eye and dealt with blurred vision and four surgeries in the final two months of the year.
“It’s hard to evaluate him based on an injury-decimated 2016,” Prisco wrote about Zimmer. “No coach, not even Belichick, could have sustained success through that, and yet Zimmer got the Vikings to 8-8. The year before, Zimmer led the Vikings to a division title in his second season. I think that’s more of who he is as a coach than last season.”
Zimmer will get a chance to prove that this year, but in order to get the Vikings back to a division championship level, he will have to overtake the No. 2 coach on the CBS rankings, the Green Bay Packers’ Mike McCarthy.
The other two coaches in the NFC North, John Fox and Jim Caldwell, were ranked 14th and 22nd, respectively, giving the NFC North four of the top 22 coaches in the game, according to CBS.