Vikings coach Mike Zimmer puts his full support behind Kirk Cousins, the search for Gary Kubiak’s replacement continues (and we throw a name in the mix) and a trade option for the Wild.
- Item: Zimmer tried to downplay talk about the Vikings moving on from Cousins, telling NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” that: “Kirk’s our guy. You know, he had a terrific year this year. We were fourth in the league on offense. We have to get better on defense — we had a lot of injuries and young guys — that’s my job to get it fixed.”
- Reaction: Zimmer is being truthful when talking about the need to fix his defense, but what else is he going to say when it comes to Cousins? The reality is that after the Vikings’ 1-5 start, Zimmer and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak returned with a plan that allowed Cousins to average only 17 throws in back-to-back wins over Green Bay and Detroit. That made running back Dalvin Cook the star of the offense and that’s how Zimmer wants it. Zimmer will never admit it but it’s clear his life has spent figuring out how to stop quarterbacks, not how to embrace them. There has been one quarterback whom Zimmer appeared to be fond of and that was Teddy Bridgewater. Zimmer tolerated a guy like Case Keenum and it seems as if Cousins gets the same treatment. Odds are against someone other than Cousins starting at quarterback for the Vikings in 2021, but that doesn’t mean we’re talking about a Bill Walsh-Joe Montana (or even Bill Parcells-Phil Simms) relationship here.
- Item: The Vikings have yet to name a replacement for Kubiak as offensive coordinator.
- Reaction: The immediate feeling was that Gary Kubiak’s son, and Vikings quarterbacks coach, Klint Kubiak (soon to be 34) would be promoted to replace his father so that Cousins wouldn’t have to adjust to yet another new scheme during his time in Minnesota. Then a report surfaced that the Vikings wanted to talk to New York Giants wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, a veteran coach who had experience working with Kubiak and knows his system. But one has to wonder if there’s more at work here considering Klint Kubiak already is employed by the Vikings and the Giants didn’t make the playoffs. (In other words, closing deals with either shouldn’t have taken very long.) Could the Vikings be waiting to talk to another candidate whose team is still playing? This is nothing more than Reckless Speculation, but it’s worth noting that Mike Kafka, the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, went to training camp with the Vikings in 2015. Kafka, 33, was the starting quarterback at Northwestern in 2009. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Northwestern in 2016 and joined the Chiefs the following season. No word on how much Zimmer liked him or if they kept in touch, but it’s an interesting connection and Kafka plays an important role for a coaching staff that has gone to back-to-back Super Bowls.
- Item: The agent for Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett requested a trade for his client last weekend and Bennett was a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game against Winnipeg.
- Reaction: The 24-year-old was the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft but has failed to live up to expectations. So why are we mentioning him? Because Bennett is a center and the Wild are in desperate need of help at the position. Bennett hasn’t been a top six center in Calgary but he certainly would get that opportunity with the Wild and one would have to think the price would be reasonable. Bennett has only one assist and is a minus-5 in nine games this season. His best season came in 2015-16 when he had 18 goals and 18 assists in 77 games. Is Bennett a flop or would he thrive with a change of scenery? The Wild might be tempted to find out. Bennett will be a restricted free agent after this season so there would be an opportunity to retain him. Want more Wild trade speculation? Find it here.