Would the Vikings consider replacing 65-year-old Mike Zimmer as coach with 70-year-old Pete Carroll? In the “Don’t Print That” portion of Charley Walters’ recent column in the Pioneer Press, the third item read: “Although he’s 70 years old, there’s new buzz that if Pete Carroll doesn’t return as coach of the Seahawks, the Vikings would be a real possibility.”
Walters, the longtime news and notes sports columnist at the PP, definitely picked up this “buzz” from a source and it appears Vikings owners Zgyi and Mark Wilf are intrigued by the possibility of hiring Carroll, assuming he parts ways with the Seahawks after 12 seasons, nine playoff appearances, two Super Bowls and one championship. Seattle is 5-8 this season, but hasn’t finished below .500 under Carroll since he went 7-9 in each of his first two seasons (2010 and 2011).
Carroll, a Vikings assistant from 1985 to 1990, shares similarities with Zimmer that might not excite Vikings fans. He has a background in defense and is known for being fond of the running game. But what the Wilfs might like is that while Carroll is older than Zimmer he is seen as less of a grumpy old man. The personality difference likely would be the reason that, if Zimmer is fired and Carroll leaves Seattle, the Wilfs could look to make this a homecoming for a guy who worked for Bud Grant and Jerry Burns and was a candidate to become the Vikings coach in 1992.
The hope would be that Carroll could take many of the pieces from this current Vikings team and get more out of them than Zimmer has been able to so far this season.
- Carroll wouldn’t be my first choice. While I don’t think the Vikings are in need of a huge rebuild, I do think pivoting to an offensive-minded leader would be the correct play and Carroll would be too close to the status quo.
- Mike Sanford Jr., who was fired as the Gophers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after two seasons, has taken the OC job at the University of Colorado under coach Karl Dorrell. Considering how Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan regressed and how uncreative the Gophers were under Sanford, you have to wonder what Dorrell saw in his new hire? The Gophers beat Colorado, 30-0, on Sept. 18 of last season in Boulder, but they also lost the next week to a terrible Bowling Green team (14-10) and later in the season to Illinois (14-6). Both of those losses were at home and were largely on the offense. Sanford will get his chance at revenge on Sept. 17, when Colorado faces the Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. The Gophers will face former coach Jerry Kill on Sept. 1, when New Mexico State plays in Minneapolis. Kill has been hired as coach of the Aggies.
- Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus recently attempted to project what big-name NFL quarterbacks might be traded this offseason and what the return could be. He has Kirk Cousins landing in Pittsburgh for a 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 second.
- Former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is serving as the interim coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars for their final four games of the season. This marks the second consecutive year in which Bevell has been put into this role. A year ago, he took over when Matt Patricia was fired in Detroit and went 1-4 to close out the season. Bevell, who had been serving as the Jaguars’ OC under the now-fired Urban Meyer, oversaw a 30-16 loss to the also-terrible Houston Texans on Sunday. Bevell has taken over two teams that were a combined 6-18 and is now 1-5. The good news for the Jaguars (2-12) is Sunday’s loss puts them in position to get the first pick in the draft for the second consecutive year.
- Veteran running back Ameer Abdullah, who started the season with the Vikings and played in six games before signing with Carolina in October, had a receiving touchdown on Sunday in a 31-14 loss at Buffalo. It was Abdullah’s first touchdown of the season. Abdullah has 88 yards rushing on 29 carries in eight games with the Panthers and has caught 19 passes for 177 yards. He had 30 yards rushing on seven carries and three receptions for 17 yards with the Vikings.
- Spicer, Minn.-native Brandon Zylstra, who played at Concordia College of Moorhead and spent the 2018 season with the Vikings, handled kickoffs for the Panthers on Sunday after kicker Zane Gonzalez suffered a quadriceps injury while practicing during pregame warmups. Carolina decided to hold open tryouts on the field to see who could kick and Zylstra, a wide receiver, was picked to kickoff for the first time since he did it in an emergency situation at New London-Spicer High School. Zylstra ended up kicking off three times and the Panthers did not attempt a field goal.
- Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon has been placed on injured reserve as he battles a lower-body injury that forced him to miss eight games earlier this season. He aggravated the injury in the Wild’s loss to Buffalo last week. The Wild’s captain has three goals and 11 points this season. Coach Dean Evason told reporters the projection for Spurgeon’s absence is “not short term,” so one has to figure there is little chance he plays in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Target Field. Evason did say Spurgeon won’t require surgery, but this type of recurrence is concerning considering Spurgeon’s importance to the team.
- Minnesota had two of its three games on a recent homestand postponed because of COVID-19 outbreaks with Carolina and Florida and Thursday’s game against Detroit at the Xcel Energy Center also has been postponed. The Wild will play at Dallas on Monday and then is next scheduled to play at Winnipeg a week from Monday. That would be the Wild’s final game before the Winter Classic. The issue is that the NHL has suspended all games involving cross-border travel through the Christmas break and there is no guarantee that gets lifted by next Monday.
- Winger Ryan Donato, who had a career-high 14 goals in 62 games with the Wild in 2019-20, already has eight goals in 27 games with the expansion Seattle Kraken. That’s the second-highest total for Donato in five NHL seasons and is fourth on Seattle. Donato spent last season with the Sharks after being traded by Minnesota in October 2020.
- The Timberwolves’ are sitting at .500 (15-15) on the season after beating Dallas on Sunday night at Target Center. Their path to that point has been an interesting one. At various points, the Wolves have lost six in a row, won five in a row, lost five in a row and now are on a four-game winning streak. According to the BSN telecast Sunday, this marks the 14th time in franchise history that the Wolves are .500 or better after 30 games. Of the previous 13 times, Minnesota has made the playoffs on eight occasions.