Zimmer bypasses questions about the future with Vikes

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MEMORIAL POLICE – After one 31-17 comes from behind victory over the Chicago Bears, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer did not want to reflect on his career in Minnesota in what could have been his last game after eight seasons.

Amid speculation he could be sacked after the season finale after the Vikings missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, Zimmer said he had not heard anything about his job status, or whether the Week 18 competition was his last as head coach .

“It’s not my choice,” Zimmer said. “It’s not my decision.”

“Let’s not go there today,” I added. “You want to talk about it tomorrow, so let’s talk about it tomorrow. But it’s not time to reflect for eight years.”

Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr, who was Zimmer’s first draft pick in 2014 and is an upcoming free agent, addressed the speculation that has been circulating for weeks about Zimmer’s future.

“No, that’s not bothering me,” Barr said. “Like I said, it’s the nature of the business. There will always be pointing. And he’s the head coach; he’s going to have the biggest responsibility. That’s just the way it is. It’s unfortunate. I wish we would have been in able to win a few more victories in the tight situations, but the ball did not bounce our way in some matches, we did not put ourselves in position. “

The Vikings finished with a record of 8-9 and a second-place finish in NFC North at the end of Zimmer’s eighth season. The Vikings coach has two playoff wins in three appearances – in 2015, 2017 and 2019. It is the first time under Zimmer’s guidance that Minnesota missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

A Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers put Minnesota out of the playoffs, but Zimmer chose to field starters in the season finale against Chicago. Even without off-season implications on the line, the Vikings had several things to play for, including Justin Jefferson’s goal of breaking the franchise record for single-season receiving yards (1,632), which has been held by Randy Moss since 2003.

Jefferson came in on the day and needed 124 yards to set the new record. After a slow start where the wide receiver had two catches of 32 yards in the first half, Jefferson caught a 45-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to get closer to history.

He was just 17 yards from breaking Moss ‘record when quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​went to Jefferson on a screen pass on the Vikings’ penultimate drive with 4:42 left in the game. Jefferson dropped that pass and Minnesota ran the ball on back-to-back possessions, including a draw with third-string running back Kene Nwangwu on third-and-14, instead of giving Jefferson another shot.

On Minnesota’s last possession, Cousins ​​passed the ball to returning Alexander Mattison on the first try, resulting in a chorus of buh from the crowd inside the US Bank Stadium, and the quarterback then took a knee to end the game on the second try.

Zimmer said he was aware of what Jefferson needed to set the record.

“I don’t care about records,” Zimmer said. “All I care about is victories.”

Cousins ​​said the record was at the forefront all week, and he reflected after the fight that he would do more to help wideout reach another historic mark. On his second touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, Cousins ​​said he wished he could “press the reset button” to go to a wide-open Jefferson instead of KJ Osborn to give the Pro Bowl receiver the record and another touchdown this afternoon.

“We really talked all week,” Cousins ​​said of Jefferson. “I mentioned it in his closet earlier this week that I’m aware of it. I did not want him to ever think that I’m not aware of it and that I want to help him as best I can. He understands as a professional that victory comes first and we have to play the game. You are not going to chase it. But we were close. He had another great match. It does not take away from the fact that he had a great match and a great season. “

Like Zimmer, Cousins’ future after the 2021 season will be a focal point for the Vikings out of season. The quarterback enters the final year of his contract in 2022, coming with a hit of $ 45 million, and if the franchise chooses to change course with its management, it may decide to move on from its signal-caller after four seasons .

Last week, the quarterback said he wants to be with the Vikings for the rest of his career. When asked after the game about potentially reducing the burden Minnesota faces financially as he accounts for over 21% of the team’s salary cap, the quarterback repeated that he wants to stay with the Vikings.

“It’s hard to have those conversations when I have not thought about it and do not know any of the numbers,” Cousins ​​said. “But I know I want to be a Viking, and that’s kind of the basis of it all. From there, it’s pretty easy to make those conversations happen when you want to be a Minnesota Viking.”

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