Rick Spielman can’t escape culpability for messy end with Vikings

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Mike Zimmer spent the better part of the offseason in secrecy, while being raked through the coals for a disastrous ending to his eight-year tenure as head coach for the Minnesota Vikings.

But it took two to tango in a crash landing that was every bit the fault of former general manager Rick Spielman as much as it was Zimmer’s.

Spielman’s questionable personnel decisions coupled with a lack of communication with Zimmer contributed to things nosediving and the Vikings missing the playoffs in back-to-back years.

And no amount of jiggling and wiggling can absolve him from culpability in the disaster.

 

NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, Zimmer’s friend, alluded to the communication issues back in January, when he revealed Zimmer and Spielman hadn’t spoken in months. Not long after those comments, Zimmer’s girlfriend, Katarina Elizabeth Miketin, echoed Sanders’ statements of clear dysfunction within the Vikings’ organization.

“What about the GM having a relationship with the organization? Not talking to your coach for three months? Rick, Back-peddling and “spin” have always been your “game,” Miketin said in a now deleted Twitter post.

And these aren’t just a couple of Zimmer allies spouting off, either.

You don’t have to look far to see the cracks at the top of the organization, especially when it pertained to the draft.

Look no further than the third round of the 2021 NFL draft. Spielman took a chance on quarterback Kellen Mond, who Zimmer never connected with from the start.

The former head coach seemed completely disinterested in the rookie, and it was obvious he was never a fan of the draft pick. It all culminated into Zimmer outright telling the media he wasn’t interested in seeing Mond in action.

And then there was offensive guard Wyatt Davis, who was allegedly a rogue draft pick by Spielman.

“Do you want to know what I heard at the combine? That was a Rick Spielman special, where he didn’t listen to anyone else in the room on Wyatt Davis,” ESPN’s Courtney Cronin said, during an appearance on the Purple Insider podcast. “He went after his guy. Two scouts I talked to in the Minnesota Vikings organization said that this guy wasn’t even a backup grade for them. Okay? That’s what the reality of the situation was.”

Communication is key for any successful NFL team, and the Vikings dropped the ball under the guidance of Spielman.

There were obvious first-round bombs as well with players like receiver Laquon Treadwell and even center Garrett Bradbury, who hopes to turn things around in 2022.

But to be fair, there will always be misses for anyone that sits in the general manager seat for 10 years, regardless of the situation. It comes with the territory.

Sometimes, it really is just a roll of the dice.

And it wasn’t all bad in Minnesota, either. The team did come away with gems like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen (undrafted), Dalvin Cook, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and even a possible future Hall of Famer in Harrison Smith.

There’s enough jiggling and wiggling room for that success, at the very least.

But it was a failed regime from the top to bottom considering the inability to capitalize more consistently on the football talent. Things got increasingly stale for fans and players long before ownership felt the need to drop the guillotine.

After spending nearly a decade together with only one NFC championship appearance to show for it, perhaps Zimmer and Spielman both felt the same.

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