StaTuesday: Zimmer’s rank among Vikings head coaches

Mike Zimmer is the fourth Minnesota Vikings head coach to earn multiple division titles in his first four years at the helm.

With the Minnesota Vikings’ 34-7 win over Cincinnati last week, Mike Zimmer clinched his second divisional title since he was hired in 2014.

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His ongoing four-year stint already ranks high in Vikings history.

There have been nine coaches to lead Minnesota since the franchise’s inaugural season in 1961. It should be no surprise that Hall of Famer Bud Grant tops the franchise in victories, winning percentage, divisional titles and playoff appearances — and, of course, boasts all four of the Vikings’ Super Bowl trips on his resume.

So Zimmer has a long ways to go to match Grant, but the 61-year-old, who coached 14 years in the NFL as an assistant before getting his first crack at the head position with the Vikings, is on the right track.

Zimmer currently ranks fifth all-time in Vikings history in total victories but third in winning percentage. He’s also just the fourth head coach to earn multiple division titles and the fifth to reach the postseason more than once.

ALL-TIME VIKINGS COACHING RECORDS

Years Coach W L T % Division titles Playoff appearances
1967-83, 1985 Bud Grant 158 96 5 .621 11 12
1992-01 Dennis Green 97 62 0 .610 4 8
2014-Present Mike Zimmer 37 25 0 .597 2 2
1986-91 Jerry Burns 52 43 0 .547 1 3
2006-10 Brad Childress 39 35 0 .527 2 2
2001-05 Mike Tice 32 33 0 .492 0 1
2010-13 Leslie Frazier 21 32 1 .398 0 1
1961-66 Norm Van Brocklin 29 51 4 .363 0 0
1984 Les Steckel 3 13 0 .188 0 0

 

But where does Zimmer rank in terms of Vikings coaches in their first four years on the sideline?

If the Vikings win their final pair of games this year, Zimmer would own the most victories through four regular seasons in franchise history – at 39 – and the second-best winning percentage (.609) behind Grant.

Also, Zimmer joined Grant, Brad Childress and Dennis Green as the four Vikings coaches to lead their teams to multiple division titles in their first four years at the helm.

A couple of things to keep in mind when looking at this next chart:

— The NFL was two conferences — NFL East and NFL West — in the Vikings’ first six years as a franchise. It split into a divisional format in 1967, Bud Grant’s first year at the helm. Also, the NFL and AFL had separate schedules through the 1969 season, so the Vikings didn’t play a cross-conference game until 1970. No worries in this chart, though — Minnesota never finished higher than second in the NFL West under Norm Van Brocklin.

— The 14-game regular-season format was ditched after 1977 for the current 16-game schedule.

— Les Steckel is not on this list because, well, he only lasted one season.

VIKINGS COACHES THROUGH FIRST FOUR REGULAR SEASONS

Years Coach W L T % Division titles Playoff appearances
1967-70 Bud Grant 35 18 3 .652 3 3
1986-89 Jerry Burns* 38 25 0 .603 1 3
2014-17 Mike Zimmer** 37 25 0 .597 2 2
1992-95 Dennis Green 38 26 0 .594 2 3
2006-09 Brad Childress 36 28 0 .563 2 2
2002-05 Mike Tice*** 32 32 0 .500 0 1
2010-13 Leslie Frazier^* 21 32 1 .398 0 1
1961-64 Norm Van Brocklin 18 35 3 .348 0 0

* 1987 strike caused cancellation of Sept. 27 game against the Chiefs

** Two games to play in ongoing regular season

*** Coached the final game of 2001 season, so we went with Tice’s first four full seasons at the helm

^* Includes the six games in 2010 he led as interim head coach after Childress was fired