Gary Kubiak retires after 36 years in the NFL

Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach Gary Kubiak has announced his retirement from the NFL. Kubiak retires having appeared in nine conference championship games and seven Super Bowls as a player or coach.

Kubiak has been part of four World Championship staffs during his career, most recently as the Head Coach of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

In 10 seasons as a head coach with Houston and Denver, Kubiak had 87 wins including postseason games. Kubiak spent 36 seasons in the NFL, playing for nine and 27 in coaching and personnel. Gary Kubiak has issued the following statement:

“It’s been the honor of my lifetime to work for 36 seasons as an NFL player and coach. I’ve been on a football field for most of my life, and now I look forward to stepping away from the game and enjoying more time with my family and friends. I offer my sincere thanks to the owners and fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers for giving me opportunities to be a part of this great game and for treating me and my family so well over the years. I’ll miss the competition, the planning, game days and being part of a team. But, more than anything, I’ll cherish the friendships I’ve made along the way with players, coaches and staff. I love the game of football and will forever be its biggest fan.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has issued the following statement on the retirement of Gary Kubiak:

“Gary did a tremendous job with us at the Vikings over the past two seasons. I have a great deal of respect for him as a coach and as a person, and I’m glad I was able to coach with him. He has had one heck of an NFL career as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and I am really happy for Gary and his wife Rhonda as they head off to their ranch. We will all miss Gary at the Vikings organization and wish him the very best.”

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has issued the following statement on the retirement of Gary Kubiak:

“Gary Kubiak is leaving an impressive legacy in the NFL, and his impact will be shown for decades to come in the players he’s guided and the coaches he’s mentored. There’s not a better man in our business than Gary. The entire Vikings organization appreciates what Gary did for us and what he has meant to the game.”

Vikings’ Jefferson named Second-Team All-Pro

Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson was tabbed Second Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.  Jefferson garners his first All-Pro nod in his rookie campaign after a record-setting season in 2020.

The Associated Press NFL All-Pro teams are voted on by a national panel of 50 media members.

He is the only rookie to be named First or Second Team All-Pro this season and one of two rookies to receive votes (along with Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs). Jefferson is the first Vikings rookie to garner All-Pro honors since Cordarrelle Patterson was selected First Team All-Pro as a kick returner in 2013. In December, the LSU product joined Randy Moss (1998) and Sammy White (1976) as the only Vikings rookie wide receivers to be named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons.

Jefferson also joined Moss and Amari Cooper (2015) as the only wide receivers in NFL history to be named to a Pro Bowl at the age of 21. Percy Harvin (2009) and Mecole Hardman (2019) were both selected at the age of 21 as return specialists. The fifth receiver drafted in 2020, Jefferson broke the 18-year, Super Bowl-era rookie record for receiving yards (1,400) and set Vikings rookie records for receiving yards, receptions (88) and 100- yard games (7), passing the marks established by Hall of Famer Randy Moss during his 1998 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Jefferson’s 1,400 yards ranked third among wide receivers, and his 23 receptions that gained 20 or more yards tied for the most in the league.

With his 133-yard performance at Detroit in Week 17, Jefferson became just the second player in the Super Bowl era to record seven 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Odell Beckham Jr. (2014). His 87.5 receiving yards per game also rank second-most by a rookie in the history of the league behind only Beckham Jr. (108.8). Overall, the St. Rose, Louisiana, native joined Moss (in the 1999, 2000 and 2003 season) as the only players in team history to tally 1,400 receiving yards or more in a single season.

Vikings’ Cousins named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Minnesota’s Week 17 victory against the Detroit Lions.

Cousins, a nine-year pro, led the Vikings in the season-ending victory as he completed 28-of-40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 127.6 passer rating. Cousins also scored one of the Vikings two rushing touchdowns in the 37-35 win over Detroit. With three touchdown passes against the Lions, Cousins became the second player in team history to throw 35 or more touchdowns in a season, joining Daunte Culpepper who holds the team record of 39 set in 2004.

He finished the season with a franchise record eight games of three-plus passing touchdowns, passing Culpepper’s previous record of seven (2000). Cousins’ 17 career games with 300-plus passing yards, three-plus touchdowns and 115.0 or better passer rating are the most in the first nine seasons of a quarterback’s career in NFL history.

The accolade marks Cousins’ sixth-career NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor and second as a Viking. In October 2019, he was tabbed NFC Offensive Player of the Month for the third time in his career.

Vikings’ Zimmer on defense: ‘Worst one I’ve ever had’

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has coached some very good defenses over the years, but at this point, the defense that he is coaching right now is not very good. 

The Vikings’ defense allowed the Saints to score 52 points, including 264 yards rushing and 583 yards of total offense. In addition, they allowed Saints RB Alvin Kamara to run for six touchdowns. 

In August, Zimmer told the NFL Network that he’s never been apart of a lousy defense. Well, after their performance against the Saints, Zimmer admitted the obvious. 

“Yeah, this is a bad defense,” Zimmer said after the game. “Worst one I’ve ever had.”

The 52 points are the most Minnesota allowed since 1963, so it’s all bad for the Vikings. 

Currently, the Vikings have the 27th ranked defense in football.

“You’ve gotta work really hard to give up 52,” Zimmer said.

The Vikings(6-9), who are on a three-game losing streak, have been officially eliminated from the playoffs with the loss to New Orleans.

Coming into the season, the Vikings had a lot of promise after making it to the Divisional Round a year ago. However, Minnesota got off to a 1-5 start, and while they were able to get to 6-6, the last few weeks have been a disappointment. Now, they go into the offseason, trying to figure out what went wrong in 2020.

Listen below as Zimmer talks his bad Vikings’ defense:

 

 

 

Vikings’ Cook, Jefferson named to Pro Bowl

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson have been selected by players, fans and coaches to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl.

Cook, 25, is selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after leading the fan voting as the top NFC running back among vote-getters. Entering Week 16, Cook leads the NFL with 1,833 scrimmage yards and is tied for first with 15 rushing touchdowns. During the Week 15 matchup against Chicago, the fourth-year running back became the third Viking in team history to rush for over 1,400 yards in a season and passed Adrian Peterson’s 2009 season total (1,383) to move into fifth place in franchise history with 1,484 rushing yards. Peterson (2008, 2012, 2015) and Robert Smith (2000) are the only other Vikings to tally at least 1,400 rushing yards or more in a season.

The Florida State product was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month after leading the NFL with 641 rushing yards on 127 attempts and an average of 128.2 rushing yards per game through five contests in November. His 641 yards were the seventh-most rushing yards recorded in the month of November in NFL history, and the total set a team record for the month of November. His 128.2 rushing yards per game and 166.4 scrimmage yards per game also ranked third in Vikings history for the month.

Cook’s eight 100-yard rushing games in 2020 are tied with Robert Smith (2000) as the third-most 100-yard rushing games recorded in a season by a Viking. With 32 career touchdowns, Cook tied Smith for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns in team history. Cook’s 15 rushing touchdowns also tied the team record through 15 weeks. Peterson scored 15 rushing touchdowns through 15 weeks in 2009. The Miami, Florida, native received NFC Player of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks in Weeks 8-9, becoming the fourth Viking in team history to do so.

Jefferson garners his first Pro Bowl nod in his rookie campaign, joining only Viking rookie wide receivers Randy Moss (1998) and Sammy White (1976) to be named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons. Jefferson also joins Moss and Amari Cooper (2015) as the only wide receivers in NFL history to be named to a Pro Bowl at the age of 21. Percy Harvin (2009) and Mecole Hardman (2019) were both selected at the age of 21 as return specialists.

The LSU product leads all rookie receivers with 1,182 yards and the total ranks eighth in the league entering Week 16. Jefferson also ranks sixth in the NFL among qualified receivers entering Week 16 with an average of 16.2 yards per reception (1,182/73). His 84.4 receiving yards per game rank ninth in the league while his 21 receptions of 20 or more yards are tied for the most in the NFL.

Coming off Week 15, Jefferson set the franchise rookie receptions record (73), breaking the previous mark of 69 set by Hall of Famer Randy Moss in 1998. With his 104-yard performance vs. Chicago, Jefferson became the fifth player in NFL history to record six 100-yard receiving games as a rookie. With 1,182 receiving yards this season, Jefferson passed Harlon Hill (1,124 in 1954), Bill Brooks (1,131 in 1986), Terry Glenn (1,132 in 1996) and Michael Thomas (1,137 in 2016) for the seventh-most receiving yards by a rookie in NFL history. The St. Rose, Louisiana, native became the fifth player in NFL history to record six 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Billy Howton (six in 1952), Hill (seven in 1954), Odell Beckham Jr. (seven in 2014) and Bill Groman (nine in 1960).

Vikings’ Cousins on falling to 6-8: ‘It’s certainly not where we wanted to be’

Two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings were 6-6 and had control of the final wild-card spot in the NFC after starting 1-5. However, two losses later, the Vikings are on the outside looking in. 

On Sunday, the Vikings fell to the Bears at home 33-27, and at 6-8, making the playoffs will be an uphill battle for Minnesota as they fall two games behind the seventh-seeded Cardinals for the final wild-card spot in the NFC with two games to play.

“It’s certainly not where we wanted to be,’ Vikings QB Kirk Cousins said after the game. “You look back, and you think about some really tough losses, one play here or there throughout the season, that you know you’re so close. That’s why, when you prepare all week, when you’re in the game, you feel that intention and intensity on every snap because you know that it really is one snap that can make the difference in a win or a loss and going to the playoffs or not going to the playoffs.

“Every snap then requires so much focus, and you need to cover your bases Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so you’re ready to go. This league, it’s just the way it is. Every game is back-and-forth, and then it tests you, and this season is just another reminder of that.”

These two teams met in Week 10, and in that game, Minnesota’s defense held QB Nick Foles and Chicago to 6 points(scored TD on KO return) and 149 total yards in the Vikings’ 19-13 victory. On Sunday, QB Mitchell Trubisky and Chicago scored 33 points and had 397 total yards, which disappointed Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

“We didn’t play very well defensively today,” he said. “Last time we played [the Bears], they didn’t score a touchdown on us defensively, and this week we couldn’t slow them down. We didn’t do a good job on the bootlegs, didn’t do a good job in the run game, so that was really disappointing.”

At this point, Minnesota will have a difficult time making the playoffs. According to ESPN.COM, the team has a 4% chance of making the playoffs, so barring a miracle, Minnesota’s season is pretty much done and will end in disappointment. Now, they play for pride.

Notes:

After missing three field goals and an extra point last Sunday, Vikings K Dan Bailey went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts and made all three of his point after touchdown attempts vs. Chicago.

With 132 rushing yards against Chicago, RB Dalvin Cook became the third Viking in team history to rush for over 1,400 yards in a season and passed Adrian Peterson’s 2009 season total (1,383) to move into fifth place in franchise history with 1,484 rushing yards. Peterson (2008, 2012, 2015) and Robert Smith (2000) are the only other Vikings to tally 1,400 rushing yards or more in a season.

Jefferson continues to shine:

WR Justin Jefferson set a franchise rookie record with 73 receptions, breaking the previous record of 69 set by Moss in 1998. With 1,182 receiving yards in 2020, Jefferson ranks seventh overall in NFL history among rookie receivers, passing Harlon Hill (1,124 in 1954), Bill Brooks (1,131 in 1986), Terry Glenn (1,132 in 1996), and Michael Thomas (1,137 in 2016). Jefferson’s 1,182 receiving yards also passed Hill (1,124 in 1954) for the fifth-most receiving yards by a rookie through 14 games. Jefferson became the fifth player in NFL history to record six 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Billy Howton (six in 1952), Hill (seven in 1954), Odell Beckham Jr. (seven in 2014), and Bill Groman (nine in 1960).

Vikings’ Mike Zimmer reacts to Dan Bailey’s struggles against Tampa Bay(VIDEO)

Forecasting NFL kickers can be very tricky. Some years they are in a groove and can’t miss, and other times, they get in a funk and can’t make a kick. At this point, Vikings K Dan Bailey is in a funk.

Last week against Jacksonville, Bailey missed one field goal and two extra points, and on Sunday against Tampa Bay, Bailey missed three field goals and one extra point, and ultimately, Minnesota would lose a big game to the Buccaneers 26-14.

After the game, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer seemed miffed about Bailey’s struggles and will decide what to do with Bailey going forward.

‘I don’t know what those struggles were,” Zimmer said. “He pulled one to the left and missed three to the right. So, we’ll have to decide that moving forward.”

At this point, Zimmer is not interested in Bailey’s feelings.

“At this point time in time, we’re not really worried about feelings anymore,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer has a lot of respect for Bailey, and he made that clear after the loss to Tampa Bay.

“I have a lot of faith in him,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in him, but these last two weeks have not been good, so I love the kid. He’s a great kid. He’s very even-natured. I don’t know.”

Bailey was not the only reason the Vikings lost on Sunday, but missing four kicks is inexcusable, so it should be interesting to see what Minnesota does next in the kicking game.

Watch below as Zimmer talks Bailey:

Vikings’ Zimmer on last two weeks: ‘It’s more relieved than it is excited’

In the last two weeks, the Minnesota Vikings have not played very well. However, the previous two weeks have ended in wins, including Sunday’s 27-24 home victory over the Jaguars(1-11) in overtime. After starting 1-5, the Vikings have evened their record at 6-6 and now have moved into the NFC’s final wild-card spot(7th seed).

Last week, they were down by 11 points to the Panthers going into the fourth quarter and came back to defeat Carolina 28-27, and this week, they were down by 10 points to the Jaguars in the third quarter. Ultimately, the Vikings got the wins, but their head coach Mike Zimmer knows the team has to play better. 

“Yeah, usually after you win a game, there’s a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ going on in the locker room, “Zimmer said. “The last two weeks, it hasn’t been like that because they know they can play way better than what they’re playing. I think right now they feel fortunate to be where we are, but they understand – I know they understand, and I’m trying to continue to preach it – that we have to stop doing these things that’s going to cost us games down the road.

“If we stop doing those things, and we continue to play with the heart and the fight and the things that we have, then we’ve got a chance to play. But the last two weeks, you come in the locker room, and it’s more relieved than it is excited. And that’s probably a good thing because I think they know where they’re at in this world right now.”

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 305 yards with three touchdowns and one interception against the Jaguars on Sunday, is happy to get the win, but like Zimmer, knows the team needs to play better if they want to make the playoffs. 

“We’ll enjoy the win tonight, but you also have to go back and look critically at every play just like you always do, think about how you can be better and how you can improve now as we enter the final four games of the regular season — the fourth quarter, if you will — we have to be at our best in the fourth quarter,” Cousins said. “We have some good teams we have to play, and we’re going to need our best football to have a shot to get into the playoffs. Proud of the fact that after starting 1-5, we’ve been able to get back to .500. As we said at the bye week, where those 10 games would tell the story of the season remaining, I think the remaining four games are really going to tell the story.”

At 6-6, Minnesota is in good position to make the playoffs. However, as Zimmer and Cousins said, the Vikings have to play better the rest of the way if they want to make the playoffs, and next week they travel to Tampa Bay to battle Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, which won’t be easy. But for now, if the season ended today, Minnesota would be in the playoffs, which is an accomplishment when you consider how the season started. 

Vikings’ Cousins: ‘Just a heartbreaking loss today’

The Minnesota Vikings have been hot over the past three weeks. After starting the season 1-4, Minnesota reeled off three straight victories, and it appeared the Vikings were moving in the right direction. However, Sunday’s result might have you questioning that.

With the struggling Cowboys in town, Minnesota had a chance to get to .500, but trailing 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, Cowboys QB Andy Dalton threw a two-yard touchdown pass to TE Dalton Schultz, and Dallas(3-7) would go onto defeat Minnesota(4-6) 31-28.

“I don’t think we played well enough to win today,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game. “We had our opportunities, made too many mistakes. Had three fumbles in the first half, lost two. We had too many penalties. We weren’t good in the red zone on defense today. Obviously we can’t get the fourth-down play to win the game. We have to get back to work. We had a good week of practice but just didn’t play well enough; I don’t think.”

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, called the loss “heartbreaking.”

 “Yeah, just a heartbreaking loss today,” Cousins said. “It was hard-fought, it was back and forth. It’s one of those games, and so many NFL games are like this, but one or two plays makes the difference in the end. You know that going in, and you feel that during the game, but we just didn’t come out on the right side of enough of those plays to win the game, obviously. Still, a lot of football to be played, but we have to bounce back quickly and get back on track. There are positives to point to, but ultimately when you don’t win, you leave the stadium feeling sick to your stomach.”

This is a game the Vikings had to win. If they get by Dallas, Minnesota would have been two games behind the Packers for the top spot in the NFC North after Green Bay fell to the Colts on Sunday.

Minnesota will be kicking themselves after this disappointing loss. There is still a decent amount of football left for the Vikings, but a loss like this is unacceptable for a team looking to make a run at the playoffs.

Vikings’ Jefferson: ‘Not having fans in the stadium, we were lacking a lot of energy the first couple of weeks’

The Minnesota Vikings(4-5) may have finally hit their stride. Three straight division opponents and three consecutive wins for the Vikings, including last night’s 19-13 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.

Before last night’s game, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was 0-9 on Monday Night Football. However, the nine-year veteran was 25-36 for 292 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago, and for Cousins, it’s all about doing his part.

“You know, for me, it’s all about playing well and doing my part,” Cousins said after the game. “I’ve played long enough to know there is not a lot you can control as a quarterback. The ball is in your hands, but so many things are out of your control. So you just do the best you can, play the best you can, and that’s where my focus always is. When I leave a game and don’t feel like I played my best, that’s where I get frustrated. Then there are games where you may lose, but you felt like you gave a great effort and played at a high level. You always try to self-evaluate and be critical, but look at it with a trained eye.”

Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who had eight catches for 135 yards on Monday night and tied Randy Moss for the most 100-yard receiving games by a Vikings rookie with four, believes Minnesota is playing with more energy.

“Not having fans in the stadium, we were lacking a lot of energy the first couple of weeks,” Jefferson said. “We found that energy: we found that swagger that we’ve been having. We came out ready to play football. The last three weeks that we’ve been doing, and we’re looking to continue to do it. “

For the Vikings, it’s about getting back into the playoff race, and after starting 1-5 not many thought the playoffs were a possibility. According to their head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are fighting hard.

“You know, they just keep fighting,” Zimmer said. “That’s all we do. We come in there and practice every day. These guys, before the game, we weren’t tight. I could tell in the locker room they weren’t tight. They seemed to go out and practice really hard. They seemed to respond to the — when we are practicing and trying to — one of the things we’ve been emphasizing a lot for the last few weeks is not allowing completions at practice defensively, and I think maybe that’s starting to show up the competition part. It’s three games. We’re fighting our way back into this thing. Hopefully. Still got a lot of football left to play.”

Minnesota appears to be the team that many thought would be at the beginning of the season. Now, it’s time to continue to build on these three victories and make that push for the playoffs.