Mike Zimmer said that Tony Sparano’s death took a huge toll on the Vikings this season (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Vikings are catching a lot of heat for missing the playoffs. A win and get in game in Week 17 against a Bears team that had nothing to play for. The Vikings didn’t even show up. That paved the way for the Eagles to get in and Viking fans everywhere are looking for answers. Kirk Cousins has taken almost all of the blame but head coach Mike Zimmer wanted the rest of the NFL community to take something else into consideration.

During his season ending press conference, Mike Zimmer said that the passing of Tony Sparano led to the Vikings regression this season:

“Quite honestly, the death of Tony Sparano really kind of threw things into a little bit of a downward spiral,” Zimmer said – Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. “Only because the fact this guy was a type-A personality. He was very innovative in the running game and had a strong voice in that room and a strong voice with me. Yeah, I do feel like we lost a bit of our identity. We’re going to get that back.”

This is certainly legitimate. Offensive line coaches are so important. Tony Sparano is one of the best in the business. He was Bill Parcells offensive line coach for a long time. Just look at the Vikings run game. Minnesota ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing. That’s unacceptable considering that they have Dalvin Cook.

Here’s the issue. Either way, you’re still stuck with Kirk Cousins. All of that money is guaranteed. Unless the Vikings can drastically improve the roster somehow, this team is screwed. Minnesota has drafted very well in recent years but those guys are starting to become expensive. Good luck riding this out for another two years.