After firing team's OC, coach Mike Zimmer to be more involved in offense

EAGAN, Minn. -- Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he plans to become more involved with Minnesota's offense after firing offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after 13 games on Tuesday.

Zimmer addressed DeFilippo's dismissal the day after the Vikings lost 21-7 on Monday Night Football at the Seattle Seahawks. While this decision appeared to be building for a while based on Zimmer saying he didn't like the direction the offense was headed over the past four or five weeks, the coach was adamant that not one game nor one person was responsible for the current state of affairs.

"At the end of the day, it is a production business," Zimmer said. "It's difficult. It's hard thinking about it, hard making the decision, hard trying to. I have a lot of respect for John. I think he is a very, very brilliant mind. But we weren't producing is the end of it."

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski will take over offensive coordinator duties on an interim basis during the Vikings' remaining games this season. Stefanski, whom the Vikings blocked from interviewing to be the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants last offseason, has been with the franchise since 2006.

Stefanski's level of familiarity with the team, having coached quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends in Minnesota, provided the benefit of familiarity as he embarks on calling plays for the first time in his professional career.

"I think the biggest thing with Kevin is he has been here for a long time, so he knows how we do things here, No. 1," Zimmer said. "No. 2, I think he has a good grasp of his players. Kevin is a very brilliant guy. I interviewed him for the coordinator job this past offseason. We've got a lot of smart guys in that room.

"I will try to help him the best I can and so will everybody else, and hopefully the players will too."

The Vikings (6-6-1) are on the cusp of the postseason, slotted as the sixth seed in the NFC playoff picture with three games remaining. The sense of urgency that comes with these final games as Minnesota aims to solidify its playoff positioning made Zimmer want to "shake things up" among his staff and while the offense pivots in a different direction.

Stefanski will be able to use his experience over the next three games to essentially audition to remove the interim tag from his title after this season. Zimmer would not say whether the team has plans to conduct a search for its next offensive coordinator regardless.

"I don't know; we'll see how things develop here," Zimmer said. "Obviously, it would be in his best interest to do well."

In the end, Zimmer shoulders responsibility for the way things played out with his third offensive coordinator since 2016. The decision to relieve DeFilippo of his duties and the timing that came along with it were difficult, but as Zimmer confirmed, this was his decision alone.

"I went around and around about it, because I feel like I hired him, it's my job to try to help him continue to get better," Zimmer said. "I obviously didn't do a good enough job there. I've always felt like if you hire a guy you should stick with him and try to help him and help him mature as a coach. This one unfortunately with the timing and the situation with the last three ballgames here, with us still having an opportunity to do something, I felt like I don't want the season to be wasted. Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but these three games, to me, are very, very critical, and we need to play good.

"Again, it's not just one person, it doesn't fall all on him; it falls on myself and everybody else that has anything to do with this team, because we didn't get it done. It was an extremely difficult day and extremely difficult decision."