Ranking the Vikings’ 7 best coaching candidates to replace fired Mike Zimmer

The Vikings made complete organizational changes on “Black Monday” in 2022. The team parted ways with coach Mike Zimmer after eight seasons in charge and also fired Rick Spielman, who spent 10 years as the team’s general manager.

While the removal of Spielman allegedly “Surprised“General manager Zimmer was seen as a foregone conclusion. The Vikings made the playoffs only once in the past four seasons despite Minnesota owners Zygi and Mark Wilf invested heavily in the team. In the midst of team struggles, Zimmer’s “abrasive style” was criticized and the team decided it was time for “new leadership” after missing the postseason again.

“We appreciate Rick and Mike’s commitment to the team’s success on the field, their passion for positively impacting our community, and their dedication to the players, coaches and staff,” the Wilfs said in a statement. “While these decisions are not easy, we believe it is time for new leadership to elevate our team so that we can consistently compete for championships. We wish Rick and Mike and their families the best.”

“Our comprehensive search for a new general manager and head coach will begin immediately and be driven internally. We are determined to have sustained success and provide Vikings fans with the Super Bowl championships they expect and deserve.”

Now, the Vikings will be looking for a new coach for the 10th time in franchise history. Albert Breer from Sports Illustrated reports that “the Vikings are expected to cast a wide net in their search for a coach,” so they could take their time and interview numerous candidates. Here’s a look at seven that would fit well in Minnesota.

Doug Pederson, Former Head Coach, Eagles

The Vikings went to the NFC Championship Game in 2018, where they were crushed by the Eagles 38-7. Those Eagles were coached by Pederson, who led them and backup quarterback Nick Foles to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. It stands to reason that the Vikings would be interested in adding Pederson to the fold.

Pederson is a relatively safe coach candidate. He is 42-37-1 and has posted three winning seasons in his five as a coach, and has seven wins in at least four. He made the playoffs in three of five seasons as a coach; The Vikings got there only once in four seasons since their appearance in the NFC Championship Game despite improving the quarterback position, so the idea of ​​adding Pederson should appeal to them.

Pederson’s swan song with the 2020 Eagles (4-11-1) wasn’t pretty, but Carson Wentz’s regression played a big part in that. With Kirk Cousins ​​in the fold, the Vikings don’t have big questions about the quarterback, so it could be a good situation for Pederson.

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Brian Flores, Former Head Trainer, Dolphins

The most shocking move on “Black Monday” was the Dolphins’ decision to fire Brian Flores. Flores posted a 24-25 record during his three seasons in Miami, but led them to back-to-back winning seasons in 2020 and 2021. The 40-year-old team surpassed their accomplishments in their first two seasons before a slow start in 2021. Still , the Dolphins rallied to finish with a 9-8 record after winning eight of their last nine games.

Flores is a great defensive-minded coach who turned the Dolphins defense into an opportunistic unit that finished at No. 1 and No. 8 the last two seasons. The Vikings could rely on Flores to coach their once-strong defense, and since their offense is better than the Dolphins, they shouldn’t have the same problems Miami has had in recent years on that side of the ball.

Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator, Chiefs

The Vikings won’t just be looking for retreads during this cycle, and Bieniemy is arguably the best of the first-time head coach options.

Bieniemy, 52, has led the Chiefs to a top-five offense in each of his first four seasons as offensive coordinator. He has helped the team reach two Super Bowls, winning one, and has helped Patrick Mahomes become a star. Andy Reid deserves a lot of credit for what the Chiefs have done, but Bieniemy has been their right hand man since the departure of Matt Nagy.

Minnesota could rely on Bieniemy to make its middleweight offense strong. If he can harness Reid’s creativity to give the ball to Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ offense could be potent. Bieniemy also played nine years as an NFL running back, so his presence would undoubtedly benefit Cook, Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu.

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Kellen Moore, Offensive Coordinator, Cowboys

Here’s a younger option for the Vikings to consider. The 32-year-old Moore has been the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator for the past three seasons. The team really wanted to keep it after firing Jason Garrett and it has stayed in the Mike McCarthy era with excellent results.

The Cowboys have the No. 1 offense in the NFL in terms of touchdowns and total yards in 2021. When Moore and Dak Prescott have worked together, they have been near-unstoppable. The Vikings could try to recreate that magic with Cousins ​​and Moore, a former quarterback for the NFL and Boise State.

Moore would be the youngest head coach in the NFL if he is hired. It could be worth it for the Vikings as they seek a post-Zimmer culture change.

Jim Caldwell, Former Head Coach, Lions

Caldwell is another safe and proven training option for Vikings. He has seven years of experience as a head coach in the NFL and has logged five winning seasons. Only once did he generate fewer than seven wins, and that was in a season during which he had to initiate Curtis Painter at quarterback when Peyton Manning was left out following neck surgery.

Caldwell’s overall record as a coach is 62-50, but it’s 60-36 when his only 14-loss season is discounted. He has a Super Bowl title under his belt and the quarterbacks he has worked with – Manning, Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford – have all performed well under his supervision. Cousins ​​would benefit from working with him.

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Kevin O’Connell, Offensive Coordinator, Rams

Here’s another young option to help the Vikings offense. O’Connell is only 36 years old, but he is considered a rising star and has spent the past two seasons working with Sean McVay. He has three years of experience as an offensive coordinator and spent five years as an NFL quarterback after being selected in the third round by the Patriots in 2008.

O’Connell served as Kirk Cousins’ quarterback coach for a year in 2017 while the two were in Washington. The results? Cousins ​​threw for 4,093 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 64.3 percent of his passes. Cousins ​​has been better in recent years, but perhaps the two could reunite with O’Connell bringing in some of McVay’s innovations to improve the Vikings’ offense.

Scott Turner, offensive coordinator, Washington football team

This is an innovative option, but if the Vikings are really going to throw a “wide net” in search of a Zimmer replacement, Turner could turn heads.

Turner, 39, has a connection to Minnesota. He was a staff coach for Mike Zimmer and his father, Norv Turner, from 2014 to 2016 and has since become an offensive coordinator in Carolina and Washington.

The young Turner’s offenses haven’t been prolific, but considering he’s never worked with a consistent starting quarterback, he’s done a solid job. Vikings may like your combination of youth, skill set, and familiarity with the organization. At the very least, they can give you an interview to see if it’s head coach material.