Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Blog Page 125

With a head coach hired, and both coordinator positions filled, we have as clear of an indication as to what direction this team is headed as we will get for quite some time.

On offense, the hiring of Norv Turner suggests that the development of a quarterback and bulking up of the O-line are going to be top priorities, as he will likely want to feature power running and deep routes throughout 2014 and beyond.  The defense will likely be a less-bland version of the 4-3 than what we have seen in Minnesota of late and talent is needed pretty much across the board.

The Vikings have a number of larger contracts set to expire this offseason which frees up a bunch of cap space and will allow them to make some moves.  The first wave of roster movement comes in the form of re-signings as teams try to lock up their own players, at least the ones they want.  The releasing of some some players (like, perhaps, Erin Henderson) might make this list grow, but here is an attempt to prioritize targets within the Vikings own roster.

THE TOP TIER

MATT CASSEL, QB:  Technically, Cassel is not a free agent… yet.  He has the ability to opt out of the second year of his contract which pays him $3.15 million with the Vikings.  Jay Cutler has already been retained by Chicago and this year’s free agent quarterback class leaves a ton to be desired.  It could be really tempting for Cassel to shoot for bluer (more lucrative) waters this offseason and the Vikings really need to convince him to stick around.  Without Cassel on the roster this team appears stuck without a plan A, B, or even plan C.

EVERSON GRIFFEN, DE:  Everson Griffen didn’t impress in 2013 the way he did in 2012, but then again either did just about anyone on this roster.  It remains to be seen how he can hold up playing full games over a full season, but the young, athletic defensive end has shown his ability to be disruptive in the backfield.  It would really be disappointing to see the Vikings let him leave without a fight as they are headed for great transition along the defensive line.

TOBY GERHART, RB:  Gerhart is most likely heading for a team willing to pay him to be a starter, or at least a key part of a rotation, instead of staying with the Vikings where Adrian Peterson is cemented as the top running back.  Running backs are no longer “a dime a dozen” as they were a few years back, so Gerhart actually stands to sign a decent sized contract as an unrestricted free agent.  The Vikings would probably love to sign him back, but logic indicates it is a long shot.

JARED ALLEN, DE:  It would be nice to see the Vikings get creative and structure a deal with Allen that sees him play out his career with the Vikings like they did with Antoine Winfield.  The problem with that is that the Vikings didn’t honor their end of the bargain and jettisoned Winfield after he earned incentives the hard way, thus burning up any goodwill they might have had with their veteran leaders.  Allen has noted how much Minnesota means to him, and maybe bringing Mike Zimmer to town changes things, but it seems unlikely that Minnesota will be the top bidder for his services at this point in his career.

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When it comes to the coaching jobs of the Minnesota Vikings things continue to move at a gradual place, but that hasn’t prevented the expected from becoming reality.

The Vikings had to wait for some language regarding Norv Turner’s contract in Cleveland to be hashed out before they could officially hire him, but reports indicate that deals are now official making Turner the team’s offensive coordinator and George Edwards the defensive coordinator.

Turner is an NFL institution in his own right that has had a storied NFL career.  His offensive coordinator stints are held in much higher regard than his head coaching attempts, but I am as excited about this hire as any other possibilities this offseason.  Turner’s resume suggests that the Vikings will turn into a well-prepared offense capable of developing quarterback talent, able to make Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph even more dangerous threats, while continuing to highlight Adrian Peterson’s power style to keep defenses on their toes.

Edwards is likely to have less power than Turner.  Head coach Mike Zimmer made it clear he plans to be heavily involved in refurbishing this defense.  Both have experience in a variety of schemes and it makes sense that Minnesota would target a guy specializing in linebacker play given their recent lack of production out of that position.

Our new coaching staff has rejuvenated optimism within the ranks of Vikings fans, but key roster moves are needed next, and that is what excites me most about these hires.  Now that we know a little bit about the direction of this team we can start the speculation machine… time for some free agency and draft features!

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The Leslie Frazier era in Vikings history will be described in history books as, well… so forgettable that it probably won’t be mentioned in history books.  That’s just the truth of it.

There were some shrouds of mystery during Frazier’s tenure as head coach, however, and one of those was the decision to hire his former teammate and close friend Mike Singletary.  Singletary was a linebackers coach and special assistant to Frazier, but his contract expires at the end of January, and he said he plans to leave the team.  He may not have had a choice with a new regime settling in, but Singletary told the Pioneer Press this was going to be his decision whether or not Frazier was fired.

Singletary’s role with the Vikings often perplexed fans and the local beat writers.particularly prior to Fred Pagac’s promotion to defensive coordinator, and his unit has certainly not performed well since Pagac’s departure.

Singletary did say that he met with newly hired head coach Mike Zimmer and noted that he’s “been a good coach for a long time.”

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Every ounce of respect shown to Leslie Frazier in the moments following his dismissal from the Minnesota Vikings has been matched by the respect shown to Mike Zimmer upon his arrival.

Zimmer is a favorite among Bengal fans and observers and they let their displeasure be known when news broke he would be leaving to fill the head coaching vacancy in Minnesota.  His players, current and former, showered him with complimentary quotes and soundbites across all of the various media outlets.  Even his former employers have come out of the woodwork to vouch for this guy.

Widely described as man who should have been a head coach long ago, Zimmer brings Vikings fans exactly what they wanted, which is a defensive-minded coach that has a winning pedigree on his resume and a shotgun blast of a personality.  While he may be just as revered as as Frazier around the NFL, Zimmer is the polar opposite when it comes to motivational tactics and sideline composure.

Zimmer has experience with a variety of defensive schemes and it will be interesting to see what he chooses to do with this roster, but it seems highly likely that the Tampa-2 scheme we have grown so used to is now a thing of the past.  We will likely see a more aggressive attack from up front and, finally, an emphasis on quality play in the secondary.

His son, Adam, is an assistant defensive backs coach with the Bengals and seems like a possibility to get a promotion if he follows his father to the Land of Lakes.  Some have even speculated that the younger Zimmer could be a candidate for the Defensive Coordinator position under his father’s close watch.

The more pressing matter will be the offensive coordinator position.  Adam Schefter has has reported that the Vikings received permission from the Cleveland Browns to interview Norv Turner for the position.  Turner, of course, is currently in limbo after Cleveland has failed to hire their new head coach after firing their previous one for no apparent reason… but I digress.

If hiring Zimmer means getting Turner as their offensive coordinator then I consider this offseason to already be on a successful course.  While his head coaching years turned him into a punchline, I firmly believe there are few offensive minds in the NFL that can compare.  Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and [insert some quarterback here] would instantly become more likely to see major successes in the future if Turner replaces Bill Musgrave.

The Vikings have yet to announce the hire.  I expect they are currently sorting through all of the assistants that are still employed, and letting them know their status with the team prior to making anything official through the media.  In a lot of ways this is the right thing to do, as I’d rather learn about my demise from my boss than from a reporter with a Twitter account.

So, tomorrow’s news is likely to be a little more dour and consist of firings, but right now the future is looking bright for the Minnesota Vikings.  At the very least, the fans seem to be happy for the first time in a long time.

[UPDATE:  The Vikings have announced the hiring via an awkward video on their official team website.  CLICK HERE to check it out.]

I can hear the clock ticking in the background as I contemplate whether this might just be the last coaching candidate I get a chance to write about before the Vikings hire a head coach. Multipule reports are surfacing that the interview portion of the Vikings’ coaching search is mostly complete, so I’m beginning to believe that the Vikings might hire someone this week.

 Mike Zimmer impressed GM Rick Spielman so much on his first interview that it’s been reported that the Vikings want to talk to him again, soon.

It is no secret Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf is a long time fan of the New York Giants. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune goes as far as to say that Zygi loves the Giants. When former Giants’ two time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells recommended Mike Zimmer as a head coach, Zygi was obviously listening.

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