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Vikings, OL Coach Jeff Davidson Part Ways

In his final press conference of the 2015 season, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer thanked the University of Minnesota, revealed his players’ offseason surgeries, and announced the release of one of the team’s coaches.

According to Zimmer, the team has parted ways with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. When asked why he chose not to retain Davidson’s contract, Zimmer told reporters, “I didn’t want to.”

Davidson spent five years with the Vikings. He was a holdover from Leslie Frazier’s coaching staff and led a unit that struggled over the past two seasons. In 2014, the line allowed 51 sacks. In 2015, the banged-up group allowed 45 more sacks. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was the victim of 44 of those — far too many in Norv Turner’s Air Coryell offense.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, former Miami Dolphins head coach Dan Campbell is a potential candidate to fill the void. Although Zimmer wouldn’t comment, Campbell is a hot coaching commodity. The Vikings reportedly inquired about Campbell after the Dolphins hired Adam Gase as their next head coach. Assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley is another possibility, but Zimmer told reporters that “everyone is a possibility” this offseason.

Offensively, the Vikings underperformed in 2015. Adrian Peterson finished the regular season as the league’s leading rusher, but Bridgewater and the passing offense were far less explosive. They finished 2015 as the 31st-ranked passing offense, with just 27 total plays of 25-or-more yards.

The problems started with the offensive line, which struggled in pass protection all season. Rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings and left guard Brandon Fusco made critical mistakes throughout the year, and their status as starters could be in jeopardy next season. Injured veterans Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan could make their return at the beginning of training camp in July, but it’s too early to predict who will start where.

Zimmer did tell the media that he expects Turner to return in 2016, which should help Bridgewater’s continued development.

 

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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13 Comments

  1. Wonder if Sullivan might retire due to his back problems. Berger played really well at center this year. (check PFF) So if Sullivan comes back, he might be cut, or perhaps not start, and take a pay cut. Fusco played at a higher level last year than this year, but on the right side, IIRC. So I don’t see him being cut.

    1. I’d be curious to see how they shuffle the line when Sullivan returns. My first (and extremely premature guess) would be this: Kalil at LT, Berger at LG, Sullivan at C, Harris at RG, and Loadholt at RT.

      1. I am wondering how much truth there might be in davikes comment regarding Sully retiring. Back problems are a b#^&$! It is a shame if that proved to be the case. However, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Berger’s ranking was quite high around or a bit past mid season. I am sorry that I do not remember, but I think that he was at least top 10. Not too shabby for someone that has played all over the line and was just “filling in”. Austin, is Fusco kind of considered kaput? Is there any reason that Fusco did not move back to the right side when he was just not playing as well at LG as he was last year at RG and have Harris try the left? Nonetheless, I think that your premature guess just might prove to be spot on if Sully does return. It is also my humble opinion that Clemmings improved dramatically. I am sure that I am not the only one that remembers him getting scorched by Denver. I think that it is true that he had some trouble with outside speed rushers but his run blocking seemed to get better by the end. If Kalil can keep it up and both Sully and Phil return they could be much improved and have some depth at the same time. This would allow Clemmings some time. It is not often that a tackle starts as a rookie that is not a first round pick.

  2. I called for this a couple years ago . The o-line never seemed to improve under his watch

    1. Had the same comment a while back. Zimbabwe said he would fix it. Looks like he’s started doing that. I’m encouraged!!

  3. we definitely need to fix the O-line. i woke up this morning with my first thought of that gd miss, so i’m really glad we’re doing something. need to wash this sh*t out of my mind. i get sucked into this every time

    no idea about campebell as the O-line coach, his experience is with TEs, but then tice was a TE, too, and he was good

    the only guy i see coming back as a starter for sure is kalil, because he was picked so high

  4. I think CLemmings is a starter…a highly regarded prospect thrust into the lineup early. TO THINK HE WILL NOT IMPROVE IS SILLY.

  5. I, too, think this is a necessary move and was at least partially expecting it. I’m not convinced we have a good blocking scheme in place, or at the very least the rules that apply to it are faulty. There were too many missed assignments in Sunday’s game, and several were drive killers. The QB and RB have to take a lot of responsibility for the success of an offense, but they’ve got to have some help up front. Too many times there was simply no play to carry out due to poor line play. Obviously Zimmer feels an improved approach is needed, and is admitting this as the greatest shortcoming to the 2015 Viking team.

  6. Campbells no nonsense old school type approach would seem to fit right in with Zimmer. Campbell joined Dallas Parcell’s first year, so Zimmer is pretty familiar with him. It really doesn’t bother me that he hasn’t coached oline before, I think he would be a good addition. Dallas wants him too, so we’ll see how things work out. The big question for the players is whether there will be a scheme change in which they dont fit. That could lead to anyone being shown the door. My biggest issue with Davidson has been how none of the late round draft picks have developed. I believe Fusco is the only one that turned into a contributer on his watch and that isn’t very good for a five year stretch. He’s a respected guy around the league but this was a needed change.

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