Vikings, OL Coach Jeff Davidson Part Ways

Vikings Jeff Davidson Offensive Line
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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.