The Minnesota Vikings made a number of high-profile coaching changes last offseason, but with the core group in place, have very few holes to fill. So far, this has been a quiet month for the Vikings, who recently added two new coaches to the staff.
According to Alex Marvez of Sporting News, Kennedy Polamalu is expected to be named the team’s new running backs coach. ESPN’s Adam Caplan later reported that Clancy Barone, former Denver Broncos offensive line coach, will become Minnesota’s tight ends coach.
With the changes, Kevin Stefanski is expected to take over as the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach in 2017. His transition from running backs coach to the new role gives Minnesota a fully-staffed sideline of coaches.
Polamalu most recently served as offensive coordinator for the UCLA Bruins in 2016. He was released after one of the program’s worst seasons since 2010. Like Pat Shurmur’s offense in Minnesota, Polamalu’s at UCLA was terribly ineffective on the ground. The unit averaged 84.3 yards a game (second-worst among all FBS teams) and finished the season with 1,011 total rushing yards.
Overall, Polamalu’s offense suffered through the switch to a pro-style scheme. Although quarterback Josh Rosen, widely considered one of the country’s best signal-callers, was also lost to a shoulder injury in October, his absence doesn’t explain the unit’s widespread struggles. According to the Los Angeles Times, UCLA’s offense ranked No. 96 in scoring offense (24.9 points) and No. 92 in total offense (379.8 yards) per game.
Prior to his stint as the Bruins’ offensive coordinator, Polamalu was a running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns (2004), the Jacksonville Jaguars (2005-2009), USC (2010-2012), and UCLA (2014-2015). The Vikings also interviewed former New York Jets running backs coach Marcel Shipp and current Los Angeles Rams running backs coach Skip Peete for the opening.
Barone originally joined the Broncos in 2009 and served as the team’s tight ends coach from 2011 to 2014. He also worked with the offensive line in 2010 and 2015, but his departure was imminent with Denver’s hiring of new head coach Vance Joseph. Barone replaces newly-minted offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as the team’s tight ends coach.