Okay this whole offensive coordinator fiasco has gotten out of hand. I will be the first to say I thought I knew something about the Vikings choice for the OC job. I figured they would rehire Stefanski after Stefanski was unable to cash in with Cleveland for their head coaching job. Then as a backup I thought Mike Mularkey was an option, because of his “old school” style of play calling that caught the eye of Mike Zimmer. Dirk Koetter was also an option at one point. I liked him as a candidate because of the success he had with Tampa Bay’s offense. The Vikings need an offensive coordinator that can be like a secondary head coach, but strictly for the offense and without a challenge flag. Koetter and Mularkey both offer that as both have had stints as NFL head coaches. Well after the news that broke Tuesday about all three of these gentleman, I can honestly say I am bamboozled.
Stefanski: 2nd Head Coaching Interview with Cleveland/Contract Expiration.
Kevin Stefanski had a lot of fans excited after a brief three game stint as the OC for this team. Stefanski had some momentum to get the OC job last year, but the Vikings chose to go with the flashy hire in John DeFlippo. Stefanski seemed like the safest bet to get the job this season. After all, wouldn’t hiring Stefanski be a win-win for the Vikings and Kevin? Stefanski would get an entire offseason to implement his system, and then he would be able to flaunt his play calling ability all year long. The Vikings would get to retain a coach who has been with the team for 12 years, and also get to keep a potential star in the making for another season. Well, while this seems like an obvious decision, Stefanski seems to be a goner. The young coach’s deal with the Vikings expired Tuesday the 8th. On Tuesday, instead of signing an extension to stay in Minnesota, Kevin was in Cleveland interviewing with the Browns for the second time. The Vikings could still end up with the young play caller, but the message seems to be that Kevin will be taking his talents to Cleveland.
Mularkey: Hired as Tight Ends Coach for Falcons.
As I mentioned above, Mularkey runs an old school style of offense. He has the “run first” mentality Mike Zimmer wants. Mularkey coached the Titans for a season, and took them to the playoffs using the “exotic smash-mouth.” Mike Zimmer knows the Mularkey would run the ball aggressively, and when in Tennessee the coach did average 126 yards/game, which was 7th best in the league. However, they were near the bottom of most other categories. The question could be asked if with a better quarterback and better wide receivers if this could be changed. It doesn’t need to be asked now. Mularkey has been hired as the tight ends coach for the Falcons. The Vikings backup plan is now unavailable. Well, what about plan C?
Koetter: Hired as Offensive Coordinator of Falcons.
That’s right everyone. The Falcons have poached both candidates from the Vikings. Koetter was the head coach for the Buccaneers for three seasons, and had the 18th ranked offense in 2016, the 9th ranked in 2017, and the 3rd ranked in 2018. The issue with these ranking is they are just the total yard rankings. When it comes to running the ball (what Zimmer demands), the Bucs ranked 24th, 28th, and 29th. Now the Bucs didn’t have a defense, and maybe Koetter could call great games with Zimmer’s defense controlling the opposition. We will never know. Koetter accepted the Falcons’ offer for him to become their new offensive coordinator and now the Vikings are left wondering who to hire.
The Vikings are finding themselves in quite the predicament this offseason. All of the “hot” names are getting head coaching jobs, and all of the “old-timey” candidates are being swooped up. The names I would consider the Vikings still hiring are Kevin Stefanski and Hue Jackson. And let me tell you it’s looking like Hue may be coming to town. Stefanski could have a desire to stay in Minnesota, where he has lived for 12 years, and he may steal Zimmer’s job next year. If Stefanski’s offense really is great and the team falls short of a Super Bowl, or blows a playoff game again, Zimmer would most likely be gone. Stefanski would get a job and he would already have his system in place, plus a playoff ready roster. The other option isn’t as bad as everyone wants to think. Hue Jackson has had success as an offensive coordinator. Look at his stints in Oakland and Cincinnati. If Jackson does come to Minnesota, the Vikings would have the same duo of play callers as the Bengals did when they were making the playoffs year after year. And as long as we win in the playoffs, that seems great.