Kevin Stefanski doesn’t want to return to the Vikings. At least that’s the latest speculation.
According to a report by Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press, Stefanski will not be returning to the Vikings next season. Not only is he not returning, a new candidate has emerged atop the team’s wish list for offensive coordinator.
It seems clear that interim Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, whose contract ends Tuesday, isn’t returning. That, by the way, looks like Stefanski’s choice, not the team’s.
Stefanski has been with the organization since 2006. The 36 year-old took over as the interim offensive coordinator after John DeFilippo was fired on Dec. 11. The Vikings went 2-1 over the final three games with Stefanski as the play-caller.
The team’s longest-tenured coach, Stefanski (reportedly) appears to be more interested in other opportunities. He interviewed for the Cleveland Browns head coaching job on Friday.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said in his season-ending press conference earlier this week that the team would have a decision on Stefanski made by Tuesday, the day his contract expires. Well, it appears now we may have some insight into that decision.
If the rumor is indeed true, the Vikings will need to begin searching for their fifth offensive coordinator in the past six years. Apparently one coach is already in the team’s cross-hairs, and he’s a former Viking.
The report by Walters named Mike Mularkey at the team’s top choice to take over the offense. Mularkey, who has already interviewed with the Steelers and Falcons for their offensive coordinator positions, did not coach in the league this past season. He was most recently head coach of the Tennessee Titans in 2017.
Mularkey, 57, is a former NFL tight end that played six seasons with the Vikings during the 1980’s. The Fort Lauderdale, FL native began his coaching career began in 1993 as an offensive/defensive line coach at Concordia University in Saint Paul.
From there he landed a job in the NFL as a tight ends coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After two seasons in Tampa he made a lateral move to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the same position. After five years at the Steelers TE coach he was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Since then he’s been a head coach, as well as an offensive coordinator, on several occasions. Here’s a look at his NFL coaching resume:
Mularkey coaching history
- Tennessee Titans (2015-2017) 20-21 record
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2012) 2-14 record
- Buffalo Bills (2004-2005) 14-18 record
- Atlanta Falcons (2008-2011)*
- Miami Dolphins (2006)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (2001-2003)
*Named offensive coordinator of the year in 2010
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-2000)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994-1995)
Mularkey has had more success as an offensive coordinator than a head coach. As an NFL head coach he compiled a 36-53 record in six seasons with 1-1 postseason record. During eight years as a NFL offensive coordinator, his teams compiled a 78-49 record.
As far as his offensive philosophy, Walters noted Mularkey is “a proponent of a running offense and quarterback development.”
It remains to be seen how accurate this report is, but based on his resume, past success as an offensive coordinator as well as his overall philosophy on offense, it makes sense why the Vikings would be interested in Mularkey.