Walters: Kevin Stefanski Won’t Return, Mike Mularkey Tops OC Wish List

It's unclear whether the report is accurate or if it's a bunch of... 'Mularkey.'

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.

Kevin Stefanski

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.

Mike Mularkey

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

Head coach

  • Tennessee Titans (2015-2017) 20-21 record
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (2012) 2-14 record
  • Buffalo Bills (2004-2005) 14-18 record

Offensive coordinator

  • Atlanta Falcons (2008-2011)*
  • Miami Dolphins (2006)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (2001-2003)

*Named offensive coordinator of the year in 2010

TE coach

  • 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.

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Sean Borman

Sean Borman is a writer with Minnesota roots that's still somehow an optimist. He was an intern with the Vikings during college and is an IT nerd by day. You can find Sean on the golf course and on Twitter @SeanBormanNFL.

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  1. I don’t think any of us really know whether Stefanski is good or not, so I’m not that upset one way or another about him wanting to stay or go. If he wants to leave, let him.

    I have never been impressed with Mularkey’s offense, so this rumor has me more worried than whatever happens with Stefanski. Whoever we hire has to understand OL play, have a type of OL player they want, and then execute on making strong OL play a strength in whatever we do (run or pass). I have no idea if that describes Mularkey, but I just don’t see much evidence that his past OC record was all that great.

    1. Mularkey does have five top 10 finishes in points in 14 years as an OC or HC, but the latest was in 2011, which is a bit worrisome. On the other hand, there has been some speculation that Mularkey might be able to coax his former very highly thought of OL Coach, Russ Grimm, out of retirement, which would be exciting.