Popular Ex-Vikings Coach Is on the Hot Seat
A few former Vikings coaches are in head coaching positions in the NFL.
Popular Ex-Vikings Coach Is on the Hot Seat
Mike Tomlin is the guy in Pittsburgh. The Steelers rarely hire a new coach, and if they find one, they stick to him. In 16 seasons, Tomlin has never had a losing record. He was the defensive coordinator in Minnesota for one season. Pete Carroll has been the HC in Seattle since 2010. He was with the Vikings in the 80s. The Cardinals hired former Vikings DB coach Jonathan Gannon to be their head coach this offseason and hope he can be as successful as those two Super Bowl champions.
Another former Vikings employee is Kevin Stefanski, who has been the head coach in Cleveland since 2020. Stefanski took over a laughing stock of a franchise and turned them into a respected team, but that might not help him in the future after a couple of disappointing campaigns. PFF’s Sam Monson named five head coaches on the hot seat, and the former Vikings offensive coordinator made the list.
It’s not necessarily his fault, but the Browns have heaped a whole lot of pressure on themselves with their moves over the last couple of seasons, and Stefanski will likely be the first sacrificial lamb if none of it works out. Deshaun Watson played his first games for the team last season and was disastrous, earning a 55.3 overall PFF grade, marginally worse than Desmond Ridder and Sam Ehlinger‘s scores.
Watson may have thrown seven touchdowns to five interceptions but recorded just three big-time throws to nine turnover-worthy plays. Cleveland did major work this offseason to improve the defense and continue to add weaponry on offense, but if Watson doesn’t bounce back in a significant way and the Browns challenge for the division, it’s tough to see Stefanski making it to the 2024 season.Sam Monson
The Browns missed the postseason every year from 2003 to 2019. Stefanski took over, clinched the Browns’ first playoff berth since 2002, and won the first playoff game since 1994. It was also the best record since 2002. All of that was enough for Stefanski to be named AP Coach of the Year in his debut season.
Before his work in Cleveland, Stefanski was a member of the Vikings. Between 2006 and 2019, he had various jobs. Starting as the assistant to the head coach at age 24, becoming assistant QB coach, TE coach, RB coach, QB coach, interim OC, and finally OC in 2019. Before his departure, many fans desired him to become the next head coach of the purple team but that turned into a pipe dream when Mike Zimmer’s contract was extended following the playoff win in the 2019 season, and Stefanski received the opportunity in Cleveland.
When the Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFillippo in 2018, Stefanski was named interim OC, and he kept the job in 2019, where he led a dangerous offense built around the running game, play-action, and a deep passing attack which heavily featured Stefon Diggs. QB Kirk Cousins had a fantastic season that year. In 2017 when he became QB coach, Case Keenum had a career year.
When he took the Browns job, he was supposed to have a similar impact on Baker Mayfield, and he indeed helped him to his best season as a pro in 2020. The addition of Deshaun Watson and the subsequent record-breaking contract put a lot of pressure on everyone in the organization, and they must perform.
Watson had a bad first few games with the Browns after missing almost a couple of seasons, mainly because of off-the-field issues. He threw for 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. His passer rating of 79.1 was a disaster.
Stefanski now needs to build the offense for Watson and have a successful season in the tough AFC North that also features Tomlin and the Steelers, the Ravens, and the favored Bengals.
The Browns also added a couple of Vikings players. Dalvin Tomlinson signed a huge contract in free agency, and Za’Darius Smith was acquired via trade. The Vikings aren’t scheduled to face the Browns until 2025, with or without Stefanski.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt