Patriots Request Interview with Vikings Coach

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFL’s annual coaching carousel is alive and well, and a Minnesota Vikings coach has been summoned to interview in New England.

That’s Keenan McCardell, the team’s wide receiver coach who played a whopping 16 seasons in the NFL from 1992 to 2007.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Wednesday morning, “The Patriots have requested permission to speak with Vikings WRs coach Keenan McCardell for their OC position, sources say. He joins a growing list of candidates that also includes Bama OC Bill O’Brien.”

Patriots Request Interview with Vikings Coach

McCardell joined the Vikings coaching staff in 2021, and when the franchise cleaned house with new general management and coaches last year, McCardell was the last man standing for coaching holdovers. Even beloved men like Andre Patterson trekked to new teams. But McCardell stayed, pairing with first-year skipper Kevin O’Connell.

Patriots Request Interview
Jaguars #12, Dede Westbrook gets instructions from wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell during Tuesday morning’s minicamp session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their first day of 2019 mandatory minicamp at the practice fields by TIAA Bank Field Tuesday, June 11, 2019. © Bob Self via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

New England didn’t employ formal offensive or defensive coordinators in 2022, instead using defacto personalities like Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. The strange strategy resulted in an 8-9 record, exclusion from the postseason, and further hardships during life after Tom Brady.

Well, it’s apparently the time for a return to normative procedures, as legendary head coach Bill Belichick is talking to men like McCardell and Bill O’Brien.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

With the Vikings, McCardell has an absolutely sterling reputation — probably why New England wants to chat with the 53-year-old. He’s credited with polishing Justin Jefferson, who is weeks away from winning the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award. He also reportedly “pounded the table” during last year’s draft process for Jalen Nailor, Minnesota’s current WR5. The Vikings director of college scouting, Mike Sholiton, said about Nailor and McCardell last spring, “We’re always looking for guys that can finish and score. I know Keenan was in there pounding the table for him.”

Nailor contributed adeptly to the Vikings offense down the stretch of 2022.

New Viking Claims He's the Fastest Dude on Team
Keenan McCardell and Jalen Nailor at Vikings camp in the summer of 2022. Nailor was a 2022 rookie from Michigan State University.

Last January, the Vikings experienced front office and coaching upheaval, and Vikings players called up McCardell to act as one of the lone coaching survivors. Wide receiver Adam Thielen stated, “I’m kinda hoping coach McCardell stays around because that’s the kind of guy he is.”

Thielen elaborated:

He really made me a better football player this year, and for that reason. If you did something really well, he expected that out of you. He would tell you, ‘That is the standard, this is what we’re looking for right here.’ And if you didn’t meet that standard, he would let you know and say ‘C’mon, what are you doing? We need more out of you.’ So I’m hoping he stays around. I’m standing on the table for him, because he made us, as a receiver unit, better football players.

– Adam Thielen | on Unrestricted with Ben Leber, 2022

The Vikings beat the Patriots on Thanksgiving night, 33-26.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).