Well, There’s a Reason the Vikings DC Search Is Taking So Long

Vikings HC Has Rare 1st-Year Assignment
Kevin O'Connell

Thirteen days ago, the Minnesota Vikings cut ties with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after the purple and gold defense flamed out of the playoffs. The Vikings lost at home to the New York Giants, and that was that.

Fast forward to the beginning of February, and the franchise has not named Donatell’s replacement. So far, head coach Kevin O’Connell has spoken with Sean Desai (Seattle Seahawks), Brian Flores (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ryan Nielsen (New Orleans Saints), and Mike Pettine (Vikings) as prospective 2023 defensive coordinators.

Well, There’s a Reason the Vikings DC Search Is Taking So Long

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert revealed why it has taken almost two weeks to name a successor — the Vikings are waiting to chat with one more guy, Ejiro Evero.

the Vikings DC Search
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Seifert tweeted the explanation, “The reason the Vikings’ search for a defensive coordinator has been quiet lately is that, per sources, they’re waiting to see if they can get an interview with the Denver Broncos’ Ejiro Evero. At the moment, he’s a candidate for the head coach job in Indianapolis and Arizona.”

Ejero has ties to Minnesota’s general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell. Evero worked as a quality control coach, offensive assistant, and defensive assistant from 2011 to 2015 with the San Francisco 49ers, overlapping time with Adofo-Mensah, who worked for the 49ers from 2013 to 2019.

Then, Evero also worked on Sean McVay’s staff with the Los Angeles Rams, the same place O’Connell offensively coordinated before joining the Vikings as head coach one year ago. Evero was a safeties coach and secondary coach from 2017 to 2021, while O’Connell was McVay’s top offensive lieutenant in 2020 and 2021. In that vein, it makes perfect sense why Minnesota want some Evero — they know him.

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He last worked as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and is respected around the NFL. And when Nathaniel Hackett flunked out of Denver, Evero even took over as interim head coach and has since interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts — and Broncos.

To put it plainly, the Vikings are waiting on Evero.

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Moreover, Evero was in the mix for the aforementioned head coaching jobs, but the Broncos gig was filled Tuesday by Vikings rival Sean Payton. Denver’s media has already begun to speculate that Vic Fangio — the guy who used to be the head coach in Denver — could follow Payton back to the Broncos as defensive coordinator (Evero’s job).

Evero, 42, could suddenly need a job if not hired by the Colts or retained as the Broncos defensive coordinator, and that’s where Minnesota would theoretically swoop.

If Evero ventures to the Vikings, Minnesota’s defense will be in good hands as Denver ranked ninth in the NFL per defensive EPA/Play in 2022 and 10th via DVOA.

The Vikings defensive coordinator hunt could soon be a two-way race between Evero and Flores, who is waiting on word about the Arizona Cardinals head coaching position.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.