Vikings Blasted for Not Hiring Ejiro Evero. But Why?

May 13, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero during rookie mini camp drills at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings need a defensive coordinator for 2023 after moving on from Ed Donatell on January 19th. Donatell’s defense ranked sixth-worst in the NFL per defensive efficiency in 2022, and head coach Kevin O’Connell decided to veer in a different direction.

Since Donatell’s departure, O’Connell has interviewed Sean Desai (Seattle Seahawks), Brian Flores (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ryan Nielsen (New Orleans Saints), and Mike Pettine (Vikings) as possible Donatell replacements. But Desai withdrew his name from the hat this week, pursuing the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator job, and Nielsen chose the Atlanta Falcons for a DC gig.

Vikings Blasted for Not Hiring Ejiro Evero. But Why?

Then, late last week, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero was “on the way” to interview with the Vikings. Mike Klis from Denver’s 9News tweeted Saturday night, “Ejiro Evero is gone. Per source, Broncos are releasing him from contract. (1st by Ian Rapoport). While Broncos like Evero and hoped to retain him, he wanted fresh start elsewhere. All signs point to Evero as Vikes DC. Broncos to interview Sean Desai, Brian Flores for DC.”

Vikings Blasted for Not
Dec 23, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

But shortly after Klis’ tweet, Evero chose the Carolina Panthers as his next gig. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted, “The Panthers are hiring Ejiro Evero as their defensive coordinator, per sources. A huge hire for Frank Reich and Carolina, which moved swiftly to lock up one of the NFL’s most talented young coaches after Denver let Evero out of his contract.”

And true to form for The Digital Age, the Vikings were blasted for not hiring Evero, who is well-respected around the league. But why?

1 Man for Vikings
Aug 22, 2020; Inglewood California, USA; Los Angeles Rams safety coach Ejiro Evero during a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Alex Moretto from Hammer Betting Network tweeted about the Vikings handling of Evero’s prospective employment, “What the f*ck are the Vikings doing?”

Ced Funches tweeted, “Vikings missed a chance to get better.”

But here’s the deal: the Vikings weren’t even allowed to speak with Evero until late last week when Broncos head coach Sean Payton said “okay” to Evero’s departure request, releasing the young coach from his contract. Minnesota then sought an interview with Evero, but the man chose the Panthers as his new home.

Ejiro Evero in 2021 as the Los Angeles Rams defensive secondary coach. Evero and the Rams won Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals in February 2022.

The Vikings didn’t ignore Evero, nor did they “forget” to put in an interview request. The franchise wanted to chat with him, presumably with a reasonable chance to wrap Evero up as the 2023 defensive coordinator. He just evidently had his heart set on Carolina. Life goes on.

Evero 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.

He 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 and secondary coach from 2017 to 2021, while O’Connell was McVay’s top offensive lieutenant in 2020 and 2021.

Indeed, he felt like a shoo-in to become a frontrunner for the Vikings DC gig. But Evero had a better opportunity with the Panthers.

The Vikings defensive coordinator search, for now, is down to Brian Flores and Mike Pettine. Yet, the options aren’t “that light” because of incompetence involving Evero. A job seeker just chose a different job.

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).

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