Vikings Coach Says ‘No Thanks’ to Chargers

Aug 14, 2019; Costa Mesa, CA, USA: Detailed view of Los Angeles Chargers helmet during training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Los Angeles Chargers finished the 2022 season ranked 16th in the NFL per offensive EPA/Play, and that was enough for head coach Brandon Staley to fire his offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi this week.

Like the Minnesota Vikings, the Chargers lost in the Wildcard Round of the postseason after bungling a 27-0 lead to the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars. And because of that embarrassing blunder, Lombardi was terminated, and the Chargers need a new offensive coordinator.

Vikings Coach Says ‘No Thanks’ to Chargers

To fill the position, Staley was evidently interested in Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips who, if hired by the Chargers, would likely have more control over Los Angeles’ offense than Minnesota allows. Kevin O’Connell is Minnesota’s skipper and is the team’s offensive playcaller. In theory, Phillips probably would’ve called plays for the Chargers.

Vikings Coach Says
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips looks on prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

But Phillips reportedly declined, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweeted Thursday, “The Chargers have requested to speak with Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips about their OC position, but Phillips plans to stay with Minnesota, per sources. Phillips highly valued there and Vikings building something he wants to see through.”

The news is particularly encouraging for the Vikings because there’s an annual tradition of Minnesota’s offensive coordinators heading elsewhere. From 2016 until O’Connell arrived, the Vikings burned through offensive coordinators after various men accepted promotions or retired. Assuming Phillips remains committed to the 2023 Vikings, it’ll be the first season in about seven or eight years that Minnesota has strutted into a season with total offensive continuity.

Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings offense was sweet and sour in 2022 — mostly sweet — hitting on all cylinders when Justin Jefferson was allowed to thrive but curiously falling asleep during the 3rd Quarter of games.

Vikings Offense EPA/Play,
by Quarter in 2022,
NFL Ranking:

1st Quarter = 25th
2nd Quarter = 11th
3rd Quarter = 27th
4th Quarter = 2nd

Vikings Leaders Chat
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings leadership personalities, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the aforementioned O’Connell, also signaled Kirk Cousins’ return to the team next season in a year-end press conference Wednesday. Adofo-Mensah was point-blank asked about Cousins’ future with the Vikings, and he replied, “It’s our expectation that he will be our quarterback.”

Had Phillips entertained the Chargers job, he would’ve encountered a markedly different arrangement. Cousins will be 35 years old this summer and may be winding down his time in Minnesota, while the Chargers are led at quarterback by Justin Herbert, who is 24, and will inevitably sign a massive contract extension this offseason.

The Chargers employ one former Viking — offensive lineman Storm Norton who played in Minnesota, mainly as a practice squader, from 2017 to 2019.

Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell is reportedly scheduled to meet with the New England Patriots about the team’s offensive coordinator job this week.

Wes Phillips is the son of Wade Phillips and grandson of Texas legend Bum Phillips.

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).