The Vikings Coaching Carousel: Everything You Need to Know Now

No Love for Kevin
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks on before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings will have a new defensive coordinator for the 2023 season, firing 2022 defensive bossman Ed Donatell last week. Minnesota’s defense couldn’t stop the New York Giants in the playoffs, the group wasn’t very productive in the regular season, and a new man or woman will lead the unit within a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, some members of head coach Kevin O’Connell’s staff are receiving attention via interviews for coordinator jobs.

The Vikings Coaching Carousel: Everything You Need to Know Now

As of January 23rd at 4:15 pm CST, this is everything you need to know about the Vikings current coaching carousel.

Coaches Possibly Leaving

Brian Angelichio

Vikings TE Coach / Pass Game Coordinator

The Vikings Coaching Carousel
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings tight ends/passing game coordinator Brian Angelichio (left) and tight end Irv Smith Jr. (84) during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Interviewing with: Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens loss to the Cincinnati Bengals nine days ago, and that inspired change as Ravens skipper John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman. With either Lamar Jackson or “the next guy” at QB1 — Jackson isn’t secured in Baltimore for the long haul as of January 22nd — the Ravens will implement a new offensive coordinator.

And Baltimore’s next offensive coordinator could be Vikings current TE coach and passing game coordinator Brian Angelichio. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweeted about Angelichio Sunday, “Ravens have requested permission to interview Vikings pass-game coordinator Brian Angelichio for their offensive coordinator position, per source. Veteran NFL coach helped Minnesota to a top-five passing offense in 2022.”

Angelichio, 50, has almost three decades of coaching experience under his belt and has been in the NFL on various coaching staffs since 2012, where he landed his first job as a TE coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Six teams have employed Angelichio for the same job:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012–2013)
  • Cleveland Browns (2014–2015)
  • Green Bay Packers (2016–2018)
  • Washington Commanders (2019)
  • Carolina Panthers (2020–2021)
  • Minnesota Vikings (2022–present)

Angelichio is considered a longshot to land the gig, as men like Frank Reich, Eric Bieniemy, and Byron Leftwich are rumored to be in the mix for the job, too.

Jerrod Johnson

Vikings QBs Coach

Chargers to Interview Vikings
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings assistant quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Interviewing with: Los Angeles Chargers

Other teams are looking at members of Kevin O’Connell’s coaching staff as well. For example, quarterback coach Jerod Johnson drew the interest of the Los Angeles Chargers last week. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweeted Saturday, “The Chargers have requested permission to interview Vikings assistant QBs coach Jerrod Johnson for their vacant offensive coordinator position, source says.”

The Los Angeles Chargers squandered a 27-0 lead to lose at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, creating an upcoming overhaul to head coach Brandon Staley’s staff. Some believed Staley would personally be fired, but he “got away with” getting rid of his offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in what felt like a “killed or be killed” transaction.

Johnson joined the Vikings staff less than a year ago when Minnesota welcomed O’Connell from the Los Angeles Rams. Before the recent Vikings gig, Johnson was the Indianapolis Colts offensive quality control coach.

Johnson has an exciting opportunity with the Chargers interview. He played eight years of quasi-professional football (NFL, CFL, IFL, and UFL) before turning to coaching. He last appeared in the NFL during practice-squad stops with the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys in 2016. And at Texas A&M over a decade ago, Johnson was a Consensus 2nd-team All-Big 12 in 2009. Johnson also played basketball collegiately for the Aggies.

Keenan McCardell

Vikings WRs Coach

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/Florida Times-Union

Interviewing with: New England Patriots

A fan favorite on O’Connell’s staff — probably because he was the only holdover from the Mike Zimmer era — Bill Belichick’s greatness noticed McCardell.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport last week, “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.”

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

He’s adored by Vikings wide receivers, particularly Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Last January, as the Vikings experienced the front office and coaching upheaval, 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.”

McCardell has an absolutely sterling reputation with the Vikings — probably why New England wants to chat with the 53-year-old. He’s credited with polishing the aforementioned Jefferson, who is weeks away from winning the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award.

Coaches Possibly Joining Vikings

Sean Desai

From: Seattle Seahawks Asst Head Coach / Defensive Asst

Vikings Add 3rd Defensive
September 18, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks associate head coach – defense Sean Desai before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Interviewing for: Vikings Defensive Coordinator

For life after Donatell, Desai would bring the “Chicago Bears” approach to the Vikings.

The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling tweeted before Sunday’s batch of Divisional Round playoff games, “Source confirmed the Vikings requested an interview with the Seahawks’ Sean Desai for their defensive coordinator opening. They’d interviewed Desai for the job a year ago, as well.”

Desai, 39, began his coaching career at Temple University in 2006. Here’s his full resume to date:

  • Temple University: DEF & ST Coach (2006–2010)
  • University of Miami (FL): Assistant Director of Football Ops (2011)
  • Boston College: RB & ST Coordinator (2012)
  • Chicago Bears: DEF Quality Control Coach (2013–2018)
  • Chicago Bears: Safeties Coach (2019–2020)
  • Chicago Bears: DEF Coordinator (2021)
  • Seattle Seahawks: Associate HC / DEF Assistant (2022–present)

Desai was coworkers with Ed Donatell in Chicago, as the two crossed paths in four seasons from 2015 to 2018. Donatell was the Bears defensive backs coach, whereas Desai handled the defensive quality control responsibilities. Their boss during those campaigns, Vic Fangio, is available, too, this offseason for defensive coordinator responsibilities but is not yet on the Vikings shortlist for interviews.

Desai ran a 3-4 base defense in Chicago, which Minnesota implemented with Donatell in 2022. The Vikings are historically a 4-3 franchise, and it is unclear after Donatell’s exit if Minnesota would revert to a 4-3 or remain committed to a 3-4.

As defensive coordinator with the Bears in 2021, Desai’s defense ranked 13th in NFL per defensive DVOA. And some might say his on-the-field personnel was meh.

Brian Flores

From: Pittsburgh Steelers LB Coach

Oct 31, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Interviewing for: Vikings Defensive Coordinator

Perhaps Vikings fans’ favorite DC contender, Flores is also the most well-known. He was the head coach for the Miami Dolphins before a controversial exit last year (right around this time on the calendar).

Ian Rapoport tweeted Saturday morning, “The Vikings have requested permission to speak with Steelers senior defensive assistant and LBs coach Brian Flores for their newly vacant DC job, source said. Coach Kevin O’Connell and Flores overlapped in New England for a year.”

Here are the defensive specs from his time with the Dolphins:

Brian Flores,
as Miami HC,
Defense NFL Ranking:

DVOA —

2019 = 32nd
2020 = 11th
2021 = 10th

EPA/Play —

2019 = 32nd
2020 = 7th
2021 = 8th

Flores was the first reported candidate summoned by the Vikings for a DC interview.

Ryan Nielsen

From: New Orleans Saints co-Defensive Coordinator

Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

Interviewing for: Vikings Defensive Coordinator

Nielsen, who also interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons this cycle, is a 43-year-old California-born former football player. He played college football for USC and started 30 games in his NCAA career as a defensive lineman. He later signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles but failed to make the roster in his first season and spent a season in the Arena Football League before he started his coaching career.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Saturday, “Vikings have requested to interview Saints’ co-DC Ryan Nielsen for Minnesota’s vacant defensive coordinator job.”

Nielsen’s Saints had the eighth-ranked defense via DVOA in 2022, 10th in EPA/play, fifth in fewest yards allowed, and ninth in fewest points.


Current Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was requested for an interview by the Chargers last week but turned it down, reportedly telling Los Angeles he was “building something special” in Minnesota.


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.

Share: