The NFL’s Coaching Carousel Effect on Vikings

The Massive Vikings Debate Has Arrived
Lions fans cheer during the Lions' 34-23 win over the Vikings. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The NFL’s annual and eventful coaching carousel is complete. The Washington Commanders hired Dan Quinn on Thursday, putting a bow on the process.

No NFC North clubs received new head coaches, but movement was still present among coordinators.

The NFL’s Coaching Carousel Effect on Vikings

So, here’s a look at the effect on Minnesota from an NFC North viewpoint.

Minnesota Vikings

Coaches Basically
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This was a giant nothingburger, if that can be believed.

Most expected Vikings coaches Brian Flores (defensive coordinator) and Keenan McCardell (wide receivers coach) to command attention through interviews inside the carousel. And then nothing happened. Nothing at all.

Flores interviewed for zero heading coaching jobs after being tabbed as a somewhat hot candidate for most of the 2023 season. He improved the Vikings’ defense with the snap of two fingers in 2023 but will apparently have to wait until the 2025 coaching carousel for head coaching sniffs.

McCardell was considered a sure-fire offensive coordinator candidate for some NFL team but has not found any luck as of January 31st. In theory, McCardell could still interview in Washington for an offensive coordinator job, but he’s down to nubbins otherwise.

Barring sudden change, the Vikings will have damn near full coaching staff continuity in 2024.

Chicago Bears

Carousel effect
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Bears did not fire head coach Matt Eberflus, even after a 10-24 (.294) start to his head coaching career. They did, however, grab Shane Waldron from the Seattle Seahawks staff, where he served as an offensive coordinator for three seasons.

Chicago is expected to draft Caleb Williams in late April, presumably pairing him with Waldron. Otherwise, Waldron would roll with Justin Fields while the Bears traded the first overall pick to the highest bidder.

Waldron crossed paths with Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on the Los Angeles Rams’ coaching staff in 2020.

Detroit Lions

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson shakes hands with guard Kayode Awosika during warmups before the NFC divisional playoff game vs. the Buccaneers at Ford Field on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Perhaps the “worst” news for the Vikings — although it’s basically a shrug or more of the same — highly-touted offensive coordinator Ben Johnson declined head coaching jobs this cycle and will remain in Detroit as the offensive bossman.

The Lions offense has climbed to new heights under Johnson’s direction, so the Vikings, Bears, and Packers get no reprieve with his staying-in-Detroit standstill. Many hoped Johnson would skedaddle and possibly cause a Lions’ offensive nosedive like the Philadelphia Eagles experienced in 2023. No cigar.

Green Bay Packers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

Packers fans got their wish: Joe Barry was canned.

More recently, the news emerged that Jeff Hafley is taking over. Hafley took over after four seasons as Boston College’s head coach. The Packers’ new defensive leader shared coaching staff positions with Kevin O’Connell back in 2015 (Cleveland Browns) and 2016 (San Francisco 49ers). The two know each other.

Last offseason, Packers fans were high about their team’s defensive outlook, and then Green Bay’s defense never really took off in 2023. They will hope Hafley is the solution to perhaps unlock a pretty formidable defensive roster.

Overall, the Vikings staff remained consistent. The Bears have a new-look offense. The blustery Lions’ offense stays blustery. And the Packers’ defense will undergo a schematic overhaul.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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