One Vikings Coach Is Poised for Promotion

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

For the most part, the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff appears on track to remain intact, as Kevin O’Connell will embark on Year No. 3 in Minnesota.

Defensive coordinator Brian Flores hasn’t commanded head coaching interest among several open jobs — either because he doesn’t want to leave or coach-needy teams aren’t interested in him.

One Vikings Coach Is Poised for Promotion

But one man could find the exit sign in the way of promotion: wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell.

Coach Is Poised
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The beloved Vikings coach gained some offensive coordinator nibbles last year, but no job materialized. And according to the KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, that could change this go-round. He told the Mackey and Judd Show last week, “Keenan is ready, in his mind, his representation’s mind, to call plays. He’s ready to make that step up that he’s on a path to one day, maybe in the next five-ish years, to being a head coach. That is the ultimate goal. So, the next logical step is, ‘Hey, I need to ascend to offensive coordinator. I need to call plays.'”

McCardell may have reached a spot in his coaching career where it would be weird if he didn’t latch on as an offensive coordinator somewhere in the league.

“Let’s see where some of these defensive-minded [head coaching] candidates land in some spots; what direction they could potentially go. But certainly, keep an eye on that. There are no interviews that have taken place, to date, but let’s just see some of these head coaching spots that get filled, and if there’s a logical connection with Keenan, that Keenan could elevate and move on to become an offensive coordinator,” Wolfson added on January 16th.

Not Brian Flores
Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers Coach Keenan McCardell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. McCardell joined the Vikings in 2021 as wide receivers coach and is credited with helping to develop Justin Jefferson and others.

Last offseason, during the NFL’s annual coaching carousel, McCardell interviewed for OC positions with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but no deals materialized. Those conversations, though, proved the former NFL wideout was knocking on the door of his next chapter, which could arrive this offseason.

McCardell played a whopping 16 seasons in the NFL from 1992 to 2007 and is ranked 35th all-time via receiving yards in NFL history with 11,373. He also won a Super Bowl with the 2002 Buccaneers.

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].

Two weeks ago, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco tweeted, “Teams looking for an offensive coordinator should look at Vikings receiver coach Keenan McCardell. He knows the game and his players respect the hell out of him. He won’t be easy on anybody either. Pro’s pro.”

Vikings players and fans absolutely adore McCardell, so the Prisco tweet was no surprise.

The 54-year-old was welcomed to the Vikings coaching staff in 2021, and when the franchise cleaned house with a new general manager and coaches two years ago, McCardell was the last man standing for coaching continuity. Even notable personalities like Andre Patterson ventured to new teams. But McCardell stayed, pairing with new skipper Kevin O’Connell.

In December, Justin Jefferson told James Palmer of NFL Network about McCardell, “When Mike Zimmer left, and coach Kevin O’Connell came, that was one of the things I requested was for him to stay with us. I love him as a person. I love him as a coach. It’s been great to have him teach me different things throughout the season.”

McCardell, too, helped develop Jordan Addison, who posted fantastic rookie numbers this season.

Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY NETWORK.

“Having a person like him that played in the league, 17 years, knows the feeling of being out there on the field, knows the injuries, knows the circumstances […] It’s great to have him there with us,” Jefferson said in December.

McCardell also played for the Washington Commanders and Los Angeles Chargers, so keep an eye on those clubs for an OC 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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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