Offensive-Minded Head Coaching Candidates for Vikings

Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News

It’s time to look forward. This is a message for the Wilf family, not for fans and analysts. It is time for the Minnesota Vikings organization to look forward and move on from their current plan, one that’s been in execution for nearly a decade and obviously isn’t working under current head coach, Mike Zimmer.

The team was forced to start its rebuild last offseason (WR/CB) and has some nice pieces in important spots, already. With the right changes, the turnaround in Minnesota could come much quicker than others normally would.

Find Offensive-Minded Head Coach

The first right change, is firing Mike Zimmer. In a lot of ways, 2020 has been out of Mike Zimmer’s control. He’s working with a young and inexperienced defense, in a shortened and pandemic-ridden season. It’s that reliance on defense and constant inconsistency on offense, however, that makes his departure so much more justified.

It’s too bad Kevin Stefanski was stolen from underneath our noses one season too early. Zimmer would’ve been fired already, if Stefanski were still available to take over. But, living in the past isn’t going to help us get where we need to be. Here are offensive coaches who are available and seem ready to lead their own NFL football team

Eric Bieniemy – OC – Kansas City Chiefs (Early Favorite)

Bienemy got his NFL start with the Minnesota Vikings, as Adrian Peterson’s running backs coach, before eventually taking the offensive coordinator position at the University of Colorado. In 2012, he joined Andy Reid in Kansas City and everything is history from there.

Now, Bieniemy is the hottest topic around head coaching conversations in the NFL. He doesn’t call the plays in Kansas City, but neither did Matt Nagy or Doug Pederson when they coached under Reid. Both guys now have NFL head coaching jobs, the latter of which has a Super Bowl title.

I don’t know much about Bieniemy but I’m not worried about his experience as a play-caller. Who says he even needs to call plays for the Minnesota Vikings? It’s about scheme and the ability to stay consistent year-in and year-out with those offensive schemes. That’s what we’ve been missing during the Mike Zimmer era in Minnesota.

Here’s what Reid had to say about Bieniemy during Super Bowl media day last year.

“His role is the same (as Pederson and Nagy),” Reid said Thursday leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. “He does all the stuff the other coordinators do — the game plans and so on. He’s the one (who) signals and calls the plays and in communication with the quarterbacks. He’s in every quarterback meeting, all the stuff all the other guys do.

Andy Reid on Eric Bieniemy
Brian Daboll – OC – Buffalo Bills (Dark Horse Pick)

I had no idea who Brian Daboll was until Stefon Diggs was traded to Buffalo. After some digging, I have to label him as the dark horse candidate. He’s worked under the most respected coaches in football, including Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini and Andy Reid. They all rave about this guy’s smarts and work ethic.

He calls plays and works with quarterbacks. Not only does he work with them, he’s helped make Josh Allen into a good one. The Bills play on Monday Night Football this week and leading up to that game, Allen is 2nd in the NFL in passing yards (1,589) and TD passes (14). The Bills are also 8th in passing attempts (194), according to The Buffalo News.

Not only is he respected by colleagues and other coaches around the NFL, but his players love him too, especially Stefon Diggs.

“I’ve had a series of coaches, OCs, head coaches, position coaches, I’ve had some great guys, and he’s definitely at the top of the list as far as having a creative mind, and not necessarily being a players’ coach but understanding the game and understanding what works,” Diggs told reporters. “He lets guys play to their strengths and lets guys just be themselves.”

Stefon Diggs on Brian Daboll
Greg Roman – OC – Baltimore Ravens

Roman is a tough one… Whenever the Baltimore offense is clicking, he’s at the top of head coaching candidate lists. When it’s not, he seems to be the first one who gets the blame. Greg would be the complete opposite of Mike Zimmer because he often gets criticized in Baltimore for not running the ball enough… but how do you argue with keeping the ball in Lamar Jackson’s hands?

John Harbaugh calls him one of the best play callers in football.

“Nobody looks at the play-calling more than Greg Roman, who in my opinion is one of the best play-callers in the National Football League and has proven that.”

John Harbaugh on Greg Roman
Josh McDaniels – OC – New England Patriots

There isn’t much to say about Josh McDaniels that isn’t already known. He was the kid genius who ran the New England Patriots offense to multiple Super Bowls in the mid-2000’s.

Then, he got his first head coaching shot with the Denver Broncos…. and sucked. He eventually went back to New England with a new perspective on life. All of this happened nearly a decade ago, but until McDaniels gets his 2nd chance, he’ll always be in these conversations.

Lincoln Riley – HC – Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley is the young offensive minded head coach that a lot of teams are looking for, in 2020. From Sean McVay to Kyle Shanahan to Kliff Kingsbury, young high-flying coaches are all the rage. Riley is currently at the top of that college list of NFL candidates.

In his four seasons at Oklahoma, Riley owns a 38-8 record and you couldn’t ask for more consistency. He’s gone 12-2 in all three of his completed seasons and has also lost his bowl game in all three. In a shortened 2020, however, he’s 2-2.

Riley, like all of the college candidates, would be one of the riskiest hires for the Minnesota Vikings.

Other Candidates:

Byron Leftwich – OC – Bucs: I have to mention Leftwich because he is in every single blog and article written about future head coaches. If he’s the next great NFL Head Coach, then I’m all in. His offense has looked sluggish at times, early this season with Tom Brady at the helm. That will have to turn around for him to get serious consideration.

Arthur Smith – OC – Titans: Arthur Smith is very intriguing because he runs what is considered a “modernized” zone rushing scheme in Tennessee, where Derrick Henry has obviously flourished. If the Minnesota Vikings want to keep their offensive zone rushing attack, Smith is a perfect candidate.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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