Just one day after finishing up the 2021 NFL season with a Week 18 season finale, the Minnesota Vikings wasted no time jumping into an offseason of change when they announced they would be parting ways with head coach Mike Zimmer after eight seasons. Along with the firing of Zimmer, the Vikings also fired general manager Rick Spielman to clean house.
Some intriguing candidates could take over for both Zimmer on the sidelines and Spielman in the front office, and Minnesota appears as though it is beginning to get a jump on interviewing a replacement for at least head coach in the coming days or weeks.
Over the weekend, Minnesota submitted requests to interview over a handful of candidates to hire as head coach. All of them are either offensive or defensive coordinators with their current teams. The total number of candidates set to come in for interviews is seven. Other names could arise down the road, especially with candidates currently taking part in the NFL Playoffs.
Ranking Candidates Interviewing for Minnesota Vikings Head Coach
1. Kellen Moore
One of the youngest candidates on the initial list of candidates for the Vikings head coaching job is the 33-year-old Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator. For the last few off-seasons, Moore has received interest from teams for vacant head coaching positions. That has occurred once again this year with an expanded list of teams looking for their next coach.
Moore has been in his position in Dallas since 2019. He’s been viewed as someone who could end up being the next young bright mind to lead a team as a first-time head coach. The shift from a defensive-minded head coach such as Zimmer to an offensive-minded coach in Moore could be just what a new Minnesota general manager and front office are looking for.
Moore could bring in a unique approach and scheme to the Vikings offense to mirror what he has done in Dallas over the last few years. That could be beneficial to an offensive unit in Minnesota that should be a talented group yet again in the new year. The Vikings might think he’s worth taking a chance on as a first-time head coach, making him the most intriguing candidate to take over on the sidelines.
2. Todd Bowles
If the Vikings are searching for a head coaching candidate who has experience leading a team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator is a prime candidate. Bowles has been in his current role since 2019, leading a unit in Tampa Bay that has become one of the more dominant defenses in the NFL.
As mentioned, Bowles has some experience as a head coach in the league, having served as head coach of the New York Jets from 2015-18 until he was fired. Bowles has served as an assistant or coordinator elsewhere in his career as well, including stints with the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, and Arizona Cardinals.
Bowles has earned himself another shot as head coach in the NFL, whether or not that will take place this off-season or in the future. Perhaps that second chance comes with the Vikings in 2022.
3. Nathaniel Hackett
Hackett has been one of the names floated around for a few different head coaching positions open in the NFL. He’s already had interviews with a few other teams this off-season. Hackett is currently the offensive coordinator for the Green Back Packers and has been in that role since 2019.
The 43-year-old Hackett is an intriguing option for the Vikings, especially with him on the staff of a division rival. Minnesota would be stealing a bright offensive mind to try and claim the NFC North. But it could be a hire that would benefit the Vikings.
Hackett has received some solid praise over his work in Green Bay and helping that offense flourish on an annual basis. He could be searching for the next step in his coaching career, and that chance could come in Minnesota.
4. Dan Quinn
Another candidate on the list of interviewees is Quinn, a coach with past head coaching experience who was the defensive coordinator in Dallas in 2021. The 51-year-old Quinn has done a nice job with the Cowboys over the last two seasons, resulting in teams looking to him as a coach who could get a second shot as head coach.
Before Dallas, Quinn was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2015-20 until he was fired and later joined the Cowboys. Before that head coaching stint, he was a coordinator in other spots with the San Francisco 49ers, Dolphins, Jets, and Seattle Seahawks.
Quinn has done a nice job with the Cowboys and most notably the defense. If the Vikings are looking for an experienced coach, he could be high on the list of incoming candidates.
5. Kevin O’Connell
One up-and-coming name who might not ultimately get a head coaching job in 2022 but could down the road is the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator. O’Connell would be a young option for Minnesota to look at to lead the team moving forward.
The 36-year-old O’Connell has been in his role in Los Angeles since 2020, helping the Rams offense become one of the more powerful units in the NFL. Before Los Angeles, O’Connell was a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator with the Browns, 49ers, and Washington Football Team.
O’Connell’s name has started to appear in head coaching conversations, even if he doesn’t ultimately get a promotion in 2022. His name is a name to keep an eye on as far as an up-and-coming coach a team could consider.
6. DeMeco Ryans
When it comes to defensive-minded coaches on the rise in the NFL coaching ranks, the 49ers defensive coordinator is at the top of the list. Minnesota could take a shot with Ryans to lead the team as its next head coach.
The 37-year-old Ryans has to lead a San Francisco defense that has improved over the last few years, earning him at least consideration for a shot as a head coach. Ryans has been with the 49ers as defensive coordinator since 2021, previously serving as a defensive assistant in San Francisco since 2017.
Ryans is not only a former player and could relate to this Vikings team well, but he is a young defensive mind that could be just what the Vikings are looking for.
7. Jonathan Gannon
Rounding out the list of initial candidates Minnesota is bringing in is Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator Gannon. Like others on this list, he is a young up-and-coming name to keep an eye on.
Gannon has been with the Eagles since 2021 as their defensive coordinator, holding positions elsewhere such as Atlanta, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Indianapolis. There is the tie to the Vikings with Gannon serving as their assistant defensive backs coach from 2014-17, so Minnesota is already familiar with what he could bring to the table.
The 39-year-old Gannon is not only a young option, but his ties to Minnesota could make for a cool reunion with his former team as its next head coach.
Other Names to Watch
Outside of those seven potential candidates to take over as Vikings head coach, there are a few other names to keep an eye on who could get interviews. Some names to watch include Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Bryon Leftwich, former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and current Vikings assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator, and defensive line coach Andre Patterson, to name a few.
The initial seven-candidate pool could be a group the Vikings are most interested in currently. But they could always turn their attention elsewhere either internally or externally. Either way, the interview process is underway to find the next head coach in Minnesota and it will be interesting to see that story unfold.
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