Running down potential offensive coordinator candidates for the Vikings

For the second straight offseason, the Minnesota Vikings will be searching for a new offensive coordinator. Here is a look at some of the potential candidates they will consider for the job of turning around an offense that ranked 19th in points and 20th in total yards…

Kevin Stefanski

Following the firing of last offseason’s hire John DeFilippo in Week 15, Stefanski was put in place as interim OC. The final three games of the 2018 season marked the first time Stefanski had an opportunity to call the shots in his 13 years with the organization. He has previously worked every position group on offense except O-line.

If Mike Zimmer is looking for someone to carry over the philosophies of Pat Shurmur that worked so well for the Vikings in 2017, Stefanski may be his man. It was clear that players trusted Stefanski and Kirk Cousins endorsed him during the QB’s final press conference of the year. Running back Latavius Murray said that Stefanski’s gameplans allowed them to “play fast.” Three games is hardly enough of a sample size to be sure whether Stefanski could take them to the next level, but his track record otherwise is stellar.

Todd Downing 

Once a Minnesota Vikings public relations intern, Downing climbed the ladder from “systems analyst” to quality control coach to quarterbacks coach with the Detroit Lions to Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator in 2017. After Jack Del Rio’s staff was let go, Downing returned to Minnesota as tight ends coach.

Again, the sample size is small for Downing as a play caller. Oakland’s offense was 17th in yards and 23rd in points, but also saw some of its stacked 12-4 roster from 2016 deteriorate. He was QB coach for the Raiders during Derek Carr’s best year.

Sean Ryan

The Vikings reportedly interviewed Ryan last year during their OC search. He is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans, who have seen DeShaun Watson rise to stardom this season. Previously Ryan was on both of the New York Giants Super Bowl-winning coaching staffs, once as a quality control coach and again as receivers coach. He also spent four years working with Eli Manning as the Giants’ quarterbacks coach.

Dan Campbell

The Vikings also reportedly interviewed Campbell last offseason. He played for the Giants, Cowboys, Lions and Saints before working with the Dolphins’ coaching staff from 2011 until 2016. Part of his tenure with the Dolphins was spent with Tony Sparano. He left Miami to join Sean Payton’s coaching staff in New Orleans, where he has been the assistant head coach / tight ends coach. He won the Ed Block Courage award and the Super Bowl as a player.

Hue Jackson

The head coaching version of Jackson has not gone particularly well. He won just just 11 times in 55 games as head coach, but had some impressive seasons as an offensive coordinator. In 2010 his Raiders offense cracked the top 10 in yards and in 2015, Jackson led a Bengals offense that ranked seventh in the NFL in points. Zimmer and Jackson have been close since they worked together in Atlanta in 2007. Last year on a conference call, the former Browns coach said he often called Zimmer for advice during his tough times.

Adam Gase

During his three years as Miami’s head coach, the Dolphins went 23-25. He worked as Denver’s offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, in which the Broncos ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in points scored behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Since then Gase hasn’t seen much offensive success, ranking 20th or lower in total yards every year in Miami and during one season as Chicago’s OC. Of course, his quarterbacks weren’t exactly Manning during that time. He is considered a head coaching candidate for other teams with openings, but if Gase doesn’t land a gig somewhere else he could get some consideration.

Jim Caldwell

Caldwell also made his bones working with Peyton Manning as a quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach. He was the head coach of the Colts from 2009-2011 and then spent two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Caldwell was elevated to OC in 2012 and went on to win the Super Bowl. He coached the Lions from 2014-2017. He has a 62-50 record as a head coach and had the seventh best scoring offense during his final year with Detroit.

Todd Monken

After spending the last three years as OC, Monken is on the market following the firing of the Bucs’ staff. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm for half the season the Bucs ranked third in yards, first in passing yards and 12th in points, but also finished with the most turnovers in the NFL and the 29th ranked running game.

Jim Bob Cooter

Detroit’s offensive coordinator did not fit with Matt Patricia this season, but was at the helm for Matthew Stafford’s turnaround from 2015-2017. During those years the Lions ranked ninth, 11th and sixth in passing yards. They also consistently struggled to run, ranking 32nd twice in four years.

Zac Taylor

The Rams’ quarterbacks coach has previous experience as an offensive coordinator with Miami and Cincinnati. McVay’s offensive innovations are starting to make their way around the league, so there will be plenty of interest in Taylor — thought it’s not clear Zimmer is looking for more innovation considering his last go ’round with an up-and-coming offensive mind.

Joe Philbin

From 2007-2011, Philbin was the Packers’ offensive coordinator, first with Brett Favre and then with Aaron Rodgers. He spent three years as the Dolphins head coach and had one year in which Miami ranked 11th in points. Philbin rejoined the Packers this year and ended up as the interim head coach after Mike McCarthy was let go. He may draw interest if the Vikings are looking for a highly experience coach.

Darrell Bevell

Bevell’s name was brought into the mix during last year’s search. He worked as the Vikings’ OC from 2006 until 2010 and then worked from 2011 until 2017 in Seattle. The Seahawks’ offense ranked as high as fourth in scoring during his tenure and was top five in rushing for four straight years.

Freddie Kitchens

A relative unknown until Hue Jackson was fired and Kitchens was thrown into the limelight working with Baker Mayfield, the Browns’ offense took off with him at the helm. He has worked in the NFL as a position coach since 2006.