Before I get started, allow me to apologize to fellow Skoldiers out there who feel less than enthusiastic about recently terminated Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady. You may have qualms about his ability to succeed in the National Football League, but recent trends say otherwise.
But before we dive into Brady, it’s starting to feel like only a matter of time until the Wilfs and the Minnesota Vikings decide to move on from Mike Zimmer. In a make-or-break season, you simply cannot lose to the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions and expect to be part of the solution for this franchise — especially when your defense has given up the sixth-most points and fifth-most yards throughout the entire league since 2020.
Now that we got the formalities out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks.
Yes, Brady — the 32-year-old offensive mastermind who’s primarily responsible for revolutionizing LSU’s 2019 National Championship offense — was let go by the Panthers during the noon slate of Week 13 games on Sunday.
But you know who else has been fired by NFL franchises throughout their careers?
- Doug Pederson — Philadelphia Eagles, 2020
- Bill Belichick — Cleveland Browns, 1995
- Andy Reid — Philadelphia Eagles, 2012
- Bruce Arians — Pittsburgh Steelers, 2011
The past four Lombardi trophies have gone to those four coaches. And all of them were told to take a hike.
Speaking of fired head coaches, I’m old enough to remember Texas Tech fired a similarly young, hotshot offensive guru after going 35-40 after six years. And while it didn’t take long for the University of Southern California to scoop up Kliff Kingsbury to be their offensive coordinator, the NFL had other plans for Kliff.
Unfortunately for USC, Kingsbury ultimately took the Arizona Cardinals head coaching position, with the NFL peanut gallery despising the move. Don’t look now, but after taking over the worst team in football from the 2018 season, Kingbury’s Cardinals currently have the best record in the National Football League at 10-2 — which includes a 2-1 record with Colt McCoy filling in for an injured Kyler Murray.
(P.S. You don’t get to be in the MVP discussion when Colt McCoy goes 2-1 in your absence. Sorry, not sorry, Kyler.)
If that’s not enough of a recent track record in Brady’s favor, let’s take a look at Matt LaFleur. He only spent two seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator and one season as a play-caller before taking over as the Green Bay Packers head coach.
LaFleur assumed the offensive coordinator title in 2017, but it was still Sean McVay who called plays and was the ultimate decision-maker behind the Los Angeles Rams offense. But in 2018, LaFleur left the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay nest that he had called home for nine seasons and ventured out onto his own to be an offensive play-caller in the NFL.
And, similar to Brady in Carolina, LaFleur struggled mightily as a play-caller in Tennessee. With Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, and Derrick Henry leading the way for LaFleur’s offense, the Titans ranked 27th in points and 25th in yards. Not exactly the kind of numbers that scream offensive mastermind, eh?
However, the NFL knew what LaFleur and his scheme could do with the right fit. And boy, did he find it.
Since taking over the Green Bay Packers in 2019, LaFleur is 35-9. His scheme helped revitalize Aaron Rodgers to MVP form after the notoriously unvaccinated quarterback compiled a passer rating of 97.2 and 97.6 over his final two seasons in Mike McCarthy’s offense.
So before you go jumping the gun on Brady, the NFL has recently been extremely kind to innovative, offensive coaches who were cut from a similar cloth while experiencing termination from their most recent job and/or struggles as a first-time offensive coordinator in the NFL. And clearly, the NFL agreed, as Brady went through five different head coaching interviews last season.
As with LaFleur and the Packers, the Minnesota Vikings are the perfect football marriage for Brady and the passing concepts he learned from Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. Since Justin Jefferson was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 3 of 2020, Kirk Cousins has the second-best passer rating among NFL quarterbacks with 108.0. Brady coached Jefferson during his lone season at LSU.
For the first time since Brett Favre in 2009, the quarterback is a position of strength for the Minnesota Vikings. Cousins is currently second in the NFL in passer rating at 106.3. Instead of pretending to be something they’re not, what’s wrong with leaning into this strength and bringing in the head coach that can maximize Cousins, Jefferson, and the rest of this Vikings offense?
It didn’t take long for Kingsbury and LaFleur to figure it out once they were given the keys to the franchise. And with Brady dialing it up for his old pal Jefferson, it wouldn’t be out of the question for this offense to replicate the fireworks from 1998 or 2000 with Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper slinging the pill to Randy Moss.
Is it really too much to ask Vikings ownership to take a page out of the Timberwolves’ playbook and hire the successor midseason the way Glen Taylor and Gersson Rosas replaced Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch during the middle of last season?
The only question is: What are the Wilfs waiting for? Especially when you consider that Brady has been gift-wrapped following his dismissal from Charlotte.
Pick up the phone, Zygi, and bring Brady home before it’s too late.