With just over 100 days left until the 2022 NFL Draft, this may be the most exciting offseason for the Minnesota Vikings in a decade. It’s the first time the team has been without a GM since Leslie Frazier was at the helm, and there’s plenty of time for ownership to get it right with their hires — or get it horribly wrong.
Here are my hopes, dreams, and one nightmare for the Vikings’ offseason:
THE VIKINGS HIRE A YOUNG, OFFENSIVE-MINDED COACH
I love hearing that Minnesota is the rumored hot destination for many former head coaches, but I don’t want a former head coach. I want some new blood in the front office.
I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I want the results that the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, and even the Cincinnati Bengals have seen. I’m tired of old, defensive-minded coaches, and so is the NFL. How else do you think rumors start about Pete Carroll being on the hot seat? It’s more than just one losing record — the man is a Super Bowl-winning coach.
It’s easy to be jealous with all of these teams hiring first-time head coaches who specialize in offense. The Vikings have to wait until they hire their GM to decide on a coach, but it’s the time to hire what works in the present-day NFL.
Some notable offensive coordinator options are Byron Leftwich (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs), Brian Daboll (Buffalo Bills), and Kellen Moore (Dallas Cowboys). Moore is my favorite option here. These are just some offensive coordinators around the league who’ve had time to find success in the right spot. I think Moore has an offense that can work with or without Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings can turn it around and have a year like the Cowboys. Believe it or not, Cousins and Dak Prescott are similar quarterbacks. Here’s what I mean:
The only difference between them, statistically, is Prescott’s volume. But when you have Dalvin Cook in the backfield, there’s no surprise you’re deferring to the ground game more. Even the rushing stats are similar between the two quarterbacks.
If the Vikings stick with Cousins, and there’s little reason not to, then someone who will center the team around him and the Vikings’ elite offensive weapons would be a dream hire.
THE VIKINGS GET THE RIGHT VALUE FOR THE RIGHT PLAYERS
There will be some player turnover this offseason, especially on the defense. So, what of Anthony Barr? Or Sheldon Richardson? Both seem to be Zimmer guys first and foremost based on their desire to come to Minnesota. But are they gone now that the Vikings have fired Zimmer?
Well, Eric Kendricks seems to have come to the realization that Barr may be playing elsewhere next season in a press conference he gave last week.
When asked about the chance that Barr may be moving on next year, Kendricks gave a sobering and emotional answer. He said he just started to process it and broke down. No surprise because Barr and Kendricks played together for over 10 years. It’s worth a watch if you want to cry.
The Vikings may lose some players like Barr in free agency. They could trade others for future picks if the new regime immediately wants roster turnover. So the key is to sell high and buy low, especially considering the cap situation the new coach and GM will be walking into.
Roster turnover may be coming, but there is the fact that the Vikings organization is a desirable landing spot for these free-agent coaches. There will be some moves, but it’s also true that some might not change if, say, Andre Patterson remains their defensive coordinator, for example.
VIKINGS OWNERSHIP PLAYS IT SAFE
To quote Kendricks again, “I don’t think a fear-based organization is the way to go.” The fear-based choice here would be playing it safe and hiring a veteran head coach because he’s a known quantity. Sure, it could pay off like Kansas City’s hiring of Andy Reid. But he, Belichick, and the like are anomalies.
It will end up as the Mike Zimmer era did. And, as we are learning, he was even less of a player’s coach than we thought. For Zimmer’s firing to not be in vain, the Vikings need to find a coach who brings some new concepts and connects with this generation of players. It’s time for the organization to join the present-day NFL, and there’s no better way to start than with the coach.