Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Right Man For the Job

Zygi's search for a head coach is under way. He's said that he wants to hire a GM first, but with seven other teams also in the market for new coaches, he might not have that luxury. And now with Gregg Williams no longer being available, the list just got shortened. Here's a look at the other guys who've been mentioned as candidates to lead the Vikings' into the Zygi Era.

Offensive Coordinators
  • Jim Fassel: Fassel is one of the few possible candidates that has head coaching experience. I'm sure that Vikings' fans remember him from the 2000 NFC Championship game. He hasn't had as much success since then, however. He joined the Ravens in 2004 as an offensive consultant, a job which also could have been described as "Kyle Boller's Tutor" (just so everyone is clear, Boller is in no way the stud he appeared to be against the Vikings). He took over the offense this year, with little success. The Ravens were 24th in the NFL in yards per game this year and in points per game. To put it succinctly, his time with the Ravens has not gone well. Add that in to the speculation that John Fox had as much to do with the Giants' Super Bowl run, and you get a coach that would be better left to other teams, like the Packers or Lions.
  • Brad Childress: Childress has been the Offensive Coordinator of the Eagles since 2002 and is scheduled to interview with the Vikings. He brings a pretty impressive resume with him. He was a major factor in Donovan McNabb's development into a top quarterback and one who was a star in Childress' West Coast style offense. Just as important to consider is that the Eagles' offense does not turn over the ball. Based on those facts, Childress would be able to help Daunte and the offense return to 2004 form. There are a few question marks though. The Eagles have never been good at running the ball, nor have they made it a priority. Somehow, they ran the ball even less then the Vikings' did this year, finishing 30th in the NFL in rushing attempts and 28th in rushing yards per game.
  • Al Saunders: Since Saunders became the Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2001, they have had one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. His resume is ridiculous, as can be seen in his bio, "Dating back to 2001 when Saunders took over as offensive coordinator, the Chiefs rank first in the NFL with 24,278 net yards of total offense (379.3 ypg). The Chiefs oppulent numbers during that 64-game span from 2001-04 are also the league’s best in the following seven categories: offensive TDs (200), rushing TDs (105), total first downs (1,413), Red Zone TD percentage (64.3%), runs of 10+ yards (255), passing yards per attempt (7.79) and passing yards per completion (12.58)." He is also likely to bring discipline with him, since he has been the assistant head coach under two noted disiplinarians, Dick Vermeil and Marty Schottenheimer. Zygi could do a lot worse then hiring this guy, that's for sure.
  • Gary Kubiak: Kubiak has been working under Mike Shanahan for the last eleven years. He hasn't been mentioned in the press in connection with the Vikings, but he is scheduled to interview with the Texans. If the Vikings don't give him a look, it will be a mistake. The Broncos have won two Super Bowls in his time there, mainly due to the implementation of Kubiak's zone blocking scheme, which has made the Broncos consistently one of the best rushing teams in the NFL. If he's hired, the Vikings will be able to run the ball. Also, he's put in some great work with quarterbacks, as can be seen by Elway's great last few seasons. Even more heartening has been his work with Jake Plummer, who had become a horrible, turnover prone quarterback with Cardinals and who this year had an 18:7 TD to INT ratio. If I had to choose an offensive coordinator to be the head coach, Kubiak would be the guy, due to his ability and commitment to the rushing game and his work with Plummer and Elway.
Defensive Coordinators
  • Ted Cottrell: I'll be honest; if Cottrell is hired as the Vikings' Head Coach, Zygi failed. The Vikings' defense was impressive once it started to jell, but a lot of that was the mediocrity of the opponents' quarterbacks. And the defense also got shredded by Kyle Boller in a must win game. He has accomplished enough in his career to get an interview, but if Zygi is truly competed to getting the best possible Head Coach, then he won't give Cottrell serious consideration
  • Ron Rivera: Rivera hasn't been coaching for very long, but he's done an impressive job in his six years in the profession. He was the linebackers' coach for the Eagles during their NFC Championship and Out run, and then joined Lovie Smith in Chicago when Da Bears hired him. In the last two years under Rivera, Da Bears' defense has been one of the best, if not the best, in the league. This year, they challenged for the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season and finished second in the NFL in yards allowed per game. Both of these stats take into account Da Bears' game against the Vikings, where they didn't play their starters. Rivera is definately an intriguing candidate. His inexperience, however, hurts his candidacy. If the Vikings were in rebuilding, he would be a top candidate. The Vikings aren't rebuilding, however, and they need a coach who can step in and take a talented team to the next level, not one that is learning on the job.
  • Jim Schwartz: One of the goofier looking candidates for the job, Schwartz has been in charge of the Titans' defense for the past five years. Under his leadership, they've been very good against the run, finishing in the top ten in rushing yards allowed his first four years, leading the NFL in 2003. This year's performance wasn't as indicitive of his abilities, as the Titans defense was ravaged by injuries. Also, he is a graduate of Georgetown University, which, while not important to most Vikings' fans, is important to me for two reasons. The first reason is that it would be great to see a fellow Hoya make it to the big time, the second is that it might help me get a job with the Vikings.
College Coaches
  • Pete Carroll: Not happening. Carroll is staying at USC, which is likely for the best, since he seems to me to be a Spurrier/Holtz type of coach.
  • Charlie Wies: He would be a great hire. Why NFL teams let him get away is beyond me. That being said, he isn't going anywhere. He just signed a huge extension to coach his alma mater. He's going to be a Golden Domer for a long time.
  • Kirk Ferentz: Ferentz is the most likely college coach to graduate to the NFL this year. He's been successful with the Hawkeyes, going 31-7 with a Big Ten title over the last three years and 42-32 overall. He's also spent time under Bill Belichick as hisOffensive Line Coach in Cleveland, and added the title of assistant head coach and of the Ravens after they moved to Baltimore. He would likely be a good hire as his teams in Iowa have been disciplined and full of NFL talent, but it would be risky, since it seems that few coaches successfully make the transition from the college ranks to the NFL.

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