The ups and downs in the Twin Cities tilted a little too far in the latter direction lately so it was of no surprise that the organization went for a house cleaning that resulted in Mike Zimmer’s exit from the Vikings after eight seasons and a 72-56-1 record. The team sports plenty of talent, an inconsistent quarterback quandary, and decades of heartbreak the next head coach (and general manager with Rick Spielman getting fired as well) has to deal with.
Where does Minnesota go from here? There’s a wealth of options for ownership to consider as the franchise embarks upon its latest reboot.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator
Quinn has emerged as perhaps this cycle’s "it" candidate for good reason given the way he’s turned around the Dallas defense almost overnight. He can bring a different kind of energy to Eden Prairie and has the kind of chops that could lead to productive changes defensively after so many years of Zimmer’s system. His offensive coordinator hire would be key but he’s won a lot of games over the years with less talent that what the Vikings have on hand.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator
Young offensive play-callers are all the rage and Moore is one of the latest names on the list after helping guide the Cowboys to the playoffs this season. It will be tough to pry him out of Dallas knowing Jerry Jones but if they wanted to make a bet on somebody who can adapt to the circumstances and has a football IQ off the charts, Moore might be a longshot worth taking.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
Is this finally going to be the year Bieniemy gets that head coaching gig? The fiery personality would be a good change of pace in the locker room and his short tenure with the organization over a decade ago happened to be just when Adrian Peterson transfixed the league running the ball. If anybody can get Kirk Cousins back on track, the OC for one of the most creative offenses in the league the past few years probably has a pretty good shot too.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
It might take a while to go through Daboll’s resume but safe to say it’s diverse and includes plenty of winning that also includes being on the right side of some close games over the years. He has done great work developing Buffalo into one of the more fun units to watch and might be able to do the same given what’s on the Vikings roster. The Canadian-born, western New York-raised coordinator also should bring a mentality that a lot of the fan base can identify with.
Kevin O’Connell, Rams offensive coordinator
The 36-year-old is already getting interviews for head coaching gigs and seems like the next in line to sprout a branch off of the Sean McVay coaching tree. He’s a former backup in the league and has been around a few times as a player and assistant so he knows the league well and can relate to the current players. The success guys like Zac Taylor and Kliff Kingsbury are having surely helps out O’Connell even if his resume is a tad light.
Todd Bowles, Buccaneers defensive coordinator
Bowles has led defensive turnarounds pretty much everywhere he’s been the past decade and brings along with him head coaching experience in the biggest media market in the country. He’s highly regarded by just about every player who he’s coached and could be paired with a young OC to help move this reboot along.
Former Head Coaches
Brian Flores, former Dolphins head coach
Despite the 24-25 overall record, Flores did a quality job turning around the Dolphins from abject train wreck into a consistently tough out that was winning games they had no business to. His personality is not anything close to the team’s former head coach and the ability to tap into the Bill Belichick network could be another nice plus as the organization also searches for a GM.
Bill O’Brien, former Texans head coach
O’Brien’s struggles when it comes to roster building have to be balanced out by the work he’s done as a head coach, particularly when it comes to getting QBs who don’t have the most talent to punch way above their weight. In terms of a stabilizing presence who can win a lot of games, O’Brien figures to be a name that comes up quite often in connection to the gig.
Marvin Lewis, former Bengals head coach
While he is 63, Lewis is a name that keeps popping up from time to time in various searches the past few years. His work as DC of the Ravens remains unparalleled and, while everybody focuses on the playoff record, his tenure in Cincinnati really helped bring a hard-luck franchise to the top of the standings with lots of regularity.
Doug Pederson, former Eagles head coach
The Vikings should be no stranger to the work Pederson can do considering he upset the Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium for a Lombardi Trophy just a few years ago. The former backup QB knows the division well from his time in Green Bay and his ability to be aggressive on offense would be a welcome change from the past few seasons.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.