Some former Vikings offensive coordinators are getting the chance to show they can lead an NFL team’s offense. More specifically, the veteran Pat Shurmur and still-young Klint Kubiak have been getting some attention.
Over the past week, each has been able to interview for one of the NFL’s few openings at OC.
The Former Vikings Offensive Coordinators
For the most part, Vikings fans have good things to say about Pat Shurmur.
Following a rough go with Norv Turner at OC, Mike Zimmer turned to Shurmur to get things moving in the right direction. It’s easy to forget, but an injury to starter Sam Bradford could have derailed Minnesota’s magical 2017 season. True, the defense was elite, but it’s tough battling through weekly struggles at the game’s most important position.
Shurmur, though, found a way to make it work. Case Keenum became a strong starter in his offense and the team marched all the way to the NFC Championship Game. Since departing for the HC spot with the Giants, Shurmur has also been the OC with the Broncos (in 2020 & 2021). More recently, he has received the chance to interview with the Commanders. Perhaps the veteran coach will be able to get Washington’s offense going in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Kubiak has been getting his own opportunity. He had the chance to interview for the Jets’ OC spot. Robert Saleh is a defensive head coach, so Kubiak would likely enjoy a fair amount of autonomy in New York’s offense.
In 2021, Kubiak helped push Minnesota to 14th overall in the NFL with 25.0 points per game. It’s easy to forget, but Minnesota’s points for actually dropped with O’Connell in town (down to 24.9 points per game). The difference in the average comes down to a staggering, monumental, extravagant … 1 point. Minnesota scored 425 points in 2021 and then 424 in 2022.
In other words, Kubiak wasn’t as bad as some people remember. Sure, there were play calls he’d likely want back, but the team’s output was still pretty strong. He’ll land on his feet somewhere. Perhaps that will be with the Jets, perhaps that will be elsewhere.
Minnesota’s Current Coaching Staff
On Minnesota’s end, there has been interest in Wes Phillips. The Chargers wanted to bring him in for an interview but he declined, instead opting to hunker down for another year working alongside Kevin O’Connell in Minnesota. For several years, the Vikings have been starved for continuity at OC. Given that O’Connell is the play caller, there was always going to be more steadiness than in recent years, but retaining Phillips is notable.
There was some concern that possibly Keenan McCardell – the WR coach – was going to get a spot in New England as the OC. However, that position has been filled by Bill O’Brien, meaning McCardell remains (at least for now). The WR coach is well respected. Don’t be shocked if he gets another opportunity soon.
The Vikings are trying to fill their open DC spot. Recently, Ryan Nielsen interviewed for the opening. Interviews with Pittsburgh’s Brian Flores and Seattle’s Sean Desai are upcoming. Other defensive masterminds will likely get added to the list.
Going into 2023, the Vikings are going to have high expectations. Nailing the hire at DC and then continuing to build on the positive accomplishments on offense will be paramount. Expect a DC decision in the coming weeks.
Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.